Sunday, July 10, 2016

Jumping In: Our First Day on Campus

Hello all, and sorry for the delay! Unfortunately I am experiencing some technical difficulties with my laptop which have not yet been resolved. But here is what I wrote last night about the first day of my UChicago experience!

Breakfast at Valois
The first excursion of the day was to Valois, a lovely restaurant right next to our hotel in Hyde Park famed for its omelets and for being one of Obama's favorite restaurants! I actually ordered one of Obama's favorites, a Mediterranean omelet, and ended up eating the entire thing! After that it was officially time to head to the UChicago campus. Right away we met Aaron, a rising senior from Memphis, who clicked with the ILC cohort and tagged along with us to the bookstore where we purchased some UChicago gear courtesy of the ILC (thanks, Don!). This was the last time that we got to spend with our chaperone Ms.Scott, and we said our goodbyes to her soon after.

Before the summer session orientation, there was food and dancing out on the grass where I got in on the Cupid Shuffle and the Cha-Cha Slide. I was a little sad that not many others volunteered, but it was fun nonetheless. Then, after a short introduction of various staff and our RA's (resident assistants/advisors) we split up for our campus tour. My RA was Nikki, a neuroscience/pre-med major who was very enthusiastic and willing to answer all of my many questions about how to do things and get places on campus. It was a helpful tour, but definitely made me aware of how large campus is and how easy it will be for me to get lost with my poor sense of direction. It also only gave me a brief look at the buildings as we passed by, so I will definitely have to do some exploring tomorrow for myself!

My RA, Nikki

After the tour we had just enough free time to put our bags in our room before a safety presentation. The best part of this was a getting-to-know-you activity where several pairs of students had a rock-paper-scissors tournament in front of everyone else. I was one of the two finalists, so many people in the crowd ended up cheering for me and chanting my name! It was a great way to meet people (many people recognized me when I introduced myself to them later) even if I lost at the last second in shame. After the safety presentations we had did some other introductory activities with out assigned RA's and the other members in our "house." The houses are small, Hogwarts-like groups of students (although greater in number and randomly assigned) that mirror the organization of UChicago students. I met a lot of people this way, so many that it was hard to keep track of all the details!

After that we were free to mingle. I took the opportunity to familiarize myself with the dorm. I tried to orient myself, find bathrooms and water fountains, and find the laundry room. The laundry room was in the creepy down stairs basement, but so were music practice rooms with pianos! This was super exciting for me, and I sat and played for a while. In the basement I also ran into Ernestina and her friend Doris, who will be taking the American Law and Litigation class. I found out that she also plays the clarinet, and might be willing to let me borrow her instrument to practice someday!

One of the best times for socializing with people, however, was at dinner. The dining hall had surprisingly good food and plenty of options for me as a vegetarian. The salad bar offered edamame and tofu, and there were veggie patties available instead of only regular burgers. I sat at a table with four other people all from different places, including Rithika, from Malaysia, Valentina from New Jersey, Emily from Oklahoma, and Kain from Colorado. They were all wonderful people and made great conversation. Some of us even exchanged numbers to make plans for tomorrow!

My side of the dorm
I didn't meet my roommate until the end of the night, and even then we only spoke briefly. Her name is Michelle, she is from China, she will be taking a collegiate writing course, and she like me has a lot of snacks and is willing to share them! I can already tell that she is a very sweet person and that I will enjoy her company. The best part of today was the people I had the pleasure of meeting all throughout the day, and I look forward to what tomorrow has in store! (Sorry to those of you I didn't name personally, you are all wonderful).

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