I have also thought about the possibility of not being able to enjoy myself that much if I spend all the time observing the things around me. I have since resolved that conflict in favour of my curious mind, and my restless keyboard fingers. The main reason I can think of at this moment as cold air seeps in gently from the vent in my University hostel room is that I want to be able to remember all the remarkable things that happened to me on this first trip to the United States. There was the book “America their America” by the Nigerian poet J.P.Clark which resulted from his first trip to the country sometimes in the 60s. There have also been very many other sources of second-hand information about America which have for a long while conditioned the way I respond to the thoughts of the country. The perceptions are as diverse as the citizens of America themselves, and you could never successfully put them under one description. Another poet, Remi Raji wrote his collection of poems, “Shuttlesongs America” after a successful first trip. The musician Gbenga Adeboye landed in Nigeria and did not waste a second before releasing his blockbuster album “Exposure” which detailed his itinerary. So, here I am.

Here, Lin tries to teach me Chinese by showing me how to draw the signs

Here, Lin tries to teach me Chinese by showing me how to draw the signs

It did not occur to me for several weeks before I travelled that I would begin an online travelogue because it never seemed real enough to believe that I was actually going to land here. The visa interview lasted 5 minutes max, and my visa was ready in less than 48 hours, and even while I got it right in my hands, seeing myself on the sheet of paper that permitted me to enter the United States, I didn’t feel any serious jolt that was reported to accompany such as an achievement. On the one hand, it was the result of a conditioned indifference to everything and anything. On the other hand, I just didn’t believe it, and many times, especially during the last stretch of the flight from London Heathrow to Boston Logan, I had to stop myself from asking someone to pinch my skin just to be sure that it was indeed me sitting on a plane that now soared above a portion of the earth called North America, making a final descent.

Signs

Now all my friends advised me to start a blog. Some said keep a journal/notebook, and write the things that strike you, but make sure you write something down. I now look back, and thank them for those pieces of advice. They were the main force behind my deciding to put the first words down. As soon as I did that, the rest sort of came out on their own. I am now rounding off my Orientation Programme at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Yesterday, we had a tour of the city, and we were able to do some shopping while meeting with the Lt. Governor of the State. Today is the Farewell Banquet and Dance, and we are all going to sing and dance to music from all over the world, socialize, exchange email addresses, and then go pack our bags again for another journey to our various parts of the United States to put into use all the things we’ve learnt.

My computer has just underlined the word “learnt”. It has suggested that I use “learned” instead. I have re-read this piece from the top and noticed similar underlinings at “travelled” and “Programme”. This is surely one of the things I will now have to adjust to in the next couple of months, alongside stop signs, weather readings, pizza, burritos, extralarge hamburgers, light beer and Starbucks decafinated coffee.

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