Welcome to my first ever blog where I will be sharing my experience about the time when I first arrived in the UK, my time during the quarantine, and my arrival at the University of Surrey.
I departed from Lahore, Pakistan and after an 8-8 ½ hour-long flight, I reached the Heathrow airport in London which is one of the closest airports to the university. This was the first time I had traveled to another country from Pakistan. At the airport, we were asked to go through the immigration process. Although the process took quite some time, the excitement of being in a whole different world was quite amazing in itself. The staff and people around were extremely helpful and friendly. After completion of the whole process, we were guided to our different bus routes which would take us to the hotels that were allotted to us for a 10-day quarantine period.
I was taken to the President Hotel which is located in the heart of London. The drive from the airport to the hotel is approximately an hour-long drive but as we had to stop at different locations, it took us some while longer. Once we had reached the hotel, we were checked in to our rooms and then the 10 days of quarantine started. During the stay, the hotel provided us with our 3 meals a day and all the necessities were provided in the room. The quarantine period can be quite boring for some people but I tried to make it fun for myself. The hotel allowed a 30-minute break for walking and relaxing outside the rooms in a designated area inside the hotel. I utilized this time to interact with other people that were staying at the hotel and also with the hotel staff who were working there. I met several people from different countries and interacting with them was totally a new experience. During this quarantine time, the university was communicating their requirements for the required processes that had to be completed before coming to the university. These tasks included the pre-registration at the My Surrey portal and also the accommodation allotment (if you are living in the university accommodation). We had our Covid tests on the 2nd and 8th days at the hotel as part of the quarantine process. After the completion of the quarantine period, we were allowed to go to our destinations. There is an option for the people who want to be dropped back at the airport so that it can be easier for them to travel to their preferred destinations.
After being dropped back at the Heathrow airport, I took a cab to the University of Surrey. The first sight of the university is beautiful. I was required to collect my accommodation keys from the Austin-Pearce Building which was very easy with the help of all the communication via emails. After collecting my keys, I headed towards the accommodation, the Cathedral Court. After dropping my bags in my room, I knew there were some required groceries that I had to buy.
For this, I visited Tesco which to my surprise was packed with students. Tesco has all the essentials that can be required and is only a 14–15-minute walk from the Cathedral Court. After coming back, I was greeted by my housemates and we shared some precious moments inside the kitchen getting to know one another. The university provides the new students with a welcome week which is generally to help the students in familiarizing themselves with the university buildings and their surroundings. There also is a Freshers Fair at the university which allows you to get to know the numerous societies working in the university. This was totally an exceptional experience for me to interact with these many societies. There also is a Pakistan Society inside the university which can be quite helpful too. You might need to use Google Maps for some time as I had to, but you’ll get the hang of it within no time.
This brings me to the end of my first blog. I hope this can be helpful to the people who are visiting the university for the first time. I’m sure I have a lot of interesting stuff to share with you people and will be posting more information soon.