My First Week At CSUF Irvine

Animal House Belushi pencil nose

Boy, the second a-week-in-my-life post this month.. it’s like you’re living inside my head, man!

As I keep writing about, I’m attending Cal. State Fullerton for my last two years, and this past Monday I started… entirely at the Irvine campus.  It’s been a really wonderful week, aside from the heat, so allow me to go through it all, day-by-day.

The satellite campus is maybe a mile from the Irvine Spectrum, and while I’m up there quite often, it’s been a long time since I regularly trekked up to that area in the morning.. so I wasn’t sure how heavy the traffic was going to be.  I also had no clue what parking would be like.  I drove by the campus one night, just to check it out, so I wasn’t expecting it to be anything like the madness that is Saddleback College’s parking, but I’d rather err on the side of caution.. so I was out the door at 8 A.M., for my 9 A.M. class.  Traffic was sluggish once I hit Mission Viejo, but I still made it off the freeway in a little over 30 minutes.  When I pulled into the campus parking lot, I laughed… it was almost entirely empty.  Since I was there so early, I gave myself a little self-guided tour of the building, and it was pretty empty in there, too.  I almost wondered if I’d gotten the start-day wrong ;).  The campus is actually just a two-story office building, so it’s really nice and clean inside… and very cool, with central AC pumping everywhere.

My first class was Art 380 (MW, 9-11:50 A.M.), which is very much a general/adult hands-on art class, just with an emphasis on how we can approach things in our future classrooms.  When I found the room and walked in, it was already mostly full… and, of course, was filled with nothing but women.  Throughout the rest of my week, I continually made the joke with my female classmates that the lack of men is how I know I’ve found the right room :).  I’m not the only guy, though… just one of a very, very, very small handful.  This teacher is very relaxed (think classic art teacher), and her emphasis on creativity and fighting perfection really set the tone for what seems like a pretty fun class.

Art 380 – Number of males that aren’t me: 1

I’m in school Monday through Thursday, and Tuesday is the one day I start later.  The parking lot was still pretty empty when I got there, though I didn’t bother being so early this time.  The first class of the day was Math 303 (TTH, 1-2:15 P.M.).  Again, this class isn’t directly about teaching kids, but it’s prep for getting into their material.  The roster in this one is actually pretty small, only maybe 12 of us, I believe.  We jumped right into the material, and it seems like it’ll be a decent little group, and I like the teacher.

I have a good-sized break between classes, so I just hung out around the campus.  For Welcome Week, the school was hosting different things each day, and today brought us a food truck, with free food vouchers.  It was DE-licious, and the topper was that the truck had the large Coke bottles. Not the shorter glass bottles, but the tall beasts. I feasted like a king.

Class #3 was CAS 301 (TTh, 4-5:50 P.M.), which is a required course on research writing.  The teacher is a nice guy, but definitely a little dry.  He has facial tics, too, which only made mine worse as I watched him.  We should have a face-to-face facial tick showdown, at some point, I think.

Math 303 – Number of males that aren’t me: 1
CAS 301 – Number of males that aren’t me: 2 (though it was down to one by Thursday)

This morning I was back to my art class, though I decided to test just how much later I could leave for school and still make it.  Traffic is a funny thing, in that where it starts shrinks and grows during different times of the day.  I left my house a little before 8:30, and I got there just in time.. but I was cutting it a little close.

Ah, the final yet-attended class on my schedule, and my long day on campus.  I perfected my morning routine on this day, finding the sweet-spot of leaving not too early and not too late.  My morning started in CAS 300 (Th, 9-11:50 A.M.), and I again walked into a nearly-all-female classroom.  The teacher was a bit late (and a bit of a nut), but we had an impromptu welcome and greeting from the head of the Irvine campus, who talked to us for a while about how they’re planning on providing bloc class scheduling in upcoming semesters.  This class is very much about writing, as is CAS 301, but it’s more about form and creativity over researched content.

We were let out pretty early, and since my next class didn’t start until 1, I had plenty of time to kill.  I went out onto the patio and ate my apple, hopped onto the computer for a bit in the library, and then stood in the common room and did some reading.

In math, we continued talking about word/logic problems, and for the last half we worked on a sheet by ourselves.  Well, she encouraged us to talk through the problems with each other, but it wasn’t teacher-led.  For the first problem, I actually ended up helping a few of the gals wrap their head around the ideas and how to get to them, which of course is really fun for me to do… it’s helpful, it’s social, and it’s teaching.  When I got to question #2, though, I laughed; it was the 4-gallon jug problem from Die Hard With a Vengeance.  I have seen that movie multiple times, and every time I confront the problem, I’m stumped by it.  So, I took up my sword and faced the dragon.  Haha, I was on that problem forever, while a lot of others moved on, but then I finally clicked and found the answer.  I’d been making jokes and comments about how it had always stumped me, and let out an excited “ha-HA!” when I figure it out… to the amusement of those around me :).  I then helped some of the gals with the next couple of problems, and when it came time to talk about the problems, I was very proud to be the one to explain how the jug problem is solved (I stood up to talk to the class, saying “I don’t know why I’m standing, but I guess it’s because I’m so excited to have done it.”).  Haha, I know.. it’s a small victory, but boy did I feel great to finally have done it on my own.  It was just one of those silly little things that my mind could never figure out.. but no more!  This dragon is dead :).

Another long break between classes found me eating my packaged celery and peanut-butter outside, and then engaging in a conversation about the Bible with a fella named Joe.  My second time in CAS 301 was definitely more fun.  The teacher seemed to have loosened up a little bit, and we did a group project (it’s a lab class), so the chats really warmed the whole room up, on top of that.

CAS 300 – Number of males that aren’t me: 1


And that’s that.  I really love the CSUF Irvine campus, and I’m so glad that it’s there.  Obviously, it’s really nice that I don’t have to drive up to Fullerton, and parking is a breeze, but it’s not just the local convenience that’s left me enjoying it so much.  The entire campus is just one big office building, so it’s really tight-knit.  Distance-wise, it’s not really a second-thought to dash back into the library from my car, because I want to use the computer to post to Facebook… it’s all so close and laid-back.  Even in just the 4 days I’ve been there, I keep recognizing the same folks hanging around, too.  I’ve been striking up conversations with strangers, here and there, because the whole atmosphere just totally lends itself to that.  In my classes, as well, I’m seeing a lot the same faces over and over again.  Heck, that one other male in 3 of my classes is actually all the same guy.  In my art class, on the first day, this gal came in a little late, and even though there were plenty of seats available, she came and sat next to me.  I know I’m studly and irresistible, but it’s because she recognized me from the orientation we did at Fullerton earlier this summer.  She and I sat together there, and talked a bit, so at the end of art class when I turned to her and started to say, “Hey, we met at orientation, didn’t we?” she cut right into the end of my sentence with a friendly, “Yep!”  It’s really nice not only being at this end of my degree, but going through it on this campus… because I have a feeling I’m going to get to know a lot of my fellow classmates quite well.  And, when they’re mostly women, that’s hardly a bad thing ;).

I just have to work a little harder to remember names…


About Mark Mushakian

Just a man who loves God, women, kids, dogs, movies, and every other lovely thing in life :)
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