I can’t believe how fast my time at Royal Holloway has gone. I now have less than a month before I’ll be flying home.
With deadlines in the last two weeks of term, there is still a lot to do, but I’ve also packed a lot into the term so far. Some of my deadlines are in January so I’ll have to come home and write essays, instead of fully relaxing. It also be difficult to do without access to the texts I’ve been using at the library. I’ve had to plan ahead and order some of the books online to be delivered to Australia, as there’s no way they’ll fit in my luggage! I’m a little concerned about getting everything home again, but luckily some family friends who live a few hours from uni have offered to help me move out at the end of time and take me to the airport.
I haven’t done much travel during the term, as I’ve been quite busy with The Crucible. However, because I had a month of travel before term, I don’t feel as though I have missed out, and I will be exploring more of Scotland in the week before I fly home. I have also made some really lovely day trips in the local area with uni friends (a War Memorial, Virginia Water and Kew Gardens) and also several trips to London, to see shows, London Tower and catch up with Australian friends who are also abroad.
I particularly loved going to The Globe Theatre to see a production of Much Ado About Nothing, just a few days before it closed. Standing tickets are always just 5 pounds, and the actors move through the crowd throughout the show. Having studied the play at Flinders, it was so special to see it come to life right in front of me and then get to speak to some of the actors after the show!
I’ve just finished performing in the Drama Society’s production of The Crucible over four nights. After such an intense rehearsal period, rehearsing almost every day since the beginning of term, it was both exciting and relieving to perform it. I have really enjoyed getting to know all of the cast and crew members who have all been so friendly, supportive and incredible performers in their own right and made my time here so memorable. Being involved in the society has inspired me to start my own club when I return to Flinders!
I have been so grateful for the friendship and support of the people I’ve met here. It’s not always easy being so far from home and still having to keep on top of all of the usual pressures of study and everyday life, but since moving closer to campus I have never really felt alone. I’ve found that simple things, like making the effort to go to the dining hall for breakfast instead of staying in your room, make such a difference, as there is always someone to see and talk to. Royal Holloway has about a third of the number of students at Flinders, so I’ve gotten to know a lot of people, or at least recognize their faces, and always try and say hi or stop to chat. I’ve been trying hard to take every opportunity to meet and connect with people. I’m really going to miss everyone here! It’s pretty amazing to think that I now have friends all over the world, and I really hope that we’ll be able to stay in touch and meet up again in the future.
I’m really looking forward to experiencing Christmas festivities here: lights, decorations, festivals, food! Everyone I speak to finds it very hard to understand that Christmas is in summer at home. I’ll be singing in a couple of carolling events with the choir – complete with over the top Christmas jumpers!
It’s getting quite cold now (about the coldest it ever gets in Adelaide), so it will be interesting to see how I cope with December temperatures, especially when I head back to Scotland for a few days before flying home! I haven’t had to unpack my thermals yet, so it’s good to know I haven’t exhausted all of my warm clothing just yet. The trick is wearing layers that are easy enough to take off when you go indoors, as it is usually quite warm inside!
A couple of weeks ago the new library building was officially opened by HRH Princess Anne, who is the Chancellor of Royal Holloway. We were all quite excited at the possibility of seeing royalty, although the novelty soon worn off while we waited with our Royal Holloway flags in the rain for almost 2 hours for her to arrive! (A princess is never late, everyone else is simply early!)
Although slightly tacky, it’s been fun to get involved in school spirit and buy uni apparel and official photos, which I wouldn’t normally spend the money on at home, but it will be nice to have some souvenirs and reminders of my time here.
My final advice is to make the most of the opportunity of going on exchange during your studies. It has been the most incredible, challenging, rewarding and memorable experience of my life and I have learnt so much about myself and the world. Challenge yourself, meet people, discover the world. Be inspired to bring a little bit of the world back home to Adelaide. Take time to experience and cherish each moment – it might only happen once in your life!
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