Today was the first day of our orientation. We gathered in this small room with maybe 5 chairs set up along with a couch, so I knew there weren't going to be many of us. At 9, when the orientation was scheduled to start, there were about 4 of us when Linda Angell (the director) came in and said we would be waiting a few more minutes. Apparently we were getting more exchange students than they weren't expecting. This was because of what was going on in Egypt. The exchange students there had to be evacuated out of the country and some were sent here to AUS. Once a few more students arrived (directly from the airport) we had a brief info session and asked if we had any upfront questions. Some things were brought up about visas and ID cards, then when there was a pause, I, being me, asked if there was anywhere we could watch the superbowl. Surprisingly, this caused quite an uproar! Well, turns out, Linda's husband (they are from the baltimore/pennsylvania area) is a Steelers fan! So some of the students are going to watch it with them. Someone made a joke to me and I replied with "hey, I'm from Pittsburgh! And my Steelers are playing! I'm not going to miss it." To my surprise, a girl sitting across from me replied "I'm from pittsburgh too!" and here is how the conversation went from there:
Me: "Where did you go to high school?"
Me: *insert shocked face here* "You've got to be kidding me! I went to Belle Vernon!"
Caitlyn: *insert just as shocked face here* "Are you serious! No way!"
For all my Marshall friends, you might not find the irony in this; but, Belle Vernon and Ringgold are neighboring school districts. I played soccer with and against a lot of their players, and again to my surprise, she knew some of them.
Define irony: two student who grew up relatively close to each other travel 7-8000 miles across the world to study abroad in two different countries without knowledge of each other, only to end up in the same small room at the same school.
To make it better, when we were talking about our schools, she says she goes to WVU, so naturally, when it's my turn, I add a bit about our basketball team beating theirs last month ;-) To make it even better than that, she asked if I knew Dr. Wilson, a physics teacher at Marshall. Of course I do, and she explained he is her friend's dad! Go figure!
I made some pretty good friends today. About 1/2 of the exchange students are American. (this includes students from ISEP and two other exchange programs) There are also 2 Germans, a girl from Japan, and a guy from Nigeria. After all the boring stuff and the campus tour, we had lunch and went bowling in the student center (and didn't wear bowling shoes! I wore sandals and it felt incredibly awkward. Apparently you can do anything in Dubai!) After that, Caitlyn, Sarah (from Germany), and I went to the mall. We had a great time and did some shopping. The mall we went to was in Dubai (just over the boarder from Sharjah) so it was very interesting to see the cultural difference just a few miles away. It's definitely a lot more relaxed there. The dress code is looser and certain rules aren't nearly as strictly enforced. After a long day, we took a taxi home and decided to go back tomorrow!
A girl far from home