A flood of new experiences

Well, I am not in my home town any more. For the past month I am at Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, and if all goes to plan I might be here for the next few years. I am done with Bachelor of Mechanical Engg, and now I am here for Graduate study! Virginia Tech is a premier institute, and it is quite an honor (I am trying to convert to US spellings) to be a part of it!!

And then of course are the differences from India. It has only been a month, so at least till now I am noticing all the positives. It’s a beautiful place (you can see some photos that I shot here, and some photos at the VT website here. Hopefully I will be able to get some more photos online soon), and is basically a university town, meaning it’s a town that has grown around the University here, which is Virginia Tech. As with all small places, it’s very peaceful and calm and quiet, and unlike some smaller places in India, there is no shortage of facilities.Public transport is excellent, with Blacksburg Transit catering to all transportation needs with its fleet of buses. Unlike in India, the buses actually follow schedules, so you will miss the 9:30 bus if you reach the bus stop at 9:30:30 secs. Well, maybe not really 30 secs off, but you get the point. On the up side, you can really plan your movement, as you know when you will board and get off the bus. On the flip side, you are sure that you have to wait for whatever minutes before the next bus comes in, in case you do miss the bus by a whisker (trust me, it does happen… you are 30 secs from the bus stop, and you watch it pull away and go past you. These guys really follow their time!).

The campus is actually a city in itself. It occupies 2600 acres!! And excluding the living space of 18000 students who live off the campus. All the public bus routes actually run through the university, and you usually use the bus to travel from one part of the campus to another. The campus facilities are excellent, of course. The entire campus is Wi-Fi enabled, and you can access the internet from literally anywhere on campus. The internet connection that I get on my laptop is 6Mbps!!

One big difference that I notice is the adherence to road rules. People actually follow rules here, and not grudgingly, because a police officer is standing round the corner. It is a welcome change. Pedestrians are actually given right of way at zebra crossings, and all vehicles will come to a halt when they see you trying to cross the road at a zebra crossing. On campus this system takes a cruel turn sometimes. Between classes, there are actually hordes of students running from here to there, and crossing the streets. The vehicles are left stranded at the zebra crossings, as the students keep coming! It gets pretty irritating if you are sitting in a bus and getting late for class, but you have the comfort of knowing that the rules remain the same when we need to cross, and everyone stops for me too.

The campus, in addition to being BIG, is also very very pretty! All the buildings are made with a traditional stone called the Hokie Stone. This stone is mined from quarries owned (yes, owned) by Virginia Tech, and used for all construction on campus. The effect is magnificent!

Everything to do with VTech is called a Hokie. Actually every University has its own nickname that it uses for people who are part of it; I think it started from having nicknames for their football team. The VTech nickname is “Hokie”. So all VTech students are Hokies, the VTech ID Card is called the Hokie Passport, the stone used for construction is the Hokie Stone, and the VTech football team (American football, as distinct from soccer) is called the Hokies. So, ladies and gentlemen, I am a Hokie!

I think this is quite long enough for one post. Will take this up again in the next post!

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