International Freshman: The Movie

| October 22, 2015 | 10 Comments


A sea of students surged into the GSU food court, chatting animatedly amongst themselves and exchanging quips. Somewhere in the crowd, one could hear a particularly perky voice talking excitedly about Common Ground. It was a program that had preceded orientation, she told her parents, and she had already made friends there…


A scrawny foreign boy of about eighteen looked round frantically for an empty seat, but found himself disappointed. The problem wasn’t that there weren’t enough empty seats. No, there were actually quite a few of those. The problem was that there weren’t any empty tables.


And so he took a chance.

Shaking with tray in hand, he took a deep breath.

Then, he approached one of the nearby groups and blurted out awkwardly:

‘Can I sit here?’




He’d made four new friends that day: Arzan, Tara, Vincent and Anora. The four of them had met at something called Common Ground, which he’d missed, but they’d still let him sit with them and they’d seemed nice enough. Still, an introvert by nature, he felt drained after his long day. And so the boy slumped into his bed and pulled his Star Wars sheets over himself.

He’d almost gotten to sleep, when an unceremonious Skype call for his roommate woke him with a start. He looked round. Apologizing nervously, his roommate Ian plugged in his headphones and scurried to another corner of the room.

He groaned. Again, he’d almost dozed off, when an unceremonious Skype call to him woke him with a start. Thanks, Mom.


He took his seat in class and suddenly, the boy next to him extended a hand in his direction. ‘Hey there!’ he offered, ‘Nice to meet you! Name’s Kai!’

Before he’d had a chance to shake, however, the boy on his other side took Kai’s hand and shook it. ‘Brandon!’ he introduced himself. Then, Brandon patted him on the shoulder genially. Again the boy perked up.



‘Would you mind changing seats so I can talk to my friend there?’


‘Not everyone here’s going to ignore you, you know,’ Anora reassured him. They were sitting together at the BU beach, watching the breeze gently stroking the river’s surface. Petted, the river purred back in satisfaction.

‘You’ll have friends,’ she went on, ‘Like us!’


In the shadowy alleys of Cummington Mall, in the dark of night, a voice spoke to him. It came out mellow, taunting, and bold, ‘You will never have friends.’

He whirled round.

‘Who are you?’

A dark figure stepped out of the shadows, and though it wore a mask, he could tell the person was sneering from his eyes alone. ‘They met before you came into their lives,’ it continued, ‘And you will never be one of them.’

He found himself racing away from the figure now, and he turned a corner, desperate to escape the alleyway… and that was when a bike skidded to a halt before him.

The lady at the helm pulled off her helmet and looked at him with deep blue eyes. ‘Come with me if you want to declare your major!’ she called.


‘I’m your Academic Advisor,’ the lady told him the next day, pacing her office, ‘It will be my job to train and… well… advise you during your stay here at BU.’

‘The man in the mask who attacked me last night…’ he said, ‘He told me I’d never truly fit in here. He told me I’d be too late. Who was he?’

His advisor turned to face him ominously. She said, ‘We don’t know. Most of the people in the BU Intelligence Community call him… Deadline.’



‘He’s not just coming after you…’ said Vincent, pacing back and forth frantically. He threw his hands into his hair and whirled round, ‘If his attack on me is any indication, he could be after a whole lot of freshmen, maybe even upperclassmen!’

‘There are over 30,000 students at BU,’ said Anora, ‘How can he possibly target every single one of them?’

The two of them looked at him, as if expecting him to have an answer purely because he had been attacked first.



Deadline smiled to himself as he advanced towards his target: the source of energy that powered all college students.

He was going to cut off the entire campus’ supply of coffee.



‘This will be your main source of power during your four years here,’ said the boy’s academic advisor, handing him a cup of coffee, ‘It has great power. I am trusting you with great power. But be warned: if you grow too reliant on it…’


The boy screamed and dropped to the ground. His head was throbbing with uncontrollable agony, and his eyes were bloodshot red from lack of sleep…


‘…It can destroy you from the inside.’



The boy stood awkwardly at the MBTA ticket scanners, repeatedly tapping his card and trying to figure out why it wasn’t registering. It was then Anora snatched it out of his hand and pointed out it wasn’t his Charlie Card.

‘I don’t think the MBTA takes dining points,’ she said, handing him back his BU ID as he felt himself go pink.



‘You don’t have to fight Deadline alone,’ Arzan told him, ‘I promise. The four of us will be with you every step of the way.’

‘Except Step 3,’ said Tara off-handedly, ‘I have a midterm during Step 3.’



Tara helped him put on his boxing gloves at FitRec.



Deadline!’ he yelled fiercely, raising his BU ID dramatically into the air.



‘The five of us all come from different walks of life,’ said Anora, ‘Doesn’t mean we can’t be a family.’



Summer 2015.


The boy came home to find an unexpected guest taking out a hot pocket from the microwave. He was a tall, dark man with a single eye-patch, and he turned round and smiled at him in greeting. His voice came out deep but jovial, ‘Hey, kid. You really think you’re the only international freshman hero on the campus?’

‘I… uh… no. I imagine there are a couple more, actually. Uh… who are you?’

‘I represent a very specific program with one goal in mind: to bring together a group of remarkable people, who will save the campus in a way that we never could. Kid… I’m here to speak to you about the Howard Thurman Initiative.’

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Category: featured, Thurman Thoughts, TV and Movies

Aaraf Afzal

About the Author ()

Aaraf Afzal is many things, but he's not particularly good at being any of them. He continues to work towards this goal, among others, studying Film & TV and Economics at Boston University. An avid subscriber to the belief that all forms of media have their own sense of artistic beauty, he is particularly invested in writing fiction and recently released his first novel "Re: Revolution" in Bangladesh. Alongside his pursuits at Culture Shock, he's currently at work writing an online series called "The Chosen Zeroes." Fandoms and inspirations include Neil Gaiman, Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet and Clank, Marvel Comics, and Culture Shock. Giggity.

Comments (10)

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  1. Yash Kothari says:

    This is a very well written piece. While reading, I was constantly probing my 1st year experience here at BU!

  2. Isabella Amorim Isabella Amorim says:

    This was a fun read! Awesome work!

  3. Leslie Knope says:

    Aaraf, you rainbow infused space shark. This is a wonderfully written piece and I can’t wait to watch the movie when it comes out! I’m pre-ordering my tickets today!

  4. Ceci says:

    This is wonderful. Keep up the creativity!

  5. Ellen Asermely Ellen Asermely says:

    This is great! Super funny and well written, I loved it!

  6. Violet Acevedo Violet Acevedo says:

    Wonderfully silly and tremendously enjoyable. Great first post.

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