Studying Abroad: Living Away From Home

Written by: Billie Clark

When I left for Wales, it was my first time leaving the country.  It was my first time flying on such a large plane—and I’m not particularly fond of planes or heights—and I was doing it alone.  It was also my first time actually living away from home.  Living in student residence for the first time, and having to be totally self-sufficient, in a country I had never been to before… I’m going to tell you about some of the experiences and challenges I
had while living away from home, and in residence, for the first time.

The first challenge I faced was moving in.  I’m sure there are some strange
stories about moving into student residence out there, but I doubt there are
very many people you know that can claim to have brought all their luggage to
school on a plane, then moved into residence twice in two weeks.  Me, and the other students who attended a pre-sessional course at Swansea University in September of 2014 had this experience.  We lived in a residence on campus for a week, then had to move to an off-campus residence (still an official university residence and not just housing), and because of the different housing styles, I learned a lot about which sort of residence I
prefer, while also learning that two 50lb suitcases, a 25lb suitcase, and
several other bags and other sundries are a hassle to carry up and down roads,
stairs, and a hill.

The residence I spent most of my year in, housed ten students, including myself, had one large kitchen (which included two stove-tops, one oven, one freezer, and a fridge and a half), two showers, two toilets (without sinks), one bathtub, and was off campus.  I had to commute to campus, and town, by bus everyday (although it was only a 40-ish minute walk).  I am used to commuting for school, but I am not used to carrying my laundry up a hill to use a laundrette (the fancy British term for laundromat).  Nor was I used to grocery shopping for one person—the amount of food I wasted throughout the year is depressing. But as the year continued, I learned how to deal with these changes by making food that I could store, and buying more underwear.

The biggest change I faced while away was not seeing my family.  I’ve always lived
at home with my parents and brother, even during my first two years of university.  It wasn’t the first time I’d been away from home for a month, but it was the first time I was away for nine of them.  I didn’t go home for Christmas,
or Easter (the other long break), and I didn’t come back to Canada until July
of this year.  The only way I spoke to my family was Skype calls, emails, and the very occasional phone call (although I easily kept in touch with my friends).

Living away from home for the first time was a lot of things: scary, exciting, fun, but ultimately, it taught me a lot about myself and being a student.  Since
I have been home in Canada I have been happy to come back to my family,
friends, and my dad’s home cooking.  Stay tuned for my next post in the series where I continue to discuss my experience abroad.

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