Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hello Darden, Hello Charlottesville!

This entry is long, detailed and feels like a 'Dear Diary' piece. So, caveat emptor.

After 22 hours of a cramped, long and arduous journey across the Pacific, I finally made it to Charlottesville yesterday. That trip is something I won't be volunteering for anytime soon. What with the very long immigration queue, stringent customs check and delayed flights. My sleep aid failed to work once again and I was alone with my sad-turned-anxious thoughts.

And so my first glimpse and feel of Charlottesville's abundant greenery and quaint charm was a warm warm welcome. The school grounds was a beautiful sight--extending many miles beyond my human eyesight--with students leisurely walking around the campus, enjoying what is left of summer. I get that scholarly feel and can't help but feel excited to be studying again after five years! The weather was warm, about 32 degrees C or 90 degrees F (I have to get used to measuring the temperature in F). Still nothing I'm not used to back in Manila.

I met my roommate and we bond easily. So happy about that! She was brave enough to rent a U-haul van by herself to fetch our furniture from a second year's apartment and move in to ours. Boy, am I lucky! We still haven't finished unpacking and fixing everything yet but we're slowly getting there. Yesterday ended with a nice dinner with one of the second years who very kindly helped us move in and offered free 'orientation.' Goes to show that Darden's tight-knit community and welcoming culture make two international students feel not so far from home.

Today was quite productive. We luckily stumbled upon the ID office when we were lost looking for the International Students Office. So we got our UVA IDs (weird seeing my face in that piece of plastic, looking like well, a student). We do get discounts from shops, restaurants, bookstores and even mobile carriers--student perks. The rest of the day was spent driving across different shops to cater to our different and urgent needs. So after spending 13 hours out of our apartment, we've ticked the following boxes: University ID, signed I-20 with ISO, AT&T contract, new bank account, new internet connection, home furnishings, and two all-American meals (we have to take our 'before' photos ASAP before the calories start pouring in).

Hmm.. not bad for a second day. There's still tons I need to take care of before I can sit down and truly enjoy Charlottesville but I'm savoring the joy of this novelty amidst the frenzy. I even filled my own gas tank for the first time!

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