Blog » International Student Orientation ‘05

19 Sep 2005

International Student Orientation ‘05

Filed under: Personal — paulcook @ 2:52 pm

Well, it’s the end of Caltech’s International Student Orientation programme for 2005. Since I was actually in the country at the right time, this year, I’ve been helping out with a number of the events — and taking full and complete advantage of the free food!

It’s been interesting meeting some of the new students. I’m particularly excited that there are not one, but two South Africans in the incoming group. We’re already making plans to, for example, watch some rugby and perhaps cricket; or take a trip to the Springbok Bar in San Fernando valley — the Springbok being South Africa’s national animal. Then there’s a shop somewhere to the south of LA that imports all sorts of South African food and drinks, which I’m keen to visit — as soon as I remember its name.

Orientation is also reminding me of my first orientation, two years ago. It’s all too easy to forget how much one’s life changes over the years, as those changes gradually happen. Comparing then and now, I’ve really realised how there was a lot of adaptation I had to do, to become comfortable. It’s hard to find words, but one way to describe the feeling is “mastering one’s surroundings”. It’s made up mostly of little things, like how settled your accomodation is; whether you know where to find various sorts of shops; what restaurants and hang out spots you know; how easy it is for you to get around. Perhaps most important are your friends.

Showing the new students around Caltech and LA has made me realise that I think I’ve achieved the above. Thanks to my absolutely fantastic roommates and group of friends, and two years of experience, Pasadena is not the challenge it once was.

I may never feel quite as at home as in Johannesburg, where I’ve spent my whole life up till now, but at least I’m comfortable. And that makes quite a difference.

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  1. Let me know when you’re going to the Springbok Bar. That sounds awesome! Any idea what beers they have on tap?

    Comment by Griztown — 20 Sep 2005 @ 3:37 pm

  2. I’ve been there before, but I can’t remember what beers they have. I know I had a pretty decent one, but it wasn’t anything exotic. They’ll probably have something new for you to try. Also, they have really good fries. Or chips, if you’re one of those people.

    Comment by Adam — 20 Sep 2005 @ 4:07 pm

  3. I have found the same around here (regarding mastering surroundings) as I have been involved in helping with the orientation programme which will be happening here next week. It is weird how one adapts to the small things, and what a large effect those small adaptions have on making daily life easier.

    And for a bit of patriotism: of course no where outside of SA will ever truly be home :)

    For some home shopping: (a list of SA shops worldwide).

    Comment by Paul F — 21 Sep 2005 @ 4:19 am

  4. Ok, good to hear I’m not alone in my experiences! And thanks for that link!

    Comment by paulcook — 21 Sep 2005 @ 1:26 pm

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