Monday, June 25, 2012

"Cutting the Umbilical Cord"

This blog, although posted today, is from June 24th. I would’ve posted it then, but for reasons beyond my control (problems with my internet) I was unable to. It turns out my ethernet plug thing (I have no idea what it's called, but it's where you plug your cord into the wall) does not work, but my roommate's does. He's currently out of the room and I'm using that plug right now.
Yes, the past week has been fantastic, but after all, today was the day we had all signed up for. Today was the first day of what we had written numerous essays for, the first day of what we had interviewed for, and the first day of what we have been blogging night after night for. I woke up at around 9 so that I could get a good night’s sleep before my first day on my own (the again, I DO have 3 friends on campus, so I’m not actually on my own) and so that I would have enough time to pack the giant mess that had accumulated and formed a pile in my corner of the room. We went down to breakfast at around 10:30, my clothes and things now organized, but yet to be packed into my suitcase. After eating, we went back up to the hotel room and I hurriedly stuffed everything into my suitcase, finishing only a few minutes before the checkout time of 12 PM. I doubt they would have charged us extra for being a few minutes late, but it was better not to test them. We hailed two taxis and as a group went about 40 blocks north up Amsterdam Avenue (a block over from Broadway, where out hotel was). 
My room in Carman Hall
After arriving at Columbia at 116th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, we crossed the street and entered John Jay Hall, where we checked in and received our room keys. I’m not sure if it was coincidence or not, but five of us (not Morvarid, for some reason) were assigned to Carman Hall, and each of us somewhere on the 9th to 11th floors. We all went up to our rooms, and I was surprised to see that my room was a double, not a single as many of the past ILCers at Columbia had received. It ended up working out just fine, though, as my roommate is super chill. I can’t think of a word that perfectly describes “chill,” so I’ll just go with the slang term. If no other word than the slang term can say what I’m trying to say in the same way, though, then I guess “chill” should be added to the dictionary. Anyway, he’s from Northern New Jersey and knows quite a bit about sports and all of the things going on around the world and in our country, so it was very easy to hold a conversation with him. After settling into my room, we gathered as a group again to go get some ice cream and then buy our supplies and a sweatshirt from Colombia (the bookstore did not have our textbooks). After that, we said goodbye to Mrs. L and went on to live on our own for the first time (the first time for me, at least). Mrs. L referred to it as “cutting the umbilical cord;” I thought that was pretty funny.
The view from my room
I returned up to my room, made my bed, and then walked out into the hallway, where I found a group of about 5 other guys watching the Euro Cup in a room at the end of the hall. I don’t follow soccer extremely closely, but I am a fan and so I stayed and watched the reminder for the Italy-England game as it went into overtime, and eventually, into penalty kicks. I really had no preference as to who won, because whoever wins will get to be destroyed by Germany, who will win the entire Euro Cup because they are the best and because I’m part German. I’ve had my conversations with tons and tons of people in the Bay Area about sports, but it was cool to hear what people from New Jersey and other parts of the country thought of my teams. It turns everyone thinks my teams suck, which is partially true but….but yeah. To many it might seem like no big deal to have a conversation about sports, but I thought it was pretty cool; I’ve never heard an actual Jets fan’s perspective on Tim Tebow.
Later, at 5:30 PM, we all met for an icebreaker between my RA and suitemates, a barbecue, and then orientation, which involved going over the rules and discussing what living at Colombia on a daily basis would be like (when breakfast is, when certain events will be, who to contact, etc.). I have students in my group coming from places like Turkey, China, Chicago, among other places. After the barbecue, we returned to our rooms, where I got started on this blog and discovered that the wi-fi is there one minute and gone the next. Later, I went downstairs, where there were a few activities going on, some which I found to be very strange and not for me (some cowboy singing game). For the most part, though, people were just throwing themselves into random conversations just to try to meet new people. I’m not exactly an expert (is anyone?) at walking up to people I have never met and starting a conversation at random, but the fact that it was weird for everyone made it much easier for all of us. I returned to my room about 15 minutes before curfew, and the RAs on our flow brought about six tubs of ice cream for all of us to eat.
By the end of the day, I’d say I had met anywhere from 25-100 people, depending on what qualifies as meeting somebody. Nearly everyone was very open and easy to talk to, with plenty of interesting things to say and an interest in learning about you. I had expected this to be fun, but this experience now seems like it will easily exceed those expectations; I’ll be on campus with over a thousand other intellectual kids my age, which is much more than I expected. Of course, I knew there’d be plenty of intellectual kids to talk to; however, I was completely unaware of all the things planned on and off campus. I’ve heard everything from carnival to laser tag to visiting Coney Island and Central Park. These three weeks seem like they’ll be even more fun than I expected.

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