Hello again and welcome back to my blog, in which I retell the tails of my gallivantings as an exchange student in the U.S.A., where most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing!
Now let’s continue things beginning on the 24th of August, which just so happens to be my Dad’s Birthday (I know I’ve already said it, and it was quite a while ago now but HAPPY BIRTHDAY/PENBLWYDD HAPUS DAD!). If you recall in my last blog post, I ended things saying that today was a special day, well here’s your answer (although this was only one out of 2 reasons as to why it was special, I’ll get on to that in a bit).
This day continued the trend set from yesterday morning (23rd of August), and how I wish every day would go, with a free breakfast, followed by more orientation lectures from 8:30-12:00 (something I don’t wish for everyday!) After orientation for the day was finished we were all given a time slot to meet with the academic coordinator for exchange students, mine was a 2:30 so I had some free time at last. With my free time I decided to FaceTime back home and wish my Dad a Happy Birthday, having a catch up with them was nice and I even got to see him open his present from me (a NYPD t-shirt he’d always waned after not buying one when he was in New York City 13 years ago).
After saying goodbye to my family I headed to the meeting and was relieved to find out that I was registered for all my classes, after freaking out earlier in the day thinking for some reason that I wasn’t. The day ended with another trip to Walmart (I told you Walmart would feature a lot in my blogs!), after buying our shopping and whilst walking back from the bus stop to our Quad, I realised how you can never predict where life’s going to take you (I know this might sound like it’s going to be really deep but it really isn’t) :I was walking back in the U.S.A. from a trip to Walmart with a Frenchman, a Norwegian and two girls from Japan (Oda’s roommate and her roommates friend), carrying a box of pots and pans whilst the two girls from Japan kept saying “Kawaii” every time we saw a rabbit run past. Needless to say I did not foresee this happening to me when I came to America (in a good way).
The second reason the 24th of August was a special day was because…
The Great British Bake Off was back on TV!!! The only issue with this was that it only aired in the UK and I had no way of watching it 😦 . But where there’s a will there’s a way (I’ll get to that later)
After a fairly lighter day than yesterday, the 25th had a bit more events planned that didn’t relate to academics. The morning consisted of making sure all our important documents were in the ISSS office database in case of any emergencies. Following that rather serious task, at 11:30 there was a more enjoyable trip downtown to see what the rest of Albany had to offer. On the bus ride there I had a long conversation with Christina about politics in our respective countries, I had to try and explain the whole Brexit thing and I learnt a lot about the issues Germany/Angela Merkel has to deal with right now. Downtown Albany itself in my opinion was a nice mix of modern an old, from ‘The Egg’ and Empire State Plaza to the more traditional buildings on the high street.
Upon arriving we were immediately greeted by some form of rally/speech, as there was a massive crowd of people (some were holding hands with each other) listening to one man talking about God and things along that line. At the back of the crowd there were a few protesters with LGBT flags obviously unhappy with what was being said.
As blatant as it may sound, it was all so American, like something you’d see in a TV show and it was really fascinating to me for some reason. Also on this trip I met my first British exchange student! They’re from Kent and studying music at Glasgow University. After walking around for a bit and having a questionably large sandwich from Subway, we headed back where I enjoyed some more downtime. It was nice to have some time to myself as it allowed me to realise that all the stress an anxiety that I was felling at certain times were all expected, and natural to happen when moving to a new and different environment.
At 9:00 pm that evening we went to see a live performance by an Illusionist/magician called Joel Meyers. I was really excited to see some live magic…until I realised that we were sitting in the front row! Myself and Oda were terrified of being picked to go up onstage, and whenever he was looking/picking a volunteer to go up on stage we’d just look away, thankfully many of the American students were very eager to get their 15 minutes of fame. The show itself was very good and he was very funny, his ability to react to, and work with the audience was top notch. My favourite part of the show was when he used a knife to cut through his wrist (morbid I know) without actually doing any harm to himself! (ohhh magic!), other acts included picking the card a volunteer had chosen and signed…by regurgitating it! He somehow managed to escape a strait jacket quicker than Houdini, performed a weird séance and there was an uncomfortable watch, as he put his hand down on 3 out of 4 brown paper bags that were shuffled, with one of them having a large spike underneath it (it’s fine he didn’t impale himself).
(0:41-0:48 was taken at Albany!)
I ended my day in typical student fashion as my housemates at Swansea know to well, by cooking way too much pasta (I guess some things never change).
Friday marked me being in America for one week, and what greater way to celebrate than with more orientation (I hope you can tell when I’m sarcastic in this). Seeing as we’d seen enough orientation lectures, and given the fact that many of them didn’t relate to us we decided to go to the mall instead (I’m such an American rebel!).
The mall (Crossgates Mall) was massive and had all kinds of stores, some of which I’d heard of but the majority of which I’d never heard of in my entire life (also for some reason T.K. Maxx is called T.J. Maxx here!). I didn’t buy anything, but Caitlin and Oda did, whilst myself, Hugo and Marko mainly explored the mall and waited for the other two to finish their shopping.
After I got back from our little trip to the mall, there was still some time left before the next organised event at 5:00, so I did something I had wanted to do for 2 whole days: watch the Great British Bake Off! I’d been talking to the others about it ever since it was aired back home on the 24th, they must have thought I was obsessed (which I kind of am!). Anyway, it was nice to have this massive form of home comfort, and for that hour I watched it, I felt like I was right back at home.
How can you not enjoy this show!?!?!
After that little break things picked up again, firstly with more free food in the form of a picnic (a note to the reader: never turn down free food!), then with my first experience of a U.S. soccer match and of an American college sports team in action. The actual soccer match was played on the football (the American version) field, which I thought was a bit weird. The stands themselves were very full when the match started and there was even a live band (I assume it was the universities and not just some random people!). The game itself was very good and ended in a tie (2-2), with plenty of chanting throughout the match (GO DANES!). Although there was a little too much from a few people who took it too far, being outright disrespectful at times (there’s always some).
Another thing that struck me was that at half time they brought out what I thought was a mini bouncy castle at first, turns out it was one of the things you put air into and then try and catch whatever is flying around in there (Basically a tiny, less impressive version of the final challenge in Crystal Maze). In this case they put in straight up money! I have no idea why this was here at a university soccer half time though.
Once the soccer match was finished, things didn’t end there. What followed was a glow stick party! (WHOOP WHOOP (again sarcasm, I hope you note it)). Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most crazy part animal out there, in fact I’m probably the exact opposite, but it was really cool seeing everyone and everything covered in Glow Sticks. Our little group had a few pictures taken and there was a massive screen that was showing/playing popular music (not that I knew any of it). There was this one song/dance however that literally everyone freaked out to called the ‘Cupid Shuffle’ (again I had no clue why everyone was so obsessed with it).
We didn’t stay for the whole thing as we had no idea what any of the songs were or what any of the dances were so it just felt a bit weird after a while. The others headed out to some other place, but I was too exhausted from the non stop goings on that had happened in the first week, and so I decided to head home to try and get some sleep.
Thanks again for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this somewhat longer installment (in which I talk a lot about The Great British Bake Off 😀 ) and look forward to more of my haphazard goings on. Until next time.