My dad has always had a travelling job and has been to various cities in and outside India. I used to get very excited for him to come back. This was not only because I loved him, but also because I couldn’t wait to hear about his experience. He always had something new to tell and the amazing storyteller he is, it used to amuse me. This is probably when I decided that I wanted to go abroad. At that time, I didn’t know how or when, but I knew I wanted to. As I grew up, we went on vacations to various countries and all I could think about was spending the rest of my life there. One of the ways to live abroad was to go and study there. So, my parents encouraged me to work hard towards it and look, here I am, more than 7,000 kilometers away from home. The thought of living alone makes you feel empowered and independent but actually coming this far by yourself, on land where you know no soul is intimidating, yet exciting.
St. Anselm Hall, a 115 year old accommodation with rich history and amazing architecture had me sold. In my first year at the university, I wanted to get an experience of living in a traditional hall and Slems was it. I like how the vibe of the hallways and the common spaces change the moment it turns dark. The traditions it has kept going on for years and the amazing work the JCR has been doing.
The night I arrived at Slems, I was very tired and barely paid attention to where my room was hence for the next few days, I did not step out of my room alone in the fear that I might not find my way back. Now it seems a little silly but at that time it was pretty legit. The next morning, I texted my neighbors and asked them to show me around. By the end of the day, I had three friends and that was an accomplishment. The formal dinners we had during the week gave me an opportunity to introduce myself to new people every day. Listening to how everyone’s day was and what their plans for the week were felt homely. During the exam season when the Slems library was everyone’s refuge, I remember studying for longer hours as others were there too. Was this group polarization? Maybe, but it felt like I wasn’t alone and that is what’s needed sometimes. That little push.
I also loved all the time I spent talking and listening to music with everyone instead of studying. It did put a lot of work on me later but the memories I have of those times are worth it. The political conversations in the JCR, the society and its need for power and money conversations in the library, or the chill conversations about life in the corridors were all worth it. The nights I stayed up talking or the ones that I slept through peacefully knowing I had someone beside me, the time I learned how to play table tennis or the movies nights I had in the Han Jordon room. From learning how to play video games to spending an entire vacation competing with the best hoping I could win at least once. The small meetings in the kitchen while cooking and dressing up to have photoshoots during the events. Together at the Slems Cellar bar how I sang and danced on top of the tables knowing everyone has assignments due the next day but for those 3 hours everyone looked so free and happy.
Living in St. Anselm Hall was probably one of the best decisions I made because throughout the year I met so many amazing people coming from all over the world. After having talked to them, I learned about their journeys, their struggles, and their opinions about various things. I love how everyone coexists and no matter what is happening in the world, we do not let that interfere with our personal relationships. Slems is a place that nurtures these newly formed bonds and helps understand each other better. As I spend time in my room, I tried to understand myself better. And adulting itself comes with learning every day whether it is about money management, cooking, cleaning, gaining more academic knowledge, or finding out fun facts. After coming to the UK, I am more open to listening to other’s point of views and taking time before making my mind and siding on topics. Having discussions involving people from so many different backgrounds has widened my horizon. The memories that I have made in this past year are something I am going to cherish for the rest of my life and am going to miss. I didn’t expect but I did find people whom now I call home. Being away from home is hard, but having good people around definitely makes it easier. At the end of the day when you’re tired and all you want to be is relaxed, coming back to a place where you have friends to hang out with, and a comfortable space to lounge in feels peaceful. I feel lucky to have found that at St. Anselm Hall.