By Divyasree Harikrishnan (University of Queensland, Australia)
Coming into Manchester for the first time, a lot of things were foreign. The streets, the double-decker buses, the weather and the sense of being a complete stranger in a new place, halfway across the world from home.
I started off doing what needed to be done to settle in well here. I got some winter jackets, my bus pass, and after walking around the cobbled streets of this town, I also got a better sense of direction (with the help of Google Maps, of course).
I came here with my dad and we spent a week sorting out errands, making a day trip to Liverpool and watching out for trams. When he left, it sunk in: I was going to be on my own for the next few months. I spent several nights in my room, making peace with the newfound independence. Then, classes started and guess what? The hustle and bustle of university life took hold. I was going to classes, doing readings, joining clubs, and meeting new people.
I got busy really quick, but not in a bad way. In a way that makes me feel like I am here for a reason, and that is to be a student at the University of Manchester, and to have fun. I met various other exchange students from around the world, as well as got in touch with a couple of girls from my home university, and as I write this, the three of us will be making a trip to Rome in a week. I joined the International Society too and have gone on a couple of day trips, one to North Wales and another to Stratford-Upon-Avon.
I still find myself counting down to when I can be home again, but on other days, I wish I never have to go home. I think being an exchange student is that duality. When asked if I miss home, or if I am having so much fun that I have forgotten about home, I simply reply neither, or both. I may miss home, but I am in Manchester making a new one, even if for a semester.
Being out of home for the first time in my life, too, was a daunting feeling. I did not trust myself enough to ‘survive’ being on my own. However, I think I have adapted quite well. I am obviously still learning and I doubt I will ever stop learning from my experiences here. It has after all, only been a month. Being on exchange has been a dream come true so far, and it is wilder, more spontaneous, more rewarding and more unpredictable than you could ever imagine, and it is ALL worth it!
I am only speaking after my first month here, of course, but I am an optimist. And I doubt the wonder will ever stop. I look forward to going to more places, meeting new people, gaining new memories and having much more fun (and, doing well in assignments) during the rest of my time here.
Till next time!