There is a reason Arizona State University (ASU) students call themselves sun devils, and I realized it as soon as I landed at the end of my 11 hour flight from Heathrow to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport; the heat. I have been here now for just over a month and the weather never ceases to amaze me. Bright sunshine and clear skies encourage you to make the most of everyday, which is handy as my time so far has been packed with new experiences and meeting new people. The first two weeks of my year abroad at (ASU) was spent on holiday with my parents, they came with me and we traveled around Arizona visiting places such as Flagstaff, Sedona and Tucson. Sedona, was by far my favorite with its iconic red sandstone formations. I said goodbye to my parents and moved into my new housing on Tuesday the 8th of August, and at the time the halls were still virtually empty. The move in date for most domestic students was the following Saturday, which included my three other suitemates. The three days before that were spent at international orientation, where I got to know fellow international students and was introduced to ASU’s Tempe campus and facilities.
The first week of classes started on the next Thursday, and during this week there was welcome activities like the traditional Freshers Week back at Manchester. The big difference however was the scale of these activities and the participation that they encouraged, which was all very American. Two in particular activities summed this up, the sun devil welcome and whitewashing the ‘A’. The sun devil welcome event involved splitting up all incoming students into their separate colleges, which for me was the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLASS), and gathering into the Basketball Stadium for a speech by the President of ASU, President Crow. In the build up to this there was chanting, dancing and competition among the colleges about who could make the most noise and all ended in confetti and balloons being dropped from the ceiling. The whitewashing the ‘A’ was held on the final Saturday of that week, and involved a hike up ‘A’ Mountain to paint white the large letter A that is etched into it’s side. The night before the first football game the team then go and paint it the traditional ASU color of gold, which is the color it then stays until the start of the next academic year.
Overall my first impressions of my first two weeks at ASU have all been positive, the Americans are all super friendly; I couldn’t have wished for three better suitemates to share my apartment with and the sporting facilities and fitness complex are state of the art. I have plans to visit the Grand Canyon on the 2nd of September, and all my courses are keeping me busy, as I have two anthropology courses which are outside my comfort zone. My experiences in these first two weeks make me excited for what is on offer here at ASU throughout the rest of my year here, and in hindsight any worries about settling in or the culture shock were totally unfounded.