(orignally posted here)
The freshmen arrived on campus last weekend, and it was very exciting!
The hubbub began Friday and continued through Sunday. Tables manned by lots of my old students were set up in the paved area between the main gate and the old main building, and each incoming bus was met by a crowd of upperclassmen wielding signs, trying to gather all their new classmates and herd them off to their table. There were school brochures and large maps of the area. I was proud of my ability to read two of the street names and suss out the legend on one simply by knowing what was at each of the marked points – “OK, those three triangles are restaurants, so triangles must be for restaurants…” etc. I only found one thing on the map I didn’t already know about the immediate area. I really am at home here now!
Along the sidewalks and basketball courts within and outside the school were vendors selling dorm-room necessities. I have a general idea what each thing is for, so here’s a short shopping list based on what they were all selling:
Hangers – lots and lots of plastic and metal hangers! That was my housewarming gift to Stacy, a new teacher – I am still buying hangers for myself after being here for a year, so that I can leave the wash to the last moment, do two or three loads in the washing machine, and then have hangers to hang everything to dry on! The students, however, are more likely to need just a few, and a:
Bucket – most are more like plastic basins; I assume these are for washing clothes. One student who dropped by last spring as I was folding 3-4 weeks of just-cleaned socks was amazed and told me she only has a few pairs of socks – like, two or three – so laundry is a daily thing for these kids.
Bedding – flat sheets, comforters, comforter covers to match the sheets and protect them from getting dirty, and thin quilted pads to place on the hard wooden bunks they all get
Personal care items – soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes
Thermos – these have plastic outsides slightly bigger than a 2-liter cola bottle, with a wide bottom so they’re less likely to fall over. On the inside is a thin silvery glass canister – I guess this is a vacuum cylinder? I’m not sure, but it must serve some use in keeping the liquid inside hot. These are filled with boiled water provided by the school each day, so that it’s safe for drinking, but cheaper than bottled water. From the large thermos, it’s poured into smaller glass or heavy plastic wide-mouthed water bottles, often with tea leaves or flowers for flavor, to be carried to class.
When I went to the grocery store on Saturday, I was surprised to see that the cul-de-sac with the shopping carts was almost full – weren’t there lots of families inside buying their new student things? Well, yes, as I found when waiting in a long line to check out, but they weren’t buying enough to need a cart. They’d just have an armload or two. These students have much less than students in America, and much much less than little old pack-rat me had by the end of school (a moving-van’s worth!).
So, school has started, I’ve met my new freshmen (two sections of Oral English), and Trillian just popped up to let me know yet another one just e-mailed me her homework. Guess I’d better go start grading it!