On a Sunday morning it was nice to have my first lie-in of the term. I woke up late and skyped the parents. After a fairly lazy afternoon I went on a hike with a group of fellow international students.
When making small talk with one of the german guys I asked "have you been to 'the hill' yet then?" (the hill is an area of boulder popular with students as this is where many frat parties are) I haven't been to any of the parties yet (you generally need to be with a group of attractive girls to get in) so was innocently asking if he'd visited any of the nice restaurants/shops in the area.
His response was hilarious in a kind of awkward way, mainly because he couldn't find the right words and when this subject is mulled over it sounds more disturbing... "I dunno man, girls there are too...easy to have, y'know". Trying to help a german guy communicate that he wasn't fond of slags was a moment that will almost stay with me.
The hike was hard work, we were going at quite a pace and the altitude was making it difficult. I think I've pretty much adjusted to the altitude now, I'm certainly having less altitude-related nose bleeds. Although a nose bleed during the hike does make you look like Rambo which is not an entirely bad thing.
The pace at which we were going was a bit unfair really, there were Japanese girls falling down left right and centre, the larger English guys looking like they were in a state in between having a heart attack and that struggling to breathe feeling when you eat bread too fast.
I was pleased with the pictures I got from the summit, we saw a large bird of prey and some deer, I'm still waiting to get a picture of a mountain lion and a bear.
After the hike we walked down into town and were treated to 'typical American cuisine'. This anti climatic event materialised in the form of a pizza so oily/greasy it might have been used to clean up the gulf of mexico. Possibly the most tragic thing was that some Americans there thought pizza was actually American. There must be some Italian chefs turning in their graves.
At this meal was an American guy who helped guide us during the hike, he was a very intelligent guy and about 5 of my fellow international students were talking to him about national identity and immigration laws and whatnot. When talking about immigration (in reference especially to how hard it is to get into the US) we were discussing whether people should be able to leave areas so freely in search of richer towns. A german made an example of how it can have adverse effects, many germans are leaving the east side of germany for the west apparently. Now here comes the typical American attitude I have seen a few times since living here, they show no hesitation in speaking their mind. Without a trace of embarassment the yank said "well there's no point living in a s*** hole", not really stopping to think that the german guy was probably from east germany. Cue embarrassing silence.
The first day of lectures, luckily I only had one in the morning so with that done I went into town to get an American phone (so I can't reply to your texts anymore) and set up a bank account.
Oh I forgot to mention a few blogs ago during one of the first few evenings in the dorm we had to briefly introduce ourselves, where we were from and what course we were doing. I was about half way through the pecking order when most people had practically gone to sleep. After announcing "I'm jonny from wales and i'm studying molecular biology" there were a few sharp intakes of breath and then muttering for a few seconds. I can only hope they were excited mutterings. Although so far I haven't properly spoken to many people on the floor, they seem to stay in their rooms mostly and only a few have ventured into the communal room.
This is where it started to get tricky, my first lecture was...wait for it... 8am. Can you believe it? How early is that, it should be made illegal, even children working in sweat shops in Africa don't have to get up that early! After an exhausting day my last lab finished at about 5pm (and that finished 2 hours early- next week I could well be there until 7!) I went to get my required textbooks, and they cost a phenomenal $500, it feels like i've been picked up by the ankles and shaken until all my money falls out.
Suffice to say after this horrendous day I was terribly depressed and longed to be back in Lancaster - even if it was 15 degrees hotter here.
I am enrolled in courses far too hard for me. Because of the complications of being an exchange student and thus registering late for classes, the modules I wanted are full. I chose some alternatives which turn out to be 3rd/4th year courses. I desperately need to get out of them but am struggling because there are few alternatives.
Unfortunately it's a rather solemn and depressed end to today's blog, my social life still hasn't really taken off, I'm running down the money supplies and I'm stuck in courses I didn't choose to be in. The one thing I can take from this though is that apparently a lot of exchange students go through this period of depression at about this time and it should improve soon. Hopefully tomorrow things will improve, I'm going to see someone about my course dilemma, there is a BBQ for people from my building and there is a meeting about the tennis club and team.
Wish me luck guys
P.S As I've been down I went to the mall and found some comfort food that reminded me of home, watch this video and you'll understand how it cheered me up