it’s all a dream

9 Aug

A beer by any other name would taste just as sweet ...

It’s currently 1.26am, so I might be a little bit incoherent … bear with me!

Friday, 08/08/08/ 6.45pm. Standing on the street outside of the Wo Hop (perhaps?) Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. A massive white stretch limo festooned with pink polka dot ribbons glides past, gracefully avoiding scurrying jaywalkers and cockroaches that blend in well with the decade old, blackened, flattened chewing gum on the sidewalk. In front of me, the NYPD have parked and descended downstairs to one of the restaurants – for a meal or a ‘talk’, probably the former judging from the relaxed demeanours.

Chinese food en masse makes for happy students ... (it has nothing to do with the free beer)

Across the street to my left and right, a Chinese health store and several other Chinese restaurants sit in the lobbies of old and new apartment buildings, one painted red and blue and proudly displaying the American flag. Behind me in the restaurant, dozends of plates of oily, delicious fried Chinese food decorate our tables and make us all content and mildly ill from too much intake after a day of dried bagels, cream cheese and orientation. A little while later Franz remarks, “did you ever imagine, as a South African, sitting with a German and an Australian in Chinatown, listening to a Venezuelan and an Italian singing some random kareoke song?” No, I didn’t … who could ever?

For a second I’m not sure where I am at all.

International students orientation has been an absolute blast, but has also been completely overwhelming. Learing the names, lives and stories of 65 fellow students (possibly the highest intake of international journ students the school has had so far) has been a huge pleasure and completely intimidating! Every single person I have met so far brings a distinct personality and talent to this school that I believe will make for a great generation of journalists one day (or already, in some cases), I feel quite privleged to be amongst these peeps … (damnit Flow, I can’t get the word out of my head!)

Alison from Cape Town and Jackie from Johannesburg represent, yo!

We have spent the last two days eating and talking ourselves silly, learning random information and preparing ourselves for the onslaught of Monday’s orientation, and integrating with the other +/- 200 Americans set to join the school. Some Americans have been quite unhappy about the early orientation and socialising of the international students, which I completely understand. There are pro’s and con’s for  both side and I don’t believe it’s completely fair. But on the other hand, being in the presence of other foreigners a few days before the start of school makes the immense shock of being in America somewhat more bearable for us.

It’s been a mad few days of getting massacred in frisbee (see accompanying photograph, Eric still claims innocence … whatever), learning about the numerous parks in my area, drinking too much coffee, opening a bank account, getting a new phone (thank you to my foster American family, the Palas!), meeting incredible people, partaking in happy hours and talking non-stop. I have enjoyed every minute but am completely exhausted as a result. Apparently this will be the norm for the next ten months, as we have been forewarned … several times!

On the subway with crazy lady Katja, from Australia (her dad's South African, which is probably where she gets the crazy from)

On the subway with crazy lady Katja, from Australia (her dad's South African, which is probably where she gets the crazy from)

One fact that I had not paid much attention to is that the journ school follows a pass/fail system … this means no graded marking (percentages or symbols), merely a pass or fail to indicate whether you have met the requirements of the course and have met your own potential by working hard and pushing yourself. Essentially it means you are competing against yourself, against your own potential, and you are not being competitively compared to others (though in some sense, I think you always are …) This system is also designed to discourage students from complaining about subjective grading. It is supplemented by very comprehensive and frequent feedback from faculty and makes for a refreshing change.

Enough of the technical mumbo jumbo … onwards and upwards? My cell number here is +1 239 877 4310. E-mail if you need the postal address. Tomorrow I am going shopping for a mop, and a kettle, and some food. Because if I have to see Chinese food again, I might have to be ill. I’m happy – tired and a bit overwhelmed, grateful and humbled to be in this crazy city and to have the opportunity to take it all in and learn from it. I send thanks out to the world!

Delicious bean curd, anyone?!

Delicious bean curd, anyone?!

Bruised from frisbee ... will I ever be the same again?!

Bruised from frisbee ... will I ever be the same again?!

Driving into the city on the way back from the first day's picnic.
Ladies of the South stand tall on the library steps.

Ladies of the South stand tall on the library steps.Driving into the city on the way back from the first day's picnic.

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One Response to “it’s all a dream”

  1. Amanda August 11, 2008 at 4:33 am #

    I concur with it all! If that’s your thoughts tipsy at 1am, then I can see why the J-school picked you. Excellent sum up of what has taken place. Looking forward to sharing more fun-filled karaoke nights with you in Chinatown! ;o)
    Cheers. Amanda

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