Fresher’s Week ¡¿Online?!
Exam number: B12345678 (…well ..I don’t really believe in ‘exams’ anyway, so....) Student name: supersofi1999 Essay title:
Discuss the long-term consequences of undertaking an international exchange programme.Discuss the short-term consequences of accidentally de-railing an online fresher’s week
Introduction>>>>>>>>>> In mid-July of this year, like most people, I was still dividing my time equally between self-loathing and self-prescribed ‘wellness’ activities. But late one night, I heard the faint ping of an email arriving into my uni inbox. And just like that, my daily routine- a heavy rotation of FOMO and regret -was briefly interrupted.
When I saw the name of the sender, I recognised them as my long-estranged correspondent at my exchange university in Mexico. I instantly forgave the unsociable office hour of 1am GMT(because :six hour time difference). What I could not forgive, however, was the two months of radio silence I had been treated to since May-when all our foreign exchanges were #cancelled. In hindsight, defo not their fault seeing as I had apparently managed to block myself from their all official communications. As in I had actually blacklisted my student ID on their internal system. So no updates for me. What am I like????!! 1).more on this later** The email itself was concise and to the point. But even so, succeeded in sending chills down my spine, echoing the words that no one ever wants to hear outside the context of a Bond film:
‘nos reunimos por zoom a las 9 de la mañana‘
Translation: ‘Let’s meet for a zoom call at 9am‘
I guess my adrenaline pushed me into some kind of high-functioning overdrive. Because apparently my adolescent ability to do mental maths kicked in. 9am in Mexcio? SO that’s, what, 3 pm GMT, perfect, we’ll both be having our breakfast then….Fast forward to that afternoon and I’d brushed my hair and practised my Oscar-winning grin into the webcam. Although it was my first time using zoom, I followed the link no problem and was met by two women on the screen. Well, three including my own shiny eager face:
“Hola! Soy Sofi, encantada, un placer hablar con ustedes después de tanto tiempo, ¿no? Bueno, entonces ¿de qué se trata la reunión? ¿Oye, me están escuchando?“
Translation: Love me, love me, love me, accept me for all that I am.
Main body of text>>>>>>>>>But to my absolute delight, I find myself dropping the biggest L to date. This zoom meeting was, in fact, the first in a series for International Freshers Week. Online. Freshers. Week. The first woman in the chat was the Principal, and the second, was the official interpreter whose job was to translate EVERYTHING that was said. Oh no. And then I realised that it was being broadcasted to 45 participants worldwide- all the other exchange students, who neither shared their mic. nor camera image. Needless to say, my fingers almost collapsed under themselves as they searched for the mute button.
Development>>>>>>>>>>>: Well there are always pros and cons. Cons obviously being that I had de-railed an online freshers week and was expected to sit through ‘zoom-facilitated meet and greets’ long into the night. Pros: MY EXCHANGE WAS HAPPENING!!!! I was going to get classes (albeit virtual)!!!! In Spanish!!!! Other pros: at least in a zoom meeting, which I was still very much in, no one knows if you actually paying attention, what you are actually doing at your end. So I tested out this liberty. And decided to ride the wave of my sudden urge to laugh hysterically, jump up and down, do a victory dance I haven’t done since I was 10, run up to the mirror to check if this was still real, distracted by my neat hair (hey, you’re looking kinda peng still…can I talk to-) and circuit the entire room before ending up at my desk again. **Skip to the end: unfortunately for me, the camera was still on this whole time. I had only muted myself before, but still very much ‘sharing video content.’ Suffice it to say I slammed down my laptop screen with all the vim of a medieval witch-hunter.
Skip forward six weeks into the future and here I am. Sitting at my humble bedroom desk and taking part in online classes. If you were to tell me that I would spend my year abroad in East London, last semester, I would probably have laughed in your face. Yes, I would have laughed in your face. But then, no one predicted the events of 2020, and so, like everyone else, it’s a pretty minuscule sacrifice to make for safeguarding our public health……( I guess)…When it came to selecting my virtual classes this semester at my Mexican uni, I was really determined to make the most of the ‘year abroad’ experience. I wasted hours looking for the iconic Wine & Watercolour class on the dropdown course list (clearly having based my expectations of exchange student on American college films).
Eventually I settled on courses all equally incompatible with my major in History: ‘Arte y Cultura,’ ‘Francés,’ and ‘Composición Musical.’ (Do not @me about transferring credits across). Anyway, so all exciting stuff then- I had initially chosen a gastronomy course but the timetable clashed with my sleep requirements (and I thought I’d spare my parents the early morning clatter of frying pans needed for the 1am virtual cookery practicals).
Conclusion>>>>>>>>>>Sure, it’s not what I imagined I would be doing for my year abroad. But as more and more of us go back to work/school this September, we are gonna adjust to the New Normal. Perhaps Freshers weeks are gonna be a little different. Perhaps some of you will have to stay in your hometowns a bit longer…..But can I just add: there is something to be said for sitting in your teenage bedroom, at the same window desk you wrote your GCSE flashcards, but this time with a professional headset on, discussing French grammar in Spanish, and thinking, it isn’t so bad being a grown-up. That is until your mum walks in (sans knocking, might I add) and
asks tells you to tidy your room.
Wordcount: 4940 (yes, I am using the E.London citation method - in which gifs are equal to 1000 words)
Bibliography: Oh give me a fucking break.