15. November 2018 Samanta Rožánková

5+1 and 1+5 in London

I have packed my Prague life into four suitcases and with my head in the clouds I am off go study in London. I am still finding it hard to believe and I keep checking whether I have everything I need. I am incredibly excited, but terrified at the same time. Will I manage everything? Will I find new friends? Equipped with some excellent advice and recommendations I take my first steps towards this new challenge.

Moving into my accommodation is the first task that awaits me after arriving in London. Check-in goes relatively smoothly and after a few minutes I’m opening the door to my new London flat. I’m the first one here. My new home is a room is in a 5+1 flat on the 7th floor of a student hall called Schafer House. The room is tiny, but it has everything one could need and I’m immediately starting the decoration process. A few photos from home, a little plant, a noticeboard and I’m set. In the meantime my flatmates started to arrive. A future architect, a medic, an Arts and Sciences student and a boy from Germany studying Management Science. We’re all very different, but that will hopefully juts make living together more interesting. We’re meeting in the kitchen for the first time to talk about our first impressions of university life. At the same time we start to unpack our kitchen equipment. Hopefully, we will get along.

The second task is enrolment. I am leave my hall and I’m trying to find the shortest route to university while exploring the local area. The walk takes me about 10 minutes. I am pretty nervous and I hope that I’m in the right place at the right time. However, all my worries go away soon. The campus reminds me of a big anthill. Huge crowds of students run around in all directions and you can hear conversations in hundreds of different languages. The university is well prepared for the wave of new students. There are colourful “Welcome to UCL” banners all around as well as an impressive number of volunteers in UCL T-shirts, pointing us in the right directions and answering our questions. In no time I have my UCL student ID in my hand and I can’t resist to take a picture of it with the majestic main university building in the background. After enrolment I join a group of other first year students on a campus tour. The guide shows us around, points us to different buildings, departments, libraries, cafes, but after just a few minutes I have no clue where we are and how we got there. The campus seems like an intricate labyrinth and I am at least trying to remember where the Chemistry building is.

The 24th of September is when our first week at UCL starts. We received a detailed schedule of all events in advance. The week is filled with introductory talks and lecturers as well as with fun event to get to know the other students on your course. Even though I always know where I’m supposed to be, I can’t help but worry that I’ll get lost on the way there. Thankfully we were given a map, which I carried around everywhere during the first week. Still, I leave very early for my first lecture, so that I have time to wonder around and potentially get lost. The lecture theatre is extremely silent before the lecture. Everyone seems very nervous and shy and we try to talk to each other and get to know the others. The entire first week is and endless period of getting to know other students and becoming familiar with the teaching, the professors, the course and the university life in general. I start to doubt whether I can ever remember all this information.

However, the most interesting experience of the first few weeks for me was definitely the Freshers fair. I significantly underestimated the popularity of this event and I unfortunately did not arrive and hour before the start, but slightly after so I have no other choice but to queue for two hours before being able to enter the main university building where the entire event took place. I never expect so many people! There are queues for everything and crowds of people everywhere you look and I am seriously considering giving up and going home. But I could not be more glad that I didn’t, because it was all worth it in the end. I ended up signing up for a number of societies, German, Czech, Dance and Iceskating societies and I even got a free slice of pizza. On top of that I got my gym membership, so that I can stay fit and relax and maybe even try to take part in some classes, like yoga.

Everything is slowly falling into place during the next five weeks and I am getting used to the life in London. I know my way to university by heart at this point. I am slowly discovering everything the local science library has to offer. There, you can see people buried in their textbooks and medicine students constantly getting annoyed at anyone who makes any sound. I am slowly becoming familiar with the online system Moodle, where we have all the information about our course, all deadlines, some e-tutorials, it is simply like an online university. Everything is slowly becoming a routine and I’m trying to balance school, life and sport. I one week I will be competing in my first ballroom dance competition in Leicester, but more about that later…

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