By Kenny Gonzalez
LIFE in London can be described as hectic at best. With a population of over seven million and everyone in a hurry to get somewhere, a laid back 21-year old Aussie student was definitely in for the shock of his life.
Being a born and bred Melbournian and a frequent visitor to Tullamarine airports international arrival terminal, I can tell you that waiting in queue and having your bag searched is the norm. So when I touched down into Heathrow on an early Sunday morning you can perhaps agree with me that being able to waltz right out without going through customs was quite a shock. Perhaps their security is so advanced that they don’t need to screen everyone or this was just my first taste of London, get you in and get you out.
After the enormous 23-hour plus flight and a week of getting over my jetlag (one disadvantage of coming from the land Down Under) it was time to buckle down and study, the sole reason for me embarking on this journey.
After a few weeks of settling in and getting to know the students, I experienced my second major shock. Here in London, university life for a young Pom is very different compared to an Aussie. In Melbourne, it was quite normal for many university students to be studying whilst living at home and the only exception was if you came from another state or from the bush. Here in London, students come from all over the United Kingdom to start life on their own in student halls or in house/flat shares, a concept relatively unknown to me.
They almost force students to fend for themselves, which can be difficult living in a city where the cost of living is high and the wage for a student can be very low. The advantage is that it makes the student more responsible and independent, the disadvantage that it places extra stress on the student. So for that I feel for all my fellow students in the motherland. Fortunately for me I am only here to complete my final semester on an international student exchange program. However, the student life is not too dissimilar from back home as the struggles I think are universal to students everywhere.
Student life is not as glamorous as full-time workers make it out to seem. Yes, we don’t have to work the Monday to Friday 9-5 day, we only go in for a few days a week and for the lucky few this means a four-day weekend but… who am I kidding, student life is pretty grand but juggling work, school and a social life can be hard.
Now throw London into the mix and it made it all the more difficult for me. Living on my own for the very first time and embracing that freedom was fantastic. There was always somewhere new to explore, more friends to be made and a history lesson to be learnt. However this just meant that focusing on my studies is all the more difficult, but if I can prove to myself I can do this then bring it on world.
Studying in London has been wonderful so far and I know that I will feel sad when January comes and I must leave this country. However there is no substitute for home and luckily I will make it in time for Australia Day and the barbecue that goes along with it.