Observations from my year at UIUC

Looking out of my apartment at 2:30am. Inviting, isn't it?

This is a compilation of random details that stroke me as curious during my year abroad at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign:

  • The statue of a man reading a book. Near the entrace of Grainger Library there is a statue of a man reading a book about the future. Besides the inherent creepiness of suddenly meeting him at night while walking near the library he also has his own twitter account.
  • Traffic lights. In many traffic lights instead of a walking/stopped little men you only read WALK / DON’T WALK. Less friendly for foreigners.
  • During a year there I could count with the fingers on one hand how many motorbikes I saw.
  • Street names are usually written on plates that hang from the top of horizontal traffic lights at crossings. At the beginning I wondered why people referred to addresses and meeting points as “Henry and Main Street”. Once you are in the street looking at a traffic light you will invariably see the name of the street you’re crossing through. Interesting how small details like this influence how people behave.
  • Many of the campus buildings have hurricane refugee signs on their entrances. However after tlaking to someone who had been living in Champaign for 8 years she told me that she had only seen a hurricane in the area once. While I was in Japan the earthquake signs weren’t there without a reason.
  • For some reason the salaries of specifically UIUC employees are available online. The highest paid person in the university was some kind of sports director with a salary of more than 10 million dollars per year.
  • US universities measure students grades with a 4 point scale based system called GPA.
  • Students are usually indebted after they finish university. Owning 40,000$ to banks after graduating is not unheard of.
  • There are more than 40 fraternities and sororities in the UIUC.
  • A typical US university student that graduates has studied a major, which is the main subject they are studying, like Computer Science, and a minor, which can be something completely different like philosophy or arts.
  • At UIUC there are university supported vans that carry you from one point of campus to another at night. With the amount of sexual assaults that I saw it’s not a frivolous service.
  • Cars are bigger in the US than in Europe which made me feel less important during my pedestrian routes.
  • There exist things like ladybug infestations. I have been through one that lasted 2 days.
  • There is a higher crime rate than in Europe but you can’t use swear words on TV.

And finally a few random photos that I think I haven’t shown before:

A Half-Life 2-esque bell tower 5 minutes away from where I was living.
Two lonely benches from the Zen Garden.
I will never look at them the same way.