A lot can change in two weeks: Xiaodan Ning, Shanghai University of Finance & Economics.

I have been in London for about two weeks now. My first time overseas, I came here with a mix of much anxiety and excitement.

I have to say that the first few days really disappointed me. My schoolmate and I spent a long time at border control, missing the last pick-up coach from Heathrow to Mile End campus. We traveled by underground, missing the stop we needed when changing lines. We struggled up and down stairs in the winding tube stations, with heavy luggage. When we finally got to our house, hunger and exhaustion had taken over any anxiety or excitement previously felt.

Being unfamiliar with the campus and various university communication channels, I felt overwhelmed by emails and messages. The sense of anxiety reached its peak after missing some induction and welcome activities and discovering that some texts for the modules I had chosen were too difficult for me to follow. Walking under an overcast sky, the smallest things became troublesome to me.

“Wait, wait, don’t be downhearted, cheer up!” I told myself.

As you can tell, living in a new and unfamiliar place may not be easy. There have been many moments where I’ve struggled to adapt quickly enough to someone’s accent and the speed with which they’ve spoken. But it’s important to see the good things in life between such challenges and enjoy them. Three men came to help me carry my heavy suitcase on the underground when we missed our stop. Our new Korean friends bought a box of ice cream to share with us. Food in London is really expensive, but we can try cooking various delicious meals ourselves. We don’t have student kitchens in China so this is new in a good way. And there are lots of cute squirrels in the park just beside the road to the supermarket……

This is the first Chinese New Year I’ve spent without my parents which is truly upsetting, especially as China is now under the cloud of the coronavirus outbreak. Our group of four (we’ve made two new Chinese friends here!) cooked dumplings and hot pot and watched the Chinese New Year Festival Gala to celebrate. And I volunteered in the Chinese New Year Parade in London’s Chinatown on the first day of this new year. Trying new things makes this Lunar New Year interesting and meaningful…maybe this should be my new mantra for studying abroad!

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