The University of Montana campus — along with the rest of the Missoula community — has been pretty quiet for the last six weeks or so. UM students finally headed back to school Monday, as signified by the following observations.

1. There’s nowhere to park – Going to the University District? Well, you better plan on leaving good and early, because not only are the side streets a big icy mess, they’re also jam-packed with student vehicles. And when you do park, I would suggest leaving as much space as possible on either end of your car — UM students are known for their ruthless approach to parallel parking, and they don’t care if you have to perform a 17-point turn to get out of your spot.

2. The streets are crawling with distracted pedestrians – College students are master multitaskers. They play Farmville while listening to lectures. They read textbooks while running on the treadmill. They eat microwave burritos while biking to the library. And they walk while doing, well, pretty much anything. Your defensive driving skills may have lapsed a bit since the end of the fall semester, but now that class is in session, you’ll need to be extra careful wherever the sidewalk meets the street.

3. All of the bagels are gone – For the last several weeks, you’ve had your pick of breakfast items at your favorite coffee shop. Now you’re competing with thousands of UM students in search of a quick, cheap, calorie-rich meal. So even if you had your chops set on cinnamon-raisin, you might just have to settle for plain. Asi es la vida.

4. The bus is packed – It’s been nice having a guaranteed seat for your morning commute. But now that you’re sharing space with off-campus renters, you might just be stuck clinging to a handgrip — especially if your route passes by campus. Now might be a good time to invest in a bottle of Purell.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

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