Saturday I went to go visit Melyngoch in Indiana. (By divine intervention, our chosen grad schools are only 170 miles apart — closer, as the crow flies.) I left later than I had planned, having had a bad night on Friday due to allergies. The drive over was fairly pleasant. Melyngoch is not a fan of Midwestern scenery in general. She misses the mountains. I’ll agree with her about certain parts of Wyoming and Nebraska, but it turns out that I find cornfields, barns and silos (especially silos) quite charming, so there is always a new delight around the bend. Mapquest suggested that I take (ooh, look! a silo!) I-74 East to Indianapolis, then make (ooh, look! a little silo!) a sharp right to go (ooh, look! three silos in a row!) to Bloomington. (See what I mean? How could you possibly get bored?)
The result of Melyngoch’s Midwestern boredom is that she has decided she would rather fly back home for Christmas instead of driving with me. (And with gas prices, it might very well be less expensive.) Optimistically, that will save me the six hours it would take to pick her up and I’ll be able to leave as soon as my finals are done, instead of waiting for her to finish. The downside is that I’ll be footing the gas and hotel bills alone. (It cost me $350 to get out here!) I may be able to spend the night with a friend in Des Moines instead of paying for a hotel and hopefully I’ll get better mileage if my car isn’t weighted down with all of my earthly possessions. But I’ll have no one to talk to during those long hours in Nebraska and Wyoming when I can’t get decent radio reception, let alone NPR. On the other hand, there’s no way I could stand a month in Provo without my car, so drive I must.
Before I say anything else about the trip to Indiana, I have to say that Bloomington lived up to its name – it was most definitely blooming when I arrived. Unfortunately, my allergy-prone immune system did not take well to the Indiana outdoors. The first thing we did was go to a drug store to buy Kleenex and I spent the entire weekend sniffling, sneezing and coughing. In fact, I came home a day early because I couldn’t really sleep at her house without the filtering due to good air conditioning. But I don’t want to dwell on that, so you can just pretend I’m sniffing and sneezing throughout the rest of this entry.
Urbana is pretty much on a grid system, like Provo. Bloomington, is not, so I got turned around pretty quickly. (Plus, no mountains, as Pa Grape pointed out.) My campus (which I like) is kind of like a little city. There’s the main quad area, but then the buildings filter out into the surrounding cities, with no clear defining border between “campus” and “Urbana/Champaign.”
Melyngoch’s campus (UIB) is like a castle in the middle of a forest. Most of the buildings are grey stone with gables and turrets and crenellated towers. In between the buildings there are rivers and fountains and little woodland paths and we even discovered a tiny little church in the middle of a grove that must seat about 40. She was in ecstasy. It seems like a good place to be a medievalist, all in all.
Going to Melyngoch’s ward (branch, technically) was much more fun than I’d expected. You know how the semester starts and you’re new and everyone makes you introduce yourself and fill out forms and swear loyalty to the ward and all that? Imagine if, every time someone threw ward paperwork in your face, you just grinned and said “no.” Of course they assumed I was new and not visiting, showing up the first week of school and all, I just took wicked delight at thwarting their bureaucratic designs.
Melyngoch gave me a CD that I listened to on the way back. (X&Y, apparently track 4 is about me.) And when I saw the exit sign for Urbana, I was surprised to find that I felt like I was home.