Orientation Blues

By Lu


Each seems to have their own cliques. Where will I fit in?

Recently, I attended an international student orientation for the new Fall intake. It took place over several days of duration (technically just one day), where the participants are supposed to discover new friends and get to know each other for they will be in contact for the rest of their university life.

Since the university didn’t really provide any place for social contact, I decided to go around looking for events myself. I’d been attending workshops, picnics and some gathering to adapt into a new place. While I do get to meet people, the result isn’t what I expected.

I admit that I’d been feeling a little blue this past few days. I just can’t get to know people well enough. Somehow, as far as international students go, they seems to be clump together according to nationality. Perhaps the language, physical, cultural barriers or just the extra sense of comfort is enough to keep them among their own “kind”. It felt so hard to pass through this barrier. Certainly, I need to answer the doubts and shyness in my heart as well, but, during Orientation is supposed to be the easiest time to get to know other people.

However, the case is different with those which countries have fewer members. Since they do not have any social dependents around, they are more freely trying to get to know others, to swap contacts and at least, just to broaden their contact horizon. Ah, how I wish I have the courage to stretch out and venture into new territories.

Another social stigma I found here is with the Malaysians. I talked with some Indian nationalities why they pick their course and they said that it’s a unwritten rule that Indian should take Engineering or Medicine courses, but recent trend suggests that it is spreading out to field like Dentistry. As for the Malaysians, it is too obvious what the effect of the government sponsorship program had contributed too in creating a pool of Malaysians concentrated in one particular field. Here goes the saying which I encountered quite frequently: “If you’re a Malaysian, you’re an Actuarial Science student”. Sometimes, it is this social categorization which creates a physical and psychological boundary which separates into “us” and “them”. How I hope it would just be “we”.