First Impressions Are Everything: My First Week at CCAD

January 24th, 2014 by Student Blogger
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By Sakhile Vanqa

This was my capsule from Georgia to Ohio

My capsule from Georgia to Ohio

I wasn’t a traditional  freshman student. I had done that already. But in some ways, I had to do the freshman, newbie thing all over again. Sure, transferring from another college meant that some first-week things were familiar, but it also meant that I was once again the “new kid” who knew almost no one.

The summer of 2012 didn’t seem to exist. No, that’s not accurate. What I mean to say is I had so much to cover before suddenly moving to CCAD that it seemed to just fly by. My roommate at the time, Nellie, constantly let me know in her own way how much she would miss me, which made my leaving exponentially more difficult toward the end of my time in Savannah.

The U-haul truck was packed, and with a tear-soaked collar and makeup-stained sleeves, I began my journey to Columbus: a city I knew nothing about except that CCAD lay in the heart of it. Before I continue, I have to say that I am not a very big fan of change, and as the days got closer to my leaving, I went on a roller coaster of emotions until I eventually arrived at a state of actualization—or numbing, I wasn’t sure which—that it was happening whether I liked it or not. Introvert tendencies.

Despite it all, I had an idea of what to expect from moving around so much in my life, and I liked to think I had control of everything that was going on. Surrendering is not one of my strong suits either.

I was in touch with Alex during all of this. He was going to be my roommate at CCAD and we bonded all through the summer as soon as we were assigned a room together. ‘Twin Towers’ we called ourselves—we’re both 6’5”. We’d already established that we would have the best room in Schottenstein (Residence Hall), given our shared habits and everything being a foot higher off the ground than it was supposed to be.

Yes—one friend! Knowing who I was going to be living with in advance was comforting since I was moving to a city where I knew nobody. My biggest concern as a 22-year-old was how I was going to be able to function in a dorm predominantly full of 18-year-olds. Not to say that all 18-year-olds act the same.

May I digress to share invaluable information? Beware of where you order take-out. On my first night while unpacking, I ordered the mother of all sandwiches from one of the many establishments whose pamphlets were so thoughtfully dropped off in the lobby. Needless to say, the feeling of sitting on the toilet seat was absent from my life the following three days. Welcome to Columbus!

Alex on the electric guitar and Katie on the didgeridoo

Alex on the electric guitar and Katie on the didgeridoo

When I finally met Alex in person it was at orientation with his dad. We stood in line for our student IDs and caught up with what we’d been up to since we last spoke. We looked like giant five-year-olds reunited after summer break, discussing the latest movies and shenanigans we got up to. It was awesome having a conversation with someone my height; my neck was ecstatic.

Once we got all the school formalities out of the way, I met Katie, Alex’s girlfriend—friend number two—and we made it over to the place where we would ultimately form our circle of friends: The Litterbox, a gardenscape-esque space outside the Schottenstein Residence Hall where students would meet and hang out.

And this is where I realized I had found people who get my sense of humor. For example, I haven’t called cigarettes ‘cigarettes’ for a few years now, and instead call them ‘pancakes.”

It’s a twist on an Austin Powers quote—50 points to those of you who got that!

As happens with inside jokes, this group “got it” and before long half the smoking population on campus was calling cigarettes ‘pancakes.’ To be honest, I was just relieved I hadn’t said or done anything borderline inappropriate stemming from my social anxiety. I began to wonder when the indefatigably smiling glamor girls would come out in a silent congratulatory dance for me.

Returning students joined us at the litterbox, and we got to know each other, which lead to a cocktail of people from all over talking sometimes until 3 a.m.. You could step outside at 1 a.m. and hear laughter coming from behind the bushes where conversations might be about childhood friends or things that I’m sure would make parents tackle their children to the ground to keep them from saying another word.

It was at the beginning of the school year event that  everything came together. The RAs of my floor promoted it so  much it seemed like there was nothing better to do in this massive city. Equipped with my tripod and camera, I took my little African self to the quad where all sorts of activities were taking place.

The homesickness for Savannah kicked in that day and I preoccupied myself with picture taking, mingling here and there but nothing too overwhelming. Jeez, emotions are complex and annoying things sometimes. People with an interest in what I was taking pictures for—I didn’t participate in the activities—came up and talked to me for a bit, sincere conversations. I can safely say that by the time school kicked off, I was a solid part of a gang of artists here—talented, funny, eccentric, short(er) people.

The kicker is that all of this happened the week before the fall semester began.

Sakhile Vanqa is a junior majoring in Cinematic Arts who enjoys humor, cycling, and aspires to shoot for National Geographic.

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