First days studying-abroad in the UK

Here you are, moving across the world to study creative writing. This change is a good change. Why? Because you’re travelling.

You’re opening the world up as if it’s a book with every page to learn from. You’re getting to know an entirely new continent; establishing a relationship—loving and accepting it as it is, and admiring its quirks that makes it different from others.

Comfort feels like a daily routine. Comfort feels like a warm bed. Comfort feels like a long hug. While, under another light, comfort can be dangerous: It’s a routine that limits our minds, growth, curiosity, and happiness. It’s a bed that you don’t want to leave in order to start your day. It’s a hug from a toxic person you choose to stay with.

I am living in the discomfort of many unknowns. I am learning how to live in a continent, country, or city, that I’ve never been to. I am making a new relationship with the world. I am experiencing life, I am experiencing new, I am experiencing discomfort, and I am learning to love it.

University of East Anglia, here I come.


In the bus from London Heathrow airport to Norwich, I passed by the old buildings and cobblestone streets. I was in history.

It hits me that people here are living their 2022 lives in England with pre-1900s surrounding them on every corner. More stories and life have lived and touched every section of this country than others. There’s years of history here, like a home that’s hard to leave when moving out.

young woman standing on road

I met my roommates Mark and Kerstin. Master’s student Mark is studying biochem research. He always refers to himself as a “grumpy old man” while being 2 years older than me. He’s lived in the UK all of his life so everything is normal for him.

Kerstin is a study-abroad student like me! I can tell I’ll get along with her since she’s studying arts as a third-year undergrad film student. She comes off as timid at first but you can tell she has one of the biggest hearts and loves to talk once she gets to know the people around her. She’s from Sweden but is excited to live somewhere totally new. We’re both abroad for a year to study but to prioritize travel and learn from nouns—people, places, and things.

man and woman in kitchen

Kerstin and Mark

I walk into town and around the campus alone. I feel excited, not nervous. Before I left everyone seemed to ask if I was nervous and every answer was the same: no, I didn’t have a single nerve.

Was it because I already did one of these moves when I moved to Victoria? Was it because I’m a traveller? Was it because I was craving change? I’m not sure, but I knew that I was going to make Norwich home because of the people I was going to meet.

I remember the excitement of not knowing anyone. All I knew was that strangers were going to become friends, and that would turn a foreign country into a home.

Canada sign

Bumping into my ex on the UK streets

The roommates go out to eat where Mark works at a pub called Wetherspoons. A local called it the McDonalds of all the pubs because it’s everywhere in the UK and dirt cheap. This where I had my first try at “chips” NOT “fries”.

fries

Maya, my friend who studies at UVIC, arrived on the international students’ move-in day. We hugged like crazy and it gave me a huge sense of comfort. She’s one of my closest friends in life, so it always feels like home when I’m around her.

We were introduced to other international students at UEA’s big international student meet ups. There were multiple happening every day of the first week. I felt almost overwhelmed with how many students came from all over the world—Sweden, Austria, Japan, Germany, Mexico, France, US, Australia, and more.

Students were studying a variety of everything, law, psychology, languages, literature, and sciences—it didn’t seem that there was a majority. The length of their UEA stay studying abroad was either for a semester, a year, or their full 3-year undergrad degree. I probably had introduced myself 80 times that week. It was easy to make friends because of the events and it felt like a core friend group was forming—I felt it.

Stay tuned for more!

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