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A Student Abroad

Hello Royal Holloway, my goodness, how are you?  I’ve missed you; all you new Freshers, with your cheery faces and upbeat attitude; all you Second and Third years dreading the studying and the new viruses those meddling new kids will bring. However, unfortunately my post on the Crosslands benches will have to be filled by someone else, RHUL have kicked me off to pastures new. I am now an Erasmus student, floating off to Cordoba in Spain, then to Paris and then, frankly, to I have absolutely no idea where.

That’s no exaggeration, I honestly don’t. I didn’t plan meticulously. I fanned it off, bragging “Yeah, I’m totally on it guys. Calm down. Now, how much wine is important in Risotto? Best drink half…” and so on. By the time it came to choosing which university to go to, I was left with little choice besides “who will accept me? It’s now August, and I’m going in a month”. We had to re-arrange our family holiday so I could swing by good ol’Egham and berate the International office, flailing photocopies of outdated forms, stained with my tears, and ripped passport photos. I booked into a hotel in Argentina because I forgot that there might be more than one place called Cordoba in the entire Hispanic speaking world. I bought my dictionary at the airport because I forgot to pack mine.

This is not really a method that I would recommend to other students. I spent three days wandering the small Spanish streets, ripping any phone number for an available flat straight off the walls, and mourning the lack of tea and seemingly random opening hours. I was quite bereft, that is until I found an Irish pub and spent six hours drinking Guinness and struggling to chat with the barman.

This “luck of the Irish” turned out to be the greatest tactic imaginable. The six hours in the pub got my Spanish to the point where I could- and after all that Guinness certainly would- talk to anyone. The seventy eight flat numbers I collected became bargaining chips for every lost student I found, I struck a deal, the flat number for their friendship, an unorthodox but cunning tactic.

Human beings are incredible creatures of necessity; we’ll always seem to find a way to plod along. A week ago I had resorted to pointing to places on the map because my Spanish was so hopeless. Last night, however, I was selling a room in my new flat to both a German guy and a French girl, whilst clutching two litre bottles of cheap beer and proving that white camp guys from middle class England can actually do the Single Ladies dance just as well as Beyoncé- (my speciality is the hip- grinding lowering to the floor, it’s one of the most important things you can learn at the SU).

So, Freshers, I urge you to not worry too much about anything. Just like me you’ll find your own way, naturally. It’s in your blood. And if you look back, you might just realise that you’re having the time of your life.

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