A BUSTLING CAMPUS- a fresh new experience
It was in the year 1870 that the seed was sown, but it took almost a decade for it to germinate. Started with mere 53 students and 10 faculty way back in the year 1880, the University of Southern California today has grown into an institute of very high repute with more than 30000 people from more than a hundred nations. This was one of the dream places among the universities that I applied for. Even though this wasn’t my first choice I am really happy to be here for my Master’s degree.
Reality does kill ones imagination. Before coming here, the few photos of the campus and the surroundings that I saw in the internet created in me an imaginary campus. I had a picture in my mind about the campus buildings, the classroom interiors, the roads in the locality, the shops and almost everything. But now, being here in the campus and moving around it almost every day, my beautiful imagination is rendered null and void and now I don’t even remember anything from that imaginary world of mine. But the point is, I just don’t care about that. In spite of my amnesia, I am damn sure that my imagination is no way close to what I got to see in the campus. The correlation factor between my imagination and what is there in store is very low.
Splendid!! That’s all. The campus is just brilliant and the most striking thing is the architecture of the buildings. Each and every building is beautiful in its own way. In spite of all the buildings having centralised air-conditioning and complex electric wiring, the interiors of some of the age old buildings are maintained without disturbing the excellent architectural work that are done decades before. Ironically, one of the very few buildings that look just ordinary is that of the school of architecture. You just get to see such a building in many places. Even the buildings that were built later as the university grew are erected in such a way that they look equally good as those that were built during the initial years of the university and the older ones are still maintained with their splendour. Adding to the beauty of the campus are colourful gardens and lush green lawn forming beautiful coalescence with the attractive buildings. Their beautiful partnership makes sure that the campus strikes chord across anyone who visits. It is not a sprawling campus spread across huge acres as some of the other American universities. But it is indeed a big campus and the buildings are located closer to each other, which explain the reason for its relatively smaller size given its stature. Cycles and skateboards are a common sight inside the campus, but it is not that you badly need a cycle to move around the campus. Standing as a symbol for the university is the statue of Tommy Trojan with an outdrawn sword standing right there in the centre of the University campus. USC family call themselves the Trojan family and the fellow members of this huge family are called the “Trojans”. The name originated way back in the early twentieth century when an article in a newspaper described the fighting attitude the university’s football team showed equivalent to that of the ancient Trojans in the land of Greece.
Talking about the amenities that are there in the university, you have nearly 8 to 9 libraries located in the campus and for the record the maximum number of books a person can take from the library at a time is 200. I just don’t know if anyone in the university history has ever touched that mark. Few libraries do not serve as a host to a huge collection of books but serve as a place where students can study either alone or in groups. If you find that any book that you genuinely need is not in the library the university will get it for you from some other source and bear the cost. Another important thing worth mentioning is the free wi-fi that is available even at some places somewhat away from the university. You have food outlets of various kinds catering to the needs of your appetite and cool drink and chocolate dispenser in almost every building in the campus. The transportation system that is made available to the members of the university deserves a special mention. There are 4 buses running through the university campus and the surrounding areas in its northern side and you can hop on and off at any of the stops without paying a single penny. It doesn’t stop with this. Starting at 6 in evening and running up till 2.30 in the night is the “Campus Cruiser” service. This is nothing but a call taxi service providing service within a given area (but covering all the areas where students live) and again free of cost. The university takes its utmost effort to ensure the safety of its members both on and off the campus. They have their own police team under the university’s department of public safety (DPS) and its members patrol the campus and the adjoining areas round the clock. Cycle theft is quite common happening in the university and you can see only the wheels locked on to the stand at many places. DPS try their level best to help retrieve the stolen bikes. There is a bookstore available inside the campus where you get to buy not only the textbooks and other books but a whole lot of other stuff that includes the stationery stuff, clothing, electronic gadgets, bags, gift articles and other goodies. Printing and copying is quite expensive compared to India, but you can scan any number of pages and send those files to your email for free. Textbooks are damn costly and you don’t get e-books without paying. But you can rent the book on a period basis and save your money. Even this isn’t cheap but is economical when your other option happens to be buying the textbook either new or used.
The University of Southern California has a long history of excellence in sports. 11 gold, 9 silver and 2 bronze in a single Olympics is not a simple thing. And if USC had happened to compete as a separate nation in the recently concluded London Olympics they would have been placed way above many other countries in the medals table. Of course a few medals among these include team success that included contribution from the fellow Trojans. But that wouldn’t undermine the outstanding show put up by the USC students. And this is not new, as there is a long list of Olympic medal winners in the history of the university. USC is closely associated with the conduct of the Los Angeles Olympics held in the year 1984. The aquatic centre is not just Olympic sized as many places describe theirs. It is indeed an Olympic swimming and diving pool and the aquatic events of the 1984 games were held here. University also pitched in for the Olympic village and the main athletics venue, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is located just adjacent to the university serving as the home for the USC’s football team. Talking about football (not the game where each team has 11 people playing with an objective of scoring in the opponents goal post at the same time preventing them from shooting into theirs by using all parts of their body save their hands, but a form of the game known as rugby in the other parts of the world), the USC men’s team is terrorising. Among the level they play with, they can be compared to the great West-Indian cricket team of the 70’s, the Indian hockey team in the middle of the twentieth century and the Brazilian football ( the actual football in this case) team during the period of Pele and Garincha. Those guys are almost twice my volume, monsters they are. What do you expect as an opponent, coming face to face against these guys? Not only just football, the USC does perform well in the other games as well, such as soccer (the proper football), track and field athletics and the others, both men and women. You can see people running in the track and field stadium almost all time, be it the early morning, the noon with the sun looking down at you with its eyes wide open or in night, training themselves as if they are preparing for a battle of some sort. There is an underground baseball practice centre. What do you say? And aiding these people to train and strengthen themselves is the fitness centre with all sorts of modern equipment from the weights to the cardio machines. And this is open to everyone who belongs to USC. And who is going to start using it from this Monday? It’s me.
The film school of USC is also famous and has contributions in the making of many of the Hollywood movies. I heard someone say that Steven Spielberg was rejected admission here not just once but more than that. I don’t know how far it is true, but what I am coming to tell is that it is a damn tough place to get in. The school of music is also well-renowned and the University band is also excellent, not only the musical part but also the dancing girls with their fit and flexible body. They danced right there in front of me during the orientation lunch and this is not what you get to see in India during the beginning of the academic year.
Just outside the university is located the University Village that houses the shops that cover almost all of your basic needs. There are food outlets such as Subway, Burger King, Dennys, Starbucks and few others and also a food court that includes various cuisines, including an Indian kitchen. There is also a super market, an electronics store, a saloon, printing-copying-binding store, a bank, a theatre and believe it or not a place to get one’s nails done
I think I have written a lot, but still there is lot more for me to find out. I will come back with new and interesting stuff. Now that the classes having started, I do have a task at hand. As I am writing this there are assignments left for me to attend to. I just want keep myself busy with stuff, doing some thing or the other, but having some purpose associated that work. I have just clicked the refresh button and have geared up for something new in me, for me.
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