I am not an international student, nor do I attend Auburn University, and yet I'm living in an apartment where they send their international students who are looking for a cheap place to lay their head while having the time of their life in the middle of nowhere. Tim is considered an international student here because his university is in Wales. No one here seems to care that he holds an American passport. So here we live in the only diversity that I can find in this town, and I'm grateful for it.
I've tried to stay objective and approach my new environment the way that I would any new place in which I find myself. So far, here is what I have learned.
Auburn is a football town. Auburn is a church town. And there you have every Saturday and Sunday respectively. So if you aren't into either or both of those activities, then you are up a creek with nothing to do. It's all about the tigers and the war eagle (I'll be posting more specifically about that soon). The students here are quite different than what I have experienced elsewhere. There is a uniform that the majority adheres to. On weekdays, girls are seen in oversized t-shirts and either running shorts or leggings. The boys wear collared shirts and tailored shorts tucked and belted. On the weekends, the girls get dolled up for the games as do the boys: orange and blue. They are looking for a mate. It is also common to find moms hanging out with their children doing all sorts of things for them and their children not minding at all. In fact, they encourage it. They even dress alike when they come to visit. I find this a smidge disturbing. But I'm just the observer here.
If you have spent five minutes with me ever, or even if you have read even one of my blog posts, you will know that this is not my typical environment. What's a girl to do?
I have managed to find a couple places where I feel at home. I've been spending my time in the university library and a place called the Coffee Cat sipping sludgy coffee and pumpkin lattes studying for the GRE and writing travel articles. I take walks, lots of walks. I have to because I don't have a car. I pass people working in their yards when I wander through the nearby neighborhoods, "hi y'all," they say, and they're talking to me. But that's as far as the conversation goes. People are nice, but not too nice. The grocery store is a sweaty mile and a half away, and the farm stand that I have grown to love is two miles. Luckily they deliver local produce in a basket every Thursday. The lemonade at Toomer's Corner is not all it's cracked up to be. Much too sweet for my taste.
International housing is quiet with the most active place being the dumpster. Some walk to the dumpster to throw away a scrap of paper just to get out of their one room box. People are bored here. It's not what they expected being in America. There are no bright lights or big cities. It's a small town in the south. The only way out without a car is a shuttle, but it'll cost ya. There is no major city nearby, and the airport is a good hour and a half away. We're trapped, but it's only temporary.
I'm learning so much about a brand new culture, one that seems very far from the ones in countries like Thailand and Tanzania where I felt so comfortable.