This past weekend I successfully attended my first graduate school class! It might sound like a small thing but I’m still processing how huge of a step that was in propelling me towards countless adventures and opportunities. It is honestly such a privilege and blessing to be able to attend post, post secondary schooling.
The school where I’m currently studying is located in a huge city 2 1/2 hours from the town where I’m currently residing, so, of course I commute. I usually receive shocked faces when I mention this to people but help return faces to original poses when I add the fact that my whopping two classes (don’t make fun, they have intense work loads) meet every other Saturday. The thousands I’m saving from not having to pay a ridiculous amount for rent covers the gas for the approximately nine hours of driving a month I’ll be doing, and more.
Since I only attended one of the two classes on Saturday (the other is postponed till next week) I had the opportunity to peruse through the huge city with my sister after the class ended. One thing I absolutely loved about the city, at least this one time, was how I was just a face. The people I walked by did not know me by name and once I stepped off campus, those people didn’t even recognize me by face. This is probably a “psh, I know” moment for those of you who live in big cities but for me, someone who lives in a small town where everybody knows everybody, this difference was quite welcomed. Here in FC, walking down main street, going to the grocery store, or let’s be honest, basically going anywhere, you were recognized by people, if not by name then by face or by association. Also, here in FC, neglecting to say hi to or wave at people is pretty much rude because they are being nice and/or they probably know you, even if you don’t recognize them right away. In the city, after saying hi to several random strangers, my sister questioned me as to why I was doing such a thing and informed me that I might be welcoming sketch strangers into my presence if I continued it. I stopped saying hello immediately.
Anyway, it was cool being a face, and looking around I only saw faces. (Side note: someone happened to ask me what my name was and after telling them my real name the thought occurred to me that I could give them a fake name and they would never know! Then with the next person who asks me, I could also give them a fake name! Every name I’ve ever wanted to have, I could have! Hopefully I’ll never run into these people again.) Part of me was curious to find out people’s stories but I was just awed by the diversity I saw. No longer was I one of the few “people of color” (for lack of better terms) in a sea of Scandinavian descents, but I was swimming in a Mississippi-sized pool of many skin colors! (Ha! I probably sound like a very country, small-town girl right now; bear with me.)
My favorite time was Sunday morning when I got up at dawn to attend an early church service. My sister seized the opportunity to sleep in so I seized the opportunity to attempt to maneuver my way through public transportation systems, relying on my memory of the routes and locations I had seen the night before. It became a tad scary when I realized that what I had memorized of the locations the night before looked rather unfamiliar in the daylight but I knew that if I didn’t want to appear to be a target for city bullies, when I stepped aboard the light rail or on to a bus, I had to act like this was just a routine Sunday morning for me. I think I did rather well if I do say so myself! Sera = 1, city bullies = fooled.
As I stepped off the bus and approached this massive church building, I got really, really excited because this was another chance for me to be just a face. I absolutely loved it. I went into the church and sat down by myself in a pew. For the first time in my life this did not seem awkward and I did not feel alone at all. With about 30 rows of pews in each of the four columns divided throughout the sanctuary, I saw individuals just like me scattered throughout and it made me smile. I loved being liberated like this. (Also, take note that this was a gorgeous church building.)
After church I got back on the bus, got back on the light rail and proceeded back to where my sister lives. As I approached her building I was already planning where else I could go to just be a face. I think next time it will be to the downtown area, to get some shrimp or something at a grocery store. Something like that. I’ll keep you updated!