Wednesday, March 26, 2008

School Daze at Oregon Culinary Institute

I just returned from orientation for my new school, Oregon Culinary Institute. I start actual classes tomorrow morning, and I am so incredibly excited, I can hardly contain myself. I feel like I just want to jump out of my skin or cry or dance or maybe all of the above. More than anything, I'm feeling like this is really, truly the right thing for me.

A few things of note:

1. There are two morning classes per entry date, and a grand total of 22 people in the morning classes. That's *eleven* per class! When I was checking out Western Culinary Institute, the other well-known culinary school in Portland, one of the points they tried to sell me on was that even though their max class size is 35, "people drop out in the first few weeks so it usually gets down to about 25 anyway". Not sure if that's a great selling point, but works for some people I guess.

2. My class is incredibly diverse. Though there are some young students, I have to admit that I was relieved to see a fair amount of students in their late 20's and into their 30's and 40's, all of whom are serious about making the commitment for the career change of their dreams. I feared fresh-out-of-high-school, ready to party hardy kids, and fortunately that population seems slim-to-none in my class. We went around the room and introduced ourselves and we got everyone from 40-something career-changers, to an Army wife wanting her own foundation to support herself and her family (I nearly cried listening to this woman tell her story), to people who have cooked in kitchens for years and are ready to step it up a level. The common thread was a passion for cooking.

3. The faculty is awesome. I'm consistently impressed with how passionate and caring they are about education and their relationships with their students. Nearly everyone at OCI who I've encountered already during the admissions process called me by my first name today, even if I had only met them once or twice.

It's now almost 10PM. I wrote most of this nearly 10 hours ago, and after the hectic day I've had, which included yummy brunch with friends at the Tin Shed, dental work, numb lips and teeth, errand running for school and an amazing dinner at Vindalho with Portland Food Forum regulars, sleep is overcoming me quickly. I'll suspect I'll have more to say tomorrow.

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