Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Visit to Bastyr. Part 1

My visit to Bastyr University was all kinds of interesting.

Getting to and from there was just as eventful as the actual campus. My fiance' and I rode the bus together to the school she was looking into, or what we thought was the right bus. The plan was then, after dropping her off, I would make my way to Bastyr. Simple enough, right? We thought so too, until we found that the first bus we boarded was travelling opposite the direction we wanted. By the time we had realized our mistake, it was no longer as simple a fix as waiting for the bus going the other way. Instead, we had to finagle our way back on track using our wits, charm, and sheer stupid determination. Luckily, my fiance' was in charge of the first two. I tend to monopolize the last one. There was also a great deal of running, rapid map reading, and confused locals. Between racing buses to their stops so as to not be completely late for our appointments, the rain, and the general feeling that the ground was falling out beneath us, I'm amazed that we even made it to our respective campus visits at all. All things considered, someone could have justifiably called the nice gentlemen with white coats to take us away.

Bastyr to the Birds.
As you might guess, I was a little too frazzled by the journey before to have a really good first impression of Bastyr. It's a pretty campus, to be sure, but there is something about spending three hours embattled with buses and an ever-increasing amount of time after when an appointment was originally supposed to occur that ruins one's appreciation for those sorts of things. Fortunately, I did not remain bitter for much longer. Bastyr was far too sweet.

The campus is tucked away in Kenmore, between Lake Washington to the St. Edward State Park - it apparently stays green year-round due to its location.

It's also fairly new. The grounds were originally built in 1959 as the home of a catholic seminary, however Bastyr moved in during 1996 and finally bought the place in 2005. Interestingly, the school was first established in 1978 in response to political problems that arose when the National College of Natural Medicine moving to Portland. It was also one of the first schools to be accredited by the Council of Naturopathic Education. There's more history to the place, but I've probably got a healthy dose of nerd-bias going on and will spare you. Unless you like it, for then I will embrace my nerdery and spew forth knowledge like a geysers of science and obsessiveness.

The Chapel.
I was surprised to find that everything except the new student dorms (which are mind-numbingly awesome and environmentally friendly) are contained in only one building. It kind of reminds me of the white city from The Lord of the Rings. The front archway is the main thing that does it, but the portions of hallways that are open to the air and walking inside of the acoustically perfect chapel also makes me feel like a hobbit. I would demonstrate this using photos, but I realized upon trying that you have to be there to understand. That, or my brain makes some really strange correlations. (Peanut Butter and Motor Oil anyone?)

Fun fact, the chapel often gets used by professional musicians from all over for recording purposes due to it's great acoustics. There is also a group on campus that routinely meets up to make music in there, which is all kinds of awesome in my book.

The Front Archways.
That aside, the parts of the campus that really mattered were also fantastic. From an educational perspective, you pretty much have to watch your step to keep from accidentally learning something. The walls are covered with various research projects and other informative posters, but ground has something to share as well. Bastyr has many great gardens, both decorative and medicinal, all over the grounds. From what I saw, most of it was labeled with not only the plant name, but what it was used to treat as well. The gardens are also organised by various systems, one had the plants grouped according to targeted organs while another used a Ayurvedic layout. One garden even has a reflexology pathway built into it. If it weren't raining, I would have given it a shot. It's essentially a bunch of pebbles set into a concrete pathway in a pattern, and from what my student guide was saying, people have a varied reactions to it. She wasn't a big fan of it, as it hurt her feet, but I still  look forward to my next dry-ish Seattle day to try it out.

Inside the main campus building, there are multiple rooms for all sorts of class work. I only saw one large lecture hall, the rest of the building seems to be devoted to either labs, professor offices, or the vegetarian cafeteria. All three blew my mind for various reasons. For starters, the labs were gorgeous. I can't even begin to express how much I would enjoy it if the majority of my classwork was outside the lecture hall and in labs like those. Everything looked well-taken care of, shiny, and respectable. I wish I had some pictures to show them off better. The one that stands out in my mind is the food medicine lab, which is basically a very modern home ec room with science oozing out of it's pores, but no one yelling, "BAM" every once in a while. It's also painted red, if that helps any.

I also got to see the herb sciences lab where they were making tinctures with St. John's Wart to use at the clinic that Bastyr runs. Not only was it fun to chat with the herbalism students, who I must say I'm extremely jealous of (they're learning the stuff as undergrads!), but it was like walking into a room that I have wanted to make in my house for the past five years. There were all sorts of plants and tubers drying from the ceiling, as well as every plant part you could think of lining the walls in jars. The best part was the smell though. Imagine a cross between silage and honey, only better (because it's real) and you have the herb lab.

To be continued!

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