Freshers Week in the UK occurs at the beginning of the first university semester; it can be best described as an introduction week before students’ lectures begin. It’s a great opportunity to join the university’s student clubs and societies and meet new people – even if it is in the most unexpected of ways…
I moved to London two weeks earlier than the rest of the students. I wanted to explore the city and understand my whereabouts whilst I settled in. As other students moved into halls, I was beyond excited to meet them and ask where they were from. As a graduate student, I did not sign up for any fresher events, however, I did sign up for events for international graduate students.
The first event was the International Student Boat Party. I met a few other fellow grad students at Enrolment Day who had encouraged me to buy a ticket to the event. I was exploring the city with a flatmate overran and I ended up rushing to the tube, underestimating the time it would take to get to the pier, Canary Wharf. As I exited the underground station, I began walking towards large boats and yachts where I assumed the Queen Mary boat would be. I ended up getting completely lost and the GPS on my phone was telling me unclear directions. As I began to run towards the pier after asking a stranger for directions, I saw the boat and some familiar faces aboard. Running in a semi-formal outfit was embarrassing in itself, but as I approached the boat, the woman told me it was too late to go aboard. I watched the boat depart from the dock and take off on the beautiful water of the River Thames. Less than minutes later, two other students were running in a panic towards the boat trying to make the party on time. All three of us were dressed up and so excited to attend a boat party with our fellow classmates. As we introduced ourselves and shared our sadness for not making it on time, we decided to create our own special night!
We took the tube to King’s Cross and went to dinner at Pizza Express, a pizza restaurant chain that can be found in London, and across the UK. My saddened state of losing 20 quid from the cost of the ticket and missing out on a boat party was soon resolved after meeting two new friends. The students were studying law and both were from different regions of India. We joked about creating our own international party with pizza and chocolate – much better than an overly priced party!
That night, I learned that things would not always go as planned during my UK study adventure. As an international student, I am continuously figuring things out as they happen; getting lost will likely happen again. Yes, I was disappointed I missed a party with my week-old friends, but more importantly, I unexpectedly made two new friends. I probably wouldn’t have met them if it weren’t for the situation. We ended up exchanging numbers and attended a Postgraduate Quiz night at Queen Mary’s Student Union together!
The rest of my Freshers Week consisted of exploring London with flatmates, talkative dinners, and sharing funny stories from home. In one week I made amazing friends who I plan to go on many adventures with. I’ve learnt that learning to turn situations that didn’t go to plan into positive ones is a necessary perspective to have while abroad. In my mind, I did not miss a boat party but instead had a spontaneous dinner with two new friends from across the world. Bring on the rest of the year!