Take our textbook in law school as an example. A new textbook on contract law costs US$120. If you multiply it by 7 and convert it into RMB, it’s 840 yuan. And the most expensive domestic contract law textbooks will not exceed 50 yuan, 840 yuan is simply an astronomical figure. Taking 5 courses in a semester, even if I only buy 5 textbooks, it will cost US$600, which is equivalent to more than 4,000 RMB. This amount far exceeds our expectations for the cost of teaching materials.
There is also a way to save money. There is a special service in IUB’s major bookstores to sell old textbooks used by previous students. Because only in terms of learning, although we need brand-new knowledge, we do not necessarily need brand-new teaching materials. I used to have a strong new book cleanliness in China, and I never buy second-hand books. The books I have used myself are also protected as new books. When buying books in a bookstore, I will compare several books repeatedly, pick the most perfect one, and try not to scratch it. But in the United States, where book prices are so high, the extravagant habit of not buying second-hand books can only be given up.
The second-hand textbooks in the bookstore come from students from the previous school year. They sold the used textbooks back to the bookstore at a low price after the exam, and the bookstore sold the old textbooks to us in the second semester. Take the “Contract Law” as an example. Brand new textbooks cost US$120, while second-hand textbooks cost US$90. Although the price is not low, second-hand teaching materials are still in short supply. Because not everyone will sell the textbooks they have used. If we go to the bookstore a little later, the second-hand textbooks for 90 dollars have been sold out and we have to buy new books for 120 dollars. Therefore, we all rush to the bookstore early before the start of the semester and spend $90 to snap up a used second-hand book, and feel that we have picked up a big bargain.
Courier without cell phone
In addition to buying teaching materials in the school’s second-hand bookstore, buying books online is also a way for us to buy teaching materials. You can often find suitable second-hand textbooks online. Of course, the price of online textbooks will not be much cheaper than second-hand books in schools. The Internet just provides us with another shopping channel.
The courier in Bloomington is very arrogant. If the consignee is not at home, the courier will not call the consignee like a domestic courier, and will not wait until the next time for delivery. They will throw the goods directly to the door, turn around and leave without stopping. The roommate who lives across from me is a photography enthusiast and often buys some SLR camera equipment online. The courier always piles valuables such as cameras and lenses directly at the door.
At first we were very uncomfortable, what if this is stolen? Who is responsible? And, doesn’t this need our signature to confirm receipt? For this reason, I also called the courier company specifically, saying that I was at a nearby law school. If the courier comes, please call my mobile phone. I will come right away, within five minutes. But the courier company refused, saying that we put the goods at your door, and you will see it when you come back. Our courier does not have a cell phone.
”No cell phone!” Hearing this reason, I was speechless for a while, and was speechless.
However, although we often shop online and are often away from home, the couriers often put valuable or invaluable items directly at the door of the apartment, but we never lose them. Later, we also felt that they were justified in doing this. These Americans have lived in this small town for so many years. The culture of this small town is the culture of the courier throwing the goods directly at the door, that is, the culture of the courier without a mobile phone. The culture of putting valuables directly at the door without worrying about being taken away by others.
Therefore, we began to get used to it. After going home after a day of class, we could always find a few cardboard boxes at the door. After we opened them, they were all things we needed. The courier is like Santa Claus, who quietly brings gifts but never shows up. I have several second-hand textbooks, which are in my hands in this way.
Textbooks that cannot be copied
In the beginning, in order to save money, we also planned that after one person bought the book, others would borrow it and make a copy. This practice is very natural in China. Copying materials, copying notes and copying teaching materials are all part of our university life.
But on an American university campus, we are also law students. As soon as this idea came up, I felt something was wrong. Because in the United States, private copying of the entire textbook would be considered a manifestation of disrespect for intellectual property rights. It is even more unreasonable for law students to do so, not to mention that we are still taking the course of copyright law.
Although the photocopier is placed in the lobby of the law school, we can use it freely, but if you blatantly copy textbooks in the lobby, you will definitely be despised. Starvation is a small matter, and there is a big failure to lose face. It does not matter if you lose your face, but it must not give people the impression that “Chinese people do not respect intellectual property rights.” Therefore, we gave up the idea of copying teaching materials and obediently spent money on second-hand books. And from the bottom of my heart, as a law student and as a former copyright worker, I am very pleased to see such respect for intellectual property rights.
Although you cannot copy textbooks privately, IUB Law School has a very good tradition. After the final exam, many senior students put the textbooks they no longer need on a large table next to the aisle on the ground floor of the law school for those who choose this course next semester to freely choose. Free choice means giving away for free. In almost every class, several students give up the idea of selling used textbooks back to the bookstore, but put them on the table for later use. This tradition makes people feel very warm.
Not everyone will donate books and leave them there for others to choose. A textbook is more than 100 dollars, even if it is sold as a second-hand book, it can sell for a lot of money. So not everyone has the opportunity to get free textbooks in every course. It can only be based on luck, fate, and fate, first come first served. In addition, if there are senior classmates who have a better relationship, they may give you the book directly.
Once, Mark, an American classmate of law school, gave me a copy of “Mass Media Law” worth $140. He told me that he felt that those who took the “Mass Media Law” were very thoughtful people, such as himself. He expressed his sincere appreciation of my interest and hoped that I could make my own contribution to the study of the “Mass Media Law”.
A library that does not turn off the lights 24 hours a day
The library of the Indiana University Bloomington School of Law has four floors, the building is magnificent, and the venue is spacious and bright. There are tens of thousands of books in various collections, and it has been rated as one of the ten best law libraries in the United States by the media.
This library is our main place for reading and self-study. Unlike the very popular “occupying seat” in China, the seats here are directly assigned to individuals. Law students who need seats go to the library to register in a certain early morning, and the seats for one year are fixed through the program.
Although I accidentally overslept on the day of queuing to select seats, but due to better luck, I was still assigned the seat I wanted most. It is an independent location by the window on the second floor of the library, quiet and secret. Outside the window is a dense green forest. If you occasionally turn your eyes from the book to the forest scenery, you can also see the happy squirrels walking among the towering trees.
The Law School Library is open until 1 am from Monday to Thursday, until 12 midnight on Friday and Sunday, and until 10 pm on Saturday. This opening time can basically meet the needs of all kinds of students. Compared with students in other faculties, law students work hard, which is nothing new in free American universities. But what’s not new is that among the international students of law school, the most diligent is still the Chinese.
Sometimes the fight was until midnight and the huge library was empty, but looking around, the few who still insisted on continuing the fight were basically those familiar faces.
On Saturday nights, I occasionally go to the main library of the school for self-study. This library is huge, located in the center of the IUB, open to all IUB students and even Bloomington citizens. Moreover, no matter it is the law school library or the main library, you do not need to show proof such as “library card” or “reading card” to enter. The most surprising thing is that such a huge library does not turn off the lights, close the doors, clear the premises, and do not rounds for 24 hours a year.