From Albania to Zimbabwe: “How to America”

Much spirit.
Showing some Bruno Spirit @ Faunce Arch

Hi there! My name is Akira Camargo, a freshman hailing from Tokyo, Japan who will try to crack funny jokes and puns from time to time as I write posts for From Albania to Zimbabwe, the ins and outs of being at Brown from an international student’s perspective. Through my posts, you’ll be able to learn more about all things international here, ranging from international events at Brown (cool guest speakers, festivals and parties) to my thoughts on living in America for the first time (!!!), and a bunch of other interesting stuff as my first year at Brown unfolds. Hope you enjoy reading them!

And so my freshman year begins!!!

It feels so weird/amazing/odd to be a part of the Bruin Club Blog now, especially because almost a year ago, I was the anxious, stressed-out high school senior who had discovered this website as one of the many greatest resources for learning more about what would be my dream school. Since I didn’t have the time or money to travel to the US for college visits, websites like this one were the saviors for my college search experience. I even used Google Maps Street View to have my own virtual “tour” of the Brown campus… (it actually works). That aside, what I really loved about this blog was how it spoke about the international student experience and the joys/struggles of being at this amazing school. So that is exactly what I would love to do for you folks. So before I begin parting my wisdom random thoughts to you, here are a few facts about me:

  • I am half Japanese half American, born and raised in the best city in the world, Tokyo.
  • I’ve been going to an American school for my whole life
  • I LOVE American movies, TV shows and YouTube videos (aka my introduction to American culture)

and…

I LOVE COLLEGE (cue Asher Roth – sorry I had to).

So now, here is what I’ve thought about Brown so far…

College has been the most overwhelming experience of my life, in the best sense of the word. From the day I stepped foot onto Brown’s campus for International Orientation (which I HIGHLY recommend), I have been SO busy meeting new people, attending (and skipping – shh.) some orientation events, exploring the beautiful campus, discovering the joys of Chipotle (<3) and pretty much learning “how to America”, as I would like to phrase it.

Of course, being an international student and coming to Brown and even the US was intimidating at first, and still is. Why are people so friendly here? Why are there such enormous shopping malls that could probably fit the population of a small city? Why are the drinks here so huge? These silly/trivial questions (and many others) are ones that I continue to think about as I start my college life in this country. But one thing that really comforted me was that – and cue the sappy music – I was not alone here. There were other international students who had similar questions and experiences as me – there was a community of people that I was able to relate to, right off the bat. I now have friends from England, Nigeria, Brazil and Egypt, who seem like they wouldn’t have anything in common with me, but in fact really do. I think this really says something about why Brown is so great; it’s comprised of people who are diverse in thought, background and lifestyles, but are very understanding, friendly and welcoming.

These things – the intimidation, the stress and overwhelmingness of being a foreigner here – will probably continue to be a part of my Brown experience, but now I know that there are students here that will share those similar experiences as me and help me out along the way. (If you’re not crying now from this super emotional post, I don’t know what will…)

Anyway, there is so much more to mention about my amazing experience these first few weeks, but for now, I will end here. Next week (which will mark my 30 days since I’ve gotten here!), I’ll mention my time at Brown’s International Orientation (IMP) and some of the silly mishaps and culture shock that I’ve experienced here at Brown and the US.

Well, until next week. See ya! Or as they say in Japan, sayonara!

Akira

If you have any more questions, comments, suggestions of what I should write about or just want to chat, feel free to message me at akira_camargo@brown.edu. Cheers!

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