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First Week of Independence

Living on Campus

I was assigned a room in Ivory Tower with the most awesome roommates I can ever ask for.

Haziq (National University of Singapore), James (Uni Melbourne), Andreas (Copenhagen Business School), and Muhammed (National University of Singapore)
Haziq (National University of Singapore), James (Uni Melbourne), Andreas (Copenhagen Business School), and Muhammed (National University of Singapore)

In the temple of the great emancipator, we sealed the bond of roommate-ship with a photograph, after a day’s worth of persistent counsel by those who have had bad experiences to compose a “Roommate Agreement”.

Being laid-back and very trusting of each other, we have yet to talk about anything related to any document of understanding ever since this photo was taken. The only thing we agreed upon was to take turns buying milk. The only other consensus was that cockroaches are not welcomed in our apartment.

I have stayed on campus back home occasionally to finish assignments and to do group work with friends, but this is a whole new experience. If I’m not making my own breakfast, I could get a dose of caffeine on my way out and before my hair dries, I’m already in class, answering a question, barely having swallowed a sandwich.

Now that I’m more orientated with the Foggy Bottom area, I find myself bravely using shortcuts to classes, confidently grabbing cheaper options for groceries on my way back to my room, comfortably eating from the many cafes, delis, vendors and food trucks around (I need my food to be halal) and smartly keeping quarters in my pocket for the trip to the laundry (when I say trip I mean 5 short strides to the machines across my room door).

Lessons and Challenges

I don’t have much to say about the classes I have so far since it has only been a week but what I can say is that I enjoy the “class participation” atmosphere here. My home university has vibrant and competitive “tutorials”, or the equivalent of discussion sections here, especially for participation. Here, participation also extends to “lectures” with impromptu polls and sharing of opinions on required readings as well as related current affairs. As a political science student, I somehow feel “at home”.

However, my greatest challenge here so far is the deficit of knowledge I have with regards to issues of local context. I am able to discuss theories and issues in general, but occasionally, I find myself lost when a reference is made regarding, for instance, the education system in the United States. Often, I am the only one not laughing when the lecturer makes a joke that only Americans would understand. I predict my non-involvement would get more serious as the weeks pass and I will have to borrow a few extra books to read over the weekends – I may still not laugh along, but at least, I hope, I will not be left behind in class.


I did get my first chance to “keep up” when a lesson was cancelled and I managed to catch President Obama giving a speech at the Lincoln Memorial!


To end off my first week, I went for some family-entertainment at the Verizon Center – WWE Live! I was a wrestling fan when I was very young and, like how I’m unfamiliar with U.S. politics, I had to “catch up” and learn about the new characters.

WWE at the Verizon Center!
WWE at the Verizon Center!

I found myself sympathetic towards “Daniel Bryan” and I loved chanting along with the crowd to cheer him on. Can I make it through the rest of this semester? YES! YES! YES! YES!

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