Tulsa, Oklahoma: the weather was quite a challenge, at least for someone used to the moderate Irish climate. The decision by U2 to open a world concert tour at Tulsa, Oklahoma, in May may have surprised some people who would expect a rock band to choose a location more widely identified as cool and hip, such as New York or San Francisco.
Despite complaining that Americans know so little about this island of ours, we Irish are generally ill-informed regarding US geography, except for high-profile cities. However, I ended up spending about eight months there in the s, including a semester as a postgraduate student at the University of Tulsa. So when the opportunity arose to go and study in the place, I took it without hesitation.
Getting there was rather stressful, since it involved flying to Chicago and staying overnight before taking a second plane next day. There was also a heart-stopping moment at the immigration desk where it took a while to clarify that I was coming on a scholarship and did not belong to the category that Donald Trump would nowadays like to build a wall to keep out. On arrival at Tulsa, however, I had the good fortune to be hosted initially at their home by Everett and Kay Smith, whose son Braden was a friend and fellow-student of mine at University College Dublin.
In due course, I moved into my own place close by the university.
The population of Tulsa was aboutor less than two-thirds the level in Dublin at the time but it was spread over a much wider expanse of land. The weather was quite a challenge, at least for someone used to the generally-moderate Irish climate. I arrived at the start of January when the temperature can be as low as minus four degrees Celsius, whereas in July and August it could rise to the high thirties.
The worst day came on June 8th,when I experienced my first-ever tornado, best described as a raging whirlwind that covers a wide area and can destroy buildings in its path.
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You might say that my sojourn in Tulsa was more than just an experience in third-level education, it amounted to a course in the University of Life. Part of a dysfunctional property market with a worrying outlook for the Autumn. The arts sector is waiting to see if funding support through the pandemic will be built on.
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