Yo, man, I have arrived in the City of Brotherly Love. I have unpacked, ish, and today something happened which made me feel like I have settled in: at brunch in the canteen I actually found a real sausage.
This is a serious business. I am shocked to report that it turns out pretty much every stereotype that can be attached to American food is true. The first time I tried to get a fry-up I was presented with a frankfurter and ‘turkey bacon’. I’m still uncertain what ‘turkey bacon’ is but it definitely cannot be scientifically classified as edible. I was in a frail state at the time and I did nearly cry. French exchange students share my outrage: cheese is also completely misunderstood out here. Until I was served my Cumberland, the stateside culinary realm was a rather traumatising place for me.
As a general observation, pretty much every stereotype that can be attached to America full stop is here. It’s a little mind-blowing.
On my first night, I made an effort to motivate my inner grumpy old man and defied the jet-lagged call to social reclusion. I chatted to some eager freshmen who kept exclaiming ‘I just can’t believe I’m here! I’ve never been away from home before!’ One sprayed a lot of Oreo crumbs over me as he spoke. I moved on and had a very, very long conversation with a senior who told me about every health problem she has ever had – which, it transpired, was a lot. She also spent a large amount of time encouraging me to become involved in her favourite sport – curling. I went to bed early, feeling scared.
Things began a tentative upward trajectory on Day Two. I made a rebellious decision to miss the Sexual Assault Information lecture and to decline an invitation to a BYOM* event. Instead, I discovered the fortunate truth that different clichés can exist side by side: everyone is very friendly, and frat parties are exactly like they are in the movies.
It’s cute really: the boys spend huge amounts of money decking out their houses with sound systems and fairy lights, then invite the world into their homes. Beer pong balls fly left right and centre (oi oi), red cups abound and there are DFMOs** galore. There are ‘darties’ too – day party, duh – the same thing but sunny. Inner grumpy old man is thoroughly tickled by the whole thing and has conceded that America can be fun.
Orientation Week is now over and classes begin tomorrow. I am chronically unprepared and our dorms have a cockroach infestation, but Harold*** is OK, so life’s not too bad.
*BYOM = Bring Your Own Mug; pronounced ‘Beeyarme’, ‘because it’s more fun to say it that way!’
**DFMO = Dance Floor Make Out: excellent spectator sport.
*** Inner grumpy old man isn’t The Stig, guys, he has a name.