Alright Alight Alright!
The time has come finally to say good bye to this incredible journey. This is my last blog from Birmingham. It is my last day in University of Birmingham. I leave for Paris tonight with a friend. I was able to acquire a visa in the past few weeks. It was an incredibly tough process for me being a student. I would refrain from writing about it here as this post is about the friends I made here and what I learned and gained as an exchange student in this past semester. But I am very happy as I will get to see Europe now.
Although I have made loads of friends during this semester, but it would be impossible to write about all of them but I’ll just mention a few with whom I spent most of the time and made unforgettable memories. I was not sure how much would this speed friending event which was in January (I mentioned about it in one of my previous posts) would actually work, because I thought that the people I’ll be meeting wouldn’t actually become friends as we won’t know anything about each other in that small amount of time. I was totally wrong most of my friends were with me till the end and we had loads of fun.
One such friend is Rebekah from London. I have gained so much knowledge about British culture from her that if she wasn’t my friend I would probably be stuck on how to reply to the “Are you alright?”, British way of asking how are you? Or how to make the tea in a typical British way or how to stand in a que in a British manner. Well British culture goes far beyond this, these are just metaphors. Also she is a person with versatile interests, meaning she used to go to different types of events around the campus like Salsa society or the pizza making at the Italian society. Thanks to her and other friends who had versatile interests I was able to attend different types of events on campus. The most fun part of being friends with her was that whenever I remembered or read about any historical event or person from British history (I felt I should know a bit more of British history since I was living there), I used to give her a nickname like Winston Churchill (she was strict and bossy sometimes) or Alan Turing the famous mathematician (I wouldn’t bet on her mathematical skills) or cocoa over cocoa beans, for her love for chocolate. Although she wouldn’t agree on the reasoning behind any of these nicknames, especially cocoa as cocoa beans or cocoa powder is bitter. I admire her passion for the languages – Spanish and Italian, she is learning, being a linguistics student. It would be hard to recognize her nationality in a few years whether she is British, Spanish or Italian, the way she is picking up the languages.
Another friend I met in the speed friending event is Babis from Greece. We visited London and explored different food places, clubs and bars together in Birmingham. Working hard in his internship as an exchange intern he has received an offer to do Phd from University of Birmingham. I am a bit jealous on this part though as he would get to come back to Birmingham and probably meet some of our common friends. I saw my first professional football (soccer) match with him and Thomas a friend and another exchange student from Spain.
Here are pictures with Maxime from France. We have had so much fun in the social events and parties. We had interesting discussions over various topics ranging from food and culture to Brexit. I’ll always remember the awesome I had with him and Elisa in Scotland!
I had never met anyone from Australia before but it is the magic of the Exchange program, I have a friend named Ulla from Australia now. We met in Global Café, a social event on campus. A common friend introduced us. We found that we had common interests in Badminton. We gathered a few friends interested in Badminton and played in the university gym. I wish we had more time I would have helped her to improve her game and that would mean right from serving the birdie, haha. But had lots of fun with her during the semester!
As I had mentioned in my previous post that I would try to gather my friends and go for a proper dinner. Well here it is, the final dinner with Maxime, Vanessa (from Peru), Rebekah, Yuzuko (from Japan) and Rounan (from China). We decided to go for a British restaurant to enjoy proper British food one last time, share our experiences of this semester and have a good time. There were more people willing to join us but they were not free or had their exams going on. Six friends from six different countries culture enjoying another country’s cuisine with unforgettable memories made, that’s the biggest advantage of being an exchange student I can think of.
I think what I learned from being a part of exchange program is that I could have come to U.K. as a tourist and explored this country and gone back as a tourist but being an exchange student I met so many other students and made friends from different parts of the world and at the end it became all about the people. I think if I would have met all these people somewhere else it would have been the same. We would have still enjoyed it the same way we did now. Exploring a country with friends made as an exchange student is all together a different experience than being a tourist.
I also got to interact with more locals and experienced the culture very closely. I understood the study pattern of U.K., by being a part of University of Birmingham. By study pattern I mean how do students study in universities or colleges in U.K., how they get selected to study in a university and how they select their subjects they want to study. Also interacting with students on the brink of graduation, I tried to gain an insight on the job scenario in U.K.
It was truly an unforgettable once in a lifetime experience. I would like to thank all of my friends at Iowa State University for supporting my decision to be a part of exchange program and encouraging me to actually go and do it; my family in Manchester especially aunt Susheila and uncle Robert for being a huge support. Last but the biggest thanks goes to my mum without whom even the idea of participating in the exchange program was not possible to think of!
Until next time, probably from somewhere in Europe!