Willamette Wednesday: Welcome!

(This post was originally published Monday on my SAAHE cohort’s summer internship blog. You can read it here.)
Greetings from cloudy, cool, Salem, Oregon! After a whirlwind May of finishing school, visiting Italy for two weeks, and being in Texas for a week, I am excited to finally be in one place for a solid nine weeks.

I flew out of Dallas early Saturday morning, which required me to wake up at 4 a.m. Central/ 2 a.m. Pacific. After stopping in Albuquerque and then switching planes in Oakland, Calif., I flew into Portland, and it was all I expected and more. So many hipsters. And there was a Columbia outdoor store in the airport. I hung out there for an hour or so before my shuttle to Salem arrived. I wish I could say I watched beautiful Oregonian scenery pass by on the hour-long drive, but honestly I just crashed and slept most of the way.

The bay at the Oakland, California, aiport.

Upon arriving in Salem, my head student leader for Willamette University’s Opening Days program, Molly, picked me up and took me to get food at Safeway. Groceries are way more expensive here, but there’s no sales tax… so there’s that. I spent Saturday night settling in to my apartment and unpacking and promptly got in bed at 9 p.m. After being in 5 time zones in the past week, my inner clock was frazzled, plus I was exhausted after a long day of travel.

Sunday brought me to try out a local church on my own for the first time, and my 20-minute walk to the church (summer of no car!) was made brisk due to the 53° degree weather. I was glad for my somewhat-ironic plaid flannel shirt to keep me warm on the walk, though some of the Salem natives seemed content in shorts and sandals.

After church I met up with the two ACUHO-I interns that are here this summer as well, and they walked me downtown and to the Willamette River. They’ve been here for two weeks or so, so they know a little more than me and were happy to show me around. Good news: there’s a ton of stuff within walking distance of my apartment. Also I should be getting a bike Monday or Tuesday. We’ll see how that goes. Although Willamette is technically an “urban campus,” this is no Chicago or New York. It reminds me much more of Columbia, where I went to school at Mizzou — a big-but-quaint downtown area full of local shops and restaurants. No sky scrapers, but just across the street from the Oregon Capitol there are five GIANT sequoia trees planted on the Willamette campus. I think I’d rather look up at those than buildings anyway.

One of the five Sequoia trees on the Willamette campus, known as the Star Trees.

The story behind the Star Trees.

The Oregon state capitol is across the street from campus.

I started my job in the Office of Student Activities today! I spent most of the day just filling out paperwork and setting up my computer and email, but I am excited to get further acquainted with the university, their staff, my office, and my job. I’ll be doing a few assessment projects and helping advise part of the Opening Days programming for the fall, but mostly I’ll be learning about the world of student affairs on a campus of 2500 rather than 50,000! I’m excited to learn.

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