It’s hard for me to believe that just over 50 years ago, I departed the campus of the University of Maryland in Munich, Germany to begin my life as an adult. Sadly, no web sites dedicated to the Munich Campus exists, other than a mention in Wikipedia about McGraw Kaserne.
Yesterday (Sunday, March 26, 2023) I attended a multi-year reunion of Munich Campus attendees. I thought I might be one of the older ones there, but I was surprised to find most of the folks gathering were students there during the 1960s! And there were quite a few from the 1980s. In fact, only one other 1970s-era attendee was there.
There is a sense of shared experience among those who attended the Munich Campus. I felt right at home with the people (about 40) despite not having attended with any of them. All of us have Oktoberfest memories, student pranks, dormitory escapades, instructor stories, and the relationships we formed and in many case, retain today.
Having attended a number of high school reunions, I scratch my head at times in wonderment that some people somehow seem to live in the past, considering their high school years the best times of their life. High school was not that for me, but I do confess that my days in Munich were filled with awe and amazement. I loved living abroad, learning another language, and, in all honesty, being irresponsible. The only requirement placed upon me and others was to get passing grades. We could smoke, drink, stay out all night, sleep in, and carouse in ways only college students are capable. For all intents and purposes, we were adults (there is no drinking age in most European countries) without adult responsibilities. I have many fond memories of exploring, partying, jamming and sightseeing, all while maintaining a Dean’s List grade point average!
Munich was only a two year experience, sad to say. In many ways, it almost a dream-like existence. Having decided I wanted to continue my college studies, I had to find a college that would accept me and let me achieve my baccalaureate. Some of the colleges I looked into would have required me to add an additional year to my studies, but I was eager to graduate, so I transferred to the University of Maryland’s home campus in College Park, Maryland. Where the experience was turned on its head.
I won’t delve into how life in or near College Park was 180° different. My life as and adult started when I arrived and U. of Md. informed me that
- They didn’t consider me an in-state student, despite having attended two years at the school. A remote campus apparently does not qualify as in-state. Therefore, no dorm room!
- It also meant I would have to pay out-of-state tuition.
I needed to establish residency by a) finding and renting an apartment off campus, and b) getting a job. This helped pay for the apartment as I fulfilled the qualification requirements for in-state tuition. As a result, I became somewhat of an “outsider” because I didn’t live on campus and have a social experience with other students. Instead, I now had the responsibilities of working a job, paying rent, buying and cooking my own food, and getting to know my neighbors, most of whom were not students!
Thus it was that I couldn’t wait to receive my degree. After establishing residency, I re-enrolled and dedicated myself to fulfilling the requirements for graduation. Once I had diploma in hand, I just continued to work the job I’d taken, and “officially” entered the “real world.” The reunion yesterday was a pleasant memory bubble, but I can’t relive it, and really don’t want to. The real world, with all its flaws, is better approached head-on, and with full knowledge it isn’t “days of wine and roses.”