At the start of most of my conversations, this question finds it way in,
“Where are you from?”
To which I casually sigh, lay back if I’m seated and enthusiastically reply,
Oftentimes, the people I talk to will make a note of how far I am from home, or ask if it is the first time I’ve been away from home.
Yes, this is the first time I’ve been this far away from home; the first time for a lot of things really. It’s the first time I boarded a plane, the first time I saw the ground from that far above, the first time I went eighteen hours without having used my phone. It was the first time I learnt what airplane ears meant (the hard way) and quite frankly, I thought I was going to die. I smiled at the irony of waiting all summer to get to school, only to bite it at the airport.
I got to Tufts for Tufts Wilderness Orientation (TWO, one of Tufts' optional pre-orientation programs) in the middle of what I thought was a drunken parade. It was really just the overly enthusiastic TWO leaders racing through the campus in dazzling outfits. I remember wondering what I had gotten myself into as my group leaders gave me giant hugs. My wilder-mother Cinney (that beautiful soul that one) gave me a full ear to ear smile, and promised me that the fun would go nowhere but up from that moment on. I was so overwhelmed by all the energy, I considered running back home. If I swam across the Atlantic, I’d have been home by January.
I met the rest of my team later that day. (X1!!!!!!! - by law I am required to yell out my group’s name any time I make a reference to it.) We bonded over the next five days which we spent hiking and canoeing - I loved every single one of my mates. The loud ones, the funny ones, the silent ones, the ones that played weird camp games on the trail, the ones that broke off into weird songs mid-conversation. I reminisce very fondly about those days in the Appalachian woods. There is something very surreal about using maple leaves for toilet paper. I confess I have played with the thought of quitting civilization altogether and spending the rest of my days in the company of trees and bears.
We came back to Tufts on a Tuesday afternoon, all stinky and untidy (we immediately rushed to our bathrooms for that long awaited bath). We had a final dinner together and with that, went back to our rooms to prepare for the rest of our school careers.
It’s been three weeks of class now and I already feel older and wiser than I did that Tuesday night. It could be because I sprouted my first beard strand last week. It could also be because there’s a lot to learn in college. My first lesson was taught in the dining hall. Faced with all these new kinds of meals, I hadn’t the slightest clue where to start so I learnt the only way I knew how - by immersion. I learnt that my stomach could take a lot more than one serving of food at multiple times. I learnt that oatmeal - that widely enjoyed breakfast meal- is not nearly as tasty as I thought it would be. I learnt that pesto (though it has a nice taste) is in fact not the same thing as guacamole and that cheese only goes well on pizza.
My wise instruction has also been delivered in the classrooms, labs, clubs, and dorm common rooms where I have learnt, in every sense of the pun, that sleep is for the "week." There is always so much to get involved in that I sometimes literally forget I have a bed. Between getting my assignments done and going to the places I love like the gym, the music center, and the dining hall, there’s hardly any time for boredom.
My time thus far has been a fun rodeo, and I look forward to not falling off the bull.