About a year ago, I was on a plane on my way to America. I was expecting to great things for 2016. Every time I deeply think about it, I still have that surreal feeling that I am actually here.
Believe it or not, I actually spent a lot of time this year thinking what this 2016 year-in-review entry will look like. I had this t-shirt idea very early on this year. I wanted to do like a photo journey of what I did throughout the year but it is a little impossible this year if I want this entry to be published on time. This year I took a lot of photos, 315.87GB worth of photos and videos to be exact. Maybe I’ll consider doing it sometime in 2017?
But moving back to the actual year-in-review. I have spent exactly 366 days in America and I have done a lot in the past year. More than I had in mind when I boarded the plane here on December 31. I actually got the idea of this t-shirt thing when I was doing my class reviews. The idea behind this was that, If I were to choose one picture that represents 2016. What would it be?
Initially, I thought of representing the year with like the happiest photo of me but that didn’t represent what I did this year. I could’ve done a collage of photos but collages are so out of date these days. So, I ended up with the photo above. It might just look like a random selection of t-shirts but each and every one of them tells a story of my life in America.
I don’t have time to cover the story of all 29 t-shirts. But what I’ll do is talk about three main ones that paint the entire story of 2016.
Where it all began
When I was doing my preparations to attend ASU, I was thinking about a lot of things. One of them is that I wanted to be more outgoing. And my solution for this is to do volunteer work. I thought that since that I’m here already, I might as well try out every opportunity that came my way. In a lot of ways, this ‘The Color Run’ t-shirt represents the start of everything. It was the first of many volunteer activities that I signed up for this year.
I can tell you that I was a little hesitant about doing it initially because I was a little shy and afraid. But I did overcome it and this became the stepping stone of my journey here in America. Frankly speaking, I didn’t make any friends through this volunteer activity but it did help me build my confidence around people.
I really don’t know where to start with this one.
I can’t imagine what my life would be without the Global Guides program. Everything I did this year all started with this very program. I still remember during the first day of orientation, where I was all alone and getting my box of food and sitting down on a table. A guy with a blue shirt then approached me and started talking to me. He asked me a couple of questions and after that I felt a bit more at home. I was never homesick at that time but talking to the guy made me feel calmer. Till today, I still keep in touch with that guy.
That is why I decided to sign up for the program. Since I have experienced it first hand, I know what my responsibilities are. Often times, my motivation is definitely for the free food that is being served but it all becomes worthwhile when I get to meet amazing people. The bulk of my friends that I talk to are made through this program. This semester alone, I have made over 100 friends (measured by adding people on facebook) and I take this metric real seriously because I don’t just simply add people of Facebook these days.
While the color run is the stepping stone of my volunteer experience this year, learning about the Global Guides program assured myself that I made the right choice in choosing a school and proper mindset.
Coalition of International Students
I might have said it before but I am going to say it again. Joining this organization feels a lot like ‘determinism’. I can tell you that I had no interest in joining this at all. But boy was I glad to be accepted into this organization. CIS is really the link to all the people that I have previously met here at ASU and also served as a platform to engage with new people.
The boys and girls that I met through CIS has been among the best people I have ever met in my life. I mean what I say. In Spring 2016, I was more focused on building my network of friends but in the Fall 2016 semester, I continued building my network but also to proceed in improving the relationship between the people that I already know.
I can honestly say that I am not the most enthusiastic or friendliest of people but I am thankful that somebody is willing to endure with my weirdness. Not going to talk more on this as I have a separate entry in the works that talks all about the people I have met in America.
Fulton Schools of Engineering
E2 camp, I covered it quite extensively. This was one of the random opportunities that came flying by me without me noticing. I am not exactly sure how I found out about it but I am thankful that I found it. It was definitely a pleasure to work alongside other American students to welcome new American students to the Fulton Schools of Engineering. This is probably the most complex of all volunteer activities that I signed up for this whole year but boy did was it a fun challenge. I learnt to overcome several things like working with a female counterpart, being energetic all day long and also learning how to properly convey messages.
Another experience which is not a volunteer thing but rather a paid position is my experience as and undergraduate teaching assistant. I will be talking more on it during my class reviews which are a little back on schedule due to time constraints that I have been having for the last couple of weeks.
Whether I like it or not, 2016 is coming to an end. I am excited to see what 2017 has in-store for me. Classes this year will be extremely tough but I hope that I will still be able to do more volunteer work this coming year. As the novelty of being in America has worn off, I hope to spend more time this year chasing other goals.
But even as is, I have reached my number one goal that is to do things that are out of my comfort zone. I’ll get started on that photo entry thing as soon as I find time to do so.
Here’s to 2017! Hopefully I won’t slack too much on these entries.