Pre / post departure reflections

By Raidha Rafeeq (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

Although I had received confirmation of my acceptance into the University of Tennessee a few months ago, moving away to live in America for a year was still something that seemed distant and not entirely real. Despite having spent the past couple of months applying for my visa and picking out courses, I could never actually truly believe that I was coming here and now even after being in Knoxville for a couple of days it still feels completely surreal.

The weeks leading up to my departure were definitely hectic. There always seemed to be something that needed to be done or a form that needed to be filled out and sometimes it felt like things were just piling up. I had always told myself that moving to America was going to be easy for me since I had moved from the Maldives to the U.K a few years ago and so I thought I should definitely be used to it by now. Turns out you never get used to it. As excited as I was to be moving to a new country I was still equally as nervous; more so as the day of my flight approached. I had so many questions and worries. Will I make friends? Will I like the course? What if I never learn how to use farehnheit? I always reassured myself by thinking about how I adjusted and came to love my life in the U.K and by telling myself that I would settle down just as easily in Knoxville. Hopefully.

Before I knew it my bags were all packed up and it was time to board my flight. After nine hours of binge watching Parks and Recreation on the inflight entertainment system I had finally landed in my first destination: Atlanta. I got through immigration relatively easily and the people working at Border Control were surprisingly friendly; as is every other person I have met in America so far. Unfortunately my connecting flight to Knoxville was delayed and we were sat in the plane for an hour because one of the passengers was late. Not a great start to the year. None of that matters though because even after all that hassle I am finally here!

I arrived at my halls past midnight and met my roommate who had also just gotten in. One of the things I was most anxious about was having a roommate but I’ve actually come to really like it since it’s nice to always have someone around to talk to. Going from living in a house in Manchester with my friends to living in halls again is very strange but I know I’ll get used to it. It’s still orientation week and although I’ve made a few friends I’m still nowhere near to feeling settled. I am so excited for the rest of the year and hopefully by my next blog post I’ll have lots of great stories to tell!

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