Iowa City is home to 30,000 college students and was buzzing with summer excitement during my one week stay. While driving into town we passed a house full of students standing in swimsuits holding beer as they set up a slip and slide. Everywhere you go, people are wearing bright yellow and black Hawkeye t-shirts. Loads of businesses are named Hawkeye “such and such”. Groves of trees fill the city, which is surrounded by green rolling hills and fields of corn.
The university sits along the Iowa River and seamlessly enmeshes with the relaxed downtown area, which is comprised of coffee houses, restaurants, bars, shops, and boutiques. You can find everything from buffalo wings, to Ethiopian food, to sushi, to Irish bars, to Indian food. You can then walk across the street to the Hawkeye bookstore and get your school spirit on; t-shirts are just $10 each, or 2 for $15, or 3 for $20. The affordability of Big Ten mass-produced clothing is infinitely exciting after coming from a small regional college that charges about double the price for apparel. Needless to say, everyone in my family will be receiving a Hawkeye t-shirt for Christmas.
The old state capital building sits downtown amidst Iowa’s relaxed and charming version of hustle and bustle. Trapped among so many tall trees and quant shops, the old capital seems to continually surprise passersby with its commanding white columns and massive stairs. As you meander through the streets and around the corner, there it is, ready to elate even the most cynical person with a brief sensation of patriotism. The pedestrian mall is lined with brick and park benches, along with a ground-level water fountain to cool off in. Bistros and cafes pepper the area, which is filled with socialites, academics, and musicians playing in the street.
The India Café came highly recommended to us and was our first meal in downtown IC. I thought Sim had died and gone to heaven upon trying Vietnamese Pho years ago, but it is clear a new favorite food has emerged. I think he thanked our server about 7 times throughout the course of the night. And I have no doubt that he will marry an Indian woman in his next life.
Well, this is it – My last post about my short time in Iowa. The delay in posts is due to my workload this quarter. I’m teaching two different courses during a six-week term, which means within just one day I’m often grading papers, grading speeches, preparing PowerPoint lectures, and/or writing or grading exams before going to teach for what is often 3-4 hours each night. I’ve had less time with family than I hoped, less time to work out, and no time to cook. And after such an expensive move, which seems to still be incurring expenses as I write, I am nearly broke. On top of all this, our health insurance was terminated on June 30th because I’m not returning to teach the 2010/11 academic year, although I’m teaching above half-time during the summer term. All of this is straining my marriage, even from a distance, and I feel torn in a million directions. So it seems that my conditioning for the graduate student lifestyle has already commenced. At the inception of this blog I promised to be honest as possible, and those of you who know me also know my propensity to keep a positive attitude. I’ll try to highlight the happiest and most exciting moments of our journey, but you should also be prepared for the dark side of graduate school.
With that said, there are a few jolly tidbits of the summer to fill you in on, so stay tuned.