Butterflies were fluttering on wildflowers along a stream, a young man was shooting hoops at a basketball court and another was skateboarding while a female companion was on a bicycle.
It was a beautiful Sunday on the Waterfield Campus at the IPFW Student Housing complex, the day before classes. This morning these students will embark on a new semester, crossing the glass-covered bridge over Crescent Avenue to the main campus.
It was the same sort of day at Indiana Tech a few miles away near South Anthony Boulevard.
New roommates Paris Renfroe of Indianapolis and Virginia Perry of St. Louis were killing time on a couple of available sofas waiting for a movie to start at the Andorfer Commons cinema. The freshmen women said they were happy with their "very traditional dorm room" and thankful for the roomy closets.
Parents were gone and the students were waiting to hit the books. Perry, who is studying psychology, agreed with Renfroe, who is majoring in criminology, that compared to their bigger cities, "everything is close" in Fort Wayne.
They were both looking forward to attending the free TinCaps game offered through Indiana Tech and greeted Darius Darling, student life programs and conference events coordinator, nailing down where the sign-up was. Darling, an alum, already knew their names.
Perry became interested in Indiana Tech when a high school guidance counselor suggested it as a place where she could compete on the bowling team, she said.
For Renfroe, it was a chance to be sort of close to Indianapolis without having to go to a school and live at home.
The same kind of situation framed several of the students interviewed Sunday. For IPFW freshman Lamar Duncan from Indianapolis, who is studying music education, it was IPFW or Ivy Tech and he wanted to live on campus.
"I think this campus is prettier," said Kylla Shivers, a biology major from Brownsburg, enjoying a round of pool with another freshman, Andrew Shields, also from the Indianapolis area and Duncan. For students from the Indianapolis area, the accessibility of Fort Wayne was appealing, they said. The city was just big enough without being overwhelming.
IPFW junior Leah Perry from the Cincinnati area couldn’t agree more. She is a resident adviser for the second year in a row, she said, as she sat at a high table in the lounge area at the Cole Clubhouse. At the clubhouse, there’s a fitness center, pingpong and pool tables, and an inviting restaurant.
"I really enjoy it," said Leah Perry, who also likes the semester dorm price that includes everything, including utilities and WiFi. The prices range from $2,480 per semester for a shared bedroom and bathroom to $4,614 per semester for a private bedroom and bathroom.
Leah Perry came to IPFW for the dental hygiene program and of all things, has high praise for the maintenance crew. "I love our maintenance crew," she said.
Eating lunch with her was friend Shelby Smiley of Warsaw, also a junior. The campus trend this year is "rustic," Smiley said. Lots of burlap – possibly a throwback to the ’70s and macramé – and customized canvas, that is, framed canvas with drawings or sayings on it.
Canvas wasn’t on the mind of nearly 20 male freshmen who filled a game room at the clubhouse, all with their own flat screen, competing in "League of Legends," a video game that pits five players against another team of the same number.
South Bend freshman Kris Marciniak, who is studying computer science, said he arrived Wednesday and "so far, it’s been awesome." He was sitting next to a group of four friends and roommates from Knox, two who are studying engineering, one computer science and one who is torn between education and computer science. They decided they’d all room together and are all gamers.
They were having the time of their lives away from home, just as comfortable as they might have been in their own living rooms.
"It’s a good hobby," Marciniak said. "A good way to pass the time."
Sitting out close to the sidewalk on Maumee Avenue at Indiana Tech, two freshmen roommates, friends since Wednesday, looked forward to a year that included sports. From Winamac, Dakota Reed will bowl for Indiana Tech while Reilly Collins, from Arcadia, California, is looking forward to playing attack on the Indiana Tech lacrosse team.
Both of them liked the opportunity to play sports and the small campus atmosphere. For Collins it was an opportunity to "not have to deal with Cali traffic," he said.
Reed, a computer engineer major, had looked at Purdue but "wasn’t ready for that many people." Indiana Tech has about 1,400 undergraduate students living on campus, which he said is just perfect for him.
"It’s a beautiful campus and everyone is nice and assisting," Reed said.