Thursday, September 15, 2011

'It's Super SUPER Great To Meet You!" (Labour Day Weekend)

September 2011

So the weekend was “Labor Day” weekend. If you’re wondering what that means, join the millions of American’s who also don’t know. Honestly, most people I asked didn’t have a certain idea what Labour Day meant. However, trusty Wiki reliably informs that Labour Day is an “annual holiday which celebrates the economic and social achievements of workers”. Yeah, I still don’t get it…

ANYWAY, it meant Monday was a day off. (whoopee!). So Sunday eve was obviously spent working partying. College eh?! Fiona and I had been to hockey training in the early eve, and after an amazing burrito from Qudoba we went over to one of the hockey girls houses for some post-training socialising (via the store for alcohol of course – being 21 we had to provide). Needless to say, socialising soon turned into… more socialising, and with ‘Everclear’ being the spirit in full flow (it’s a 75.5% grain alcohol that illegal in a fair number of states), soon people got drunk. I mean very drunk. So drunk that one person who will remain nameless (Jonathon) decided he HAD to stand in a corner and sing Rebecca Black in full (I would like to put a sanity disclaimer on that link by the way...). At the top of his voice. Repeatedly. I mean how drunk can you get to do that?!

After a good game of ‘Circle of Death’ (‘Ring of Fire’ to you British folk) with some amusing rules of English people talking like an American and Americans talking like English (sorry British, Fiona!) and Beer Pong (I lost miserably), Fiona and I departed to go and hook up with the others at John’s mentors house. Now this is where it went downhill for me. As soon as I walked into the door I was handcuffed to Harriet, placed upside down with a duck in my hand and had my face repeatedly stroked. All in the name of ‘Inconvenience’ as part of the game that was being played. And trust me when you’re like that for over 1/2 hour and busting for the loo, it is a massive inconvenience… Despite this little hiccup to begin with and me making a mad dash to the loo once free (much to everyone’s amusement), the rest of the time there was a good laugh with some rather amusing rules and inconveniences being pulled out of the bag by all (especially having to name all the South American countries or drink for everyone missed!).

Monday, being Labour Day, meant nothing was open. Nothing. Not even buses ran. Very bizarre for someone who comes from a city where everything is open and running pretty much all night. But it wasn't a drama, because Andrea had sorted out a day of meeting and greeting though an organisation for Internationals in the Raleigh/Durham area. Getting up for 10am was a bit of a struggle, but it was managed by all three of us (Fiona being the third – the other two were boring and stayed behind). We then jumped into a car driven by a girl called Catherine who was rather chirpy for the stupid O’clock time it was in the morning and were taken to a church for the days events. Now, I know what youre thinking here; ‘Good lord, becoming Christian?! What’s going on?!’. I haven’t, this was simply where the International event was held. As it transpired it was a church that ran it, but stressed the Christian side was optional for those who wanted it. I didn’t tick the box for interest… Anyway, we were the first ones to arrive, and a few awkward conversations were had with various people about where we were from, and everyone either seemed to come from there (15 generations back) or knew someone there. Regardless of where you said you were from. I swear I could have said I was from Mars and someone would have known someone who spent a year there or something. I’m being harsh here, but after a while it did get a little boring. As was the repeated “It’s super great to meet you!” with a massive forced grin. Oh well the price of hospitality! 

It started off proper with a game of bingo, where the aim was to get people’s names who were left-handed, or like football etc. This was rather amusing for us three, as we were very British and stood around not wanting to look too keen. We needed had worried because some people proper got into it. The idea of the game was to try and meet other people and give something through which a conversation could be started. However, some people would ask you if you were left handed or something and before you could reply “No, I’m not, but I’m Alex nice to meet you” they’d be off asking someone else. Very weird situation to be in! Once the game was over (with some amazing American ‘Super’ and ‘Awesome’) we were served lunch. Which having been on a few weeks of Rams Head/Lenoir food (the student canteens) by now, was like heaven (ironic as we were in a  church I guess…). We also had some speeches from various people relating to their time abroad and how they coped with being away from home and with culture shock etc, which was a useful insight, as were the free tourist magazines of the area provided for us. There was a slightly creepy couple which came up and were clearly still smitten with each other after however many year marriage and children, which was nice but freaky when they kept finishing each other sentences off… I also tried sweet tea for the first time, which is Southern specialty (I use that loosely). Its basically ice tea with a horrendous amount of sugar in it. I could feel my teeth rotting as I sipped it. Not much got drunk I can tell you!
Being British we tried to get out of the large group photo by skulking around the edge of the room, to no avail as a small American women pushed us (no joke!) into the middle of the group. We all beat a hasty retreat to the rear, and had to stand forced smiling whilst various small children appeared from nowhere to join the photo. Once it was over, we made a run for it, getting a ride from Catherine who I think was glad to have a reason to leave too by that point!

The group photo we really weren't keen being in!

It was an interesting way to spend "Labor Day" (I know - American spellings!), which otherwise would have been spent kicking round the room causing trouble (well, I would have at least!) and it was nice to experience hospitality form people who seemed to genuinely want to help those who are new to the area, it just seemed a little forced at times and a little overtly Christian for my liking, but oh well that’s the South I guess!!

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