I graduated from University on the 19th of July 2016 with a BSc in Psychology. It’s been one month since, and I wanted to share a snippet of my experience.
Disclaimer: Every person’s experience is unique.
To better understand my perspective, the reader needs to know a few key facts. I am a Kenyan who had lived abroad a number of years before moving to London for University. I had also visited several times as a child, so I had some awareness of the city. I believe that If I had never had any prolonged contact with a more Western culture, my experience may have been different.
I also never wanted to come to London for University, but as fate goes, it happened. So to start off, I was not particularly excited about moving.
I thought the best way to portray my experience to you the reader, would be to paint you my perspective, in pros and cons.
- I have always been obsessed with how multicultural London is. I never felt defined by my ethnicity, gender or anything else that could put you in a box. This made settling in a lot easier, perhaps because my energy wasn’t spent on worrying whether I stood out. In contrast, my visits to other smaller regions in the UK at times left me with a feeling of discomfort, like I didn’t belong.
- Possible the thing I have cherished the most is the transportation options. After living in a country where the only mode of transport was a taxi or your parent’s car (Qatar, get it right!), I have come to appreciate £1.50 buses, trains, my trusty bicycle, and more recently, my totally grown-up scooter. It made me independent.
- You also have an infinite number of places you can go out to; whether to eat, for a night out, to a museum, or even a festival (Get TimeOut). The options are infinite.
- Importantly, I enjoyed being an academic at a UK higher educational institution. The lectures provided by City University were enriching. There was the perfect balance of classes and self study, and the research in the Psychology department was phenomenal.
- Despite having great entertainment options, the infamous student broke-life is real. London is expensive (£12 cocktails? ermmm…let’s just pre-drink)..
- BUT if you are an economist like me, you will survive. I remember going on night’s out multiple times with only £5 in my pocket, and my oyster card for the all-night £1.5o bus. These cheap nights turned out to be some of the best nights. Not to mention the £10 weekly shops! Budgeting and having a part-time paying job helps.
- I also don’t think I had your typical University experience, perhaps because my uni was not really campus style. I found it very difficult to meet people I genuinely clicked with. Unlike campus universities which are usually located outside London, straight after class everyone went to their off-campus homes. I felt like there was no community. This may have partly been my fault. I never joined any societies, or put myself ‘out there’.
- I’m not sure whether this is a London thing or just a uni thing, but when I first started on this journey, I remember meeting dozens of people during freshers events, all vowing to meet up again and ‘stay in touch‘. These were hollow promises, both on my part and the people I met. In hindsight, I should have made more of an effort.
- To add to this, I was living on my own. Even though this had it’s privileges (Privacy and a clean kitchen), it meant I never really made friends outside uni.
- My small circle of friends at uni had other obligations and priorities, so I hardly saw them outside of classes.I came to the conclusion that true friendships are hard to come by in a City like this.
- As a result of all this, I ended up feeling quite lonely and down.
- Luckily, I had a few close long-time friends living in the UK. They lived outside London and I saw them every now and then. This gave me the opportunity to travel and take a break from the loneliness of the city. I had the most fun during these reunions.
- I am also very good at keeping myself busy. I immersed myself in my studies (which probably resulted in my first class – bonus), my part-time job and my YouTube channel. Later on, I also had the company of my boyfriend. My extended family was also there, which was a blessing when I missed home and home-cooked meals. When I think about it now, it wasn’t too bad.
When I first came to London, I wasn’t happy. I also faced a few challenges which I have shed some light on. Despite all this, I have to say that I have had an amazing university experience. Partly due to the sense of freedom the city gave me, but mostly due to my close friends and family.
I wouldn’t be the person I am today, or be where I am, if I never came to this city…