Michael and I checked into our orientation dorm and immediately noticed how bare the bedding was. It was simply a mattress. We headed downstairs and caught a bus out to to target, purchasing the kind of bedding and full-size toiletries that would make our mothers proud. I stopped by the neighbouring Best Buy and walked out with the kind of Blackberry that would have impressed people in 2006. With this, I had finally arrived at UMass, my (2nd) year abroad, and an attempt at domestic life in a foreign land.
|Soviet style accom.|
There were some basic orientation tasks. Campus tour, quick dinner, a few rules etc. All in all it made for an incredibly boring night. Everyone was in the same situation and it seemed that without alcohol, few people were willing to introduce themselves to others. Needless to say the night ended quickly and quietly. Though the sun had set, it had zapped the energy from most people. I grabbed some left overs from dinner with the intention of eating them for breakfast, but after a few hours realised that leaving chicken out overnight is a worse idea than leaving it out for a few hours. Around 11 I ate said warm/stale chicken wrap and hit the sack.
This morning's breakfast was a better opportunity to meet people. Michael's lazy arse stayed in bed, while I treated myself to a coronary on a plate. There were mutterings around in German, Chinese, a little bit of Greek and a lot of English. It could have been any hostel in the world, except people were up before 10.
The American breakfast introduced me to more people who had screwed up their visa forms, as well as some interesting cats from around the world. It served as a prelude to our official welcome, which turned out to be an hour of back-patting for the UMass staff. Mind you, they had done a hell of a job getting so many people over there.
The next activity was a meet and greet for undergraduates. After half an hour of hearing people's stories blur into eachother it was only a few people away from my turn. All of a sudden last night's chicken woke up to remind me that leaving it out - even it was for a few hours and not overnight - was a bad idea. There was no warning, so I rushed to the nearest restroom, reliving Renton's famous scene from Trainspotting before readmitting myself to the auditorium, a lighter and wiser man.
After the meeting Michael and I headed into Amherst itself to complete some errands at the post office. I received my new visa form and mailed it to Washington D.C. immediately. If all goes well, I will be legally here until Aug 31 2010.
The walk itself was blistering. There was an immediate wrong turn that doubled our time in the harsh sun. We finally made it to Amherst in about 30 minutes, sunburnt and dehydrated enough to finish our drinks in a matter of seconds. Again we got lost on the way to the Post Office, but we got a great opportunity to see some of what the small town has to offer. When the weather calms down I'll spend more time downtown (all two streets).
We returned in time for a bbq/ice cream social held by two mobile phone carriers. Again I met some more cool people (including a guy from Gdansk when I was wearing my Danzig shirt). It's a shame that I feel so many of them will fade away from my memory, as right now it's a constant bombardment of people, places, schools and interests.
The next few days will be dominated by more information sessions, all of which seem rather boring. But hey, it's what I signed up for.
Dinosaur Jr - Over it
J. Mascis of Dinosuar Jr lives in Amherst and had way too much to do with me coming here. Also, Michael and I want to learn how to skate. I'm already working on expanding some skater (sk8r) lingo into my everyday rhetoric. Anyway, this clip is amazing. Enjoy.