I am the plus one to Tejasvi( the new student ambassador for India) this year. Like most Indian students here, coming to the UK was a first time experience for me. Speaking of Indian students, there are so many here. It feels like living at home, away from home 🙂 . The first week at an international university is always important and will be the period of lovely new memories. Excited, nervous with anticipation, a little worried(about academics of course) and eager to make loads of new memories- that’s how I stepped into university on my first day. And my first day was amazing with me finding so many new Indian friends and international ones too. Most of us Indians would have lived with our parents so far and have no experience of living alone. I was no exception. Living without my mom (mum/mummy here 😀 ) and dad was an experience that scared me. I remember how the last two months before coming here was spent in learning mother’s delicious cooking recipes. I miss my dad a lot as we used to have really long conversations and silly arguments on music, cars and gadgets. The accommodation here is so different from the hostels in India. Here, it feels like living in your own apartment with lovely international neighbours( each from a different country on my floor) and sharing the common areas and kitchen. We have a student mentor who visits us every week to check on us and to help us if we have any issue.
That first week was spent knowing each other, making new friends, sharing stories of home country, talking with family on various apps, cooking (experiments with good results), knowing the various places at university, taking pics(and sharing on social media obviously), attending the various events and parties and in general enjoying. That first week was so beautiful that every student wishes to experience it again.
The second week was spent in establishing a regular friend gang and exploring the posh town of Guildford(the wonderful shopping and eating options). The classes had started and what an eye opener they were! So different in pattern from the classes we are used to taking. Sitting in class with people who are doing their masters after years of experience and me being the youngest in the class fresh from undergrad college was highly intimidating and frightening. But, when I started talking with all my new classmates, what fun we had! Most were from non-computer backgrounds and the ones with computer science experience were so friendly. Talking with them made me feel good about myself and happy to see such friendly faces with whom i would be spending the next year. The department professors and Head were no different and made us feel very welcome indeed. Classes here are so much fun. No attendance here- but you feel sad and left out if you miss one lecture because that is one lecture in which you could have gained so much knowledge and now your classmates know better than you. Ha! that won’t do. The in-class tasks and out-of-class projects- the time you feel like your head is bloating with knowledge and that smug and happy feel when you submit your assignment before the deadline. Well! Let’s go out to town and enjoy now before the next assignment work begins. Masters is definitely a phase in your life where you put in hard work but enjoy working hard and are satisfied with the achievements. It makes you happy that your family is going to be proud of you and makes you want to achieve and learn more.
But enough said about academics. Surrey is a happening place and when you feel homesick( trust me you won’t mostly because of the great friends that you are sure to get) or bored or just want some alone time, there is a beautiful lake to go sit at and unwind with some music. Sitting here with friends and getting your pics clicked is nice too. At the end of the day, after the lectures, I like taking a walk around this beautiful place and relaxing my mind. The library, eateries and the front room for students are THE places to be! Meeting new friends or playing snooker and other games whilst watching T.V and having a lazy evening. Then I head to my room where my friends and I cook dinner and eat it together everyday, playing our favourite shows on the laptop. When you have a great gang, you obviously work together too. And my friends and I head out to the library in the evenings or after dinner( yes the library is open 24*7 all days and is a beauty to behold ) to work on our respective projects, all the while keeping each other awake with chocolates, snacks and jokes. We visit the supermarket together every week and buy our supply of groceries, snacking items, stationery and instant food. Surrey has a lovely Sports Park with an Olympic sized pool and a floor of gym facilities. It’s mostly hard to find a game that they don’t have at the Sports Park. There are many sports clubs and teams that one can join. There are many societies apart from sports that one can join for fun and learning ( I am in the postgraduate club, HarryPotter society, the Indian society, Computer science society-to name a few).
Occasionally you do miss parents a lot more than usual. Life without family in a foreign country isn’t the same as a life with family in your beloved home and India. But those are the times when the friends that you have pull you out of your sadness and make you Indian food and take you to Starbucks to pamper you. Plus, talking to family is now a part of my daily schedule that it makes me feel so much better. The video calling apps and cooking websites/videos become the most used on your phone and you improve your cooking enough to host Indian food parties( thank you mum for your secret masalas 😉 I am a great cook here).
With London less than a half hour train ride, it’s no wonder that I love the beautiful city. It is a mix of castles and modern buildings, the old and the new coexisting with such grace that I didn’t want to leave the city when it was time to come home. My hard disk and phone gallery are flooded with photos and videos of my many trips to London. We even visited Southall, which is India, bang in the middle of England- the place to run to when you need Briyani, Chaat, parathas, fancy rotis and Indian food that is restaurant style( also a place to get those rare Indian ingredients which aren’t usually available in the supermarket near home. The London Eye, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace ( the guard change! ), Hyde park, Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, River Thames, Trafalgar Square, the various museums- these are places where I lost my heart! Such classic beauty to behold. The university organises many day trips to scenic places nearby and we went on one to Windsor castle and learnt all about the Queen and saw many royal things that day.
Christmas and winter break are just around the corner. England is a blend of the ancient and modern in this aspect too- the Christmas decorations, Christmas markets( loads to buy and at discounted rates), winter sport, the cold weather( Ah! the room heater is your best friend after a day out wrapped up in scarves and coats) and the hot chocolate drinks. In England, I see many kids writing letters to Santa and being all excited about Christmas shopping, which is such a change from how Christmas is celebrated back home. I see a variety of exploring opportunities and places to travel to.
I will be sure to post photos and describe the Christmas atmosphere better in my next post.
Enjoy the December weather in India and the holidays especially. Farewell! See you really soon with my next post 🙂 .