STORY BY YEE HOI MUN
“There’s nothing here,” These were my first thoughts on an Iowa highway linking Ames (where I had stayed for a day at my sister’s place) to Des Moines, my eventual destination.
It was a 180-degree turnaround from Chicago, where I had visited for a week prior to coming to Iowa. The tallest building I have seen so far (apparently named the 801 Grand Tower) would have been dwarfed on a David to Goliath margin when compared to the Willis Tower or the Petronas Twin Towers back home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
That is not to say I didn’t like what I saw. The cornfields were an eye opener. I have never seen such vast golden cornfields nor the isolated barn houses.
I believe they call this the first stage of culture shock, the honeymoon stage. I would have stepped out of the car and ran in slow-motion among the cornfields if I could.
The cornfields disappeared as we approached Des Moines and Drake University and the view was no longer as grand.
In all honesty, I still don’t quite know why I chose Drake. Despite being Malaysian, I am not an actuarial science major nor a finance major, but an anthropology and journalism undergrad. Perhaps the location and the population played a part.
So far, I have yet to encounter any distractions from my academic obligations and extra-curricular activities, the best fun I have had with my mates so far has been posing for photos with retail guns at Scheels (firearms are illegal in Malaysia).
The relatively small number of students also means that I have bumped into the same people more than once on campus. It’s easier to make acquaintances.
However, the best thing I have found so far about studying and living here in campus has been the size of the campus. It isn’t small enough to be labelled a glamourous high school, nor is it big enough for me to have to take the bus from one class to another. In other words, commuting in and around campus hasn’t been a problem. I can walk to the library just as easily as walking out of campus for weekly half-priced wings at Jethro’s.
As far as logistics go, it’s all nice I would say. But it’s only been three weeks, and I assume studying abroad usually isn’t just smooth sailing with no tides. Come fall and winter I might find myself in more unfamiliar situations.