Reflecting on My First Two Weeks in Ithaca

I haven’t been updating as often as I would like to. It’s the end of January already, time passes so quickly. A couple of days ago, I felt a tad homesick and frustrated also. Mainly due to the fact that Ithaca is a very small place and if you don’t drive, moving around can be quite the drag. I’ll have to admit, when I was down, it showed. My Japanese friend, N, could tell that I was tired, quiet and not my usual self.

The novelty of being here in the US had worn off some and I found myself questioning how things could have been vastly different if I was somewhere else, like New York City or Sydney, which were places I applied to as well. Ithaca reminds me of New Zealand. Idyllic, slow pace of life, warm courteous folks. Definitely very different from what I’m used to, no doubt about that. I’m still adapting because that process goes beyond the first two weeks and I can’t possibly say I’m fully settled.

Professor K took R and I to Chinese Buffet for lunch. That’s the name of the eatery that serves Chinese food, which I thought was pretty decent except for the grease and the Americanization of some dishes. Prof K was from Thessaloniki, Greece. He came to America fifty years ago and he set up the communications school in Ithaca College. He taught in NTU for five years, co-wrote one of our textbooks and is now retired, though the UN recently invited him to set up communications institutions across Africa. Pretty amazing guy, affable personality, also extremely down-to-earth despite his accomplishments and talks to us like we were his own kids. I’m so glad to have him around.

Classes have been enjoyable so far.

My news-writing prof is a really easygoing guy. News writing and fun can exist in the same sentence over here! He’s been very kind and patient, even going out of his way to help us international students understand this country a little bit more, explaining politics and government. Today, he delved into how townships, villages, hamlets, and cities work. Something really interesting was that there’s a street that separates Ohio and Indiana. Both states have different penalties for marijuana possession. And because that particular road is the border between the two, the penalty depends on which side of the road you were standing on if you got caught. For Ohio, it’s a $500 fine. And for Indiana, it’s a five year jail term.

For nonfiction film, the prof is such an expert. She was a panelist at Sundance two weeks ago and she’s been showing us some awesome documentaries. She deals with rather abstract material though and it’s been quite a challenge following it. She taught at NTU for one year and she mentions Singapore in her discussions quite frequently. She was all praise for Tan Pin Pin’s Singapore GaGa and Royston Tan’s 15, and she’s probably screening Singapore GaGa at the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival that’s coming up. “Royston Tan is easily one of two most exciting filmmakers of Southeast Asia,” she says.

I’m also in Peyi’s Global Studies class. She’s from Nigeria and she’s been raising some very thought-provoking issues in class. It’s fantastic, the way she gets all excited about what she’s saying, her voice crescendos and the pitch heightens. There was some tension in class when she accused first-world countries of being too self-centered and guilty of stereotyping “the rest of the world”. And then she took a deep breath and waited for the American kids to digest all that. She is an extremely passionate educator.

I’m headed to the Big Apple with the international students this weekend. And it’s Superbowl weekend! Broadway, Central Park, Empire State building, Statue of Liberty, here we come.

  • Serene February 4, 2007, 11:29 am

    i see you don’t have a HEDWIG for news writing! 🙂

    you’re feeling better already? i thought you missed us! hahaha. but nice. good to know you’re less grouchy.

    so now that you’re there, you go for all your lessons? just curious. did you bring your mega alarm clock over?

    it’s different here, without you friend!

  • Jeremy February 5, 2007, 1:49 am

    Haha I feel guilty cos when I’m grouchy, I make no attempt to hide it.

    Funnily enough, and ironically too, I feel motivated for classes here as compared to back in NTU. And the grades don’t matter. Irony.

    No I didn’t bring my alarm clock, it would take up too much precious luggage space. But amazingly, I’m not having any problems waking up with just my phone alarm. Probably cos the day starts early, and the night starts early too so I am not a night person anymore.

    New York City was so great! I didn’t want to leave!


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