By Mieke Pressley
At the start of the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie walks into his high school, counting the numbers of schooldays until he graduates. Our time at UCR can be measured in a similar way (although, granted, UCR is neither a high school nor as hellish as Charlie imagines high school to be). While I wouldn’t go as far as to calculate the exact number of days in a UCR career, counting in weeks, every one of us will have a total of 90 weeks here.
For those of us who’ve, somehow, arrived at their last twenty weeks, it is a strange idea that some of our fellow students still have 80 weeks to go. I know that I, for one, have been quite clueless about UCR’s first semesters, as I sacrifice more and more parties for some extra sleep and more and more society events for hangouts with friends and, less preferable, working on the dreaded IRP. It seemed about time I knew some more about UCR’s latest students, who are still filled with fresh impressions of this university and its community for the first time. I sat down with Irene Gregorini and Altjeringa Glaser, B8’s first semesters, to see how they’ve experienced their first ten weeks out of 90.
Spending time with Altjeringa (Altchi), an eighteen-year-old Belgian-Dutch student, and Irene, a nineteen-year-old Italian student, together, each sitting in on the other’s interview, their bond is instantly recognizable. As they are the only first years to join B8 this semester, they’ve stuck together and grown close in only a short period of time. When I ask Altchi what her best memory at UCR is so far, Irene jokingly interjects: “I know what it is: meeting me!” and when they find out mid-interview that they might be taking the same class next semester they’re both visibly excited.
Irene and Altchi both had similar reasons for applying to UCR, a reason that many more students share: not knowing what to study. “I really don’t know what I want to do later on,” Altchi emphasizes. Similarly, Irene states: “I had no plans.”
Neither of them seems to regret their decision to come here though. “It’s been great, so far,” Irene says. While she was initially a bit scared by the prospect of being in a foreign country on her own, with no help or anyone familiar (“I didn’t even know how to do laundry,” she exclaims), she is now enjoying the independence of living on her own. Altchi talks about the approachability of the UCR community. The small-scale community is a big plus for her. “I think it’s an easy way to get to know people,” she says. Furthermore, she adds that “everyone’s super friendly!”
While for some people, UCR seems like a vastly international community, Altchi notes that she’s actually “used to being in more international environments.” For Altchi, coming from Belgium, she didn’t note that many cultural differences between her home and Middelburg. For Irene, the Dutch language, completely incomprehensible to an Italian ear, was quite a change. “The first week of Introweek I found myself in a group of people speaking Dutch,” she recalls. “And I thought: ‘Oh God! If it’s always going to be like this, I won’t be able to make friends at all.” Luckily, she soon found that most people are likely to speak English in an international community, and that “the people at UCR are actually very nice.”
Irene and Altchi are both curious to see what the rest of their time at UCR career has in store for them. “I’m just excited to see how the future will develop and how UCR life will change and evolve,” Altchi says. With 80 weeks ahead of them, I wish them, and everyone else at the beginning of their weeks, to enjoy them to the fullest.
Mieke Pressley, Class of 2019, is a History and Art History Major from Brussels, Belgium
Image Source: https://www.delcampo.education/main-calendar/