Who would have ever thought I would join the ranks enjoyed by a few of our family members that have gone through college education? It was exciting to receive the news that I was going to join the graduate school of my dreams. It was almost like my chips were finally falling into place after a long struggle trying to get by in the academic system. The prospect of joining the higher education institution was both nervous and exciting. I had heard so much regarding how fascinating and scary the first day at graduate school is. I could not wait to find out what lay in store behind the gates of this revered institution. This would be one of the most memorable events in my life. It was a revelation of my destiny and a step closer to the attainment of my academic goals.
On arrival in the school precincts, I was taken aback by the marvellous historic buildings within the institutions. The lush parks, swept pavements and self-assured looking students doting the various path ways all seemed at peace with the institutions aura. I felt a bit lost in my own thoughts and newness at the institution. The bewilderment was strong enough to make my luggage seem less heavy or tedious to walk with. I had with me my pertinent documents including direction brochures that had all the guidelines regarding the registration. The documents were somewhat neatly tucked in a bright yellow folder that gave away my newness at the institution.
The rest of the populace would regularly steal glances in my direction making feel something akin to a Martian roaming free on the earthly streets. My loneliness was cut short when I was joined by two new students. We exchanged pleasantries uncomfortably. It was strange how I for once felt at home with strangers. Tommy was most chatty of the two. He seemed much comfortable within the institution as he revealed how many of his family members had gone through it. I guess that explained why he was at ease taking us around the milling roads within the institution. Julie, on the other hand, looked petrified. Her eyes seemed distant. Her lips were pursed almost all the time and momentarily opened whenever she felt the urge to question Tommy's chatter.
We reached the registration office only to find a long line of other green first year students. Some looked tired others looked preppy some looked hip in their carefully chosen outfits. Many chatted nervously trying to conceal their innate fear of what lay past the registration desks. Tommy made new friends as we stood in the line whom he introduced to us brashly. Funny thing, he kept on forgetting their names as he chatted with them but he was smart enough to salvage the situation by calling them friend, pal, mate or whatever friendly noun that crossed his mind. I, on the other hand, focussed my attention on Julie who seemed more or less of an introvert as compared to the rest. She softened up to me after a few minutes of hurried talk. Julie was pleasant to both look at and talk to. She had a soft voice that made me forget of the tedious process ahead. She revealed that she could not wait to meet her new roommate and settle in the campus hostels.
When my turn came to be served at the registration desk, I availed all my documents and appended my signature where needed. The official behind the desk was bespectacled and looked worn out. His forehead was wrinkled. It told of many years that he had served the institution, welcoming new students like me. He was left-handed and wrote in a rather brisk manner in a number of slots denoted as official. On perusing my documents he threw a few glances from me before stamping all the documents. Move to the next building please he said as he called in Julie. I felt relieved after queuing for almost an hour at the registration office. Julie soon joined me in the next building.
The building had two rooms-finance office and the accommodation office. The first office was the finance office. At the finance office we were requested to submit our bank receipts to ascertain whether our university fees had reflected in the institutions system. We were temporarily put on hold due to system jams and slow internet connectivity. We made the best of the hold up by poking fun at the officials who looked easy going. Mr Patterson, the man behind the finance desk, was cheerful. He took our jokes kindly and reciprocated with some of his that left us in stitches. He also offered a few tips on how to get by in the first few days at the institution. I did not take his word for granted for he had seen many of our kind come and go. Fortunately, the system jams stopped and we were hurriedly taken care of.
The accommodation office was our next stop. At the office we were allocated hostel rooms. Each room could accommodate two individuals. There were a number of hostel blocs spread out across the campus. Julie was directed to one in the campus periphery while Tommy and I were allocated in the hostels nearest the school gate. We had a few students' house wardens help us with our luggage to our respective rooms.
The rooms were small and crammed but tidy. I had my own study desk and closet to put my clothes and other belongings. My roommate was friendly. He was a second-year student in the school of engineering. He looked too social for an engineering student. I bet the stereotypes did not hold in this particular situation. He helped me unpack and settle in. He later on took me to a short tour around the campus. We went to the cafeteria, library, cinema hall, a few lecture rooms and the students' park. He was such a popular individual. Jim they called him. He was charismatic and had an easy-going attitude that made him approachable and pleasant to talk to.
After the walk, I found myself alone in the room. I called my parents to tell them of how eventful the day was. My heart was heavy though. I had never been away from home and not for a long time. It was such a bittersweet moment as tried to come to terms with the new changes. The happenings of the day flashed in my eyes. I tried to recollect on the key people and literature I stumbled upon throughout the registration process. I retrieved some of the registration documents and perused them. I looked at my curriculum and the requisite units as well as instructor names. The course details were elaborated in prose.
Each departmental head had his own insightful comments regarding course units. The program would run for four years with two semesters an year. The more I read about the course units and details, the more I became convinced that I had made the right decision. I reflected on how far I had come and how my family expected the best of me. In my head, could see my fathers grim looking face highlighting the need for a proper education. I knew I ought not to let him down. I owe him my success and I also have to set an exemplary model for my siblings. Success was no longer an option to me but a mandatory facet. I was willing to make my first day at the institution success-oriented.
Curzan, Anne, and Lisa Damour.First Day to Final Grade: A Graduate Student's Guide to Teaching. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. Print.
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