I arrived to the CIA yesterday and was welcomed to campus in a rather unceremonious way. I sorta felt underwhelmed if that makes sense. Well let me back track……I actually had a beautiful brunch with a dear couple, Martin and Paul. Martin I have known since my undergrad days at Stanford University. Fortunately we reconnected when I moved back to the Bay Area in 2004 and has been a fixture in my life ever since along with his wonderful partner Paul. The two of them came over from Healdsburg to officially welcome me to wine country living. We had a fantastic brunch at Tra Vigne in St. Helena where I partook in some delicious Gloria Ferrer Cuvee sparkling wine and house-made donut holes with chocolate sauce. I then had a wonderful short rib hash with poached eggs….simply heaven on a plate.
After brunch, we headed up to the main Culinary Institute of America campus to get my welcome packet. Once on campus, there were two guys in the lobby who handed us a folder with a magazine from the Chamber of Commerce, a reminder letter about the 4:00pm mandatory housing meeting and a map of the area. And poof….that was my welcome to campus. Maybe Stanford did spoil me cause I was at least expecting a banner, a sign maybe? Nope…just two very nice students with a folder of useless information.
Ok, onward to my dorm. I am currently living in dorms that reside off the main campus about a mile (15 minute walk or 4 minute car ride). They are the newest dorms for the CIA and were completed about 4 years ago. For the most part, they are nice, but they do sorta give off a “Holiday Inn Express” vibe in a way I believe due to the institutional like furnishes and bedding. See for yourself….
Yes. I know. You’re jealous of my palatial abode. It’s stylish and chic in that way an institutionalized dorm room can only be. Honestly, I hate it. Hate it. Reading the student manual/handbook, I can’t place anything on the walls (including tape) so there goes any idea of dressing up these drab walls. I cannot move furniture or add furniture to the room, so bye bye idea about adding in a comfy seat. I am not allowed to lay anything on the floor, so adios to layering rugs over the institutional carpet. Additional lamps are forbade due to fire concerns, so see ya’ additional lighting. So what does that leave me with? Exactly what you see in the pictures….a big grey/beige clump of a Holiday Inn Express reject room. However, it’s a single and for that I am grateful as I am already hearing stories of crazy roommates on Day 1.
If you follow my Twitter feeds, you heard about the “little concert” my neighbors across the courtyard gave Paul, Martin, The Partner and me within an hour of moving into my room. I quickly learned that the walls in the dorm are paper-thin. So much so in fact that I can hear my other neighbor (a lovely girl FYI) get INTO her bed, turn on her faucet & shower and if I listen really closely type on her computer. Clearly, these walls are made of tissue paper and that is the real reason why we can’t put anything on them….they will fall in!
At 4pm, I attended the mandatory housing meeting to hear the Resident Life Manager and RAs drone on for a solid hour about what we could not do in the dorms. Again, I am a bit shocked at how much they have this place on lock down. Drinking and overnight visitors (without prior written consent) are all banned. I had a bit of a hissy fit when hearing the last part since the major reason I wanted a single was to allow for unfettered visits from The Partner. However, I am now being told that this has to be cut to 2x a semester for no longer than 3 days at a time. Translation, The Partner can only come up twice every 4 months. This effectively ends any idea of me spending the weekend up here at all pretty much. Peace out. Upon hearing that, I lost my appetite, skipped out on the free pizza and headed back to the dorms to do a bit of sulking and trash talking about the experience so far.
Hunger and thirst finally drove me from the dorm room around 8pm and I made a quick run to Safeway to get some snacks and essentials. I am happy I did cause upon returning, I ran into a bunch of really nice dorm mates and shot the breeze with them for a little bit. It helped a bit with my sadness and depression over the day’s earlier events plus gave me a bit of hope that the dorms were not the first gates to culinary student purgatory.
I took all of this into stride and had a pretty wakeful night full of tossing and turning as I acclimated to the sounds of my new room. I woke up and made my way to the first day of
Morning finally did come complete with a second concert of morning sex from the courtyard neighbors. I got dressed and drove to the main campus for my first of two days of orientation. Walking into the room that had continential breakfast was a bit daunting since I had not idea who to talk to or sit near. I threw caution to the wind and literally just started talking to the two people behind me in line. Lucky for me, the two people behind me in line were awesome individuals who I really liked and vice versa I believe. We ended up sitting next to each other throughout the day and at lunch. I think I may have officially made my first two friends at school. Yeah for me! On the flip side, I think I may have made my first enemy too in the form of a Chef Instructor who is not too keen on my “wild hair” style. Personally, I don’t think my hair is extreme but evidently to those one gent, it’s too radical and should be cut immediately. For the moment, I am just going to avoid him until my hair grows up especially since looking at my schedule, it doesn’t appear I have a class with him in the first semester.
Things lightened up after that in the afternoon and culminated with the students being fitted for our chef whites (white coat, hats and checkered pants), receiving our knife rolls (pics to come later) and the reading materials for this semester. I think I may have broken my back trying to lug 11 books and CDs back to the dorm room:
After 8 hours of orientation, the first day is done. I am tired, excited and still a little nervous after hearing now passionate my classmates are about cooking. It will be interesting to see us all in the kitchen. For the moment, I am going to take everything in stride and just look at it in week-long intervals. Tomorrow is day two of orientation and also our first day of classes. Right now, I have some light reading to do and I need to figure out how to get back to main campus for dinner.