29 September 2006

Fastbackward - A Short History of Fresher's Week

After a sleepless night and some indecisiveness concerning my packing (but really helpful and supportive Natascha - *virtual hug and squeeze*), my mother, my aunt and I managed (after a brief detour to Schwechat) to get to Bratislava. I will make this part brief and just want to say what a beautiful sunny day it was, the perfect weather for a journey like this!

Another city, another chapter in life: The orientation for the international (EU & elsewhere) students took place on Sunday. I think we were perhaps 500 students who were catered for. There were all kinds of talks (student welfare advisors, disability - that includes learning disabilites - , safety in London, managing your money, just to name a few) and it was the perfect opportunity to get to know other students like me. It turned out that a lot of students come from Asia, Europe (lots of Germans) and the USA.

You have to imagine a catered event for a large amount of optimistic students who all express the spirit of being part of something special (SOAS sets high requirements but more on this another time), that's the picture!

Enrolment started right on Monday. Until then, I haven't visited the main building* and until now, I am so awed at how organised the events are, how well signed the building is, how extensive the library (THE LIBRARY!!!) is (it houses more than 1.2 million volumes spread on five floors and equipped with RFID). Obviously, they have more money at their disposal.

You cannot enter the school buildings without your student ID card which is a swipe card and opens the barrier (!) next to the reception (!) and security (!). There are WLAN routers (I think they call it WIFI in english) everywhere in the building and high speed internet in the IT rooms (flatscreens!) as well as in the halls of residence. I counted at least four public lifts and every part of every building as well as the student union's events are all accessible with wheelchairs.

When you enrol with the school, they will take a picture of you with a webcam to issue your student ID card within 30 seconds! It's the same with your key card for Dinwiddy. Wow.

And everywhere you go, be it on the street or at university or at Dinwiddy, it is much easier to socialise than anywhere in Austria!

I already went to Oxford Street and local markets and super markets. London really is more expensive (I haven't tried the Tube yet because an adult single fare costs £3 !) but like in every city there are secret places and tricks where you can save money (i.e. buses cost only £1,50). On Monday, I will have my english CV checked from the Career Center where I will probably also get some help with finding a part-time job.

Pleurer et Rentrer
But concerning public transport, I am so proud of me! Today was the first time that I hailed a bus myself! *beam* In London, ever since the old hop-on, hop-off buses are substituted by new ones, you have to hail buses like you do a cab, otherwise it just rushes past you (they are driving like mad with these doubledecker buses). I only use the bus when walking would take too long (I went to a student union event which was 40 minutes away from me by foot and it was raining cats and dogs - I looked like I had a dive into the Thames).

I think you will be challenged enough with this second post, so I'll end here to give you some time to breathe!

*SOAS consists of two campi: Vernon Square (5 minutes walk from Dinwiddy House) and Russell Square (the main building, more central, 20 minutes walk).

4 courageous comments!:

Kaye said...

Well, all of it sound very good! Some of it mirrors my own first experiences, in fact. I don't know if I mentioned this, but I fell in love with Edinburgh Uni Library (on second thought, I think I did mention this... ah well, it's worth mentioning twice *g*).
How about buying food? Where do you do that?

Heidi Jahn said...

Yeah, someone already posted on this!

I go to Tesco, Sainsbury's and to the market for fruits & vegetables!
Cheap and saturating snacks are available at the student union's shop at uni.

Heidi Jahn said...

I would be worried if you never had mentioned it until now! What's your libe like?

Kaye said...

My library is wonderful: uncountable shelves full with books and the older collection is even only dimly lit, with contributes to the wonderful library-feeling... There are so many interesting books, I think I could live there and never get bored...