SAN BERNARDINO - There was a traffic jam on University Parkway, lines at the bookstore and the usual frustrating search for a space in the campus parking lots.
But students making their way down sun-baked walkways or listening to lectures on Thursday, the first day of fall classes at Cal State San Bernardino, appeared to be taking it all in stride.
Even somewhat shell-shocked freshmen knew the drill by the time lunch rolled around.
"It's pretty cool. There are no late bells, no work sheets, and the professors know what they are talking about," said Anthony Gomez, 18, of Riverside as he walked to his next class. "It's definitely a different world from high school."
Many of the about 17,500 students enrolled for fall took classes for the first time in the new College of Education Building.
Under construction for the last few years at a cost of $51million, the elegant building covers 130,000 square feet and is one of the largest structures on campus. It houses classrooms, laboratories and office space for faculty and staff.
Dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the building are scheduled for Oct. 3.
Students walking through the wide open atrium in the building Thursday were appreciative of the state-of-the-art learning space.
"It's nice and smells new, like a new car," said Nicole McGrew, 21, of Norco.
Renovations have also been completed on the Physical Sciences Building, following the completion of similar construction work on the Biology Building a year ago.
Meanwhile, Cal State San Bernardino's Palm Desert campus will open its new 23,000-square-foot Palm Desert Health Sciences Building.
On the academic end, for the first time in the California State University's history, students will have an opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree in Arabic language and culture beginning this fall.
The university has also introduced a new minor in film studies.
Two new MFA programs, one in creative writing and the other in visual arts, are in the planning stages.
In addressing the state budget and funding for higher education, campus President Albert Karnig said the university would receive less funding from the state, but because of student fee increases, overall funding will be up by $3.5 million over last year.
Yet due to $5.6 million in mandatory expenses including increases in salary, health benefits and utilities the university has an overall shortfall of $2.1 million.
Karnig said it is an unfortunate situation but prudent planning has helped.
"Unless there are some surprises, we'll be able to cover the $2.1 million shortfall this year with $1.4 million in the baseline reserve and another $700,000 from one-time funds," he said. "However, we all need to be aware that the state budget is likely to be bad again next year."
The budget was cause for concern for some students on Thursday, as was the cost of textbooks.
Student Joanna Rubio, 28, of Beaumont summed up the situation for most.
"It's kind of overwhelming knowing the amount I am going to spend on textbooks for the next 10 weeks of school," said the married mother of two. "It's tough, but worth it."