Prior to my arrival in Eugene this past Saturday, I had precious little information to go on regarding life in the town aside from what I had gleaned from my two or three prior visits, what I had read on the Daily Emerald‘s website in the meantime, and what I had been told from faculty and staff after being accepted into the SOJC’s PhD program.
As a knowledge fanatic I had also done as much research as I could, too, poring over the Eugene and Lane County Wikipedia pages, not to mention UO’s “Campus Profile,” where I learned that (not including faculty and staff) the school is nearly as big as the town that I grew up in in North Carolina. (You can read the Wikipedia page there that I’ve linked to in order to get a sense of the typical small town mythos that plagues the place.)
Honestly, I really didn’t have any fears at all about moving to Eugene (aside from the mild sense of nausea that I get from thinking about the name being shared with Popeye’s “dog,” but my queasy stomach and its relationship with cartoons from the 1930s is not what we’re talking about here); ever since my first visit to Vancouver, which I still maintain is my favorite city in all of North America, I knew I wanted to live, or at least try living, in the Pacific northwest. School seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so, and UO turned out to be the ideal place to try it all out.
The main thing I had to endure was this near-constant chiding from friends in New York City that I would never be able to stand the “rurality” of Eugene, or that things would be too slow-paced or whatever to handle my needs. So far that has all proven to be utter nonsense. As someone who grew up in a town whose population has, I believe, never topped 30,000, and who did not go to college in a so-called “college town” (if you don’t believe me, go visit Wake Forest‘s campus and look for the wall around the majority of campus–you will very easily find it, though the administration is apparently doing what it can to change that), this feels like a brand new adventure for me. Plus, Portland is less than 100 miles to the north–and Portland comes in as a close second to Vancouver when it comes to cities that I admire.
If I was pressed to generate a complaint about Eugene, so far I would have to say it’s the rat’s nest-style layout of highways and streets, especially when you venture anywhere northward of the downtown grid. There is one particular left turn that I have already grown to loathe, even after four days of driving, mainly because it seems like a collision waiting to happen. There are a lot of those spots around, actually, and if I didn’t have my GPS firmly attached to the windshield of my car, I have no doubt I would’ve careened into somebody already. Parking is also a bit of a challenge; I’m going to need to carry at least one roll, if not two, of quarters in my glove compartment at all times just so I can feed various meters on and off campus.
All of that seems like peanuts, really, when I consider how little I’m paying in rent and how much space I have in my apartment (I was lucky enough to snag a sublet from a UO professor who is on sabbatical for the year), not to mention all the amenities I have here… but then again, perhaps having a washer and dryer in your unit, not to mention a dishwasher, is kind of… standard everywhere but NYC.