As a downtown student, the shuttle ride to the Tempe campus is second nature. However, just recently I ventured beyond the usual 20 minute ride on the maroon bus and stepped onto gold bus for a 55 minute trek to the Polytechnic campus.
I grew up not too far north of the campus, but never had I actually visited to see what it was like. I figured that now that I am an ASU student, it seemed fitting to explore the mysterious campus that was in my own backyard all along.
My friends and I decided to make an afternoon out of it, to see one of our school’s campuses that ia different from the only two we are familiar with, downtown and Tempe. While watching the driver navigate through traffic and take my familiar freeway route to east Mesa, the trip seemed to drag on for an eternity on that charter bus. We finally exited the freeway and slowly began turning through empty streets. We all breathed sighs of relief when we set our eyes upon ASU buildings.
After almost exiting the shuttle a stop too early on the outskirts of campus, we managed to avoid getting ourselves terribly lost and remained on the bus. Once we successfully reached a stop on the central part of campus, we stretched our legs and climbed off the bus from a ride we thought would never end. At first glance, Polytechnic looks like a larger, fancier version of a high school. The surrounding area is purely desert; the landscape was a complete change from the urban setting of downtown. The air was even a bit cooler without all the concrete and tall buildings.
Stumbling first upon the soccer fields and fitness center, we looked around to see how the campus’s new facilities compared to those of the downtown campus.
Being someone who loves to spend the weekends at the rooftop downtown pool, the Polytechnic pool was alluring with its large deck space and raised shallow lounge area. Although I do love our downtown pool, Poly’s may be worth a long shuttle ride for a pool day once it starts warming up.
Continuing on through the campus, we explored where the students took classes. What caught my attention most of all was the unique architecture; it looked like a modern desert oasis. Some of the buildings formed tunnel-like structures that had bridges on the upper floors between platforms, and some of these platforms opened into outdoor study areas that have a view of the whole campus. They seem like the perfect place for students to study or work on a project and let their creative juices flow with such a nice view.
Above all the classrooms on the upper levels were what really interested me. Some rooms were above the walkway on the ground instead of directly above a first-floor room and have the illusion that they are floating. These “floating” rooms had large windows looking out toward campus. That is a view I would appreciate while sitting through a class or study session.
As the sun began to set and we started to get hungry, we went in search of somewhere to eat. Passing through the Student Union that had a few restaurants, I was vaguely reminded of Tempe’s Memorial Union, on a much smaller scale, of course. After weighing our options in the Student Union we decided to make our way to the dining hall to discover if the selections were any better than our own at Taylor Place.
Upon entering the Citrus Dining Pavilion, we zigzagged through the tables toward the cashiers and were instantly overwhelmed by the size of the food area and how many options were available. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful and it was nice to get a change from our own dining hall’s options. There were even some football cookies out in preparation for the upcoming weekend’s Super Bowl game.
After finishing our meal, we wandered through the dining building and found a Polytechnic version of our own Devil’s Den. The fond reminder of downtown campus showed how although each campus’s environment and atmosphere seems completely different, they are all still connected and part of the same university.
Taking a final walk around the modern-looking campus before leaving, I realized how unique Polytechnic actually is. Students may sometimes joke that it’s in the middle of nowhere, but it actually is worth a trip even if you don’t take a class there through your academic career at ASU. My journey showed me the advantages and what it means to be one university at many locations, with a different experience to be had at each.
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