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Adjustments to culture and Class setup!

Adjustments to culture and Class setup!

I did not know this until now that when you are immersed in a new culture an inward obsession with identity is provoked.Several a times you begin to question yourself who you are among all those in your new environment ,what you are even doing there as if you do not know the cause and try assess the extent of your relevance.But what I am liking the most is you begin to view the world through a completely different prism ,one which highlights your differences and sobers you up to the fact that there is a rift between what you have always known and what you must now learn quickly in order to behave appropriately in a new society.I make it a point that I should befriend more Americans ,and I feel for my sake I should make more concerted effort to both gain and impart cultural awareness through friendships with Americans I know that will equip me to navigate the new complex society am finding myself part of!

It goes beyond cultural understanding into what I would want to think of as cultural interpretation/translation-different gestures and facial expressions mean different things in almost every culture -recently I was with Caitlin and Eimear one of the International students from Ireland ,then Eimear and I were pointing on the map I wanted to use my middle finger -I did not intentionally did that but I never thought it means that.

Again I was also taken by surprise with cars driving from the right-growing up in Zimbabwe it had been hammered right into my skull that when crossing the road one should always look Right  without failure-now imagine relying on this very Zimbabwean information which becomes horrid misinformation in the US-yes Shingirai would get over by a car if this information pops up whilst he is trying to cross a car otherwise there is so much to learn. Another example ,all my life I feel embarrassed to look anyone direct into their eyes but now maintaining eye contact is more appropriate here -I still need to learn to!

There are so many things to learn-Pounds instead of kilograms,Fahrenheit instead of Celsius.Miles instead of kilometres. Color instead of colour. Left instead of right!

Lets get in classroom for now,where all conversion of this “raw young man” is happening.I had anticipated my first day of class with so much anxiety-28August,and my first class was ACT 151.I am not sure if I took something from this class on this particular  day.I looked around in a more hidden manner trying to find indentity-having been used to a classroom where I would sit next to my friend this time I instantly detected that it was going to be something else I had to dismiss any prejudice of any kind -as I told myself on the first day that on this campus my future shines!

After going through the first week of my classes I had got an insight of what to expect -realized how engaging an American classroom is,you just don’t walk without some preparation or rough idea of what is going to be discussed that day , it is just something else. Homeworks descend on a student like nobody’s business and for fleeting  moments I would freak out about this-would my time ever be enough-I realized I need to start learning time management.

After all the Comedian will come on Friday-I enjoy this even though some of the humour is still slipping away but I am good to go with what I get.Weekend at the Valley with trips is great.Going play racket ball with David and Bart without using any of the rules of the game is awesome.At I one time considered going Gym but I am sure not why I was there just a single time up to now .Playing Uno in the launch is still fun.!!Roommate offering to drive me to Target can never be ovelooked-Dan, my roommate is really nice I am learning so much from him.I appreciate .And finally hanging in the grounds for no apparent reason by myself still refreshes me.And eventually meeting mentors from various discipline is cool-my spiritual mentor Addison is cool,my Study Abroad Calyn is great!!These are some of the things beyond classroom that makes my life meaningful so far at the Valley  having joined other clubs am yet to understand is hopeful!!

 

This is what I have mounted so far in the three weeks I guess there was so much in store for me these early days in the US. I will meet everyone in my next blog!!

Arrival on Campus,Exciting experiences and Food.

Arrival on Campus,Exciting experiences and Food.

Ultimately Bob brought us to campus,and I whispered in my mind that this is the campus that is conceiving my future-and the whole of the previous summer I had been longing for it -I have to let myself comfortable and let it define my destiny.”The campus that is going to watch me grow from a naive and innocent young man from the country side of Zimbabwe into a complete citizen equipped to at least contribute to some of the problems labelled permanent by the society in the 21st century!!”

I arrived late afternoon the sun was spreading its light across the wide and expansive campus. Beautiful buildings sprawled over the green  expanses of perfectly sheared  lawns and rows of trees in neat pavements-everything I have seen since I came is beautiful-America as I have discovered ,is  way off beautiful-everything seems to be beautiful-we have cities in Zimbabwe but they are still incomparable.

When we arrived on campus we got right into LVC Book Store and  Bob got us some t-shirts I guess he was trying to create a more forthcoming atmosphere for us that homesickness will at least stay away ,in fact it worked.We headed to Caitlin’s office right away from the Store-the office in basement of Mund and that was the first office I knew just after my arrival on campus- though now I pretty much know all of my Professor’s offices. Caitlin is awesome and invaluable to me and I bet the whole International Students group would agree with me on this,I had known her for four months before this day through her emails,the Pre-departure emails and I even knew her face because we had a couple of Skype calls whilst I was still in Zimbawe.I had a great time working with her to prepare myself ahead of time for the life on campus. She cares!! She had instilled in me so much confidence that I was joining a supportive community -indeed it is ,I love LVC. When we finally met she was relieved because I guess she understood how hard it perhaps would get for me to negotiate my way through those airports and connect my planes but it just went smoothly besides that tiny thing with Customs I was accompanied to my hostel ,Funkhouser East 215-and the Orientation had begun already!!

My first dinner in America was that same evening-August 22,2017 was loaded-it took me by surprise as I failed to identify at least one single type of food-I told myself that everything is gonna be confusing and I have to unlearn and relearn again like learning to talk again.With food I am still struggling and I am more inclined to eat the things I knew already such eggs ,sausage being my favorite,pizza,rice,and some I have no idea of what they ,I try a single American food daily and so far have fallen in love with Kansas rice  ,my desert is still simple a cake and ice cream for me suffices. I am looking forward that some time down the line I would be liking so more other foods and it had been predicted back home that when I taste the delicious American food I will be tempted to overeat.

Sleeping for the first couple of days was weird.I would for the most part feel sleepy around 3pm ,because back home I usually slept around 9pm and since PA, is 6hours behind it will be still day.I am told this is what they term jet-lag.This affected me through the first week but after that I normalized.The hardest thing is the complications of friendships with my peers.I sometimes feel overlooked.It is not as easy as it is back home to build a circle of friendships but at least I am seeing improvements with expectations that after at least  a semester the friendships would have grown.

Second day of our orientations as International students was jam packed -we were introduced to lots of things on campus all these in Caitlin’s company and other international students assistants including Sierra ,Michael and Patrick. We went to Walmart on this day again-we have supermarkets instead in Zimbabwe this was super big store for me.The most exciting but scariest experience that happened during our two-days of International Students  Orientation was going to Hershey Chocolate Park for some rides.I enjoyed them all but honestly I dreaded the Sky Rush ride I imagined loosing my life with its  speed -after all I had lots of fun in the Park!!I signed for a bunch of trips in the Redbook so far because besides my academics I am interested in seeing places in America-the super power of the world I cannot still imagine that is where I am!!So far from the Redbook we had been to Sky Zone in Lancaster-and also it was all fun!!

The pictures include my first dinner,walking through Hershey Park and the other one with group of International students at Sky Zone in Lancaster!!!

 

 

From Zimbabwe to America

From Zimbabwe to America

I finally had to leave home ,my familiar environment, and the day of my departure was so emotional, I went through a spectrum of emotions-I was excited but I was also feeling like this journey to an unfamiliar society -America for that matter is scary. Would I love it ?Would I hate it? Would I miss Zimbabwe chronically? Would I cope with speaking in English all the time or otherwise I would forget I am in Pennsylvania,US, and end up confusing my peers and everyone around me with my language? These were some of the question I came face to face with in my mind and I never was prepared to answer them.

The family wished me well as I was embarking on this journey ,deep down in me I knew I had to and   I knew I was about to embark on a journey that will be a definitive experience of my life,a journey that will shape my beliefs ,thinking and obviously my intellectual acumen.I have already exhausted my first three weeks in an unfamiliar country for the first time,all the things I have done so far are new -taking that long flight marked my first time,negotiating my way through new people first time again -how overwhelming are all these experiences! All I had long been yearning for was the opposite word for”loneliness” if it is ever there.I have found it-I get excited to watch my relations grow with each passing day and having a conversation with one more new person on a new day is exciting to me.

Back to the day I landed in the US ,landing first at Washington Dulles ,that massive airport sent  awful signals  in me but this was my way to a campus ,LVC, that will see me  me grow from a naive young man in the next four years, to a better person positioned to face the challenges of the  increasingly interconnected  World with  every confidence. I landed early in the morning and went through the Customs and unfortunately I had a kind of food I had brought with me from Zimbabwe and I never knew the name in English so I did not sufficiently explain myself then was sent  to the secondary section for rigorous inspection and imagine I could not help but think that my new life was off to a bad start-what if I am questioned  like never before.This was just nothing I was asked not even one question the officials who inspected were even nicer than me thy let me proceed because it was not something bad or rather I could have simplified it in the first place-that was my welcome to America.I located the terminal I had to wait for my next and last plane to Harrisburg and I waited for about two hours then finally took off and landed at my final airport.

You can imagine by the time I arrived in Harrisburg I was feeling pretty unhappy about  that tiny hurdle that happened-was I expecting a flow in everything,I never took time to think about that.I was to meet Bob,my mentor, and Joe another International student from China so that Bob would drive us to college.I walked through Harrisburg and I saw them both -it was such a relief-they greeted me and welcome me to America again.Bob ,being my very nice mentor and the first person I meet from my college was struck by how I had traveled so far from home to college that resulted in so many exciting conversations as he drove ,Joe and I to the campus -that made me feel welcome and tempted to create my illusion beforehand which is proving to be true that the campus has lots of good ,friendly and accommodating people.

The picture I included is my first selfie in America just after I met Bob and Joe !!

 

 

 

Dear LVC, thank you.

Dear LVC, thank you.

Dear LVC,

Thank You.

For the memories I’ve made here. The weekends filled with fun and new experiences, but also for the late night study sessions and 9am classes

For my dorm room that has become my second home, where I can binge watch Netflix, but also have it filled with people laughing at my accent

For teaching me that I can do things when I put my mind to them, like moving away for a year from my hometown, even though 8 years ago I couldn’t go to summer camp without crying and wanting to come home

For the things I’ve learned in and outside the classroom

For vacations from studying just at the right time, when I’ve been able to travel all around the place and stay with friends (and getting food other than Metz)

For letting me experience all different seasons, 2ft of snow to 90F/35C temperatures with humidity. I quickly learnt that I need sunscreen every time I step outside in the sun

For pushing me to step out of my comfort zone in class, with presentations and cultural experiences (Although professors definitely grade me easier because of the accent)

For being in N. America because that’s where Chick-fil-A is

For my professors who loved me that little bit more because of the Irishness and their obsession with Irish cheese, leprechauns and Guinness

For showing me what American culture is really like and dispelling the myths and stereotypes I had about Americans. You’re not all obese and stupid, promise

For the people who have supported me, the team in the Center for Global Ed, my advisors, RAs, everyone

For forcing me to appreciate and be proud of where I come from, but not scared to experience new things and see how others do things differently

For giving me a new perspective on life. Even though so many of you see Annville as the most boring, conservative town in America, it has done more for me than you can imagine. Yes, LVC might have had some tough times with diversity and acceptance recently, but it has shown me how a community can come together and rise above it

For allowing me my independence, but also for everyone who kept me right when I needed it

For the lifelong friends I have made here. At the risk of getting really soppy, these people have made this experience the best one of my life, and you best believe there’s always a place for you all to stay in Ireland!

Finally, for making it so damn hard to have to leave

Dear LVC,

Thank You.