Welcome to Thunderbird

By Darcy Nelson, Staff Writer

Courtesy of SWA Group

It’s morning but the heat of the summer sun rains down hard. There is no escaping it as my cheeks flush, my forehead beads with sweat, and my shirt sticks to me like paper mache because of this flashy new blue and black Thunderbird backpack. After passing by the small, quiet shops in the Arizona Center my view opens up to a quaint oasis. Out here there are small bits of shade from the lofty palm trees, the gentle sounds of water flowing down the steps on either side of me, and birds singing. The path before me descends down toward a long and narrow pond that is decorated with large sculptures of frogs leaping from lily pads. The first set of stairs are a bit of an annoyance as they are very short and too wide to skip without having to assume the warrior one yoga pose. At the bottom of the second stairs there is a narrow bridge to cross over the pond. On the other side, the reddish brown dirt path spiderwebs into various directions. Along it are grassy areas, floral landscaping, and small trees providing passers by with a natural escape from the concrete city streets.

Courtesy of SWA Group

At the entrance to the Arizona Tower there are four tall glass doors. I reach for the metal handle and pull the door slowly open as its mass counters my efforts. The ground floor is minimally decorated with modern furniture: a large white couch, a chair set on each end, and an end table in between each piece. My steps echo off the tile floor to the high ceiling and glass walls to my right as I approach the tenant at the front desk. Just before his desk there is a short hall to the Express Cafe where customers are shopping for a quick bite or beverage. Beyond the tenant, in the center of the building are the elevators. There are a total of eight, four on the left that reach the top floors of the building and four on the right to reach the lower levels. I press the chrome button on my right and a blue light glows around it as I await for my carriage. In a few short moments there is a ding, the light above one of the lifts indicates its arrival, and the doors slide open. Inside the elevator, in the place of traditional buttons, there is a large touch screen keypad. I select the number seven and the box highlights blue, the doors close. The ride is quiet as there is no elevator music to accompany me on my short journey. The doors open again, and when I exit I have to decide whether to go left or right. In the center of the wall opposite the elevator there is a monitor displaying upcoming events, and a couple of paper signs taped to the wall with arrows indicating which rooms are in which direction. I turn right towards another hall and make an immediate left in search of my room number. After taking a few steps down the carpeted hall I find the room.

To the left of the door is a narrow glass window and the placard with the room number. Peeking into the window before opening the door I see that some of my classmates have already found their places. Everyone says hello with looks of excitement and anticipation as I walk towards the aisle in the center of the room to find my seat. There are four rows of tables on each side and I find my place in the middle row, in the first seat next to the aisle. The room begins to fill with all the familiar faces from Foundations week. The professor arrives, settles in at the podium, and our first class begins.

Welcome to Thunderbird.

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