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Insight: I'm a Tempe student, and I don't hate the Downtown Phoenix campus

Visiting a city-oriented campus is a refreshing breath of reality

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Cities are not perfect — but when I'm faced with the flaws of Phoenix, I can imagine that life there would give me a smoother transition to the "real world."

Growing up in Phoenix, I remember experiencing the wonder of downtown. As early as fourth grade, my elementary school class and I would take the light rail from the Encanto stop to Van Buren Street for our monthly YMCA field trip. We opened the doors, making our way through a sea of weightlifters. After a few hours at the indoor pool, we made our way out through the cafe, towels around our necks. 

I saw the surrounding Downtown Phoenix campus as a grown-up extension of the city I knew, and I thought one day I could be a part of it. 

I admired the way my hometown had a different side to it, one that was vibrant and bustling. 20 year olds looked like businessmen through my fourth-grader eyes. They made a young area seem very grown up.

A decade or so later, my major has banished me to the Tempe campus. We have everything from a renovated five-story library tower to a nine-acre recreational field you can see from an airplane. We have countless on-campus restaurants and dining options. It's a sprawling university metropolis where you can have anything you want, whenever you want it. 

But there's one catch — everyone here is a student. 

I'm immersed in a so-called cool and youthful setting that is supposed to be a good thing. Being surrounded by people my own age makes the educational experience relatable and fun. Living on campus is supposed to feel like a nine-month sleepover.

But as I approach my senior year, I'm starting to feel suffocated by my own people. On the Tempe campus, I live and breathe amongst people my age, and worse, people almost three years younger than me. Walking to class through a parade of loud, cliquey freshmen is not for the weak.

This leads me to remember my first ASU football game, almost three years ago.

I was completely engulfed in sweaty undergrads wearing gold t-shirts, many of them being men studying business. They screamed and chanted every time our team scored as I watched in awe, completely unaware of what was going on. It was a culture shock for an arts high school transplant.

Everything about that experience screamed "Tempe Campus" — the overwhelming amount of pride all students had was expressed boldly through the fireworks, Sparky running freely on the field, and the slightly obnoxious group of random freshmen I was with. 

During a moment of mental silence, I began to realize how formulated my college life was.

I lived in this tiny bubble of people my age who had the common goal of going to school. In this bubble, we had our own financial systems, our own restaurants, and, as my surroundings suggested, our own sports team. It was like a fake fairy tale, and lying outside was a very real world filled with problems that were bigger than crappy dining hall food and hangovers. It felt inauthentic.

Flash forward to this year, when the State Press has made downtown Phoenix my second home. The commute is about 50 minutes using the light rail, but I still haven't gotten sick of it. 

When I enter the Downtown Phoenix campus, I see the part of Phoenix that feels the most like a city. I see grad students, babies and dogs, and families going for a stroll. The students on the campus blend in with the city landscape.

The "real world" isn't pretty. Maybe that’s why a lot of students enjoy the security that ASU's Tempe campus brings. But others, including myself, feel a sense of freedom the moment we arrive at Central Avenue and Polk Street and see an elderly man pushing his walker down the sidewalk. 

With that said, the Downtown Phoenix campus is far from perfect. There are two places to get coffee on a good day, and the only library they have is in a basement with unreliable Wi-Fi. But the beauty of downtown is that you can go over to Burton Barr Library, which perfectly captures the essence of life in a city. 

Cities are not perfect — but when I'm faced with the flaws of Phoenix, I can imagine that life there would give me a smoother transition to the "real world."

Edited by Sophia Braccio, Alysa Horton and Grace Copperthite.

Reach the reporter at and follow @eleribmosier on X.

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