Coming from a big city like London, adjusting to Lancaster was definitely a challenge. Being from London, it’s easy to think everywhere else in the United Kingdom is just like London, but this is not at all the case. A word a lot of people associate with London is diversity. Around 300 different languages are spoken in London and there are at least 14 different faiths practised there. Lancaster is not quite like London, although the university itself is quite diverse with almost 3000 international students.
London being the capital of England and the United Kingdom, it is expected that it would have certain features that other cities in the UK don’t. Apart from the obvious differences between London and Lancaster (population size etc.) there are subtle things I find myself noticing. Small things like the different transport system, for example all the main roads through Central Lancaster are one way. In London public transport is operated by Transport for London (TFL) and uses the oyster system. However in Lancaster the cash system is still being used on buses, but there definitely is easy access to cash machines on campus with various ATM machines around Alexandra Square.
However, there are also good points to living in Lancaster, one being the beautiful scenery. For instance, living in Furness college I am able to enjoy amazing views and take great snapchat pictures through my window of the sunset and sunrise. In first year, around freshers week I had the opportunity to go on a trip to the world-famous Lake District National Park. Part of the trip was a boat ride on the actual lake, I really enjoyed this trip because it was a great way to bond more with my flatmates and discover the beauty of Nature from the boat. Unlike London, Lancaster provides the opportunity to enjoy the magnificence of the countryside.
I think most people form friendship groups with people they gel with during fresher’s week, their flatmates in first year or people on their course. Once these friendship groups are formed, they basically stick together for the remaining duration of their degrees.
One of the common things people say about university is that you will make lifelong friends and make useful connections for your future career. However, at university people are still developing and finding out who they are so are. Also, most people only do a 3 year degree and 3 years go by so quickly, especially because it’s 3 academic years rather than 3 actual years.
I have met a lot of interesting people, studying a variety of degrees. I was surprised to find so many people from London as well, but I have also met people from all over the world which has been very educational for me. I met most of my friends through my course and joining societies like the African Caribbean society and the Pentecostal Gospel Choir.
In first year my flatmates and I would usual gather in the communal kitchen and use this time to learn about each others cultures and backgrounds. I really appreciated that everyone I came across were very welcoming, especially the Freshers Representatives that we were had who were very helpful. Each flat were assigned student representatives, (who were usually 2nd year students) to help freshers settle in well.
There are so many events happening all over campus. Make the most of these even if it means going by yourself. A good way to improve your social life at university is by joining societies. Joining clubs and societies will give you lots of chances to meet other like-minded people, make friends and have fun. Social media is also a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on, for instance, Facebook is still used to invite people to events.
Last but not least, as simple as it may sound, just talk to people. Get to know your flatmates, people in your lectures, tutorials, seminars etc. because you never know what you could have in common. You could be in the same tutorial as someone and not know anything about them, this is why I like it when we have group or pair work during tutorials.
The simple fact that you study the same degree or study at the same university already creates so many things for you to talk about. I recently had an enlightening conversation with an international student in one of my tutorials, I learnt that we both share similar views and opinions on our modules. Also, these people can be very useful in terms of if you need help with assignments or revision.