After an incredible month of travel in Paris, London and Scotland with my mum, I am now settling into Royal Holloway university in a beautiful part of Surrey, about 45 minutes by train from London.
I had the time of my life sightseeing and meeting people in our travels, there was always so much to do and see. Some parts of the trip were highly planned with daily itineraries, but as we found our feet and established some connections with family and friends, we started to get a little more adventurous. Some of the best days of the trip were unplanned: an accidental turn off down a narrow dirt road turned into an amazing day on a film set at a beautiful Scottish loch!
I spent a couple of days in the area before starting university, exploring the local towns of Windsor and Staines and getting stocked up with supplies for the term ahead. It was nice to do this in an unhurried way (with the help of mum and a hire car!) and meant that I didn’t need to try and fit it in during Welcome Week when there were so many activities, taster sessions, social events, and administrative difficulties to sort out! I discovered a few days after arriving that I had been given last year’s topic lists, and so many of the courses I had applied for are not running this term. It took all of Welcome Week to fix, but I’ve finally got a study plan for the term. Almost every other international student was in the same position, so we all could support each other throughout the week and could understand why everyone was feeling so stressed! It has also been nice to have two friendly faces from Flinders around campus to check up on each other and share our experiences.
I initially found it very difficult to get settled at Royal Holloway – maybe I just got too relaxed travelling and need some time to establish a routine. It was also quite overwhelming to meet so many new people and be given so much information in such a short space of time. I felt really homesick for quite a few days! It was horrible to feel that way while there were so many amazing things going on around me. However, it didn’t last long. By the time classes and societies started, I was very happy to be here. There is always something to do, somewhere to be, and someone to see. I’m sure that the term will fly by and I will be sad to leave when the time comes! Now that I’m feeling more established, I’m also starting to think about planning some travel in my free time.
I can’t help comparing university life here to what I’ve experience for the past year and a half at Flinders. There are some similarities in academic culture (I’m told by some European friends it’s completely foreign to them) but campus life is quite different. Because the majority of the student population lives on or around campus, life is really based around uni. My accommodation is a 10 minute bus ride (free) or 20 minute walk from campus, which makes it a bit difficult at times to really get involved in what’s happening on campus. After trying to make it work by being prepared to spend the whole day away from my room, finding lockers on campus, staying late in the brand new library, and memorising the bus timetable, I have decided to move to a room on main campus. It was fairly simple to organise – I just had to ask! I’ve got a bit of packing to do, but I think it will be worth it, being so much closer to everything and not having to worry about getting home safely at the end of the day.
Right now, I’m trying to embrace all the opportunities I have available to me without being overwhelmed by commitments. I have auditioned and joined a choir and a drama production, and so I am already busy preparing for upcoming performances. There are more clubs and societies than you can imagine, and my philosophy is just give it a go!
Eloise Quinn-Valentine, Bachelor of Arts-Enhanced Program for High Achievers/Bachelor of Science, Semester 2 2017 exchange at Royal Holloway University of London, UK
- Read Eloise’s 1st blog post here