Outside from Inside is a recurring column featuring the voices of UA’s international students as they embark on their college journeys.
All your months of hard work and re-writing and re-editing your essays for college applications is finally about to pay off as you join the UA. You’ve spent months preparing to get into college and to settle into your new lives here in the U.S. You’ve made never-ending lists of things to do and places to go to.
But you know what? You can throw out your planners and to-do lists because nothing prepares you for college like college itself. On second thought though, keep your planners to keep track of your social life here because campus events are crazy—read in "free food"—and you don’t want to miss them.
On your first day as an international student, you are given a very detailed map of the campus. Hold on tight to that as the campus is huge and sometimes a little mind-boggling—at least to newbies like me, who have absolutely no directional sense and look to the sun to differentiate the east and west like old Egyptians did.
Speaking of the sun, your relationship with it will be very rocky. When it’s raining, you can’t wait to see it, and when it’s too hot, you want space. It may not be your best friend in the summers here, so add strong sunscreen and a handy umbrella to your shopping list, but fear not, because winter will come—eventually.
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Most of us have enjoyed three home-cooked meals a day our entire life, and when we can’t even tell the difference between mint and spinach, the thought of making our own food is beyond scary. So when your stomach is grumbling and feels like a hollow pit, it's understandable that you may miss your mother, but head over to the food court in the Student Union Memorial Center and you'll be pampered with food choices similar to those at festivals back home.
We were all shepherded around the campus by International Student Services and required to recite our international student duties in a sing-song tone, but members are really among the most helpful people on campus. I’m sure most of you, like me, have asked them a myriad of questions before you even got here. I have still asked them questions after getting here and, I must say, their tolerance level is infinite.
Just so they don’t fall out of practice, though, let’s continue getting our doubts cleared. They will probably utilize the hands-on training they get from us for the next batch—we do know kids are getting crazier by the minute. Just think of your nieces and nephews back home going to college in a few years, and you’ll automatically feel pity for people who will have to answer their “creative” questions.
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All along the campus you’ll see these huge posters and banners with the phrase “Wildcats, bear down” written on them.This might not mean much to you currently, as a new student. But trust me when I say this—you will be a Wildcat soon enough, regardless of whether you are a shy or the life of the party.From now on, the Wildcat is your spirit animal, because once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat. If you got “High School Musical” feels from that statement, I sincerely apologize.
You may still be settling in, and new classes and classmates may be making your stomach feel like a butterfly ranch— but take your time. Soon, this place will feel like home.
You’ve always heard old people say that your college years will be some of the best of your life. They are not wrong.You’ll make friends here that you’ll never part ways with, no matter where you end up. You’ll make memories here doing things you wouldn’t have imagined in your wildest dreams.
So get out there, have fun and make new friends. Be one of the many happy faces you'll see on this amazing campus.
A fellow newly christened Wildcat
Follow Megha Raghunathan on Twitter.