So before I got here, I had the comfort of knowing that there will be someone to pick me up from the airport and help me settle down a little before I had to start living completely on my own.
I had no idea who these people were which begs the question why wasn’t I worried about that. Well, simply because OSU directed me to this website called the International Friendships Incorporation and my worries were laid to rest knowing anything referred to by the university is credible.
It was as simple as filling out a form, letting them know of my arrival details, and how long I need to stay with them, (the options ranging between 1-4 days). Soon after I was contacted by the people at IFI, providing me with contact details of the people I was assigned as my ‘host family’. Given the term, I’d quite literally expected a family but as it turned out, it was 3 girls, living in one house.
Since then I was in touch with these three lovely ladies. They were considerate enough to ask me about my food preferences, my agenda for those 4 days, whether or not I’d need a ride to some place, etc.
The entire process is 100% voluntary; these people sign themselves up as host families purely out of goodwill and the desire to help out.
Despite noticing how meticulous they were over email about the tiniest details to make me comfortable, I wasn’t quite expecting it to be as awesome an experience as it turned out to be. They had taken in not only me but also another international student who had arrived from China for her PHD in Sociology. I hit it off with them instantly and they were super nice to us. They cooked for us, they gave up their room for us, they took us out to meet their friends, took us shopping, and what not. To the extent that when I felt even a tad bit home-sick, one of the girls (Hilary), who has a Bangladeshi sister-in-law made me ‘chaye’, the traditional tea I had back home. Now how ridiculously nice is that?
Point being, I consider myself lucky to have had that opportunity, because not only did it ease me into the process of living alone, but I was able to make new friends as soon as I landed here in Columbus. I still talk to them regularly; in fact, the first party I attended in the US was at their new place that they just moved into 3 weeks ago.
These kind of things you never forget, these kind of people you never want to lose touch with and it was just nice to be welcomed; to feel so at home despite being so far away from home.