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Travel from the other side: an international student looks back at their first term at Warwick

I will never forget 26 September 2021. It was when I took a 13-hour flight, crossed the whole of Eurasia, and left home for the very first time. After a long sleep, I moved from Hong Kong to Britain, from summer to autumn, and from adolescence to adulthood.

I had complex, mixed feelings on my first day in Britain. I felt so fortunate that several people helped me along the journey, such as the taxi driver who insisted on taking me right in front of my accommodation so that I would not get lost. I was also proud of my own strength. Many of my flatmates relied on their parents to help them transport their bags, but I carried my suitcases myself even though they weighed half my body weight. The autumn breeze was pleasant, and everyone was friendly. However, I burst into tears when I made my first video call to my parents. I did not know why.

I am an introvert. I enjoy being alone, and I do not mind trying out new things by myself

I am an introvert. I enjoy being alone, and I do not mind trying out new things by myself. Therefore, I joined a lot of society events on my own in the first few months. Documentary Society is the first society I joined. I struggled to engage in the postscreening discussion at first as everyone spoke too fast, but I loved learning from them. For example, I learnt what ‘Tory’ meant.

I also learnt a lot from observing others. Everything was a cultural shock for me: I remember noticing a girl confidently not wearing a bra in public and watching my flatmate put his bread directly on the table. I knew that drinking was a huge part of British culture, but seeing just how much people loved to drink was the biggest surprise. I lived on the ground floor of Rootes. My flatmates drank a lot. It seemed that whenever they spent time together, they drank. This was not something I expected.

I did not know why I was so scared of alcohol. In my first term, I never did anything involving alcohol, like flat par- ties or clubbing, not to mention circling. I had just visited Spoons once. I stored my dishwashing liquid and sponge in my room, so I could eat in my room and wash dishes in the toilet without entering the kitchen when my flatmates were partying.

Sometimes I hated my fear. On Snapchat, which I downloaded when school started, everyone had fun and made friends in clubs. I wondered whether I had missed the best part of my university life.

The fact I survived my first term at Warwick shows I can survive any challenge that’s thrown my way

However, I enjoyed my first term at Warwick a lot. I loved running on campus with the geese. I was strikingly excited when I saw snow for the first time. I accidentally met my best friend on New Year’s Eve, when my flat was empty and everyone had gone home. These are all the loveliest moments in my university life that I will never forget.

I am in my third and final year now, and the first term this year has nearly ended. I have gone back home only once, so I have spent over two years in Britain. Have I fully assimilated into British society? No, defi- nitely not. I still cannot understand some British jokes or eat potatoes every day like my flatmate. I still hate beer and clubbing. Yet, I have become the president of the first society I joined and made more friends. I have taken care of myself well.

It was my first term at Warwick two years ago, and it will be my first year of working or master’s study next year. The fact I survived my first term at Warwick shows I can survive any challenge that’s thrown my way


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