I remember my first time attending college. I was enrolled at Fayetteville State University but a commuter student. I’d drive out to campus, park then refer to a map to figure out where my classes were. It wasn’t as much a challenge figuring it out where my classes were, it was that it never occurred to me that some of them would be so far from each other, and this was a small college campus. It was pretty exciting actually, feeling like a citizen of this little universe, and I didn’t even live on campus to get the full experience.

To better prepare Najwa for that transition, albeit many years from now, I wanted to make it a habit to visit as many college campuses as possible before it’s her turn to make some college her new home. The goal is to make walking a large campus with its many different buildings and sheet size normal. To not be overwhelmed when she first steps onto the campus of whichever college she attends.

So when we returned to Hotel Madison in the Shenandoah Valley, being that it’s on the James Madison University campus, we walked the yard. And as we started to cross the campus and started naming the buildings from the student centers to academic buildings to dormitories, Najwa got a bit confused. Relating a college campus to the games she plays online, she thought a college was a single building. When it dawned on her that a campus consists of many different buildings, and yes, the college students live on campus, she said she was started to get excited about going to college. Especially when she saw that there was a Chic-fil-a in the middle of campus.

There were these little robot machines scurrying across campus as well. JMU students have an app where they can order stuff from the campus convenient store and these little unmanned robots would deliver the products. Using an array of cameras, they navigate throughout the campus, crossing busy roads, dodging students and each other. Just another little “feature” that opened Najwa’s mind as to what to expect at college.

James Madison University (also known as JMU, Madison, or James Madison) is a public research university in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Founded in 1908 as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg, the institution was renamed Madison College in 1938 in honor of President James Madison and then James Madison University in 1977.

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