After a week of internship search activities, I was really looking forward to escaping Austin for a little bit this weekend for the Society of Women Engineers Region C Conference. We headed out from campus around 2:30 in the afternoon and arrived about 2 hours later. My car's first impression of A&M: "The buildings are all tan.... And THERE ARE PARKING LOTS."
The first activity was a Mardi Gras themed networking social in our hotel. Light refreshments were served, and I think most everyone experienced smoked fruit for the first time. As one of our UT SWE members put it: "I guess everything is barbecue here." Most of us ended up deciding to go find legitimate food after the Texas Wranglers performed, which was a very... Texan experience (the performance, not finding legitimate food).
The next morning, the conference started up again with breakfast at 8 followed by a joint business meeting, a collegiate business meeting, four workshop sessions, a break to sing "The Eyes of Texas" in front of Kyle Field for E-Week, and the closing dinner. Unfortunately, the keyboard being used during the Century Singers' dinner performance did not have a pedal, so the combination of keyboard and singing did not go well for most of the songs. The highlight of the night was definitely the awards ceremony, when UT SWE won the Most Creative Membership Campaign Award and the Outstanding Collegiate Section Award!
UT SWE - current members and alumni!
Although the last SWE region conference went well, what really set this weekend apart was being able to meet up with the Bryan/College Station branch of The Nerd Herd (Andrew, Brian, Holly).
On Friday night, when most of UT SWE's conference attendees were at dinner together, I met up with Andrew and Brian instead. We tried to go to Fuego since it's apparently an A&M "tradition", but there was a line when we went, so for the first time ever, I went to Rudy's. We enjoyed our barbecue - sausage and a whole pint of potato salad for me, and when it was around 10, we decided to switch venues to Yogurtland since Rudy's was closing. I got strawberry froyo with gummy worms (regret because they became really hard in the cold froyo) and Nerds (the candy, not my friends). We also had some pretty amazing strawberry-infused water. (Just kidding, it just tasted like normal water.) When Yogurtland began to close around midnight, we decided that it might be time to call it a night. But instead we ended up standing in the parking lot by Brian's car in the cold for at least another two hours talking about things from high school memories to politics. I actually ended up not sleeping until 3 in the morning.
On Saturday, Holly was able to join us. After teaching Brian about the many entrances to the Memorial Student Center (MSC), he and Holly finally found me, and we headed to IHOP where I ordered two blueberry pancakes and a lemonade. We ended up having a heated debate about whether cows or cars contributed more to gaseous emissions and thus global warming, and we ultimately decided to rope in our residential expert Jordan, the sole member of the New York branch of The Nerd Herd. She ruled in favor of Brian to say that cows contribute more.
After resolving that controversy, we decided to leave IHOP and walk around the A&M campus. The only other time I have been in College Station was back in May 2009 when I was being recognized for performing well enough on the SAT through Duke TIP, and we didn't walk much around campus then.
Turns out I was in the same building back in 2009 and for conference this weekend even though I recognized nothing!
We went back to MSC, where we admired the Flag Room and the Memory Cloud art installation. We then walked to the H2O fountain by the chemistry building and also to the architecture building. Afterward, we went one last stretch to the dorm where one of them was an RA, and we circled once inside the new dorm nearby. Although I am still glad that I didn't even think about attending A&M - all of the "traditions" would have killed me, man, I wish UT had a campus that looked and felt like an actual campus!
Overall, it was really nice to catch up with some of my high school friends. There was also something about walking around a college campus with high school friends late at night that made me feel almost like a hopeful college freshman again - eagerly awaiting the next opportunity. It was a nice, refreshing feeling, particularly when I've been feeling pretty stressed about school, and I hope to keep that spark alive as I tackle my exams coming up right around the corner this next week.