The 8am alarm clock is shunned but the Sidekick wake up call is impossible to ignore. Shower, hair makeup, jewelry, nice clothes, good shoes. It’s our first day of university AKA the only day we have to put in effort to look half decent. We’re running late, of course, and our debate over walking or taking the bus costs us more time. Finally we call for a taxi with the sensible reasoning that turning up poorer is better than arriving sweaty and smelly.
Orientation takes place in a lecture hall where our brains absorb none of the information fired at us and instead are filled with the faces of fellow exchange students. Checking out all the other twenty-somethings and scouting for potential friends, course allies and even romantic interests. The exchange officers initiate one of those awkward ice-breaker games and I make friends with an Australian called Chris. He’s been travelling around America and tells me all about his adventures in Las Vegas and California. I invite him to hang out with myself, Rebecca, two blonde Swedish boys, an Italian and a Dane for lunch.
We get free pizza and introduce ourselves to more people; Dutch, Mexicans, Spaniards, Chinese, Colombians, English, Indians, and Brazilians. Our conversations are coated with accents as people share stories about travelling, cultural differences, and how awesome the pizza tastes. By the time lunch is over we have made at least ten to twenty friends and have invited the chosen few out for drinks the following night.
Things are starting to take shape. Friendships are beginning and the first draft of our future is being sketched out.