As I was talking to a friend that I met in my first week of being at the University, we realized… holy guacamole we’re almost midway through our Master’s program!! I had a flash of all the things I’ve done since I got here, all the things I’m excited for in my next 6 months to come, the things I wish I had done, the things I wish I hadn’t done, the awkward moments, the good memories, and the differences between me during undergrad and me at Surrey and everything in between. I thought I’d share some of my insights that are more relevant and hopefully there’s some advice hidden in there.
Things I’m glad I did:
International Student Orientation: First off, I’m sooo glad I did International Student Orientation (the week before regular orientation). Though it felt like a long time before my classes actually started because essentially I ventured over two weeks early, I got to settle in ahead of time (which I would much prefer doing) and figure out all the details of my life living in the UK (as mentioned in other posts, figuring out banking, my phone situation, orienting around Guildford, and getting school/kitchen/life supplies etc. before Tesco ran out). They also had different activities/events for international students so that we could meet people from all over and mingle and what not; I’m still close friends with people I met that week!! That’s actually when I met the majority of my friends who aren’t from my cohort. Basically what I learned is that it’s always easier to make friends at the very beginning when nobody knows each other and everyone wants to make friends.
International Student Ambassador: When I first arrived to Heathrow airport, I did the Meet and Greet where I got picked up along with a bunch of other international students to head straight to Surrey with a coach bus and student ambassadors who greeted us (hence the meet and greet) and made us feel welcome to the school. They were super friendly and helpful. I was talking to one postgrad student about wanting a part time job to earn some extra money. She told me I should apply to be an international student ambassador because it has flexible hours, is a pleasant job on campus that is easy to manage with schoolwork and looks good on a CV. I’m so glad I took her advice. Trying to find a part time job off campus in Guildford can be limiting if you plan to travel, it doesn’t pay as well for the type of work you’ll be doing, and you’ll have to take into account transportation to and from work. There are many perks to being any type of student ambassador that make it an easy and pleasant job to have, just take my word for it!
Ok I realized I could rant on forever about the things I’m glad I did and so on, so I’ll try to be more concise with the rest of this blog post…
Living in student housing, using a bike as my main mode of transportation, getting a Surrey Sports Park Membership, taking time to travel outside of the UK, being open to trying new experiences, and making friends and family come to visit me.
Things I wish I did:
Schedule more library hangout sessions. I did this a lot more often first semester and during study period where some friends and I would book a room for hours and have a combo of studying and hanging out. Though at times distracting, it was also motivating because it’s hard for me to stay sane in the library for more than 3 hours by myself unless I have a pressing deadline.
Meet with professors to ask them about any projects to help with, talk to them about the subject more, ask for advice, etc. because they are a wealth of knowledge and can provide some sense of direction.
Start the year by cooking/getting dinner with my flat mates so that we could be closer as a group. We had a few meals together with a few of us, but we’re not as close as a floor as some of my other friends are with their floor, and it’s a nice dynamic to be friends with the people you live with.
Start a book club with friends to dedicate a portion of my reading time to fun/educational reading that is unassociated with school work and discuss with others. Because I love reading but am not motivated to do so when I have the assignment deadlines lingering in my mind.
Bought a blender. I would have used it so much, but I was stubborn and thought I wouldn’t mind a year without one, not realizing that I could have bought a used blender and sold it by the end of the year. Kitchen supplies is worth it for a year.
Things I wish I hadn’t done:
Spent more time than I’d like to admit watching Netflix instead of reading for fun or being social or learning about the world. Netflix can be your biggest frenemy.
Went to a club I enjoyed only a few times and didn’t make it part of my schedule to continue to go and now feel like too much time has passed for me to start going again/something else always comes up if it’s not made a priority (cough cough salsa club and archery cough).
Paid for a bus pass when I know that bike everywhere… a waste of money if you’re only going to use the bus on occasional.
Lost 5 hats over the course of a month because I’m awful at keeping track of hats and sunglasses for some reason…
Overall, I’m pleased with my experience at Surrey. Though it is not like my typical routine that I had the past four years of undergrad where I kept myself super busy, it is refreshing to change routine and see my work style with a more relaxed schedule. Though I would prefer a busier schedule with my time more planned out with activities, I’ve learned to enjoy and appreciate my schedule for now since this is probably the least scheduled period I’ll have in my life.