I get out.... sometimes

Jun 22 2011 Published by under [Education&Careers], [Et Al]

In August I will have been a full time employee on this campus for three years. Over 1000 days. More than 150 weeks. That's a decent amount of time to be in any one place. In that time I have lived in two houses and gotten to know the surrounding area (which I had never visited prior to my interview) fairly well. I can give you directions* to pretty much anywhere you need to go around here.

But much of that changes when I get on campus.

Other than the building I work in and the one I teach in, I know shockingly little about this campus. Freshman in their third week have probably forgotten more about this campus than I know. It's bad enough that when I went off to find a meeting I needed to be at the other day I had to stop halfway across campus and have the following conversation:

Me: "Excuse me, do you know where Meeting Hall is?"

Student: "No. I should because I've been a student here for two years, but that one doesn't ring a bell."

Me: "Yeah, I've been a prof here for three and I don't know where it is."

Student: "I know, you're my advisor"

Me: "Of course! Um, that's why I asked you... ah. Right... Soooo."

Student: "I think I have a campus map."

Turns out that Meeting Hall was across a parking lot from my own building and the building I thought it was was most certainly not Meeting Hall. I park close to Meeting Hall everyday and pass the sign for it twice a day. It's not an inconspicuous place.

It would be nice if I could tell you that this is the first time I have done this, but I would be lying. I have our campus map in at least three easily accessed places because I have no sweet clue where most things on the campus are.

Am I just oblivious or is this something that other people deal with?

*And unlike the locals, I will not use landmarks that haven't existed for a decade or more. Thanks for being insular, jerkwads.

15 responses so far

  • CoR says:

    The science library is in my building. The other library is right next to my building. My lab and all of my scientific stuff happens in my building. I have left my building approximately 10 times since starting my job. I know jack about my campus.

  • GMP says:

    In year 3 I was probably pretty clueless about campus (and way more about the city than you seem to be). After 7 years, I now know where the buildings are where I have collaborators, which is essentially most of the physical sciences (and it's lucky that they are on the same side of campus) -- math, CS, physics, chemistry, and several engineering buildings. I also know where the two student union buildings are and two of the libraries nearest me. I can point out the business school because it's off of the main road and has huge letters on it. I know where the university hospital is but god help me if I ever got sent to the biomedical side of campus -- it's a huge complex and I know absolutely nothing about its inner structure. I have no idea where the humanities and social sciences buildings or the law school are, other than the general area.

    My major failure is that I know very little about the city outside my neighborhood and the quickest routes to work, the grocery store, a few other key shopping spots, and a few parks. It's quite pathetic really...

  • Bashir says:

    In graduate school I did get to know the downtown area of the city I lived in. Though I never learned much of campus other than the main library and anything close to my building. I have actually learned a bit more about my current campus. That is because it's quite nice and I like to go on walks and wander through random buildings.

  • It took me two years to realize that the "Mail Code" for labs/offices listed on websites, and which consists of 2 numbers, is room number - building number. The building number corresponds to the reference number on the campus map.

    The department administrators had a good laugh after they pointed this out to me.

  • "*And unlike the locals, I will not use landmarks that haven't existed for a decade or more. Thanks for being insular, jerkwads."

    LOL. This drives me crazy!

    I was asked recently where a particular building was on campus because someone was attending a conference there. I had no clue. Turned out I was registered for the same conference and just hadn't consulted the campus map to check in yet. And I walk past the building on my way home about every other day. Whoops.

  • Ink says:

    Student: "I know, you're my advisor"

    Me: "Of course! Um, that's why I asked you... ah. Right... Soooo."

    HA HA!

  • "And unlike the locals, I will not use landmarks that haven't existed for a decade or more. Thanks for being insular, jerkwads.

    My parents have a good friend who still lives in the region they all grew up in, with her new non-local husband. The husband recently complained to my Dad that his wife continues to give him directions like "turn left where the bridge used to be", despite constant reminders that he has no idea what she's talking about. The rest of us find this hilarious, of course.

    I knew my undergrad campus really well, because I had exams in most of the buildings at one time or another. I don't know why they saw fit to have the biochem / genetics students sit their exams in the engineering and modern languages departments, while my friend who was doing French did hers in the economics building and my friend who was doing accounting and economics did hers in the med school, but that's what always happened.

    During my PhD I was in the only non-vet school building on the vet school campus, which was a good few miles from the main campus, so I rarely left that building and didn't know the main campus at all.

    I did my postdoc in the same building where I work now. It's one of two adjacent buildings, again well away from the main UBC campus, which I barely know at all (although I do know where the Irish pub and the beach are). However, I was astonished to find out recently that someone who's worked with me for three years had no idea that the other building on our site - which is directly opposite us - has an ATM and a cafeteria, neither of which we have in our building. I would have thought that this was compulsory knowledge for everyone.

  • Isabel says:

    I took several of my required undergrad courses in a charming, unusual building named after a well-known botanist. The center of this centrally located (on campus), one-story building was a tight, partially 'open-air' circle, off which three equidistant and very similarly-landscaped wings branched off at 120 degree angles.

    It was disorientating because if you made a slight mistake leaving a classroom or the centrally-located restroom or drinking fountain, or if you were just taking a short cut through the building, and you headed down the wrong "wing", you could easily end up in a completely different part of the campus then you expected. This continued to happen to me with frustrating regularity into my fourth and last year of taking courses there.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    @Ink - In fairness, I have a LOT of advisees. 🙂

    I suppose there's little reason to know the location of buildings I have never entered, but I can tell you the location of area shops and restaurants that I have never been in. Do we put blinders on as soon as we hit campus?

  • "*And unlike the locals, I will not use landmarks that haven't existed for a decade or more. Thanks for being insular, jerkwads."

    You live in New England, don't you?

  • Hey! I'm from the South, in a small town where we still tell people to turn left at the old Chuck's (hasn't been there for.... oh... twenty years). This is not unique to New England. I'm pretty sure the Midwest does it too. Of course, I once told someone to turn right at the first road instead of the fifth, which was where he needed to turn, so my direction-giving abilities are pretty shaky to start with. I have three maps of town in my glove box right now, plus an atlas.

    I had to use the campus map all the time in grad school and I not only worked on three different parts of campus, but also took classes and worked a non-science job in three more. And I was there for almost seven years...

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Sorry dude, not NE. But as Jenny said, I don't think this is in a single region.

  • We once asked for directions in rural BC and were told that it was definitely either the second or third road on the left. Or right.

  • Prof Ed says:

    On the campus where I spent a sabbatical, the local profs didn't have time to learn or enjoy any part of their own campus or the events on it except their own departmental niche. It was the richest academic year of my life.

    Maybe the moral is that to know a campus well, one must take a sabbatical at one.

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