People would be lying if they said they weren’t nervous sometime before arriving at their new host university – whether it’s on the quiet drive to the airport, the plane over from Australia, or even stepping off the bus inside the university grounds. These nerves will sneak up on you when you least expect it.
Prior to my arrival at Leeds Trinity University, I had backpacked around Scandinavia and northern Europe to countries I had never been before with languages and cultures vastly different from Australia. At no point during my two months of solo backpacking had even an inkling of nerves caught me by surprise. I was solely fixated on the “present” at that time, trusting future me to be able to handle all the implications of my decision to study abroad.
However, the night before my arrival, as I was packing my bag in Edinburgh, the sudden realisation of my choice to be away from Australia, ACU and my family finally dawned on me. Studying abroad is not a decision to take lightly. There are a lot of mental demons to overcome when you leave Australia. But, like always, the demons in your head are nothing to take seriously. We are human after all.
Thankfully, Leeds Trinity University understands all the thoughts that may or may not travel around the heads of their incoming students from across the water. A Friday before the rest of the students arrive, the university hosts a day dedicated to international orientation. All the negative thoughts of “will I make friends”, “I hope people like me”, and “have I done the right thing” are left at the door when I first entered the room full of people stuck in the same position as me.
The university hosted a two-hour meet and greet with the rest of the international students. I learnt about the diversity of this year’s cohort as well as the vast array of what people are studying. Throughout this period, I also learnt about the university, life on campus and the new education system I was about to step into. The university also provided a campus tour to help introduce the areas of importance in terms of study, social and support-based. Followed by this was a tour of the city of Leeds and a social drink.
Within the space of a few hours and awkward small talk, I clicked with a range of people and become super close with them. I now have friends from all over the world – the US, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, South Korea, and France. Also the one other Australian at Leeds Trinity University who is from Sydney.