Travel Date: Wednesday, Nov 5 2014

Got up in the morning a little late and just missed Brendan leaving. I did get to give Ashley a tight hug/squeeze. She recommended that I try out the coffee shop a few blocks away: Catalina Coffee
Got some pour over coffee which was good and strong. It was a long wait though. This place is quite busy in the morning.

I take my coffee into my car and set off driving towards Louisiana. I also have sugar feed (cookies) from Amy (Chris’s wife) as my snack for the road. Definitely going to be awake and lively this morning.

I finally arrive at the border of Louisiana. The first state I lived in the United States.

Oh look signs for Thibodaux (pronounced Thib-o-doe). Finally nearing Nicholls State where I went to college for 3.5 years. Haven’t been back here since 2002.

I arrive at the University and head over to what used to be Calecas dormitory. Now the entrance is a police station. I check in and get a free parking pass for the day.

After putting my parking pass in my car, I turn around and look at my surroundings. So much as changed since I’ve been here. Long Hall is not there anymore. Long Hall was a 8 story all-male dormitory where I lived when I first arrived in the United States.

I walk over to Peltier Hall where I took the majority of my classes.

Meet up with my friend and Sigma Nu chapter brother and advisor: Charles.  

Walk across the ‘quad’ and visit the eternal flame in the center.

Walk towards Powell-White hall and peek through the door where I used to work as an Instructional Technology Assistant.

Oh boy … all those computers. I used to set them up.

Visit the tech area where we used to set them up. I catch up with the new techies and also reunite with a fellow Computer Science grad: Karla who now works for the University.

I swing by the Admissions office where I run into Becky. She was in charge of the Orientation Team that I was a part of at Nicholls. One of the best things I ever did in college. They still remember me as the Homecoming King. That was quite unexpected, nice and funny.

Get a free Nicholls tee from Becky.

Ah the new and changed Admission Office. Only been 12 years.

I walk towards the Student Union.

And through the Greek Hall where once Sigma Nu was present.

The Office of Student Life, just as I remember it 13 years ago.

A reunion with Tommie (wearing my new tee). He was my first House Director when I was a Residence Assistant (RA) for Long Hall – an all men’s dormitory aka the tallest building in Thibodaux. Being an RA was one of the greatest learning lessons in dealing and connecting with people. Tommie is a great man who impacted many students lives – definitely my own.

I walked over to the new Callais Recreation Center.

Meet up with Mike and Sabrina who I interacted with many times as a student in College.
I swing by the post office where I used to get my mail. Ah, the days before widespread cell phones and also 5 MB limited email storage.

I walked by the Ellender Memorial library where I studied and worked (sometimes).

I walked towards the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church on campus, where I diligently attended mass every weekend and led Neumann activites.

The student center is quite nice and welcoming.

I talk to the new priest and campus minister Father-André Melançon who is actually younger than me. Dang – I’m old! This is the room where we used to serve spaghetti to the masses for free every Wednesday afternoon – I believe.

And visit the actual Church. Ah soo many good memories.

Tt is getting late and I have to meet up with my ‘first American mom’ and past campus minister: Madeline in the neighboring town Houma. I head over to her home and reunite with her and meet her husband Brian. Later we head out for some Louisiana dinner at Cajun Critters.

I also meet up with Vicki – with another friend from college – for dinner. Oh the stories that Madeline can tell you about me… back in college!

Time for some gator wings.

And calamari.

I defintiely wanted some Lousiana Crawfish even though it wasn’t in season yet.

After dinner we head back to the house. I whip out my laptop and show Madeline and Brian some pictures from my journey across the States. I also video chat up with her daughter Katie who calls in to check on Madie :-).

No reunion is complete without a beverage to celebrate. Look Carl, I’m drinking wine this time (not beer).

Reflections:

Today was an exceptionally moving day. I got to see my old and first stomping grounds in the United States after almost 13 years. I met up with some faces from the past that were instrumental in shaping me as a person: Charles, Tommy, Sabrina, Mike, Becky & Madeline. It was great to see all of them, reconnect, chat and catch up briefly on everything.

Charles was my chapter advisor for the longest time and also a passionate Sigma Nu. Tommy and Sabrina worked in residential life. Tommie taught me a lot about being an RA and dealing with people, a skill which transferred to other areas in life. Sabrina was Tommy’s boss and helped me move from Millet-Zeringue to Calecas at a time that was quite socially difficult for me. Mike vouched for me and had my back when the cops raided Long Hall and my room thinking I was possessing drugs. It was my roommate who was being searched – I had ‘words’ with him later. Becky selected me to be part of the Orientation team and didn’t kick me off the team when I couldn’t attend SROW, a decision I regret but then again it was a path in life that led me to other places. And finally Madeline.

I learned the most from Madeline during her time at Campus Ministry and also my psuedo American mother. She was quite patient with me and present for many of ‘incidents’ and great moments that took place in college. Such a great warm and loving person. It was so good to meet Brian and chat with her daughter Katie, her husband and kids via Skype. Thank you Madeline and Brian from the critter dinner treat and for hosting me for the night.

Showing Madeline and Brian the Grand Canyon was quite the treat. I was re-living some of the hardships and moments while walking up the canyon. Catching up over wine definitely livened the mood with a lot of conversation and laughter.

Such amazing memories. I miss it and them already.

Expenses:
Coffee: $4.99 (Catalina Coffee)
Parking: $1.80