My first day in the US was quite different from my first "year" in the US. Arriving to New York and being met with my brother who went to graduate school there, I remember being surprised at the scale of those buildings and also expected a waiter to arrive when we went to McDonald's the next day.
Beyond that I would say a few things, I went to a small town in Georgia and finished college in 2.5 years (having already acquired credits for my first year of education at Dhaka University).
1) In the first year, I was very safe everywhere as a girl and no one tried to take advantage of me in any way. Looking back it seems surprising but that was the 70s.
2) In the first year, I met a student from Burma who was apparently my neighbor in Dhanmondi but we had never met before then.
3) In my first year, I landed at the heel of the hostage crises and people said to me "we'd love to have you at our church but nowadays people seem a bit put off by Islam because of these terrorists". Yes, the 70s, after the oil crises was when Middle Easterners became bad guys. Who said materialist explanations are passe? So you had to hold off admitting your religious heritage/practice if possible if you were Muslim. I met Ziad from Jordan and Jawad from Iran and they had both had their tires slashed and invited me for a Christmas party. Jawad fit the typical Iranian mold - he showed me a wallet full of pictures of white girls he had dated. Ziad had a girlfriend from Georgia and was usually anxious about what he might face from Americans.
4) In my first semester, I finished the money given to me for the year. I was not extravagant. So I worked in a Chinese restaurant two nights a week to make pocket money for extras such as personal items and clothing/shoes. It was wonderful to eat real food and rice because the family always invited me to eat with them after cleaning up. Oh yes, Jawad got me the contact for the job.
5) In the first year, I was hungry for food and intelligence of the kind I was used to.
6) In the first year, I thought all of America had Whites who called Blacks "N.."
7) In the first year, I found a Jewish hairdresser in town who knew how to cut curly hair. We became friends.
8) In the first year, Alpha Beta Kappa, the Black Sorority, ask me to be their homecoming queen. I declined - I have not yet found a satisfactory explanation for the refusal.
These are some of the random thoughts that come to my mind about that first year - 37 years ago.
* The contributor of this story has asked that their name be withheld.