To effectively adapt to their new academic environment, first-year students from across the globe will engage in a five-day International Student Orientation (ISO) at DePauw University from Aug. 14 to 18. As these international Tigers participate in various workshops and team-building activities, this melting pot of cultures mirrors one of the biggest pop culture phenomena of 2023—Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. From long distances to indelible memories, find out why ISO is not so different from the singer-songwriter’s high-demand tour after all.
You’ll go through crazy lengths to be here.
There’s no need to apply as a security guard to get a front-seat view or sell a kidney to afford admission, but international students embrace various sacrifices as they begin their DePauw journey. Whether it’s bearing a day-long flight, pulling your back-breaking luggage across the globe, or saying goodbye to your family for the next four years, being an international student is no easy feat.
But as you approach the registration table at Vernon Jordan Hall, you will be greeted with warm smiles from the International Student Ambassador team. Do not hesitate to ask for help with carrying your belongings to your dorm, finding public transportation across Greencastle, or learning how to use washers and dryers for the first time. Given the Ambassadors’ eagerness to support new students, your first week at DePauw does not need to be a cruel summer after all.
It’s a physical endeavor.
Orientation week can be compared to catching your breath after screaming your favorite Taylor Swift lyrics (seriously, whose soul would not escape their body after hearing those iconic bridges?).
During the five days of ISO, your energy levels will fluctuate in an uncharted spectrum of exhaustion and hyperactivity. From waking up early to catch up with your Ambassador group, carrying a nine-pound comforter to your room, or exploring each campus building, international students are in for an unforgettable adventure. But each activity will introduce you to new friends who will make every struggle worthwhile.
You have to exercise your memorization muscles.
Every Swiftie knows that you cannot follow Taylor’s three-hour setlist if you do not have a few memorized songs up your sleeve.
Yet during your first week, you probably have not memorized the most important list of all—the names of your fellow students. You might find yourself asking, who was that girl I met while brushing my teeth last night? Who did I eat dinner with at Hoover yesterday? What was the name of that friendly student from my Ambassador group?
With several names popping up left and right, your memorization skills will undoubtedly be put to the test. A name list on your notes application can always come in handy; however, it is important to put yourself out there and regularly interact with the DePauw community. This way, you do not need to be tongue-twisted by multiple names, but instead be impacted by the unique stories and personalities of your newfound friends.
It's a constant exchange.
Similar to exchanging friendship bracelets or writing your favorite Taylor Swift songs on the back of each other’s shirts, you will constantly discover fascinating things about your peers.
Whether it's teaching a friend how to say “hello” in your native language, sharing your unbelievable travel experiences, or mastering the art of cooking rice in the United States, you are bound to learn something new from fellow international students. Being open to learning about new stories and backgrounds will lead you to amazing conversations and lifelong friendships.
It's a culmination of culture and history.
Just like the die-hard Swifties dressed in the white pajamas of "You Belong With Me" Taylor, the tennis uniform of "The Man" Taylor, or the ringmaster suit of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" Taylor, international students are free to express their individuality at DePauw.
But on campus, you don't have to dress up as anything else but yourself! And we are not just talking about national attires. From cooking your favorite ramen noodles, adding teriyaki sauce to your plate instead of ketchup and mustard, or singing karaoke in your room when no one's listening (totally not me), each unique quirk and personality will add color to your cohort’s college experience.
The tearful goodbyes will not last forever.
Leaving the stadium after three hours with Taylor Swift will definitely leave you craving for more (if only “All Too Well” had a 30-minute version instead!).
Akin to a Swiftie’s longing for one last song, homesickness is an emotion we try to push down our throats, yet it always lingers in the back of our minds. Sometimes all you want is one last hug from your parents, the bickering voices of your cousins, or the familiar taste of a home-cooked meal. But as you discover the people who are willing to explore downtown Greencastle with you, watch your favorite K-drama until 3 a.m., or walk in their pajamas to get late-night meals at Hoover, you will realize that your own DePauw story will become “the best thing that’s ever been mine.”
Image courtesy of USA Today.