Yesterday was overwhelming. I had met someone from every continent in the world by lunch time and even though I come from a fairly culturally diverse university, this was a whole new level. It was so interesting listening to everyone talk about their countries and I’ve learnt a lot already.
The thing that has struck me the most though has been the first impression you are given of the university on your first day. When I arrived for my first day of my first year of university in England I was greeted by a form I had to sign, a welcome pack containing useful information about buses etc and a key. Then I was left to find where my room was, unpack and decide what to do with myself for the rest of the day.
When I arrived today I was greeted by people at the doors smiling and helping us with our bags. I was then given a welcome pack and my key and then asked if I would like to see my room. The girl who took me took my suitcase for me and was really friendly the whole way to my room, pointing out the kitchen and the bathroom on the way. She also told me where my RA lived and told me who she was. Once we got to my room she said to come back to the common room when I was ready. It was already a much more friendly environment than my first day in England. However, let me be clear as I don’t mean to make it sound as if I hated my first day of university. The circumstances were different as I was with my dad, I wasn’t in a new country and I know that it is part of American culture to be friendly and hospitable. Nevertheless, it wasn’t just the people that were lovely. The whole halls were decorated with paper lanterns and flowers and banners. Our doors even had our names on them in little university flags! These personal touches made it so much more welcoming and helped to put me at ease.
After I’d unpacked a few things a big group of us went to a Mexican restaurant just off campus with a couple of the American volunteers. They were so friendly and helpful and everyone seemed to get on well. When we got back to campus one of the volunteers helped me get my ID card and told me about the buildings we were passing on the way. He had just been on a year abroad in England so we talked a lot about home. The rest of the day was spent in the common room getting to know people and the university ordered the largest delivery of pizza I have ever seen!
This first day has confirmed to me that should I ever feel homesick or nervous whilst I’m here or I have any questions, there will be someone to help. American universities, you know how to make a good first impression.