School gaze (9/24/99)

Now that we're over a month into the school year, I'm starting to get my act together enough to actually spend time talking to real live people, instead of just pretending I have some sort of social life. Looking up old friends is a given, but I've been meeting and liking a lot of the new freshmen here, too. I always ask them why they came to Valpo - not that I'm putting down the school, but I'm genuinely curious about what different people consider to be the most important considerations in decisions like this. (I'm still confused by the guy who said he came here to party. I mean, that's a fine college goal, if you're into that sort of thing, but at Valpo?) And everybody's got great and weird reasons; everybody's got their story.

So I've been thinking of how I got here, too. Don't worry, this isn't going to be a big ol' maudlin column. I'm just thinking of the funny parts. Actually, what I'm really thinking of is all of the different college tours I went on. Mind if I tell you?

I saw a lot of liberal arts colleges during my senior year of high school, and not a few Lutheran ones. However, I went on all my campus tours at the wrong time of year - I don't remember when, now, but it was definitely the off-season. Every school I went to was deserted, in one way or another. Of course, it didn't help that I never made appointments at some of them, so nobody was expecting me to show up and wander around campus.

Partly because of all this odd scheduling, though, I had some memorable experiences. At Gustavus Adolphus, there was nobody on campus but college employees. It was like a ghost town. When the tour guide, who appeared to be on some sort of stimulants, showed me the sort of "display" dorm room they had set up, it turned out to have been compeltely trashed by someone. The bunk bed was tilted against the wall, the mattresses were lying across the floor, and all othe other furniture was upside-down. I was laughing so hard, and my tour guide was talking so fast, that he apologized for the room's condition about three hundred times before I could tell him that it was all right, it didn't really bother me.

At St. Olaf, nobody - none of the students, not the tour guide, not the admissions counselor - could tell me exactly who St. Olaf was, which I found slightly disturbing. It was a pretty traumatic visit, given that I also became totally lost on the campus during it. The free T-shirt they gave me kind of made up for it, though.

At Notre Dame, everyone was drunk and/or at the football game. At Northwestern, it was bitterly cold and the guide appeared to be some kind of refugee from the Mouseketeers. Wheaton was just kind of frightening, and I'm not even going to tell you why I'm not going to Smith. And then, there was Valparaiso. Where my tour guide was hungover. I kid you not.

I'm not gonna tell you who it was; he's graduated now, anyway, and that's not really the point. But it was definitely one of the more . . . unique tours of my experience. You can't really blame him - I came the day after Midnight Madness, see. At first, I thought he was just a really bad public speaker or something, but a later overheard phone conversation that he had with one of his friends proved that there was indeed a good reason for his incoherence.

"This is the Brauer Museum," he said on the tour. "They're having a show there with some paintings by some Old Masters, like . . . well, you know, those Old Masters." Or, "This is the chapel. They . . . they have, um . . . services here."

It was a confusing tour. It was a funny tour. I'm glad I had it. And just in case someone from the admissions office is now reading this, with their jaw dropped in sheer horror, let me just say: I'm here, aren't I?

HOME Back to Torch main page

Nobody comes here at all. You're only number Site 
Meter to discover this hidden vale of wonder.