Writing to you live from a café in Shoreditch, London, I am exhausted but elated from the first two weeks of my exchange to King’s College of London. After a long night exploring the city, I decided this morning to take a stroll through my borough that I will call home for the next few months. I walked and grazed my finger tips across the graffiti plastered to the old brick buildings. I stared into eccentric cartoons with their vibrant colours and suddenly thought, “wow, I can’t believe it, I’m finally here, I’m in London.”
I’ve spent my first two weeks adapting — to British culture, a different student life, and as of this week an unfamiliar academic system — which is the best part of an international student exchange. My first week here was my orientation week called “Fresher’s Week,” which was filled with tours, events, and lectures on life and academics at King’s. While I learned a lot about the culture and life in London, I would like to share four experiences and what I have learned from them.
1. Always Say YES! (What I really mean is to say yes when it is a safe and beneficial activity.)
- Exchange is about exploring outside of your comfort zone and experiencing another culture while meeting new people. The only way to try new things is to embrace new challenges and to meet new people, so I introduced myself to new people in my halls and at student mixers. Last weekend, I made a a great group of friends from my residence by saying YES to going to a trendy flower market with them, where I also got my new pet cactus Henry.
2. Exploring London
- This applies less to Fresher’s week, but is more general and applies more to when classes start. The spare hours when I don’t have class are an opportunity to experience London and go to a museum or a weekly market that’s been on my list. I’ve been able to explore a lot of London by walking through a new borough every day or by taking the double decker buses to experience the atmosphere instead of sitting underground in the tube. When I get back to Toronto, I will definitely be taking more walks to explore more of my own city!
3. No FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
- The struggle with FOMO is very real for me and it was very hard to get over the fact that trying to do everything caused me to burn out. (I learned this the hard way after staying up until 5 am for the first 3 nights of Fresher’s then crashing for the remainder of the week.) There will always be events going on during Fresher’s week and during the school year, but I when I needed a break, it was okay to miss one to go chill at a café, watch Netflix, or catch up on some readings.
4. Getting Involved on Campus
- There’s no one that say this enough, but the best way to make new friends and have a rounded university experience is to get involved with a club or team. In the UK, everybody joins a society and it is vital to student life. I am really looking forward to joining the Women’s Football Club (soccer) because there are no classes on Wednesday afternoons so that the sports teams can practice and afterwards bond together on sports night at the campus pub. There are also many events organized by the student union and have made me feel more connected to life on campus.
After an energized two weeks, moving to London and exploring the city, I am really looking forward to getting to know the music scene here and sharing that with you soon.
Stay cool Uof6ix, I miss you,