Now that my Brazilian classes are in full swing, I'm really beginning to realize what a great university Ball State is. So, I've compiled a list of things I miss about Ball State.
1. Laser Cutters! In the College of Architecture and Planning, we do occasionally make models, but we have these fabulous laser cutters that make the process so much easier and professional looking. Ball State students have the tools they need to make professional quality models and presentations, which brings me to my next point. . .
2. Plotters! Ball State has several plotters, used for printing poster-sized project presentations, scattered around campus, but the College of Architecture and Planning has several in its building for student convenience. And they are of high quality to boot.
3. The CRC (and other easily accessible supplies stores)! I know of one place where I can buy supplies for class here at PUCRS. Yes, it's located on campus (in another building), but it's crazy expensive and doesn't have everything I need. I've been asking around, and there don't seem to be any supplies stores within 30 minutes of PUCRS. Compare that to Ball State-- we have the CRC supply store in the basement of the College of Architecture and Planning, PLUS we have supplies in the bookstore, in the village, and can even go to Hobby Lobby. True, design supplies are never cheap, but at least we have options and can shop around for the best deal.
4. Convenience Hours! At Ball State the library is open everyday, all day, and well into the night. Additionally, students have access to their buildings 24/7. Also, during finals week most buildings go on special schedules to be open longer to students. So, if you need a resource on campus, it's likely available to you at any hour of the day and most of the night. At PUCRS, everything closes for two hours during the day for lunch. And it happens to be the same two hours my partner and I are available to work, which we can't do until later.
5. Ample vegetarian meal options in the dining halls! Dining services at Ball State offer a variety of meals (including vegetarian options). While special diets are never quite as easy to maintain as the more standard diet, I do think Ball State does a good job of offering enough variety to make it possible.
6. Outdoor seating areas with outlets and wifi! At Ball State, I can use my computer anywhere outside. Not only do we have wireless access anywhere on campus, but there are plenty of outdoor outlets available if your battery starts to run low. So when the weather is nice, you'll see many students relaxing in the grass while doing their homework (or checking facebook). :-)
7. Indoor seating areas with outlets and wifi! Likewise, every building has at least one lounge area with wireless and outlets. Most have several places to relax and work, making it easy to find an unoccupied space for your studies.
8. Individual Studio desks! I always knew I was spoiled by having my very own studio desk in college, but now that I've had the luxury, it's really difficult to do without it. It's so incredibly convenient to have a space you can call your own, where you can keep your design supplies, drawings, and models. Plus, there's an added benefit because you always know where to go when looking for classmates who are working on the same project. Thanks to the studio desks, the architecture students have a very strong camaraderie that I think the other colleges don't have as much of-- we spend all day and night in a studio together working on projects and goofing around. I like that I know nearly everyone in my college at least by face, and I think that's mainly due to all of us having our own space in the architecture building to work in.
9. Studio-style classes! Perhaps the scariest thing about studying architecture are the required studio classes, which are twelve hours a week every semester (with one exception for landscape architects); HOWEVER, they are by far the most instructive classes I've had. Studio is the place where theory meets reality, and it's so convenient to have professors moving around studio criticizing your designs, fellow students frantically trying to get work done, and those who have a loss for ideas roaming around checking out their peer's work. I don't know of another situation that would yield better design results or learning.
10. Free public transportation! This may seem trivial, but having access to free public transportation in Muncie really is quite wonderful. The transportation system is so effective that I went completely without a car for three years in Muncie. Heck, last semester when I DID have a car in Muncie, I barely used it in favor of my bike and the bus (at least until it got REALLY cold and my roommates and I worked out a car-pooling system, but that is mainly due to living off-campus away from the bus route). Point is, I use the bus in Muncie to get nearly everywhere I need to go in Muncie-- shopping, volunteering, downtown, and around campus. And it's all FREE! Who could ask for more?
11. Free Exercise Facilities! Ball State lets all students use the gym for free and each residence hall has an exercise room available to it's residents. Now, I don't know how much you know about human health, but exercise is pretty important to just about everything. Getting it for free is amazing, and I miss it (even if I don't use it as often as I should!).
Now, are all these things absolutely necessary to the learning process? Maybe not. But now that I'm learning at a highly-respected university that doesn't have these ten conveniences, I'm really appreciating how much easier my life is with them.