My arriving to the United States, a country I’ve never been to before, was not smooth to say the least. I flew a total of 11 hours in one single day, waited almost 2 hours for my luggage only to find it open and broken. So the only way for me to move my suitcase was to tape it. The next bad surprise was the lovely DC weather. Although I did take my precautions and packed warm clothes, I certainly did not expect the chilly -14°C that welcomed me to the DC. Luckily, the orientation week made up for all the hassle of my flight and my deep dislike of the weather.
Orientation week was exhausting but ultimately fun. We got to meet students from literally the 4 corners of the world: Korea, Singapore, France, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Germany and many. This reminded me why I participated to the exchange program in the first place: to explore the diversities the world had to offer and to be exposed and part of such diversity was a delight as it is always interesting to find out more about other countries.
This week will most definitely go down in my “history” as one of the best weeks of my life and it would have happened without the continuous help of Shawna and Hilary as well as the EXO Leaders who were always (I mean always) so cheerful and friendly and did an amazing job showing us around and giving us helpful tips. They did a marvelous job guiding us, giving us advice, making sure we make it to all our appointment and we don’t get lost but ultimately they brought us all together in an atmosphere of laughter and joy. At first, people, me included were hesitant but after each day, we all became more comfortable with each other.
The first two days were intense; we split up into small groups with two EXO leaders who helped us with our visa and bank appointments. I personally had to adjust to walking because boy did we walk a lot!
The third day, we took the metro to visit the Newseum and I have to admit that the DC metro is … weird. Not that I haven’t been to a metro station before. But being in the DC Metro stations is like being in a huge concrete alien spaceship. It was interesting to compare the DC metro stations with the ones I had previously been to but they were ultimately the same: busy.
The Newseum was really interesting for me especially for someone minoring in communication. We had the opportunity to explore 6 floors worth of media coverage of major events. The balcony on the 6th floor offered a magnificent view of DC. In the afternoon of the same day, we had a tour of campus and later the famous scavenger hunt. I absolutely loved the game. Basically, we had a list of locations we had to find and take funny pictures with. There is a Frensh saying roughly translated in English as “Ridicule does not kill” and as a ferm believer in that, the game was tremendously entertaining for me! Although the weather did not help us, the hunt proved to be rather fun and brought our group, the SanFransisco Smarties closer.
Saturday was the last day of orientation and what a better way to end an amazing week than a visit of the Capitol and then a nice dinner. The visit to the capitol was insightful and I could feel the weight of history and the power it stands for. Later the same day, we all met at this really nice hotel where we had a great dinner. The formal dinner was a chance for us to be gathered together around a meal and get to know each other in a more relaxed fashion. We then took pictures to commemorate the moments we have spent together this week.
Saturday came and although orientation was over, I found myself up by 9am ready to meet my group. Even in one week’s time and although it doesn’t seem like a lot, I got used to seeing the warm faces of everyone.
To everyone that I met this week, I say thank you because I spent great moments with you guys ! I really hope we keep in touch !