Road Trip: Going South

I have very little experience in the South. In graduate school, I drove all the way from Delaware to Savannah to present a paper at a conference. It was my first time in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, but they were all blurs punctuated by South of the Border billboards. Since then, I really haven't been between DC and Florida. 

Probably the biggest reason I haven't visited this area is my aversion to hot weather. I grew up outside of Seattle, so to me a perfect day is 55 degrees and partly cloudy. My first summer living in DC has been a daily battle against sweat, one that I have almost always lost. The idea then of voluntarily going somewhere even warmer is anathema (I linked to the definition of that word, because everyone should know and use it if you don't already).

 It really is an absurdly beautiful campus.

It really is an absurdly beautiful campus.

Therefore, I have to be honest and admit that I faced my trip to Coastal Carolina University with some trepidation. My fears were somewhat proven warranted when I walked out of the airport to a wall of hot, humid air; that was soon accompanied by an alert on my phone that there was a flash flood warning for the area, with thunderstorms approaching. Great. However, I made it safely to Conway, enjoyed some air conditioning, and prepared for the first day at Coastal. 

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My day started early with the first of several visits to classes. As the day moved along, I went from class to class, building to building, getting to know the campus well and admiring the new buildings and the old ones. For lunch, we passed through the "cultural celebration" in one of the expansive green spaces and crossed over the walkways through the picturesque marshy woods that slightly divides campus to the dining hall where I met with two faculty members. The next day, I started even earlier and spoke to alert and interested students, shepherded once again by the indefatigable career services staff. The day concluded with me talking with a history class for first-year students planning on studying everything from Intelligence and National Security Studies to Philosophy, all interested in coming to DC at some point to intern at Interpol or a think tank. I was very busy and talked with literally hundreds of students. It was great.

 I'm not sure what the technical name is for this architectural feature, but it is the basis for the logo for the university.

I'm not sure what the technical name is for this architectural feature, but it is the basis for the logo for the university.

In addition to being able to talk to so many students from so many different disciplines and perspectives, I think what made it great was, despite indeed being almost constantly warm and seemingly downing Diet Pepsi at every turn, everyone was incredibly nice: not just pleasant or tolerant, but giving, accommodating, interested, interesting, and cheerful. Faculty happily gave of their precious class time for me to talk to students, students cheerfully asked questions and signed up, staff bent over backwards to make sure my visit went smoothly: that whole Southern Hospitality thing isn't just a legend; at least at Coastal, it's real. I can't say though that I might not enjoy it even more in January when the weather and I can perhaps reach a detente.