After a jam packed installment last time, we pick things up on the 27th of August, where I was actually doing something productive with my free time and decided to go and find where all my rooms are for when lectures started in 2 days. Our little group were planning on going to Walmart in the morning also, but that changed to be later on in the day so I decided to head back to my apartment where I planned to spend some downtime for a bit. When I got back I didn’t find any downtime, I found my roommate instead!
Before coming to the U.S. I was fully aware that I was going to have a roommate, but until today, literally no one except for me had moved into the flat. Needless to say this was going to be quite the adjustment for me. My roommate brought with him a massive amount of things which made the flat look more like it was actually lived in, he’s very nice but we do have very different tastes in music!
After I’d introduced myself, it wasn’t long until I had to leave again to go and meet up with the others to go to Walmart. The reason we were going to Walmart was to buy some supplies in preparation for a barbecue that was happening at the Alumni Quad, which is a quad off campus that houses mainly exchange and transfer students. Why were we going all the way to another campus for a barbecue? Well the reason being was because it was a FREE barbecue (if you can’t already tell by now, but anything that’s free is good in my book, and our little group’s love of free food has honestly brought us closer together!).
I should also mention, the two girls from Japan that I mentioned in the last blog came with us to the barbecue and are called Etsu (Oda’s roommate) and Rikako, they’re both really nice and get excited by everything that’s new and familiar to them. Alumni Quad was nice enough, but given a choice I wouldn’t choose to live there, having to get a bus almost every day would have bothered me after a while. Once we’d enjoyed our free food , we took a bus back to the main campus for the traditional ‘Candlelight Ceremony’. It was basically a welcome ceremony for all the new “Great Danes” (our mascot is a Great Dane if you weren’t already aware of that),
We all got given our own little (fake -_- ) candle as a symbol of our place at the University. The main fountain was all lit up and there stood two actual torches at the centre of the fountain. The ceremony itself included two performances from the University’s acapella group (even more American Cliche), a motivational speaker who forced us all to hug 3 strangers, (I prefer to Cwtch but whatever) and pretend that they’re the most amazing person ever (I’m British, I don’t do that kind of thing with strangers!) and finally there was a ‘passing of the torch’ to the new students which incorporated those torches I mentioned earlier (it was like something out of the Olympics!). I’ve probably said this in my blog a lot about several things already, and will probably continue to say this a lot about my time in America; but the whole thing felt so American!
The ceremony ended with a very impressive fireworks display at Collins Circle that welcomed the start of the silent disco (yes, you read correct, I’d never hear of one until then). We were planning on going but would need some supplies from Walmart in order to do that, after we purchased what we needed we concluded that we weren’t really up for the silent disco (maybe some other day).
Now, it’s time to move on to the 28th of August which just so happens to MY BIRTHDAY! Unfortunately my birthday didn’t really get of to the best of starts, as I was woken up at 4:00 am by my roommate as he walked into our room rather loudly. If I recall correctly I think there was a really big party going on downtown, so a fairly high number of people had probably gone there, including my roommate. Anyway I didn’t really sleep much, so in the morning I though I’d FaceTime my parents seeing as it was my Birthday after all.
A mixture of feeling uneasy about my roommate, feeling sad that I was so far away from my family on my birthday and the fact that they were telling me how proud of me they were, made me a complete mess. I simultaneously felt alone and yet supported, it was a very low point for me as I was really missing them. Just as I was ending my FaceTime back home (I should probably mention that I was sitting on a bench outside) a random guy came and sat with me and asked if I was playing Pokemon Go (I have no idea how he came to that conclusion), I probably looked ridiculous with tears in my eyes and sounding all choked up. He was from Japan and told me his name was Cody (his American name), he also told me that I seemed like a really nice person because I was missing my family so much, which honestly made me feel so much better (I doubt he’ll ever read this, but thank you Cody for making me feel so much better and cheering me up on my Birthday!) I then went back to my room and decided to open up the birthday cards that I’d brought with, this was a bad idea as it just made me miss my family and friends again (thank you everyone who sent me good luck/birthday cards/wishes by the way).
After a very emotional morning, I can say with confidence that things definitely got better form here on out. As a birthday brunch of fajitas was made for me at Oda and Etsu’s place, where the both of them, Rikako, Caitlin, Hugo and Marko all celebrated with me! It was genuinely so nice that people that I’d known for less than a week had made such an effort and been so kind to me, I felt very lucky and much better than this morning.
Once we finished our brunch (feeling very full), we met up with Christina and her boyfriend Kristian, who’s completing part of his education at Albany but not at the University (and yes their almost matching names is very endearing). The ISSS had organized a trip to a local baseball game that was happening today, so my Birthday was all sorted and in quite the American fashion too!
It was boiling hot on that day (makes a change to all my other birthdays) and we were all sitting in range of the sun, it’s a miracle that I didn’t get sunburnt. The game itself was held on the outskirts of a place called Troy and the team we were supporting was called the ‘Valley Cats’ (we even got a FREE hat with their logo on it). My impression of my first ever baseball game was that it was fun to watch, but that it goes on for way to long! There’s so much stop-start during the game, with random adverts and things going on in between points. At one point there was a hotdog in a tiny car and another hotdog running around the field chasing after him, again, the whole thing was so American (that should be my new catchphrase). It was really cool that I was fully immersing myself in the culture, and on my birthday no less!
My birthday had been one of the saddest and most happiest days I’ve had since arriving at Albany, it’s funny how things work out like that.
The first day of class had suddenly snuck up out of nowhere and caught me off guard, I was not happy about having to get up early again. My first class was at 10:15 and that was U.S. Public History, this class mainly has to do with museums and historians that are out there working with the public. The class seems very interesting and the lecturer/professor (I don’t know what to call them here) is very enthusiastic, the only issue I have that shocked me a little, was that a 600 word essay was due every week! I was told that there’d be more frequent assignments, but I didn’t think that meant every week!
The second and final class that I had that day was ‘A study of a specific author’, it was changed from Herman Melville to Virginia Woolf. But for some reason it never crossed my mind that Virginia Woolf wasn’t American (this has got to be up there as one of the most stupid things I’ve done). This created an issue for me, as I was only allowed to take classes that related to America in order for me to pass this year and continue at Swansea. Virginia Woolf wasn’t from America and this meant that obviously I had to drop the class, which really annoyed me as I now had to find another English (that related to America) class that fitted and didn’t clash with any other of my classes!
After class was over, myself, Oda and Hugo went to Walmart to do some shopping and I found these….
No, your eyes don’t deceive you, those are Frozen and Marvel themed string cheese. Only in America right! (Also, Howard, Harriet, Becca, Rob, Kim and Vicki, that part’s for you, as I though of you all when I saw these!)
Other than that, the only thing to mention about the 29th was that the Fraternities and Sororities were introducing themselves on the main campus. There was a lot of shouting and dancing from them, but I wasn’t really that interested and decided to take pictures of the fountain instead!
So ends this blog installment, hope you enjoyed hearing what I got up to on my birthday and on my first day of class at Albany, and that you don’t judge me too much for thinking that Virginia Woolf was American and for taking pictures of string cheese! Until next time.