I arrived in Madison around 10:30 a.m. on a Monday and headed toward the university. I wanted to reach Bascom Hill first and take a picture with the statue of Abraham Lincoln. That moment is when I would be convinced that I have, indeed, reached Madison (mission accomplished).
I find Madison to be a very interesting city. Though a little diverse, it still has the typical behaviors of people of the Midwest. The friendliness and helpfulness of the people here are just mind-blowing. You do something wrong here, and three or four people passing by will give you advice (the helpful Madisonians). I remember, I went to do the laundry at a local dry cleaner, and the employee there was just way too friendly. He gave us a two-hour lecture on his whole life story: “I didn’t know how to read until high school,” the man told us.
Madison is also rich with events, interesting places, and other experiences. I have come to learn that Madison heavily celebrates events and holidays. Whether it is the solar eclipse, Harry Potter week, Halloween or Thanksgiving, and not to forget Christmas; all of these are celebrated accordingly in Madison. I thought to myself: there is always something for someone here, whatever their preferences are. If you are a sports person, Madison takes sports seriously. If maybe you like music and dance, bands and concerts are also greatly valued here. If maybe you just love nature, the nearby gardens are a popular destination for most people as well.
As an international student from Malawi, I find some of these beautiful things and interesting people quite shocking. I find that there are so many options here. You need to take note of each and everything you want. I remember I went to the farmer’s market with my host family one day, and I was surprised with the types of cheese that I saw there. I was blown away by how many choices I had. Before, I knew only that there was cheese (not twenty types of it).
I was also shocked by the number of options you have when you want to buy or do something simple. If you want anything, you have to specify what color, type, size –– and the list goes on.
Having observed this and after a few disappoints, I have now found a way to live happily as a new member of this city. The most important thing for me is to observe the culture of the people as closely as possible. I will make sure to utilize all of the things that Madison has to offer. I might play soccer in the different fields, hang out on the Terrace and admire the lake view, or attend events with free food (now that sounds like a good plan). As for food, I have tried out different restaurants and found some choices with food similar to my home. Otherwise, every food is too sweet in America.
I hope my fellow first-year students will also find ways to make the best out of this city and make their time here as exciting as possible. As for me, the above are my choices for now. Although I have been warned about winter and what it can do here, I will still keep an open mind and see how it goes.
Until next time. Don’t forget to drop your comments below. Your feedback is hugely appreciated.