Well, it was hardly May but the Aussies had finally touched down in Boston.
The 15 hour flight included 3 meals and a sore neck, along with some awkward sleeps. The movies went by as I tried to pass the time, nearly finishing the book I needed to read for English. It felt strange to stand up in the plane I was sitting for so long.
Getting off the plane I met the other scholars for the first time and we headed off to struggle through our travel. The depressurisation had given me a headache, and made going through customs all the more tedious. I didn’t know what time it was. We arrived at our gate with 6 hours ’till lift off #4 so we all got some fuel, and I overcomplicated paying for the pain relief pills asking about tax and tipping.
I bought a pizza for all of us but was the only one who was hungry so ate it myself, and got to know the other scholars a bit more, then caught up on my two Monday feels worth of sleep.
Catching the plane and going to Boston went as planned, getting there at night, meeting the ASSIST reps and falling asleep on the way back, sustained by some terribly tasting vegan chocolate that Kelby had brought along. When we got to Promfret, the boarding school we were all staying at, we went straight to bed after being introduced to some of the people we’d be staying with and almost melting from the humidity. Even though I was fatigued I woke up I’m the middle of the night, taking a cold shower helped but I didn’t feel that tired. It was exactly 12 hours behind WA.
The next morning was composed of an 6 am wakeup without an alarm, a quick run to shed off the stiffness in my legs and a cruddy breakfast with disappointing bagels. After breakfast the first arrivals, there was about 10 of us, went for a walk around the campus and found a path that lead through the huge forest the school used as a cross country course. We found a team building course of two suspended wires then later a bridge over a small creek, deciding muck around there for a bit. We got to know each other pretty well, which we knew would give us a way of getting to know more people in orientation, as we’d all make our own friends but introduce them to each other.
Getting back I met with a charān who didn’t sleep, and we watched some Jonah from Tonga on my laptop with Marius, a Moldovan. I think it’s an Aussie thing, he wasn’t too impressed.
One of the staff came in and asked us about where we had come from, and somehow the conversation drifted to American politics. Realising how little I knew worried me while Charān seemed to know every detail of every circulating problem. This was a reminder that I was amongst a caliber of people different to what I was used to in Australia, and I just hoped I could keep up with them.
We chilled outside in the shade making friends with the Americans, talking about the differences and giving them some melted cadbury, waiting for a breeze to escape the heat. Then people started arriving. So many people. It went from the ten of us to 180 students in a few hours. As soon as they arrived it was dinner time, all the countries sat together in their own little groups. there was instant rivalry between us and the kiwis, they went on about an underarm bowl in cricket that lost them a game or something.
One of my roommates, Veli from Bulgaria, came at 2 in the morning. I woke up to it and didn’t get back to sleep again for about an hour. The jet lag was taking its toll.
The next morning we had breakfast and then some extremely corny group building games.
A tradition at the orientation, is the WW2 soccer game; germans vs the world. I can’t remember outcome but I know that I was terrible compared to all the Europeans. So I sat on the sideline with the Aussie girls while they admired Karl. A tanned, dreamy, Swede. He played the saxaphone and wore tank tops 24/7.
that night after continuing to get t know people it was time to practice for our culture night. We had to decide which phrases we would attempt to translate from Aussie to english. Sarah slept on the bench waking up only to insult the New Zealanders while the rest of us landed with “gday sheilas, what’s with the barry darry dugs, you yobos gone troppo?”, translating roughly to “goodday ladies, why are you wearing weird clothing? Have you both gone crazy?”.
By this point I’d lost my voice quite badly. I tried whispering but it didn’t help, so I just hoped I’d be able to put on a voice for the performance. After deciding which we’d do, off to bed for an early wake up to Boston.
I woke up extra early this time, hoping for some more sleep I lied down for 30 mins before realizing it was futile. Going for a run to wake up a bit. The breakfast was quick but the ride to Boston took forever, however sitting next to some new people made it interesting. First was the tour of Boston, learning about it’s history from a theatrical guy dressed in a colonial outfit that we met in a squirrel filled park. I didn’t realize there was so much that happened there, and always envisioned it as grungy as the song “Shipping Up to Boston”. There were so many people. We went to a graveyard where Samel and John Adams, and a few other influential figures were buried, our guide joking that the bar directly across the street was the only place in the world where you can drink a cold Sam Adams, while next to a cold Sam Adams.
Then it was off to harvard after lunch, where yet another energetic tour guide awaited us. We learnt of the people that graduated and didn’t graduate there, the history and the buildings. The science building was built in steps: the floors got smaller as they got higher because the tech got more advanced. Such an elitist design. It would be cool to get to the top of that.
When we finished the tour around there, we all sort of hung around Boston for a bit to give some of us the chance to get some Harvard gear. It was a three levelled store just full of Harvard jumpers mugs book, caps, you name it. I took the chance to resupply on a few necessities. And of course we met some extremist with the big cardbord fact boards hanging around their neck. They had a few interesting things to say about Clinton to put it lightly.
Getting home after a long day people were happy to hit the hay after some more culture night practice. The girls had found something to entertain themselves with, a scholar from Sweden named Karl. tanned, played the saxophone, blue eyes, dreamy. But worst of all he was a great guy.
It finally came to the final day. Class was starting and todays lesson was how to be American. Sitting through how long to wash your hands and how to be polite, while another class taught how to give back to ASSIST. After all we were getting this mostly for free. The end of class gave us the chance to realise were leaving soon, packing and doing some final preparations for our culture play. We primed up the vegemite and put on our best accents. Mine sounding deeper than ever in order to actually get any sound out. My voice was completely gone at this stage.
(insert photo of assist aussies)
They ended up hating the vegemite, I guess we shouldn’t have given them a full spoonful..
after the hilarious acts and a whip nae nae video made by the coordinators we said our goodbyes, knowing that we’d probably never see each other again, or at least until the next morning.
We left early and caught our flights to arrive at around midday, finally finishing my book on the way and meeting some girls that were going to Hockaday: St. Mark’s’ sister school.