Life in a College Town

>> Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Growing up in a college town was a unique experience. I've always been stimulated by the academic "electricity" in the air and the intellectual stimulation that can only be found in a city inhabited and dominated by a large population of university professors, educators, and college students. Because the city of Stillwater literally grew up with the university at it's center, (established as Oklahoma A&M, a land grant college in 1890), university life is everything here. At times it can be a little irritating that literally everything in this town caters to students. For example, it's really difficult to find a nice sit-down restaurant that isn't a sports bar & grill, and of course, pizza and fast food reigns. The median age in Stillwater is well below the national average, and because of the large student population the median income level is rather low, although the cost of living in Stillwater is higher than the rest of the state of Oklahoma. Housing is expensive, and again, caters to the student population.

The beginning of a new school term marks a transformation in town. During the summer the streets are relatively unclogged and the neighborhoods quiet. There are fewer cars with their windows down and woofers booming, and the campus buildings are literally uninhabited. However, with the new term, that all changes. It seems that within a matter of 24 hours the aisles at Wal-Mart are once again choked with kids whose shopping carts are filled with Top Ramen and 99 cent Totino's frozen pizzas, the fast food drive-throughs are lined up to the street with SUV's and pick-ups, and there are U-Haul trucks parked in nearly every driveway. In the evening one can hear the OSU marching band practicing on the lawn outside of the Seretean Center, and the campus is once again a-buzz with be-backpacked pedestrians, nightlife, and sorority girls sitting outside of the houses, talking and giggling. Young couples can be seen once again strolling hand-in-hand at Theta Pond, and "The Strip" reeks once more with the odor of beer.

Today I was reminded once again, why I love living in a college town. It started out as a difficult day as I watched my daughter walk down the airport terminal towards her gate which would take her to a jet that would carry her across the Atlantic Ocean, far away, for the next ten months. But when I returned to Stillwater, and drove down through the OSU campus, I was rejuvenated by the sites and sounds of a campus once again alive with young people and activity, and I was reminded that no matter what changes I experience in my life, life in my college hometown never really changes.


Kay Dennison August 22, 2007 at 9:01 PM  

I think I'd love living in a college towm. I'm a perennial student anyway!

Lynette August 23, 2007 at 2:02 AM  

Me too! The academic atmosphere has always been stimulating for me! :)


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