Aparna Jain, MA Transnational Studies, University College London
It was on a Saturday evening that I landed at the Heathrow airport from Trivandrum. Tired from the jetlag, my first thoughts were about quickly checking into the hotel which I had booked in advance. Seeing an elderly Sardarji – and feeling nearer home -I hired his taxi, little realizing that I had already been fleeced for the taxi fare. It dawned on me then that London was no different from India. When I reached the hotel there was no help to move the luggage to my room. And on seeing the room which was one fourth the size from what was shown in the online ad, I wondered whether this was going to be the treatment that would be meted out to me in London. Thus my first impression of London was rather disappointing.
Next morning, I set out looking for a room to rent which would be within my budget. It had to be a good room since I was here for a one-year course. I spent two days looking for a suitable accommodation. Finally, to my good luck, I found a nice and cute reasonably priced room which had a window overlooking a patch of London greenery. The room instantly raised my low spirits. But for a few days my spirits kept bobbing up and down in the unfamiliar environment of London. But as the days went by and as I started travelling in the Tube, attending classes in my college thus taking in the London sights, I was getting used to the new London routine which engendered positive thoughts about my days ahead in London. And as the classes got along and the first assignment was submitted to the Professor, I was surprised at myself that I was already thinking about the possibility of finding a job and staying in London after the course.
I realized that London makes one optimistic about life at least for now. The thought gives me a high and an impetus to be adventurous. However, one negative aspect is that, it is not easy to find good friends and one has to get through life as a loner. These are my initial thoughts, but it is possible that I might make some friends in the coming months. I have come here to do a course of my choice, and I must admit that my Professors in the college are the best I have come across so far – friendly, unassuming and accessible, unlike most of them in our country. So there is no desire to stay back and sulk in the room. And unlike our colleges back in India, here there is enough time at one’s disposal to study and do serious work on one’s assignments and also to find time for entertainment.
Though alone in London, the adventure bug has bitten me and I find myself at various locales in London savouring new sights every week. Christmas is here, but as far as Christmas merry making goes, it is only for the Native Londoners – who can enjoy at home – and not for students, what with shops closed and transport stalled. Nevertheless Christmas and New Year always instill hope and enthusiasm and I feel nice to be here at this time of the year. If I am asked what my New Year wish would be, I would say – to get a good friend, and also the successful completion of my course. And if one asks me if I have a dream that has a slight chance of getting fulfilled, I would say – a comfortable job in London.