As a freshman here at UD, I still remember what it was like to tour campus for the first time and fall in love with the tree-lined brick pathways enclosing the Green. In fact, I loved it so much that I came back for a second tour—and then a third, self-guided walk around campus—and the students I encountered on these three separate occasions all gave similar praise regarding the community I would soon become a part of. However, there was another commonality between each of these visits: every student I talked to, it seemed, had something to say about the train.
Whether it was a warning to leave earlier than I thought I needed to for class lest I get stuck at the tracks or a general statement about the inconvenience of having to wait for it to pass by, my tour guides never failed to mention something about that doggone train. Even during the first week of my fall semester, both RAs I toured campus with—because yes, I was that freshman who went on multiple tours during move-in—made some snide remark as we passed over the tracks. Despite not yet having seen the infamous train for myself, I loathed it already. I dreaded our inevitable first meeting and I scowled at the thought of having some big, ugly mass of rusted steel standing between me and a good meal on Main Street. It took a few weeks, but I did eventually encounter the legendary beast—and the experience was not at all how I imagined it.
As I stood there, mere feet away from the tracks as the thing hurtled past at whatever insane speed a freight train usually travels, I remember all of my previously held angst fading away into pure, unadulterated awe. I felt my eyes widen and my heartbeat quicken, as is typical when you’re standing next to something you know could absolutely destroy you in an instant and keep going as if nothing ever happened, that is, should you foolishly ignore the signage and get too close. And with the ground shaking beneath my feet and the shrill screeching of metal-on-metal ringing in my ears, all I could seem to think in that moment was: Wow, this is epic.