My name is Sunny (a nice translation from my Chinese name and such unusual weather here in London). I’m a new student at UCL studying undergraduate Biomedical Engineering.
A week ago I arrived at London after a exhausting 11-hour flight from China with a thrill in my heart. This is where I’ll live for the next three years. LONDON!
It was a freezing night when I got to my room at UCL residence, but I was warmly welcomed by my flatmates as if I’m back home again. We are all from different countries, so we even made a plan that someday we are all gonna cook a dish from our home country to share with everyone. And I was like - HAHA I’m from China and I’ve got a hundred ideas in mind!
Since I’m under 18, I was a bit worried that I might not fit in or I won't find any friends here as I can’t go into pubs - turned out there were so many ways of meeting people!
The welcoming party at our House, the Induction week at my department at UCL, the Freshers' events...It’s a bit overwhelming to meet so many people all at once, but on the other hand I’m forced to walk out of my comfort zone and talk to complete strangers, some of them have already become my best friends here.
Start with your name, country, course, and moving on to more personal topics like what societies you are gonna join, what food do you like, why did you choose UCL...these are the standard 'interview' questions that help build the basics of a friendship.
I was a bit shy at first, thinking my English is rusty and I’m not funny enough, but soon I realised everyone is trying to be friendly and people are intrigued to hear my stories - that’s when my confidence finally found its way out of the hidden place in my heart.
The great thing that makes London such an attractive place for international students is that, instead of identifying you as ‘an alien’, it sees your uniqueness and welcomes your culture. Walking in the streets here, you can hear people using all kinds of languages and seeing dressing styles from all over the world. What I love the most is that you can find food from everywhere! Chinese food, Thai food, Italian, Japanese sushi etc. For me as Chinese, I feel like they sell everything from China here. It was so easy for me to find familiarity in things that I barely noticed I’m on the other side of the globe now.
Well, certain things are different of course, for example I’m always looking at the wrong side when crossing the street and the bus doesn't stop unless you ring the bell...but I’m embracing these differences of London just like London accepted mine. Actually, one of my favourite songs just came to my mind when I’m writing this. To fit my theme in, I changed a few words:
“Walking through the crowd, the village is a glow. Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats. The lights are so bright, but they never blind me. Welcome to London”