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.