I came to London to study fashion design in 2012. My first sight of London was exactly how I imagined; it was filled with cloudy skies and cold air – coming from a warmer climate this was unusual for me. I was extremely excited about the buildings; everything looked so different to how it is back home in China - even wild flowers were blooming a different looking petal here. To me London is the most inspirational city.
I remember the first thing that was completely new to me was the food. I was so used to the diet of rice and big portions of food for every meal that it was rather surprising that some friends around me only had a very little salad for their lunch at nearly two o’clock! In China we always have lunch around 12. The alcohol drinking culture was a surprise to me as well; going out to a bar in China is not considered the first choice for socialising and entertainment for students. But I soon learnt that it is part of their culture here in the UK and it’s just how they have fun sometimes.
Cakes here are absolutely amazing!!! There are just so dense and sweet! In china it will just be very fluffy and not enough sugar. Maybe it is a good thing to not have too much sugar but I just love it and I always want more. The first year in London was all about cakes, muffins and chocolates… luckily I didn’t gain weight!
Sometimes I felt like a child trying to understand and explore everything around me. But after the initial culture shocks, I’ve grown use to the city’s customs and culture, but London still surprises me every now and then. Museums and galleries are everywhere; you could find one next to the other within walking distance and they are so beautiful. I enjoy how much there is to do in this city. There is always something going on somewhere in London, I actually wish I could triple the amount of hours in a day and see everything.
I’m an international student who just turned 18 when I moved here; living in London alone was scary, 9611 kilometres away from home but I found so many others my own age. You will realise that you truly depend on yourself but it’s nice having others to share the experience with. The language barrier was stopping me from socialising with people to start with, I was not just facing the difficulty of speaking a foreign language but also the problem of how to interact with others in a city that allows me to meet such a large amount of people from all backgrounds; It was overwhelming to me at the time, but now I absolutely love it.
To most of you who are international students currently living in London or considering coming to London for studying or already studying here, all of these things may have been your experience or the experience you are going to have. When I look back now all the problems and worries have faded away. This is the reason why London is so great; it makes you grow into this better person.
By Danwei Guan (former Social Programme Rep and Glassyard Building resident)