This was just a little something I wrote for the magazine at Keele Uni. Enjoy!
It was a sigh of relief as I put down my 50 L backpack in what was going to be my home for the next three months. Keele University. It was a breath of fresh air. Actually, try 600 acres of fresh air. A picturesque ‘Hogwarts-styled’ campus, with a lot of land.
Due to an unreliable airport attendant, I finally arrived at Keele only 7 hours later than when I was supposed to. I was cold, sore and tired from what had been a very long day. A very long two months actually.
The transition from life back home in Australia, to backpacking through Eastern Europe, to having a place to call home was going to be a huge adaptation. I had been living with no postal address, no phone number and barely any clothes. It was a lot to take in that night, as I emptied out my storage bags after two months. I had been sleeping on trains, buses, floors, seats, hostels and many other uncomfortable areas. I felt like a kid in a candy store. My own bed? My own sink? A desk? I couldn’t believe it.
I’ve only been at Keele for less than a couple of weeks, but I can already tell it’s going to be a good time. Being an international student can be daunting, but I think it’s something that uni students should do during their degree. Here are the reasons why:
Living away from home is one thing, but doing it in a different country is a whole other level. It’s like you reach this entire new stage of independence. Being a solo backpacker and now an exchange student, I’ve really learnt to rely on myself and no one else, and it is such a good feeling. Doing everything on your own can be tough, but it’ll definitely open your eyes and make you a very grateful person for what you have back at home.
This is probably one of the biggest ones. The little skills you learn living and travelling abroad are amazing. Thinking back to my second day at Keele, all the International Freshers were given free breakfast. I sat on a table with a group of girls, on of whom was staring at my plate. I had a few slices of bread, some packaged butter, a cup of tea and a teaspoon.
“Don’t you need a knife for that bread and butter?” one of the girls said. I looked at her, looked at my spoon and laughed.
“Nah, I’ll be alright!” I responded. After spending the past two months using a spoon for everything, I completely forgot that knives even existed! I couldn’t imagine cutting my sandwich and my fruit with one of those silver bladed instruments!
Little skills like this can really help you out when you’re travelling through, or if you’re just getting settled into your exchange life. You may be coming into your study abroad life from travelling (as I have) and not be able to get cutlery or other essentials when you arrive, so it’s always good to know these little tricks of the trade. Things like using a spoon as a knife, a straightener as an iron, a kitchen cloth as a towel and shampoo as every single liquid based thing can all assist in tight budgeted travels and early stages of uni settlement.
… And yes, I have done all of those mentioned for the past couple months.
Overall, the experience of travelling and studying abroad is a major eye opener. Just settling into my life at Keele, I feel like I’ve already experienced so many different things. Travelling to so many countries, you also develop a new sense of appreciation. From showers, beds, cutlery, clothes; you start to learn to be grateful for absolutely everything.
The best thing about the abroad experience has to be the people you meet from countries all over the world. Learning about the way they all live their lives is incredibly fascinating. The cultural differences can be tricky, but that’s what makes it so beautiful.
So make sure you go and talk to the international office during your degree, you won’t regret it!