So we have this thing back at my University in England, called the ‘Aston Aunties.’ They are current Aston University students, who volunteer over 2 weeks to help the International students and then normal UK students, arrive on campus and settle in. I have been lucky enough to have been an Aston Auntie greeting new International students straight from the Airport and helping them settle in over the week. I have always felt like I appreciated how nerve wracking it must be to come to a new country, unknown to its ways, words and customs and have always tried to be very welcoming.
It wasn’t until 3 days ago I fully appreciated just how nerve-racking, stressful and scary it really is to move to another country. Even to an English speaking student (I am in awe of those of you who have done placements to non-English speaking countries this year and before.) The moment occurred to me when I went to The Mall with my family to go to a ‘Target’ (USA version of a Wilkinsons) to buy a duvet and some pillows. Honestly, I have never, ever felt like such a foreigner in all my life. After about half an hour of trying to explain to the nice American shop lady that I already had bed sheets and therefore only needed a duvet to put inside the said bed sheets, and she kept running off to bring back different things that in no way represented a duvet. Eventually she pointed to the “Comforters” (which kinda look and feel like a duvet but with a funky pattern on it) and we gave up and brought that.
It was during this increasingly comical conversation that I experienced the sheer “omg, i am a real fish out of water here” moment and I realised just how completely and utterly naive I had been of the whole endeavor of moving to a foreign country for a year. I suppose now looking back, out of all the situations to have that realisation in, attempting to buy a duvet in the middle of a department store is probably on one of the less stressful moments to have that in. But still after leaving the mall, quickly having to say goodbye and drop my family off at the train station (as they were getting the plane back to England the next day)and continue in the taxi to return to campus, I did have a minor meltdown.
However, after only a few hours of being on campus that feeling had completely vanished. The people I have met the last 3 days have turned out to be some of the kindest, funniest and welcoming people I have ever met, not just from America (I would just like to comment on just how amazingly polite and friendly Americans are to complete and total strangers) but from all over the world. There is currently a group of us internationals hanging out before the rest of the campus returns on Saturday and everyone is from everywhere. Australia, Hong Kong, Iran, China, Tanzania, Ghana, France, Abu Dhabi, Russia, India.. you name it.
So what have I got up to the past 3 days?
I’ve been hanging out with the rest of the international students, had orientation (where they tell you things like fire safety, bears on campus and how you shouldn’t have a motorbike in you room), sat outside in the sun and had lunch on the Hudson river, moved out of my temporary accommodation and into my new apartment where I will have an actual roommate (whaaaat), gone to a party, seen some of the local wildlife on campus (they have ground hogs! which kind of look like beavers) learnt about the history of the College, drank out of red cups, played Beer Pong and learnt how to play Flip Cup (i’m pre-warning any of my friends in England that you will be taught this game as soon as I get home) and generally had an amazing time of things so far! The weather here is absolutely gorgeous and the views are amazing.
So I am now about to go and have tea with the other internationals and see what tonight brings. I will leave you with a picture of the Beer Pong, my new house and nice picture of the river.