In high school (how many blogs have I started with this phrase?!) we were able to borrow textbooks from the school each year, but at uni you have to have access to your own copy. Sometimes it's enough to go and read the library's copy whenever you need it (though "whenever you need it" may also turn out to be "whenever everyone else needs it" too and you may find the library stripped of copies), but usually you will end up buying several expensive textbooks each semester.
A cheaper alternative is to buy second hand textbooks, and you will see many ads on the back of toilet doors advertising cheap "barely used" (often true) textbooks but you have to get in FAST - I'm often too slow, but...
Here's a fun story about The First Time Asako Actually Got In Early Enough To Snag A Textbook Second Hand, and wow.
Talk about an adventure.
I should have known it would end in tears (of laughter)... Every time I hang out with Claire something interesting happens. Previous events include her trying to convince me the walk from Stanmore station to the Mcdonalds is only "5 minutes, I swear" (yeah, 2 km later...) and the death of a rabbit on a school camp that I sill maintain had absolutely nothing to do with me, I just found it lying there, even though she claimed "oh look, Asako got hungry..."
So anyway, first year of uni was over, I was going overseas in one and a half weeks so I was frantically scheduling everything I needed to do before I left into a very packed timetable.
My (planned) agenda for the fateful textbook buying day included getting my 2007 student card, picking up promotional cereal packets for a job I had the next day, handing out yearbooks to teachers at my old high school, meeting this girl I was buying the second hand textbooks from, and then going back to my high school for a performing arts night.
So the first part of the day went fine. I met a friend to get our 2007 student cards from uni and the line was so incredibly short that we decided it was a waste of a meet up and we should get some breakfast (Manning!) Then I went home and got the car, picked up the cereal from North Sydney, handed out the yearbooks in Petersham, all was fine. It was a scorching 38ºC so I met my friend Claire who still goes to my high school and we killed some time before meeting my textbook girl by taking a dip in the pool near the school. Finally it was time to leave and meet her.
I'd been emailing her for a bit, deciding prices and where to meet, etc. I got an SMS from her the night before while I was at a Jet concert and I replied saying what I'd probably be wearing and it felt so blind-datey but I fought off the powerful urge to not sign off with an "xoxo your blind date ;-)"
Even though I was driving, I agreed to meet at Town Hall (oh what a mistake). On the way down Parramatta Rd we witnessed the fire brigaide tackling a car fire who's engine had apparently blown up. In fact before we even got onto Parramatta Rd I was waiting on a giant hill and the traffic lights kept flashing yellow and freaking out, so I should have taken both of these things as BAD OMENS and turned around, but no, I proceeded.
I got Claire to sms this girl to say "hey change of plans, I'm actually wearing a black bonds top and a towel. Be there soon", while Claire promised me that there was parking under the QVB. We finally got there and once we were under, realised that parking was more money than we had to spend, and we couldn't reverse out so I went in and
then headed straight for the exit. I was forced to go down three levels, then up the same three levels (which made me very dizzy and involved several threats of "warning! severe tyre damage if you cross this line!") before I got to the man at the gate and pleaded that I didn't realise how much it was and I have no money and I've only been in here for 4 minutes going twirly twirly twirly... He looked at me sympathetically (and/or didn't want to create a scene with a Crazy Person) and let me out free of charge.
At this point we were running pretty late so I got Claire to call the girl and pretend she was me, to say that we can't find a parking spot, maybe you can just jump in the car as we drive past and we can drive around the block while doing the business and drop you off again? When she hung up the phone I asked what her response was, and Claire goes, "She's a GUY!"
Ohhhh My God. You don't know how differently you speak to males and females until you make a mistake like that. A lot of things came back to me - I'm pretty sure I'd been signing emails off with "xx Asako" and definitely not talking in a ladylike or appropriate manner.
But more importantly I WAS WEARING A TOWEL.
We managed to make our way to Bathurst street after several wrongful bus lane entries by moi, including innocently driving along that bit on Park Street where it's ONLY bus lanes, and I saw a sign just outside St Andrew's Cathedral that said ...PARKING and had a picture of a car on it. As we inched closer, the previously obscured left hand side of the sign appeared and unfortunately it said NO PARKING, OFFENDERS WILL BE TOWED, and the picture sure enough was actually a picture of a car being towed away by a truck.
Our only option was to illegally park in a bus zone on George street while I ran out and collected my textbooks. I had just received a message, "Just in case you don't see me.... I'm in a yellow t-shirt" and as I was making a mad dash (as fast as you can possibly go in thongs and a TOWEL. I'm so sure I looked like a mental hospital escapee) when I saw a pretty disgruntled looking cutie in a yellow t-shirt holding a co-op bag, looking towards me with a clearly unimpressed expression as I hobbled along and flailed my arms around. I practically threw the money and him and ran off with the bag, yelling behind me, "good luck.... psych with... honours, yeah!!!!...??!"
So I'm sure there are many lessons you can learn from that nightmare of a story about buying second hand textbooks.
-Seller got an ambiguous name? DON'T assume anything.
-Meet somewhere that isn't Town Hall (Uni is a good plan, and organising it during semester is even better), and only drive if you have actual parking in mind, possibly that costs less that $10 for 0~1 hr.
-Don't get too forward before you've met. You don't know what you're in for.
-Despite all the embarassment it was definitely a good saving, so if you can get in early enough, definitely try and grab some textbooks second hand.
-Don't wear a towel. It is not okay as a substitute for clothing. Ever. No, you're wrong. Ever.
And now that you know the back story, you can forgive me for my behaviour. You know who you are, and don't pretend you didn't think I was at least a bit deranged...