Moving to a new city to study can be an amazing yet nerve-wracking experience. But moving to a new country? That is another level entirely. Having done both of these things, I feel qualified to speak about what it’s like.
I am an Indian who came to do his post-graduation here at Newcastle. I spent most of my previous twenty-three years of existence in India. This was not, like I implied earlier, the first time I was leaving home. I did my undergraduate studies away from my home city. It was difficult at first but I adjusted fairly quickly, mostly because of the new friends that I made there but also because no matter what, I was still in India. Moving to the UK was different. There is no question that I was excited when I got the offer from Newcastle. But as the days went on, the prospect of changing country hit me. I always knew this at the back of my mind but I was becoming aware of the fact that this was not going to be like moving to a city six hours away from home.
Life here actually turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. I will admit, it was not easy the first one or two days but things got a lot smoother once the initial jitters were out of the way. I think part of it was that I met other people just like me – who’d moved here from their own country – which made me realise that whatever nonsense I was going through, they were also going through it themselves. And even most British students have been incredibly welcoming and understanding.
I’ve noticed a few things that are wildly different from university in India. There’s the usual stuff like roads being cleaner, the weather being cooler and so on. But there are also other smaller difference I’ve picked up. For instance, the Students’ Union is a big deal. In India, I was part of a Students’ Committee during my undergraduate days but we barely had any power. Seeing an SU that is powerful, independent and that has a big red brick building of its own? That was amazing to me. Beyond just studying, the scale of the university is beyond what I could have imagined. Then there’s the city beyond the university. I’ve not been out much into the city, mostly because I am more the sit-in-my-room-and-watch-a-rerun-of-Friends-type person, but the few times that I did go out, the nightlife here was very different from that of India. I’m not saying one was better than the other but it was nice to experience the coming back at 3am sloshed as all hell. I did find a part of town that had a very South Asian vibe to it and I like going there every now and then when I’m missing home.
There are other things that I do sometimes struggle with. The self-checkout at Sainsbury’s was my first real experience of a practical difficulty. I haven’t seen one of those in India! It bewildered me for so long that I eventually I just gave up on it and went to bill it manually. Of course, I did figure it out after a few tries the next visit and now use it like a seasoned self-check out veteran. I‘ve struggled a little bit with the Geordie accent too, despite me having listened to millions of interviews on television with Newcastle United players. All in all, living in England for the last six weeks has been a blast the last few weeks and hopefully, it’ll continue to be that way for the remainder of my time here.