The basics
THE UK: Once you arrive

New student in an awesome city – My first day in Bristol

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Meet our new student blogger Stessy as she writes about her first day in the UK as a Law and French student at the University of Bristol. Find out about the moment she first entered her new bedroom, how she fixed her internet and how she coped on her first night away from her family....


'Coming to Bristol for the first time was mind-blowing. It was SO different from all the ‘first-days’ I had ever heard of. No time for nostalgia. No space for tears. As soon as I left Heathrow and reached Bristol, I was on the go the WHOLE day… for an unforgettable day!


Bristol is not a hectic busy-fuzzy London, but you’d still think it daunting on the first day, right? Well, that’s not true. When I first got to Bristol (or ‘Brizzle’ as we call it here), I was amazed at how easy it was to get around. There were groups of second year international students scattered across the city, ready to welcome the newbies. They were so understanding, friendly and smiling all the while, and this reassured me. I wasn’t being thrust into an unknown city to fend for myself. The university had its own "Welcome scheme" to ensure that new students like me were guided and shown the way.


Upon reaching the halls of residence, I had to unpack ASAP to make sure I had the basic stuff at hand. Believe it or not but it took me only around thirty minutes to throw my clothes in the wardrobe and to sort out my ‘everything else’. Obviously, there was no time for crying over the life I had left behind. Besides, I was too charmed by my room to give in to wishy washy depression. Yes! Finally, I was in the so long revered student room – can you imagine? THE student room! Small, but big enough to hold what would be my universe for a whole year.


Afterwards, I had to connect to the internet to let my parents know I had reached Bristol in a single piece (God bless Skype!). I remember I had a hard time to set my connection though, but I was lucky; my flatmates were to the rescue, with the solemn mission of setting my internet network. When I think about it now, it’s incredible; we were all strangers to each other, all foreigners to the place, yet none hesitated to help. The idea of living with complete strangers was frightening to me at first, considering I had never left my home country before. Yet, on my first day in Bristol, I realized how easy it was to make friends, and to have a good laugh with people you’re meeting for the first time. You just have to let go of your fears, and open up to others, even if it means you have to take the first step; because in the end, we have nobody else and believe me, in a moment like this, these “strangers” are your only support.


Hence, after being more or less settled and unpacked, my flatties and I went out for lunch. The little tour before finding a nice restaurant allowed me to see how charming a city Bristol was. It’s somewhere between the bubbling posh city and the calm bracing countryside. Really, this combination delighted me! There was some sort of engaging buzz animating the streets as other new students continued to find their way into the city.


We later left the streets, pubs, cafes and shops to get back to the University Hall to chill before we were all summoned to the reception room. Soon, that moment came and all the Hall freshers ['freshers' is a term for first year students] gathered for dinner. Just imagine, a huge room filled with 300 people (crowded indeed!). We met, exchanged names….and forgot them seconds later. Stayed up late, played games…it was AMAZING. And more so, this was only the start of an unforgettable freshers’ fortnight.


In the end, my first day in Bristol wasn’t that bad … joking - it was actually one of the most fulfilling days so far. Fulfilling, because it was the start of a new beginning. It was some sort of enlightening - revelation day (no spirituality pun); I knew and felt that NOTHING would ever be the same after that day, and only now do I fully understand how significant an introduction this was to the story of my new life in Bristol. Of course, everything wasn’t all sunshine. There had been the sadness prior to the departure and the typical sobbing-weeping family scene at the airport (as if I was going to die and that they’d never see me again). But to be honest, the hardest part when it comes to going to study abroad is that very departure itself, that physical detachment from your people; but once you’ve reached your destination, there is so much to see, so much to do, so much to learn and to talk about that you have no time for homesickness.


Most students going abroad are only afraid of the massive change in their life. But you shouldn’t be afraid of change. A new beginning is an opportunity to improve, to meet new people and to go new places. You make friends, you find your place in life and in the end, you grow up – you simply become better at being yourself.


Wherever you choose to go, may you enjoy your first day as much as I have enjoyed mine.


Good luck!'


If you enjoyed Stessy's first entry, see what our other University of Bristol blogger, Emilia has written too.

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