It has been 2 weeks since I first arrived in the Us of A. I feel guilty for not writing because I’m afraid that I will forget all these dazzlingly new experiences (pictures do help, although personally nothing beats writing). New York was too interesting on its own, which definitely deserves another post and many other returns. This post will be more about college life 😀
College is very different. I’m all on my own now. No one chases after me if I don’t submit my assignments on time, if I go back to the room late or even not go back at all. I just have to bear all the risks and consequences. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. The exciting side is that most professors care more about whether the students actually learn something than the grade. Plus my classmates all seem to be going through this transitioning period too, which makes it a lot easier for us to connect to each other. Common experiences indeed unify people.
Every morning I wake up, look around the room, at the lustre grass field outside and I just instinctively feel thankful to be at this place, eight thousand miles from my first home. Some upperclassmen told me that this is only the transient honeymoon period (“everything is still so new and wonderful but you will soon adapt to it”). That’s likely true, but in the mean time I’d rather make use of that amazement to cultivate a stronger sense of gratitude. That will make my time on Earth much more enjoyable and meaningful.
This leads to a topic I was concerned about before I left: drinking and partying. It just doesn’t feel right to me.
Some people say they drink because they want to forget about all the stress. I know college life is going to be stressful really soon (my piling homework doesn’t wait for me to type these lines), but I usually try to remind myself to step back, enjoy the challenges and appreciate the discomfort that Tufts and its people are giving me. In other words, why on earth should I forget these beautiful present moments?
Others embrace a “let’s try because it’s life” argument. It seems enticing at first: maybe I should try getting tipsy once to see how it feels. However, most of my friends, regular drinkers or not, say that they feel crappy afterwards. As a frequently rational being, I think the aftermaths is simply not worth the temporary high.
The last group of people treat it as a medium for socializing: “You’ve got to drink to make friends!” It should be rephrased “There are more people at a place where people drink, so it’s easier to make friends there.” However, I guess nobody here cares whether I drink vodka or coke. (It seems quite different from Vietnam though, where I can be readily judged for my drinking capability. To deal with this, the mantra “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” works) I’d probably learn how to minimize drinking for business setting too, given how effortless a tipsy mind can make wrong decision.
I’m no way against drinkers – many of them are super cool people. As a nature, I’m easily fascinated by people even when they are drunk. I just can’t imagine myself in that state. Lastly, the statistical truth is that much fewer students here drink than the common stereotype, which is great.
Moving on, my orientation put me in a super socializing mode because I made a lot of new friends. I always think that I’m quite a sociable person; nonetheless I do feel overwhelmed sometimes: there are simply so many people! My nametag says “Queen” and “Korean” as a mnemonics to help people pronounce and remember my name correctly.
Many actually remember, which is a nice added incentive for me to remember their names. Lucky the orientation week is over, and I will have more time to invest in the new relationships I have just made.
On a related note, one of the many cultural shocks I’m experiencing is the way my American friends greet each other. At first I thought “How are you doing” was to really ask what I was up to, so I felt obliged to reply. It turned out that it was just another way of saying “Hi”, which is weird: why must it be in question form? Anyway, saying “Wassup man, how are you doing?” still seems strange to me, so I just keep to heys and hellos until I’m more assimilated.
That’s it for now. There are tons of things I want to write about, but it’s time to (try to) be an efficient student ._.
P/s: I have to deal with this annoying diarrhea plus stomach rumbling first. The doctor said my body, including my dearest stomach, was adapting to the new environment so I had to go easy on it. Could you believe what she said? “You maybe eating too much fiber. Eat less vegetables”. That is after a week of festivity and too much ice cream. The food here is too awesome that I stop doubting the validity of the Freshman-15 phenomenon (or gaining 7kg in the first year).