Somehow, I am more in a very nostalgic mode after watching, of all things, Desperate Housewives :) I am not going to divulge what particular scene it was but suffice to say, it brought back many happy memories of my universities days. I did not keep a journal of my days in Madison so in a way, it's going to be a form of journal for me. Just to make it easier to distinguished from present day posting, I will used italic when I am in my "nostalgic" mode, so here goes.
Come to think of it, it all took place ten years ago.
I departed for the United States on 20th January 1996, which happens to be my 21st birthday. How often do you get to celebrate your birthday twice ... I departed in the morning of the 20th and arrived in LA, also in the morning. I couldn't really recall the flight (it was a 21 hour flight, with a stopover in Tokyo, thank God) but I can remember vividly the moment the MAS flight landed at LAX. There was excitment in everyone's face and we were like "Finally, we are in the US of A"
In fact, we almost did not make it to the states. We were scheduled to fly off in batches in January of '96 but towards the end of November '95, the US was experiencing a government shutdown (fiscal crisis, Newt Gingrich, the works...) and among the casualties were embassies all over the world. We were not able to get our Visas and in fact, our sponsor (JPA) were contemplating of sending us for the Fall session. Luckily the crisis was able to be resolved and we were duly issued our visas. Talk about close shave.
If I recalled correctly, there were forty of us in the flight; I was among the 12 to be shipped off to Madison, WI while the rest were sent to places like Wyoming and Montana. We were to have our orientation for two nights before we depart on the domestic flight to our respective universities. I can't remember the name of hotel we stayed but what I remember is that, upon checking in, a group of us actually went to the nearest news store and purchase various adult magazines! That night, we went to Ralph's, a supermarket located nearby and I purchased a phone card to call home.
-to be continued