College has been one of the most surreal experiences so far. For me, many other international students, and many freshmen here at Troy, this was not just an academic jump.
Some students here have left home for the first time, traveled thousands of miles to get to a strange land with different people, culture and traditions. It is not just the demands of college life that many of us encounter, but some also struggle to fit into the everyday traffic of life here on campus.
It seems like the past three months have whizzed by; yet, so much has happened during that time. Everything, from the first day of orientation to the first serving of “biscuits and gravy,” has played a big role in gradually shaping everyday college life to the new normal for many of us. For example, the first tailgate before our first football game, to many of us, made no sense whatsoever. So much has changed over time.
Crowding around a smartphone watching Troy beat Southern Mississippi in a football game was something I never imagined myself doing or, on that note, realizing the fact that I would be thrilled about our football team being rated higher than Auburn’s. This initiation that started months ago will finally come to an end this week when homecoming traditions bind us to our new family.
To the outside eye, each of us would seem like just another college student, immersed in homecoming activities, and a lot of us might not even realize the difference ourselves. The truth is that we are no longer the same people who arrived at Troy two months ago.
We have, by now, been acquainted with and, to a certain degree, immersed into the culture and traditions of the school, and of the place we are living in. Things that seemed weird to us at first, now just come naturally. We regularly utter phrases that we did not know the meaning of when we got here. We have embraced traditions that we observed from a distance, without even realizing we did because it seems like we were born with it.
From classes to campus activities, every single thing we have been a part of since arriving here has helped us get to know people that, just months ago, were strangers. We were told that we were one family of Trojans, and our hearts have, by now, felt that connection realized, and accepted it.
This week, whether we are playing games, attending rallies or cheering on our sports teams, singing the fight song or chanting TR-OJ-ANS, there will be a difference that each of us will feel deep inside. We are no longer in a strange land or far away from home, at least in this community. Whether it is the timing of the occasion or the community spirit that it embodies, is beside the point. When we celebrate this week of homecoming and its events with our fellow Trojans, we will be living its traditions as if we were always here as one family. After this long and exciting journey for our body, mind and soul, we are finally at home.