“Well, technically it was just an eighteen hour flight, but I was in transit for about six more, so I think it was a full twenty four?” — Sophie Li ’21.
We went in a circle, nodding emphatically as people voiced their complaints about long-haul flights and panic-induced text messages from parents at the most obscene hours. Yet, despite these collective gripes, we drove, flew, and sailed, donning our orange and black with pride, vowing to conquer everything from ISC to the senior thesis to do our bit in the service of humanity. The first 12 percent of the Class of 2021 set foot on American soil Sept. 30, starry-eyed (mostly from jetlag) and eager to make Old Nassau our home.
“When Americans say something is ‘fine,’ they actually mean it's bad. Very confusing. Americans don't expect an answer when they ask: ‘How are you?’ Just say hey!” — Sam van der Jagt ’21
Sam’s right. Also, the American Culture 101 session during International Orientation was right. Culture shock is real. I have, since arriving here, developed a severe dislike for the Imperial system of measurement and a general fear of speedily converting Fahrenheit to Celsius in my head. I still cannot wrap my head around the concept of string cheese, let alone the fact that the people here seem to actually enjoy it. But figuring it all out is part of the ride, it’s something new to learn and get used to, as all the sophomores I have met have assured me. “I was so worried for the winter,” Urvashi Uberoy ’20 confessed, “but it’s really not that bad. It’s a lot of fun because everyone goes out in the snow with their friends. I love winters here!”
We international students joke that we are officially ‘non-resident aliens’ here, but the term alien sometimes does take on a more literal definition. I cannot help but feel like I have begun to lead two parallel lives — one back home, and another at college. More often than not, this strange feeling of alienation hits me when I call home and realize that I am in neither place in entirety, an odd limbo I don't know if I will ever fully master.
“Some people have on various occasions thought or assumed I know their friends living all over Africa when I've never been out of my country. I really miss my friends and family though, and also speaking my first language. I've never had to use English as a primary mode of communication before coming here. Also having to deal with or understand American slang has been kind of hard.” — Kiplimo Bethwel ’21
“A school full of smart people and no one can pronounce my name.” — Trang Uyen Nguyen ’21
“Someone asked me if there are squirrels in India.” — Aparna Shankar ’21
Someone once asked me how my English was better than my Hindi. And I loved telling them why. And I love telling people where I come from, and how I live, and what I eat, and just how much I love college. And I have loved asking others the same questions, comparing answers, and marveling at the concentration of diversity on these 500 acres. Since I arrived here, I have imposed on myself a single golden rule: meet one new person every day. I have made some of my closest friends, learned something I never would have in a lecture, been the most befuddled, laughed the hardest, and empathized the strongest because of my interactions through this rule. I still can’t pronounce Uyen, and the squirrels here are definitely different than the ones I’ve seen before, but that’s what makes it interesting, and discoveries like those have consistently been the best part of my days on campus.
“The international students are by far the nicest and coolest people you will meet on campus!” — Amanda Eisenhour ’21
Thank you, Amanda!