I've been in St. Louis for almost two weeks now, and tonight is my last night before the semester officially begins. I was really excited to get to the city early, so I could have some time to get to know the area before classes started, but I've spent most of my time just waiting to get into my studio and start painting.
I've spent much of my time here in Forest Park, which I'm told is the largest city park in America. The park itself was created for the 1904 World's Fair (as well as a lot of St. Louis's landmarks). It really is wonderful park, with creeks, lots of trees, wide open spaces. But it also houses the Art Museum, History Museum and the Zoo. The Art Museum is great, and the Zoo is really world-class. (I really enjoyed the hippos, several really energetic elephants, and the bush dog. It's so cute!)
My apartment is next to Forest Park, on the far side from the Wash U campus. Once classes start, I think I might want to be closer, but right now I'm really happy with the area. I live within walking distance from a popular strip of grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and a bookstore. In the other direction, there's an LGBT friendly neighborhood with mostly bars, but also a really cool coffee place. It's fun to finally have the city-living experience, but in a city that is pretty laid-back, and not very crowded.
The weather takes some getting used to. It wasn't too bad when I got here, but I've been completely sweaty for the past three days. I'm writing now from Whole Foods, where the AC works better than in my apartment. The cicadas, fortunately, are starting to quiet down.
I had a couple days of orientation this week. I've moved into my studio, met my classmates and professors, and even a handful of graduate students in other departments. It's a little strange to me to be at such a small university (It's about 14,000 students total, almost half of them post-graduates), but it means that it's really easy to get to know students all across campus. I've met a few MFA candidates in creative writing and am hoping to work with them during the program.
I'm taking a couple practical art classes this semester, but most of my time will be in individual practice and critiques with students and professors. Tomorrow I'm planning on going to the Art Museum to do some sketches of old Buddha heads. I'm very excited to get to work, but I'll have a lot more to say once the program really gets started!