And now the continuation…
After two weeks in my new surroundings, I was finally able to step into the Quinnipiac community. The beginning classes alleviated the doubts I had begun to develop. Let’s go for a “pub crawl”…
Looking out of the window, I had a bad feeling about the day that was awakening. Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, began with snowfall. I was looking forward to my first exposure to Quinnipiac campus life – I wanted to get started. But the triage of text, email, and voicemail message around 2:20 p.m. confirmed my fears.
“Quinnipiac will close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21, because of the snowstorm. All classes scheduled at or after 5 p.m. are cancelled.”
Me to snow: I hate you, do you hear me?! Go away and leave me alone!
Snow has been a bad kid this winter, but it allowed for the semester to begin three days later.
First contact is always the most difficult part. I approached the glass front that hid room number 253 in plain sight. My pulse accelerated with every step I made.
As I came closer to the door, I saw people sitting inside. *
It was quiet inside the room. A quick “hi” here, an acknowledging nod there, but everyone seemed to be waiting for the professor to enter and give that relieving introduction.
But things warmed up quickly…
I removed my headphones and a conversation faded in. It was taking place in the room on the other side of the glass wall that I was facing. The topic was sports. The computer’s clock told me that it was time for me to leave the computer room and join the gathering in the room next door.
We were only three. The two conversationalists kept going. A warm “hi there” greeted me in-between two topics. I followed their arguments, trying to learn more about American sports.
The minutes flew by. Once in a while, Joe paused the conversation with the professor. He turned his chair around and faced me. Determined to let me in on the secrets of American sports, he explained what they were talking about.
Eventually, the sports talk group grew. Instead of trying to follow the conversation between two people, I now had to deal with three people talking about a phenomenon I didn’t understand.
“Hey there,” she said, trying to break through the sports barrier. I turned around and replied, “Hi, Kathy.”
Phew. Nothing against a bit of exposure to American sports, but several small dosages seemed to be more effective than a single big one.
Kathy sat down, retrieved here laptop from her bag, and said, “sports, don’t they have something else to talk about?”
While the sports talk picked up where it had left of when Kathy had interrupted ever so friendly, she pressed a button to turn on her laptop.
With a smile, she asked, “How was your week, Florian?”
The startling beep sound that revived her MacBook was the starting signal to a warm conversation. Now it was an active place with a sports conversation going on in one part of the room and a “normal” conversation dominating the other side of the room. Both coexisted in harmony.
“All right,” the professor eventually said, “I think it’s time to get started. His relaxed voice called everyone’s attention to the desk with the impressive backdrop of four flat screens. Class began, but the warmth stayed. The topics changed, but the feel of the conversations and the atmosphere did not.
“Do you need a lift home?” asked Kathy after class had ended. Before I could start answering, Joe chimed in, “No, I’ll take care of him.”
“Oh, that’s great,” Kathy replied, “you are a good friend, Joe. But if anything comes up, just let me know.”
We walked out into the winter night, arranging for a group project meeting on the way. We hadn’t even reached the door when we had found a consensus. So the topic changed once again.
“If you need a lift to the supermarket, Frans and I would be happy to help you out,” Kathy said. “That’s lovely, thank you,” I replied, “but Joe and I are headed that way right now.”
If I had doubts about the path I had selected, they were gone. I was in a safe environment, surrounded by good people. Quinnipiac had built a safety net underneath my high wire. Thank you, guys!
To Be Continued…
* Disclaimer about dialogue and some details in this post: Not accurate, but that’s how the situations felt for me and how I have them in my memories.