Big, Bad World? Bigger, Better Me…

I live in the biggest city in the world. Not big in terms of geographical area but big in terms of opportunities. Not opportunities in terms of career paths but opportunities in terms of personal growth. Yes, living in London is like going on a journey of self-discovery, especially if you’re from another country.

My friends from back home always tell me how lucky I am to be living and studying in a city like London. I always tell them I know that. But I also know that it is hard. In fact, it is probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life (oh yes, even harder than doing a Law degree; that must tell you something!)…

I can hear you asking yourself; how hard can it be to live in a city with so many people to meet, so many great places to visit and so many awesome things to do? My answer- very!

Leaving the familiarity of your home, your family and your friends is very tough. Once you’re here, you start from scratch; get out of your comfort zone and find your new identity. I used to feel lost but then once I found the right path, I felt like I was in the right place. At first though, it was the unknown. So I made the best of it. What I learnt was; Take the occasion of re-inventing yourself, challenge yourself and learn about your own capacity to deal with situations.

One of the hardest things I have had to do is managing my own money. When I first came to London, I used to convert everything I bought into Mauritian rupees. If you are doing that, let me tell you it is a BAD idea!!! Instead, learn about the currency. Familiarise yourself with your (new) purchasing power. Get yourself an NUS Extra card, enrol yourself for student discounts, get yourself a student travel card, compare grocery prices before you shop…  It felt like I was doing a double diploma; Law with Housewife Degree. But after a while, I got better at saving my money. The end of the month stopped feeling too tight! That made me grow up, understand money’s worth…

I also grew up when I learnt to deal with situations. My Mum was not here to cook my meals and bring me tea while I revised, sadly enough. So I learnt to multi-task and make the most efficient use of my time. You’re ill, alone and depressed? Well, you’re neither the first nor last one. You learn to deal with it. You become more independent, learn to rely on yourself…

More importantly, you toughen up. You appreciate the value of what you have. You make more efforts to lead a better life by opening up to people, sharing your experiences with them and looking for a bond with them. That’s what I did; I met people and they helped me grow up.

Yes, I live in the biggest city in the world.

And big is scary.

But scary is good…because fear is what inspires us to do better.

The Marvels of Travels…

Living in London, one tends to forget about the United Kingdom… you know, the fact that it is actually 3 countries bordering each other, which basically means it is ridiculously easy to visit those other 2 countries? Well fortunately, I am here to remind you about the joys of living in the big family called the UK!

I had barely stepped foot and settled in London when I first visited Wales. Even then, despite not being acquainted to London, the difference struck me. As much as London was busy, fast-paced and jostling with life Wales was quiet, welcoming and absolutely beautiful! My ‘coup de coeur’ was Chepstow, a small town in Southern Wales, where it seemed time had stopped since the early 1900s. The cobbled pavements, Chepstow Castle and the river flowing next to its church made this little town idyllic and magical.

I also had the chance to visit Tintern Abbey (poetry fans will know that this Abbey was an inspiration to Keats for his most famous poem), revel in its magnificence and feel the historical aura emanating from its crumbling walls. The icing on the cake was going to the traditional village fair held nearby!

Another place with amazing history which I visited was Scotland. Visiting the land of the Scots was the ultimate experience (and made every bit of the gruelling 8 hour coach journey worth it)! The capital Edinburgh is a wonder; with the imposing Edinburgh castle towering over the town, music from bagpipes resounding on the streets and its many pubs offering local delicacies, every bit of it is captivating. I had lunch in a cafe where ‘Harry Potter’ was written, visited the Scottish Parliament and even ventured near the Queen’s official Scottish residence.

Talking of royalty; my next stop in Scotland was St Andrews, where the love story between Prince William and Princess Kate blossomed. I went there with hopes of finding my prince; I ended up with the most amazing memories and pictures of one of the most beautiful places I have seen to date (by then, I had forgotten about princes)…                                                          

So this is to say; if you have the chance of being in a place like London, from where you can go pretty much anywhere, make the most of it! If you’re worried about the cost of travels, not to worry; coaches are a cheap and great way to travel and inns are the best place to stay… :)

When you struggle, Learn to juggle!

When I was being ‘shipped’ to London, my parents reassured me, saying “You’re a student; you don’t have to worry about much… Just concentrate on your studies and you’ll be fine!” I’m sorry to say Mom-Dad; you couldn’t have been more wrong! See, the one thing I learnt when I started university is that student life is like juggling, especially if you live away from home. Sometimes, I feel like a really busy Lawyer from Suits… Other times, I feel like a (desperate) housewife…

Well, turns out student life is all making the most of your time! My advice; PRIORITISE! Studies would obviously come first (parents seem to think this is our only purpose in life; let’s indulge them)! A close second is groceries, laundry and the likes (trust me, take- out loses its charm after a while, especially when you see your dress size steadily increasing). Then come your extra-curricular activities and social life. I can say from personal experience that student societies are the best place to find friends who are passionate about the same things as you! King’s has loads of them; you will be spoilt for choice! Check out the KCLSU link; http://involve.kclsu.org/.

At first, it is over-whelming but, just as with juggling, you get better at it; once you get the hang of it, you’re set for life! So my take on student life is that you should dapple in a bit of everything until you find your footing. More importantly, try new things out, undertake new challenges and don’t worry if you’re finding it tough, it only means you’re normal!!! :)