Your first day of school is always a little stressful. You have to make sure you bring a couple of pens, your laptop charger, a notebook and maybe your textbook. You wonder about the temperature in the classroom, if your professors will be cool or boring, and what the workload will be. However, when you’re studying abroad, there are a few more things added to the mix. You have to remember to bring your outlet adapter and a form of identification (just in case); you wonder if the professors will take the time to explain references you don’t understand, if the students will assume any stereotypes about you, and you quickly realize that you really are clueless about what the actual schooling system is like in the country you’re in.
All good then, off to school you go.
When I walked into Collarts with another Drexel study abroad student, I was greeted with the smiling face of a receptionist. As I stammered out a question of where my classroom was, she interrupted me excitedly.
“Oh my gosh! Are you the Americans?”
Though taken aback, we nodded our heads in affirmation.
“Let me take you there then!” The kind receptionist walked us out of the building and into a gym next door, “We’re expanding so rapidly that there’s not enough space in the first building so we have a room in this building.” She lead us up the stairs and to our classroom.
As class started, no one noticed us until it came time to go around the room and introduce ourselves.
“Hi, I’m Selma, I’m—”
A voice piped up from the other side of the room, echoing the same phrase from before, “Oh my gosh! Are you the Americans?” The room suddenly became more energized. They were all genuinely excited to meet us. They asked us a bunch of questions about college in America, what it was like in Philly, and how we were liking Melbourne so far. Many of them even offered to send us a list of venues we should go to for good live music. And, as class went on, the professor frequently deviated from his prepared slides to offer explanations and comparisons that we would understand. The class ended with the professor offering to introduce us to another one of his students who had previously studied in Nashville.
The next class was much the same: I heard “Are you the Americans?” for the third time of the day, the Australians impressed me with their kindness and hospitality, and the professor was very accommodating.
As first days go, this one wasn’t so bad. But I’m very excited to see how these next few weeks go!