Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hanna's most DARING move of the DAY.

So it was around 19:15, my politics class had just finished, and I still had to grab dinner (I can't believe I just wrote dinner by default instead of supper! The adoption of foreign vocabulary creeps in insidiously). Most students had eaten already (including all those that I actually know or have met already), except of course the football players who had just come in from practice.

Since I really did not feel like eating my evening meal alone, I ventured timidly into the biggest area of the dining hall (after THOROUGHLY - and I mean thoroughly - checking whether or not there were any familiar faces in the smaller sections), only to be greeted by tables upon tables of over-sized males. What did I do? Why, I seated myself next to two of the enormous specimens and relied on the fact that I was a foreigner to not make it seem completely strange (which I have, by the way, been doing often for the past week. Let's face it, taking a photo of a self-service electronic check out thingy in a store is not usually considered a normal, non-criminal activity).

Anyway, I am pleased to report that it worked! PHEW! They were very friendly and even waited for me to finish eating...which took a while since I was chatting away nervously - well, maybe not so nervously if I'm to be really honest (I just like the way it sounded in the sentence).
There ends my most daring moment of the day - I hope it riveted you all as much as it did me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Opening Days!

Opening Days is the name given to the days dedicated to orienting Freshmen before the start of the school year. So on Thursday morning, a serene and unsuspecting Willamette campus was flooded with its 2010 freshmen intake. You can imagine the shock it experienced...and this is saying nothing of the shock that all the international students experienced when a campus that they had formerly shared with mainly football and soccer players who were back early to kick-start training (hardly an inconvenience ), was completely overrun by vast numbers of enthusiastic and nervy first years (and their equally enthusiastic and nervy parents). Horror of horrors!

Many of us internationals (as we are fondly known) are sharing rooms with freshmen...me included. My roommate is a sweet girl from San Francisco, California. Nevertheless, it is a challenge to share a room and to be sharing a bathroom with a whole corridor of girls, after having lived off-campus for nearly two years in a gorgeous home with an enormous bedroom. But, challenge can never be a bad thing! 

The last few days have involved lots of different activities, although they are mainly geared towards the freshmen, so us internationals haven't had to attend everything and most of the activities are optional. I attended the opening convocation (at which a neuro-scientist and author - Jonah Lehrer - gave a truly excellent speech), as well as what is known as the Matriculation Ceremony - which is a welcoming ceremony at which the student body president speaks (an enormous and very huggable football player by the name of Walter)  and everyone gets to shake the hand of the university President. Hooray! After the ceremony there was a ridiculous spread of variously flavoured ice-creams and toppings to be had. We (internationals) then went to a party off-campus - the second one in a row, which is why I gave last night's party a miss!

Saturday saw us hiking in Silver Falls State Park. Well, "hiking"...more like walking 3kms in the forest. Still, it was beautiful, with many waterfalls and pretty trees...and great conversation with different people. A few transfer students have joined our group, one of whom is a girl named Lisa (also from San Francisco) who has actually been living in Cape Town this year doing volunteer work and has a South African boyfriend! So it has been fun and interesting chatting to her about the beautiful city and her experience of South Africa. We were also hosted by Willamette alumni for dinner last night as part of our opening days (and this was done for ALL the different freshmen groups too...Willamette really does go all out!)

I went to church with my friend Scott yesterday (Scott was at Rhodes last year on exchange and is at Willamette - yay!). It was awesome to worship and hear the word. Church was followed by brunch on campus, and then I spent most of the afternoon practicing piano! Something that I need to be doing more of! It was great to sit at a piano for that length of time - I can't remember when last I did that.

Last night was the Decades Dance... a dance on campus that involves everyone dressing up in a costume representing the 60s, 70s or 80s. A bunch of us girls got ready together, and Heidi (an exchange student from Finland) did my hair...she created an epic 'bubble' (Carlton Cousin would have been impressed!), which matched perfectly with my 50s/60s look. The dance was fun, and mostly hip-hop and R&B music was played - my favourite! Sister Mary, we need to jam in the USA! :)

Watched a movie tonight with a bunch of the international students. There is a movie theatre in one of the buildings here (obviously used also for lectures, etc) where students are able to watch movies at their leisure. Wow! Oh ja, and if I thought the food was something to behold, turns out I 'aint seen nothing yet, since the menu they were serving during our orientation week isn't half as good (or varied! the variety is truly staggering!) as what they are serving now that school is starting. AND, get this, breakfast runs from 7am until 10am!!! So you can feel free to have a li'l lie-in.

Classes start tomorrow! Looking forward to settling into more of a routine! This past week has been great, but exhausting at times. It will be nice to have a  bit of normality thrown into the mix.

'Till next time...
P.S. I promise to try and post more regularly so that you don't have to spend hours wading through my entries!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where in the WORLD is Hanna B?

Hanna B is in the United States of America...and yet seems to have fallen off the technological radar somewhat; ironic. Apologies to all those who may have logged onto this blog expecting something more exciting and informative! Things have just been completely hectic this week: a jam-packed schedule, coupled with a hint of jet-lag and more than a hint of a time difference (9 hours to be exact), makes for one very exhausted South African! But I promise to be more committed to my blogtivity as soon as things start to settle into more of a routine. For now, a brief summary of the past couple of days:

So far this week has been all about orienting the international students! There are over sixty of us, making us the largest group that Willamette has ever hosted. It has been completely awesome meeting people from all over the world, and it is really a great group of people. Orientation has involved administrative stuff (yawn), tours of campus and town (fun), a dinner out in the town at a coffee shop called the Ike Box that is also a non-profit organisation and has a stage with loads of concerts and open mic nights (very cool, Hanna is immediately paying attention), and today a trip to...drum-roll please...the  beach! (And the crowd goes wild) Or the Oregon Coast. Despite the fact that there was an icy wind blowing, it was a wonderful day, and the Oregon Coast really is beautiful. In fact, Oregon in general is a stunning state. Lots of trees, rivers, open spaces...and other such good and pleasurable things. I braved the freezing cold water (my dad - who swears by cold showers in winter -  would be so proud), and can now say that I have swum in the Pacific Ocean! Hooray. (After that glorious swim, and truly, it was glorious, I was completely freezing and have never been more grateful for dry underwear and a hot drink...it's the simple pleasures).

What else is there to say? Willamette University campus is just as pretty as Oregon and Salem (the town in which it is situated). The lawns are as green as green can be, and beautifully tended, there are lots of trees, and even a creek running through it with big white deck chairs on which to pass the time. The food here is UNBELIEVABLE...SO fresh, such variety, an amazing salad bar (and Hanna goes wild), about 5 different salad dressings - as well as olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a fruit bar at breakfast with a variety of fruit already chopped up, a cappuccino machine, muffins, cookies, pastries, hot breakfasts, breakfast cereals, about 5 different sodas and fruit juices on tap, with their diet counterparts, a cappuccino machine...you get the picture. Indeed, the first world is certainly something to behold...the wireless internet access that is free, as well as free access to the gym and printing, are testament to this  (Rhodes students will appreciate exactly what this all means).

I hope this has given you all a bit of an idea of where I'm at and what I'm doing! I will upload photo's as soon as possible, so that you can have more than a bit of an idea of the above.

Thanks for tuning in!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things to do before I leave: 17. Create Blog.

It is days before I leave, and one of the things on my to-do list is to create a blog. Tick! This blogging thing is completely new to me, as techno-peasantish as that may sound, and so things are getting off to a slow start. But I have officially joined the impressive ranks of bloggers worldwide and am feeling somewhat less of a techno-peasant than I did before.

Since there are many other things to do before I leave, recorded neatly on a "to-do" list, (like packing for example) I had better go ahead and do them, and leave my new found blogtivity for another time. Besides, I like to think of this post as a trial run!