It's not just accommodation... it's an experience!

Posted 1 month ago

It opens the door to a world of adventure

*This article was written by Soham, a first-year student at LCC living in Portland House*

The experience will always trump any expectations one has of starting this new phase in a student’s life.

The prospect of living in a foreign land, surrounded by unfamiliar faces and cultures, can be daunting, yet it opens the door to a world of adventure and endless possibilities.

I find myself in Portland House, located next to the vibrant Camberwell College of Arts in London. Arriving almost a week and a half before my course began provided me with ample time to acclimatise, explore, and savour the wealth of experiences this city has to offer. 

After a month of calling this place home, my journey has been nothing short of a whirlwind, filled with emotions, laughter, and the delightful quirks of my new home away from home.

a bench in front of a brick building

Touching down at Heathrow, I was wide-eyed and eagerly awaiting the London experience. The university accommodation was my first taste of British student life. 

The typical British weather welcomed me with a classic drizzle as I walked towards my hall. The situation of what to do next baffled me, but I am certainly glad to have met such kind fellow residents who went out of their way to assist me. They helped me with my luggage, guided me through the registration process, and even helped me locate my room in this labyrinthine complex.

The warmth and friendliness of both students and staff provided a reassuring sense of comfort. The initial days were filled with exploration, as I ventured to uncover the many amenities provided for students in this accommodation and socialised with my peers. 

In retrospect, the time has flown by quicker than the tubes that London is so famous for. Thus, even at times when there is nothing to do, it's always a good option to get ready and explore the abundance of galleries, local parks, libraries, and pubs. The Camberwell and Peckham areas will never disappoint when it comes to their rich culture and eventful activities.

Portland House, an 18th-century complex, encompasses four elegant buildings. Its historic exterior beautifully contrasts with well-furnished and well-maintained interiors that offer comfortable and inviting spaces for living, cooking, and socializing. 

My roommate and I share the accommodation with a communal kitchen that is the epicentre of our daily lives. As diverse as the United Nations, our flatmates hail from all corners of the globe. We've created a unique culinary blend with Indian spices, British chips, Japanese noodles, and the occasional microwave mishap. 

The building also includes a laundry room and a common room with a foosball table and enough space for any event, party, or gathering you want to organize.

As an international student, the prospect of making friends can be daunting. However, London, with its melting pot of cultures, offers an inviting atmosphere where everyone is on the same journey of discovery. People are incredibly friendly and open to forming new connections. 

My advice to fellow newcomers is: Don't hesitate to strike up a conversation over a cup of coffee or while waiting for a lecture. I've had the pleasure of meeting friends from Beijing, Argentina, and even a local Londoner who introduced me to the world of fish and chips. We've had quite a few chuckles over our cultural differences.

The initial weeks were a whirlwind of events, thanks to the Halls Life programme, which served as a hub for socialising and embracing new experiences. 

We were fortunate that the Peckham Design Festival also coincided with our arrival. This event took us on a journey through local art galleries, pop-up stores, and food trucks, filling the air with vibrant live music and infusing the atmosphere with energy.

While living in London may not be all about tea and crumpets (although there have certainly been plenty of those), it has been an awakening experience in terms of living independently. Managing finances, organising personal belongings, and taking charge of day-to-day chores are responsibilities that one often takes for granted when living with parents. 

However, as the weeks have passed, these tasks have become second nature and part of a routine that affords me the time and freedom to study, socialise, and relish in the city's cultural tapestry.

Here are some tips that have greatly aided me in this endeavour:

  • Declutter 🙅‍♀️: University accommodation is often compact, so if you haven't used an item in several months, it might be time to consider whether you need it.
  • Budgeting 💷: Maintain a clear budget, accounting for expenses like transportation, food, and personal spending. This will help you stay on top of your finances.
  • Student Discounts 💸: Take full advantage of student discounts and offers, which are prevalent in many aspects of life in London, from transportation to restaurants and entertainment.

Beyond the humour and anecdotes, this journey has been a profound learning experience. Living in an international community has broadened my horizons, taught me to adapt to various customs, and provided insights into different perspectives. It's truly a beautiful realisation that, despite our diverse backgrounds, we all share common aspirations and dreams.

As I bring my first month in London to a close, I can't help but feel grateful for this remarkable opportunity. It's been a month filled with culinary experiments, travel misadventures, and friendships that span the globe. 

The sense of community within my university accommodation, the support of my flatmates, and the enthusiasm for life in London have made this journey unforgettable. 

From the warmth of my cosy flat in London, I raise a cup of "proper tea" for the next three years of my undergraduate life, embracing the unexpected and savouring the delightful humour of my international journey. Here's to more adventures, more laughter, and more cultural exchanges in the days to come.