“Seattle- Very Beautiful city!!” Is what I had heard from every person I spoke to in India before arriving here. My first re-location from home, to a placethousands of miles away, started when I stepped into Seattle on December 31st, 2013. What a remarkable day to land, the last day of the year, after 21 hours of journey! Needless to say, it was like the beginning of a new life. I spent the next few days roaming around nearby places and exploring the areas around Bellevue, the nights were more or less filled with calls to home, hour-long descriptions of this new place and the emotions associated with missing my past life.
Our semester was supposed to begin on January 6 but orientation was on the 3rd, hence I had 3 days before the orientation to get over the jetlag. I had never experienced what jetlag is like before and thought it wouldn’t be all that hard to overcome it. Unfortunately 2 days of insomnia made me realize that sometimes the body controls the mind. I was in a lucid daze for days.
By Friday, the 3rd of January days and nights were aligned with my sleep cycle and it was time for orientation and guidance. The weather was very good. My friend and I thought that it looked so sunny outside it would not be cold and left home without wearing a jacket. My experience of independence in life started as we walked towards the bus stop, which was around 0.8 miles from our house. This is considered “easily walkable” according to U.S standards. Of course if I were in India, we would have hired an autorickshaw – which is still the fastest mode of transport in urban India- or a taxi to the University.
Independence is comforting; it brings in a lot of energy, clears the mind and allows me to be free to decide for myself. It also equally adds in a deep sense of insecurity. I felt alone even though there were so many people around me on the road and on the bus. Adding to the coldness I was feeling, the weather too revealed its true colors by turning pretty cold. It was sunny yet cold, a new weather phenomenon for people conditioned to a tropical climate. At the end of the bus route, we had to walk 0.6 miles to reach our university but we had no clue about the routes.
We sought help from two guys and asked if they could guide us as to how to reach the university, to our surprise they offered to drop us there and then go their way. We walked together chatting and joking about our experience in Seattle so far and how it is in India. After almost 15 minutes, we reached our university and thanked them for the jovial company.
As soon as we entered there was a friendly lady at the front desk who was smiling and greeting us. That was Gulbin, a very good friend of mine now. She asked us if we needed water, soda or anything and then asked us to relax as there was still half an hour before the orientation was to begin. We started greeting our other classmates who gradually started coming in.
The session started with a quick round of introduction of everyone present, initiated by the wonderful and lively staff at our university. It felt so relaxing to see our college staff being so friendly with us, it gave us a feeling that we were here to learn together with a lot of interactions and interesting insights, rather than the hour-long lectures and one-sided talks that we were so used to with most of the teachers we had seen in the Indian educational system. After the formal introductions we went on a ride in the trolley that runs only in and around Downtown Seattle. It was amazing! We got to see so many things around our campus. It was so thoughtful of the university staff to take us on this ride and I take this as an opportunity to thank them for it. Later we went back to our university and had a party hosted for us later that evening. We socialized with our professors and other students who were not only from our course but from various other courses too and were not only of Indian or American origin but were from multiple nations around the globe. We spoke the same language, had the same emotions and expressed a sense of comfort with each other.
It was my first experience at realizing that irrespective of where we are born or how we grew up the bonding force between humans remains the same, at the end of the day we are all one big family. We also got our Husky cards with our picture and name printed on it. I felt comfortable and proud of being a Northeastern University Seattle student. It was almost 9 and our professor who also lives in Bellevue very kindly offered us a ride back home. It was my first happy and jolly day in Seattle, the cold winds had settled down, warmth at heart encompassed all of us.
After I was back home I detailed the events and experience of the day to my family who were happy that their girl was in good company and had a cherishing experience on her first day at the university.
It was a weekend and I actually had nothing much to do so I was eagerly waiting for Monday as I wanted to go out and meet my new friends at the university.