Time flies indeed. It seems like it was yesterday when I was back in my country, writing my first blog and dreaming of how my experience at this school would unfold. I can still smell the aroma of the food my mom was cooking that day. I image many of you would agree that it wasn’t long ago when you left your homes. Maybe some of you can still vividly remember the small, interesting scenes in the last days of staying in your home, as I do.
However, even though it’s easy to get lost when things are going fast like this, I think it is important not to get ahead of your experience and forget to appreciate these simple moments passing by every day.
Hi! My name is Lusayo Mwakatika, I come from Malawi, the southern part of Africa. Malawi is a two-hour flight to South Africa (I always had to mention that last part, otherwise many questions would follow). What’s your name? Where are you coming from? I would then return the questions. The other person then would follow suit in responding the question. Then, other questions would follow: “What’s your major? Wow, you come from far. Do you miss your family? What do you miss the most? Oh yeah, I can imagine. OMG! Is it the first time you have traveled away from your family? Your family must really be missing you.” Those were most of the questions and reactions I received in some of the conversations I had during my first weeks on campus.
Then, another week came: the week of name tags and events. The weeks where we could attend any event (as long as there was free food). I must admit that free food tastes good, maybe because you don’t have the right to complain when it’s bad. I attended a lot of events in my first week, and it was kind of overwhelming. I remember getting confused at the student organizations fair. I almost signed up for the women in business organization.
Though overwhelming, I received some useful information about on-campus resources from the events that I attended. I learned about many things, from agricultural organizations and resources to the dance groups and tutoring services on campus. I also learned about study abroad (though I am already studying abroad) and other interesting opportunities I have as an undergraduate at UW-Madison. I also met new, interesting people in some of these events. We often exchanged contacts, and some of them have become my friends.
After experiencing all of this, the day everyone had been waiting for arrived. The first day of class. The day on which nervousness was inevitable. What will the experience be? What if I don’t understand my professor? What if I don’t like any of my courses? What if I am late for my classes on the first day? These were some of the questions swimming through my mind, especially since I had five classes on my first day. I must admit, though, that I was a bit clever since I figured out where all my classes were beforehand. Otherwise, I could have been more stressed than I was. However, it turned out that all my fears were in vain, as I ended up enjoying most of my classes, although I didn’t like my math class because the instructor was kind of too fast for me, so I changed my instructor.
I hope that you, my fellow freshmen, are having a great time meeting new people, as I am. My piece of advice to you is to, if possible, try and talk to a new person every day. Get out of your bubble and meet someone new –– that silent person in your small class or that person you sit next to in a bigger lecture –– just speak to someone, and you will be surprised how willing they are to talk to you. Someone just has to initiate the conversation, and that person should be you. In that way, you will make the most of your experience here and learn a lot. Just reach out to “that” person.