Monday, December 25, 2006

An Overview of My First Semester in the U.S.

Hello world! Long time no post. I've been bad, I know! But I was really busy, and somehow lazy. My first semester is over at last and now I'm having a winter break for a whole month in which I have nothing to do but watching T.V. and taking rides on the bus around town! There's not that much to do around here, actually. It's a small town and everything in it is based on the university, and now the campus is totally empty, almost all the students have left home for the break except me and other few students who are stuck here or prefer to stay on campus.

Since I arrived here two weeks after the beginning of classes, I didn’t get the chance to see anything or go anywhere. There were many trips for international students to New York, Washington D.C. and other big cities, but I couldn't go on any of them cuz I had to catch up with the studying and everything. Then one day my roommate and I decided to go on a trip to Washington D.C. after we finish the semester. A friend of mine was supposed to come to the trip with her husband, but later she canceled it and I ended up going with my roommate and three of her Taiwanese friends. The trip was for only two days cuz they had to come back to campus, pack and fly back home for the break. So, we called it a short and quick trip.

We hit the road on Saturday morning and started our trip to D.C., and about three to four hours later my friend called me to check that everything was going well and that we were on the right road, and when I was reading the signs on the side of the street she realized that that was not the right road to D.C.! And when I told my roommate that, she said that we were just following the direction that we got from the internet. Only when I saw the directions, I knew that we were actually heading to a mall in Fairfax, Virginia!! She FORGOT to tell me that we were going to Virginia first!

Well, later, they didn't like to stick to all the plans that we had and preferred to spread out, everyone on his own for the day doing whatever they want to do. So, I ended up alone in D.C. for about the whole day, and I spent the whole time walking from the Capitol building, and all the way till Lincoln Memorial seeing everything and visiting The National Gallery of Art and The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (that what time permitted for museums, it was just one day and we had to go back home before sunset).

Though I was alone, my day there was amazing. The weather was so warm, people were everywhere in the National Mall jogging and walking their pets. I really felt that I was in the U.S.! Yes, it's really true!

And here are some photos that I took :)

Though I felt that I kind of messed up in my first semester, the results came out a couple of days ago, and guess what? I got an "A" on my three courses! J This first semester was hectic for me, and I had to read three novels a week and some essays and writing response papers and all. Then came the time when I had to prepare for my three final papers, and oh God, I was freaked out the whole time! Well, the system here is way different from Iraq, everything in class is different, the teaching methods, the way of writing paper and researching. Therefore, I had to learn how to switch to all those new ways in a very short time and try to catch up with everything. But thanks to God, everything went fine and the result came just as perfect! There was this one professor who wanted our final paper to be eligible to be published and wanted rough drafts for the paper along with long presentations that were taking most of the class's time. Some of the students in this class were complaining about this (I thought I was the only one!) and one of them said that he would write her a letter and say to her that she was wasting our time by those long presentations and rough drafts.. bla bla bla.

My three courses were Women Literature, Topics on American Literature Before 1870, and Topics on American Literature Since 1870. The last one was the hardest. We read the novels that were called "Proletarian" novels and the themes of naturalism, realism, postbellum issues and more. My favorite novel in this course was "The House behind the Cedars" by Charles W. Chesnutt.

Women Literature was my favorite course. It was so much fun and somehow easy. We read postcolonial novels and essays in this course written by women or about women. My favorite novels were "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston, and "The Woman Warrior" by Maxine Hong Kingston.

As for my favorite novels in the "before 1870" class, they were "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Billy Bud" and other stories by Herman Melville, and of course "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman. "Walden" was hard and I didn't like it!

It's getting really boring here now! My room is the first in the hall and located next to the main door that leads to the staircase and the outside, and today, I never heard that door opened AT ALL. I think I'm the only person staying in the whole building for Christmas! We, I've got nowhere else to go! It's not how I planed to spend my break here, but there is no other choice for me. Even the buses are not running for two days, so it means I will be stuck up here till everything comes back to life after the break. At least I have T.V. and cable in the room. My favorite channel is tbs.

Alright, I've been keeping this post for too long now, it's time to publish!

Merry Christmas everyone :)



annie said...

hello you dear brilliant soul on this christmas! call me 206 781 0032. any time, i have unlimited log distance and wil call you right back.

it is clear t me your talents and affinity are most suited for woman literature. you have a story to tell. you are in a unique time in history, you have a unique stoty to tell, an a unique talent to communicate, so BE IT.

embrace your situation, talk to us, share your view, and don't hold back. we want you, i want you. tell me your story, you are very. very special.

take this alone time and grow, learn, dig deep and find a way to express what your experience as a woman, a younge new woman , in this land, means to you. tell us, we want to hear your story.


David said...

Hi Morbido! It is great to see your new post. :) Congratulations for your excellent grades in your three courses! Even though you had a short time in D.C., it sounds like you saw some very interesting things. I have been to the Lincoln Memorial. He was a really great man and President! When I saw his giant statue in the Memorial, I felt very honored to be there. I have seen parts of the Smithsonian Museum, although I did not make it to the Natural History portion. I was with a tour group in High School, so I didn't get to wander. Actually, I think that the Natural History Museum would have been very interesting for me. I love to learn about the ancient and present life on our planet. :) Art galleries are fun too! I went to the Indianapolis Art Museum recently and saw an exhibit of European impressionistic art. It was interesting, but realistic and surrealistic art are my favorites.

I am having difficulty loading your slide show. I can see only a few of the pictures. Does this web site requite high speed internet? Unfortunately, I have very slow speed! :( I will try again later. However, the music played just fine and I liked it very much! :)

I hope you will not be too bored during your month long break. Do you know what books you will have to read for next semester? Maybe you could read a few of them during the break and then you could relax a bit during the semester and take a few trips with your friends. Just a thought.

I occasionally watch something on the TBS channel. My favorite channel is probably History channel, followed by the SciFi channel. Try not to get hooked on a soap opera called Days of Our Lives on NBC. That happened to me once. It is really addictive! ;)

Marshmallow26 said...

Dear Morbido,

Your post and pictures ROCK!!

All that hard work you put the last tweo months, staying far from blogging paid off at the END! You got an A, what a marvilous work you have done!!
Keep up the good spirit and work...

God be with you and Merry Christmas.

dcdad said...

It's unfortunate you have such a solitary holiday period. I spent two Christmas breaks in Finland while writing my doctoral dissertation. Not only was the student house empty but all restaurants and stores in Helsinki were closed for about 4 days. I spent the first break reading Robinson Crusoe in Finnish and very much identifying with the protagonist.

Spending your holiday alone is basically the result of an unfortunate communications failure as I am sure many of your readers would have been been more than willing to have you for the holidays.

I live in Washington and my own daughter is currently in Iceland writing her doctoral dissertation and we would have been delighted to put you up in her room, show you around DC and drive you back to Pennsylvania.

Michomeme said...

morbido...i miss u so much sis..i like ur new post so much...u r amazing..

i love u

Lisa, New York said...


Congratulations on getting such great grades in your classes! That's fantastic, especially considering you started the semester a few weeks late. I hope you enjoy your break, even though it may be a bit lonely. As others said, maybe you could use this time to start reading some things you'll need to read next semester. Or just relax and watch TV. :-) Does your college have a winter session? Some colleges have a short session between the Fall and Spring semesters, so maybe there will be more people on campus next week.

Well, just take this time to relax. You have my email address I think and you can always email me if you want to talk to someone.

Congrats again on the great grades!

Lynnette in Minnesota said...

I loved the slide show, Morbido!

I'm sorry you're spending so much time alone on your break. That's no fun. Of course you can always talk to us when you get bored. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post, Morbido :)

Seems like you're doing great. I know people who lived in the US all their lives and had more trouble adjusting when they went away to school.

Your road trip to C sounds like fun. For what it's worth, I think the sights in Washington are best seen alone, anyway. The most fun I had in DC was when I was there for a conference and I would wander off on my own whenever I had free time. The worst was when I went with family, because we couldn't agree on what we wanted to do, and ended up running around like headless chickens and not doing much of anything.

PS-Your picture are great! Is there anything you aren't good at!?

jarvenpa said...

Oh, Merry Christmas dear (my family thinks Christmas lasts till Epiphany, the 6th of January, which is great--we get a longer time to celebrate, and my late, late gifts to family far away arrive, by my mind, during Christmas.)
Your grades are wonderful, and you are reading some excellent books.
I have a great fondness for Walden, but it is written in a very--19th century and metaphoric way. Someday maybe you can read some of Thoreau's journals and get a better sense of him.
Though of course you don't have to love his work just cause some woman you don't know does! He was very influential in my own life; I used to carry a collection of his writings with me everywhere.
Here we have lots of rain and wind, but so far no snow.
May your new year be full of wonderful things.

David said...

Hi Morbido, I still can't see all your pictures :( But, one I did see was the huge elephant. I am pretty sure that elephant was hunted and killed by President Teddy Roosevelt. He hunted so many animals just for fun, which I think is terrible! It is ok by me to hunt for food, though. Anyway, what is really surprising about him is that he actually did more to preserve animals and wild places than any other President. He created hundreds of national parks that still exist today. I hope to see some of the really beautiful ones in the western U.S. someday! :)

CharlesWT said...


Here's the pictures. Unfortunately, without Morbid's captions, some of them don't have a context.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Original_Jeff said...

Happy new year, Morbido!

Great pictures from your trip to Washington. I wish you had been able to spend more than one day there--but you managed to see a lot in only one day (I bet your feet were tired!).

Congratulations on your grades. I am so impressed since you are doing all of this in a "second" language.

What has surprised you the most about the U.S.A? What is different from what you expected?

David said...

Hi CharlesWT,

Thanks a bunch for your help! The pics are still loading slowly (bad dial-up service!), but I can see them now. :)

A few more reactions:

Mmmm, I love chinese food!

Those birds are certainly quite tame! :)

Hey, that squirrel is really checking you out Morbido! He looks impatient to be fed! Maybe you have animal magnitism. ;)

dancewater said...

congratulations on the successful start to your college career! and the pictures and slide show were delightful. You covered an awful lot in one day!

Wish I lived closer, I would come and visit with you - but I am down in NC.

mewmewmew said...

it is clear t me your talents and affinity are most suited for woman literature. you have a story to tell. you are in a unique time in history, you have a unique stoty to tell, an a unique talent to communicate, so BE IT.

neon transformer
home remodels