Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The big move-in

Before I took Ian (Mad Scientist) to college, I had already written in my head a piece about the horrors of college move-in day. Having experienced it on a small scale when I moved Brigid into the dorms at Radford for the Governor's school, not to mention the chaos that descends on Charlottesville when the UVA students come back to town, I felt I knew what I was in for. The Gov School move-in was insane, with parents trying to squeeze their cars into every available space and making multiple trips to the dorms with armloads of stuff--for a one month stay. At least two kids brought refrigerators. OH MY GOD. Ian's school, in an inner city neighborhood with virtually no parking and its dorm end located in a maze of crooked, narrow, one-way streets, would surely have the most nightmarish move-in of all.

I didn't take into account that Canisius College was founded by German Jesuits (in 1870). If anyone can transform a logistical nightmare into an efficient system it is the Germans. We presented ourselves, in our car, on the street we'd been told to use and were directed to get into a long line of cars hugging the left curb. Ian was sent to check in and pick up his key ("Which one of you is the student?" barked the guy directing traffic) while I waited in the car. The line crept forward and when we got to the front, we were directed to one of the parking spaces in front of the dorm and a horde of students descended on us, quickly took everything out of the car and in about three seconds we were standing outside Ian's door, slightly dazed, surrounded by all his personal possessions. An ancient Jesuit, bundled in a black coat, sat drowsing in a chair in the dorm lobby, presiding. The entire process, from the time we first entered the line, took about twenty minutes.

The rest of move-in day was a whirlwind of activities, with everything running so smoothly that we had time to stop in the bookstore and buy all Ian's books, and walk around the neighborhood, and unpack. There was a generous free lunch for all and Ian was introduced to all the "free" services he will enjoy at Canisius--unlimited free use of Buffalo's public transportation, tutoring, counseling, health clinic, etc. Ian was identified as a legacy student and photographed, with me, as such. There was an atmosphere of plushness, of No Expense Spared. Ian's dorm is gorgeous. I have seen plenty of dorm rooms that are little more than prison cells, but Ian's is thoughtfully designed, with a little jog in the wall so that when the boys are in bed they can't see each other, a lovely view, and generous storage. The common area is stunning. My pictures don't do it justice.

When I was a student at Canisius, I thought the modern buildings were hideous but now I see they have a certain retro charm. (The original 1870 school was in downtown Buffalo and moved to its current location in 1901 and expanded considerably in the 1960s.)

The day ended with a "convocation," a pompous ceremony in which the students were officially welcomed with speeches from campus worthies. Dinner followed, but we skipped it and went out to dinner downtown.

I had been anxious about everything, the logistics of move-in, the emotional adjustment of having a child move out, as well as concern for Ian's well-being and it was an enormous relief to see him so comfortably settled. We talk to him daily and he sounds happy, is hanging out with his Buffalo cousins, will be going to the family labor day party at my sister-in-law's house and is planning to apply for a job as an orderly at the hospital down the street--the same hospital where Jon and several of the cousins and uncles worked in college, and where his grandfather was a physician. Classes officially started yesterday and he likes them so far and is enthusiastic about being a classics major.

Now I will bore you with photos.

Waiting in line to move in
The neighborhood. It's not a very safe neighborhood, but there is plentiful campus security and there are shuttles and rides and enough resources so that no student need be walking alone at night.
Neighborhood around Canisius
We like the religious symbols embedded in the building.

Student Center

Ian in front of his dorm

Back end of Christ the King Chapel

Orientation stuff

The priests' house

"Old Main"
Dorm room
Ian's dorm room

Dorm common area
Common area again. I was daft not to get a photo that shows how this common area is actually a balcony open to the common area of the floor below.

If you look through the glass, you can see how the common areas alternate between full floor ones and balconies.

Fabulous retro '60s architecture
Another view

Lyons Hall


  1. I attened a Jesuit grad school in San Fransico and absolutely loved it - not a catholic bone in my body. Good luck to your son!

  2. Looks like a lovely campus.

    I'm only slightly disappointed by the smooth move-in because you do the tirading mother bit posts so amazingly and amusingly well. (That was intended as a compliment, but I've never been very good at delivering those graciously.)

  3. Logistics of move in day are horrifying on every campus. But that? Is a lovely spot--congrats on finding such a fine place for your son. I bet he'll thrive there!

  4. Hurrah for German Jesuits!