Mailbox Steph Barnes

Arriving in Leeds

Stephanie – Semester Exchange to Leeds Trinity University, UK

Semester 2, 2016

Arriving at Leeds Trinity was everything I thought it would be AND much more. My fellow ACU friend Amber and I, were welcomed by Leeds Trinity students at the airport and after spending a few weeks travelling countries where English wasn’t the first language it was lovely to hear my favourite accent (although don’t get me wrong, some of the English accents are really hard to understand too!). It was a beautiful day in England when we arrived, approximately around 25 I want to say, and everyone was sweating and complaining about how hot it was! But after travelling for 3.5 weeks around Europe, I was looking forward to unpacking, doing a load of washing (so mundane) and living in my own room for the next few months (I had definitely grown sick of listening to people snore in hostels). I had an amazing time visiting some beautiful cities but there’s nothing like settling down and I was definitely ready to do just that.

After a quick drive through the English countryside (I don’t think I will ever tire of how pretty it is), and dumping all our things in our apartments, Amber and I were given a quick tour throughout the campus and we met a lot of lovely staff members and students. After meeting everyone around the campus it became clear very quickly that everyone wanted us to have a great time and we definitely had a lot of support around us. I have had no stresses regarding anything yet because everyone has been supportive and friendly. I almost don’t know which person I should see if I do have any troubles because everyone seems helpful! We even had an international students day and it was awesome meeting students from all over the globe and sharing our own stories. Being someone who is quite shy I was a little worried about how I would go with socialising but once again, everyone was very friendly and being in the same boat definitely made conversation easy.

A few days later and the first year students arrived at the student accommodation across the campus. With a bit of a view of the car park and entrance I was happy to watch as car after car rocked up with students, parents and a whole lot of boxes. It was exactly as I had seen in all of the English and American movies and it actually made me laugh. Here I was, living out of one suitcase and one backpack, only just been to the local shops to buy everything I would need to cook, and in comparison was the first year students rocking up with literally their entire bedroom and more!!! I spent a lot of my time explaining to my roommates over the next few days that student accommodation wasn’t a big thing in Australia. It was strange to me that some of my roommates only lived about 30 minutes away, yet they had moved to the student accommodation to live in order to be closer to university. I was actually asked if I had brought my own TV for the living room too which I thought was very funny.

The actual campus of Leeds Trinity was so different to what I’m use to back home at ACU too. It was set on a larger block of land with a few sports fields and a lot of student accommodation, however with only 3000 students there wasn’t actually that many classrooms or lecture theatres. The layout reminded me very much of an Australian primary school or high school, with many corridors that led off one another. Another surprise came with the on-campus bar, something I am also not very used to. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the bar or “the lounge” is only 20 metres from my accommodation block and although I have yet to join in on any of the “freshers” (first years) parties, I have still been able to have a bit of fun dancing in my bedroom to S club 7 and Vengaboys that is easily heard from my room (both amazing bands).

So…. so far, so good. I’ve been away from Australia for almost a month, and I’ve been in Leeds for 5 days. I almost feel like it hasn’t hit me that much, especially since I’ve had the familiar face of Amber with me majority of the time. Although we are in different apartments, have a different timetable and our own space, its definitely nice having someone familiar in a somewhat strange environment and we both know that we have one another if we need.

It has definitely been funny meeting other students as many people respond with “wow, you’re so far away from home”, but I’ve loved exploring my local town, taking photos of the cute post-boxes, watching local cricket and listening to all the different English accents. I also got stopped on the side of the road by a young family who were after some directions to the local supermarket, and because I knew where that was, I could actually help them and I felt like a true local. The weather also reminds me somewhat of Melbourne’s weather, because after being super sunny on the day I arrived, it then poured for a few hours the next morning (aka, welcome to England!).

It’s different to home, but not entirely foreign, and because of that I think I will be just fine here at Leeds Trinity.