The “Science” of Embarrassment
Going to a university in a foreign country is, well, different. Towson, my home university, is a medium-sized state school. It is quite a transition to now attend an international school with around 600 bachelor’s students. There are so many little differences, such as not being on a smoke-free campus and having three-hour classes.
One of the small differences is that teachers here use a program called ‘Knowledge’ which contains all of our course work. This is where a little (but very important) document was located for my first day of my science lab. I, of course, did not even think to open the program.
So, I rolled out of bed and prepared to leave my cozy apartment at 7:20 am. With it being my birthday week, I took the time to straighten my hair and throw on a cute pair of boots. I caught the early bus (quite a miracle) and rushed down to the information desk to ask where my lab would be located since the teacher had not emailed this information or posted a notice in the main building.
The nice lady there told me to go down to the gym. My initial thoughts: the gym, a lab in the gym. I wonder if it’s because the room is bigger than the classrooms.
When I finally find the gym, every single girl in the class is changing into gym clothes. I ask multiple people if they are in my science lab, and to my dismay they all are. Long story short, I was the only one unaware that we were doing a cardio workout to measure our heart rates.
I kept checking my bag to see if a magic pair of sneakers would appear or at least a water bottle, but no, I was the only one unprepared.
I did my jump roping, mountain climbers, running, and the other six stations in my boots, counting down the minutes until I could leave. At my home university, I never would have missed the notice that our lab would be a fitness class for the day to measure our heart rates. I never would have had those three torturous hours in class but equally, I wouldn’t have this awfully hilarious story.
Yes, school abroad is different and strange situations occur. You may miss the only bus that gets you to school on time, and have to come up with a plan B—that’s actually funny story for another time.
Abroad, you do face culture shock and notice weird things that you aren’t used to. But, locals can also point out all of the weird things that Americans do. Every school, country, even town has something unique about it. We learn as we go, and have fun doing so.
As I walk twenty feet out of my door to take pictures of the sea for a photography project, I am grateful to live in this hidden gem of a town. I love the strange pop hits that play in the hallway during breaks and the tiny coffee cups that come out of vending machines. Everything that makes this school different is what makes it where I want to be. These differences define my new home, and a culture that I hope to become part of.
Laura Bastings is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in the French Riviera, France. She is currently a sophomore at Towson University.