Maya Angelou made a profound remark: “In diversity, there is great beauty and there is great strength.” I hope to, with my offerings, stir a thought, bring some change, and most importantly, share my experiences of being an international student for everyone arriving here from beautiful, varied parts of the world.
1. Avail of the Heathrow meet and greet: Well – here you are. You’ve chosen the University of Plymouth as a firm choice, procured a visa, scurried with last minute packing and finally, reached the country. I understand the journey can be excruciating and tiresome, what with layovers for connecting flights, incomplete sleep and the grind. The University, considerate of all such woes that are a part of the package, allows for you to pre-book a free service to safely reach Plymouth. At Heathrow, when you find a burst of clustered bright blue shirts of student ambassadors from the University, you know you’re in safe hands. They lead you to the coach and what follows is a picturesque journey.
2. Be comfortable with who you are: As an international student, I am aware of certain stereotypes that may be linked with you. It is vital that you understand this is a process of settling in; and as long as you are at ease with who you are within, the without takes care of itself eventually. You do not have to try hard to fit in – celebrate your differences. Those that you share a rapport with, eventually become your friends. That told – never underestimate the power of a smile, or saying ‘Hi’.
3. Contact the ISA for any concerns: Located on the ground floor in the Roland Levinsky building, the International Student Advice must be the first point of contact for any issue plaguing you. They might be a little busy during the initial weeks, and you may have to wait – but their years of experience and award winning services are significant and noteworthy.
4. Rejoice in your independence, responsibly: As a postgraduate student, a shift to another country is a major decision – there are struggles and expectations involved. In such a context, be aware of what is essential to spend on and what borders on luxury. There is a thin line between the two that you must be mindful of.
5. Take a tour of budget stores: There are budget-friendly options for students in stores like Tesco, Wilko and Sainsbury’s, all at a walking distance from the University. It would be a good idea, at this point, to navigate your way around a little during the day – wander and explore. While at Drake Circus, you could always head straight to the Hoe (an Anglo-Saxon word) and enjoy the blue waters, that I hope inspires much of my writing this year.
6. Stay in touch with close friends: Do not neglect your old friends. Often, not only can they be an anchor to lift your spirits, but they will also be glad to hear your experiences of a new place. I celebrated my birthday this September in Plymouth, received some heartening gifts from writer friends in the country and overseas. It wouldn’t have been the same without their affection.
As I nudge my journey that was — from a young girl in her late teenage years, listening intently to Ode to the West Wind in my first Literature class I accidentally attended, and changing my subject from Political Science to Literature subsequently; I have traversed a great deal. Thanks to the University for bestowing upon me the GREAT scholarship meant for students from India, and their eclecticism, I am here now.
Stay tuned in,