Coming from an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) seeped in tradition and contagious school pride, I honestly wasn’t expecting much from general orientation. UWI pleasantly surprised me.
There were the usual peppy campus ambassadors who took us on tours of the large, picturesque campus, freebies and giveaways for the brave souls who wished to answer prompts or lead us in spirit cheers. Administration staff were helpful and thorough and covered the myriad of topics a university would for new student introduction (e.g. financial aid, counselling services, history of the university, athletics, using Moodle/E-learning,e.t.c.).
On doing a roll call of what faculty the new students were in the faculty of Social Sciences ran deep and not surprisingly, Medical Science students (which consists of medical, public health and health science students) were far and few between. This was probably due to the unfortunate late notification of those accepted to the MBBS programme as CAPE results usually are released in Early-Mid August, so those sixth form applicants and others would have only received a tentative acceptance or no notification at that point.
We were encouraged to chat with those sitting near us and were later grouped for a scavenger hunt activity testing whether you were truly paying attention to locations and historic facts noted during the earlier sessions. Listening to organizations and annual event information was amusing -albeit tempting – as I knew I was not in the same situation as the majority of other new students and would not have the free time.
I caught myself making a running list of similarities and differences between this and my previous institution -a habit that had to be broken if I were to transition smoothly and willingly. I was no longer in the US, I was in the West Indies. The heat was different, the demographic make up of student body was different, the institution and its history was different. It was what I longed for during bouts of homesickness. I couldn’t think of UWI as my AUC (Atlanta University Center) in the Caribbean, I had to enjoy it for its uniqueness. Different is good.