Wednesday (Arrival Day)
My first three days at the University of Sussex was everything that I didn’t expect. After getting in the taxi on my way to the uni (which is what they refer to as college here), it finally hit me that this beautifully drenched city would be my home for the next six months. Immediately after arriving on campus, the two ladies with whom I traveled with from Spelman went to their living quarters around the corner from mine and it was time to set up shop, but first I had to tackle my Internet situation. There is no way I am paying more money than I have to for communication, so rather than purchase a new SIM card and pay for some type of international calling/texting plan, I decided to stick to WhatsApp and MagicJACK. For those of you who don’t know, WhatsApp is an application for smartphones through which people can communicate (way more efficient than TextNow). MagicJACK is used for mainly calling landlines for people who don’t have smartphones or aren’t as tech saavy. While setting up my Internet connection in the lobby of my new residence hall, I met the sweetest girl from Philadelphia, Allie. She was so nice and we spent nearly the entire day together.
After getting our passports scanned at the International Student Support Office and getting our new Sussex ID cards from the Hastings Building, Allie and I decided to check out the Refreshers’ Fair in the Falmer Sports Centre, which was a student society, organization and volunteer fair. Of course, I wasted absolutely zero time signing up for the radio station (URF Radio) and the television station (UniTV). I’m debating as to whether or not I should do the whole “free media” thing and join the print newspaper – The Badger – as well, but I don’t want to get “club happy” and join everything and anything that looks appealing. The individuals that I met from the radio and television station were just so warm and welcoming! They were more than happy to allow me to join their society, especially because I had previously expressed interest to them via email prior to my arrival. I, also, signed up for the Sussex Dance Society. For those of you who know me, you know that next to writing, dance is a passion of mine. Ever since I started college, I had to put my passion on hold to get my grades where I needed them to be and pursue my dream career. Now that the opportunity is presenting itself, why not take a few dance classes. I may even audition for the Jazz Troupe. Who knows ;).
Later that night was the Traditional Fish and Chip “First Night Dinner”. Now, the girls and I from Spelman were told that we could buy the tickets in person, but Allie had informed us that all of the tickets were already sold out because everyone went ahead and purchased them online. Oh well, the thought of a traditional English dinner was nice. Josee’ and Chelsea (the two Spelmanites) came together with Allie and I to meet up for dinner at a local pub on campus called the East Slope Bar. I ordered a simple chicken burger with barbecue sauce and a side of fries and enjoyed the company of new and familiar faces. The food may have cost me around four pounds and fifty pences, but the conversation, laughter and company was absolutely priceless.
P.S. Did I mention that Netflix works in the United Kingdom!? I was so happy when I found that out. You’d better believe that I wasted absolutely no time watching Degrassi: Next Class and binge watching 90210 for the second time in a row!
The next morning, Allie and I decided to go out to breakfast and invited Josee’ and Chelsea. Along the way, we met a young lady from New Orleans, Sara, and she joined us for breakfast as well. We had a compulsory welcome talk orientation for new international, exchange and visiting students so I got a light breakfast consisting of a chocolate croissant and coconut water. We headed to the Jubilee Building and there we met Karinta, an Indonesian student by way of Australia! During an excersize, I met two guys, Kevin (from Los Angeles) and Sam (from Argentina). I was just meeting people left and right to be honest. Our welcome talks consisted of things we needed to know like campus safety, using the technology here on campus, and much more. They even brought in a panel of international students from a wide range of majors who gave us advice about nightlife, entertainment, dating, modules and time management.
After the orientation, there was a Brighton City shopping tour. I opted out because I’m going to be in England for six months so I technically have all the time in the world to give myself a tour of Brighton. I wanted to really get a chance to familiarize myself with the campus because it’s the size of the Atlanta University Center Consortium in its entirety in addition to another campus. First, I went to visit my academic advisor Terence to go sort out a few of my classes for this term and to learn more about the School of Music, Film and Media Studies. Afterwards, I went to the URF Radio Station to get some hands-on production training for my radio show (details to be coming soon!). After my production training, I had about three hours to kill until Allie, Sara and Karinta came back to campus so I spent time FaceTiming my best friends and sister.
Later that night, Allie, Sara, Karinta and I wanted to go to the Quiz Night at the on-campus bar. We thought it would be a nice opportunity to meet new people. That night, I met Carina, Natalie, Vyoma, and Bonnie. We all sat at the same table and immediately clicked with one another. I would have to say that I had the best friendship chemistry with Karinta. She’s fun-loving, outgoing, charismatic, sweet and totally up to speed on all things celebrity gossip. She’s my soul sister all the way from Indonesia! We didn’t win Quiz Night, but we gave ourselves an A for effort! There were categories on the history of Brighton, literature, pop culture and even Disney movies! Sipping on my alcohol-free apple mojito and laughing with my new friends was the best time I’d had in a while. Stress-free, no worries. Just friends and laughter.
Sara heard that there was a live band performance at the East Slope Bar so we all decided to head there for the rest of the night. We played billiards, ate french fries (also known as chips), and listened to this amazing band play on campus. I went to bed so happy on
Thursday night because I have never made friends (espcially with girls) so quickly in less than a 24 hour interval and I already had a feeling that these girls would be my family for the duration of my time here in England. We all had different personalities to offer to the table, each from different backgrounds. It was no surprise to me that I was the only Black girl in my group but I like standing out.