Orientation: Déjà Vu with an American Twist

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As I was walking through the campus of the University of Iowa, I couldn’t help but feel a strange sense of déjà vu. In the most rudimentary sense, the Iowa Orientation was identical to the Abbott Orientation: the speech about the incoming student body, the tour of the campus, the icebreakers in the small groups, and the overall feeling of excitement And just like Arts and Sciences, I was in a small group. The engineering students were put into their own special group while everyone else was randomly bunched together.

But I wasn’t in Canada anymore. I was in Iowa, a very a American place. And for me, it was pretty obvious that I was now in the States.

First off, the people were not as culturally diverse as in Montreal. I was the only Asian in my group, and the only Canadian (my reputation now is, and this is verbatim from one of the guys, “that Canadian chick -.-). In fact, the video that was talking about dealing with diversity was talking about a Chinese student. After watching the video, the group talked about it. In the group, there were only three non-Caucasian people: me, an African American girl, and a latino. And it was kind of awkward for me because the tour guide was talking about how for everyone, coming to Iowa meant adjusting to the increased or decreased diversity. The majority of the group was on the side saying that Iowa was the most diverse place for them, while I was (most likely) the only one coming from a culturally rich place to one that was dominantly white.

Is it a good or bad thing?- Well, to be fair, I don’t think I can judge the student population so quickly since there are many orientations and maybe the group today was only a tenth or something of the actual incoming engineering class. But still, I’m not quite sure how I feel about being a ‘rarity’. At the least though, Koreans were one of the more common international students so at least I won’t be completely alone.

Secondly, in America, there is no CEGEP. There’s senior year and then university. So all the things that I learned while at CEGEP, like having less courses and having more free time, they were going over again for the first time for the students. (I’m sorry if that didn’t make any sense…)

Thirdly, (actually, this doesn’t have to do with being in America, but still~) unlike how in Arts and Sciences the majority was girls, now since I’m in engineering the majority are guys, which means new dynamics and it’s a big change. All us girls kind of instinctively huddled together since we were five compared to the ten other guys. This will be interesting…But still, although the gender balance was inverted, the vibe that I found in Arts and Sciences was still there: the bonding that comes with naturally being in a small group. So I think this will be interesting~

And now, I’m really tired and I have to get ready for another busy day tomorrow because it’s registration day O.o. I’m a bit worried because Arts & Sciences never had to do scheduling and everyone who did always told me that it was a nightmare and required almost a battle plan to get the courses you wanted…

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4 thoughts on “Orientation: Déjà Vu with an American Twist

  1. Ashley,
    Enjoyed your blog on orientation day. I can’t believe you’re going to be (relatively) close to us here in Illinois. We’re here if there’s anything you need. Also, diversity is definitely contextual. Can’t wait to see you and the family.

  2. That’s interesting! After I graduate from high school and finishing my basics at a small college, I’ll be attending UT. This summer I went there for a camp for my school, and there was quite a noticeable diversity within the student body.

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