One of the first things I had in my mind a moment after coming to Exeter was partying the blues of my exhausting flight away. As soon as I entered my accommodation, I started searching for places to dance till dawn or until I drop. But when the enthusiasm of experiencing Exeter’s nightlife slowly wore off, I have started to think about how I could make this place feel like home, balancing academics with the prospect of finding a job and earning money to provide for necessary maintenance and frivolous adventures of an International Student.
Things get difficult for students when English is not their native language. Situations tend to become even more interesting when the heavy British accent is added to the conversation. It can possibly affect the communication between an international and home student, when one of them has troubles getting used to the accent and might not understand what the other meant word for word. I have also encountered some cultural differences. Back home, in India, we are conditioned to be extremely cautious of both our actions and words; it’s rather a forced will to be criminally kind and learn to compromise, even when one may not feel comfortable with it. It’s a generational curse and students do take time to come out of such a heavily battered habit, but such habits stay embedded in our day-to-day behaviour. It seems quite different to the chilled-out attitude of some students that come from the UK.
Things get difficult for students when English is not their native language
What I found most endearing was how accommodating, attentive and patient everyone is, in both University campus or your regular Tesco shop. It’s this feeling of solidarity that we are all here for our reasons, but we are all here to make a difference, in our lives or the lives of others. There is an unspoken bond of empathy and an air of sympathy which I encountered among the citizens of Exeter. I felt relieved at how candid and unfiltered were the conversations I had with people who are native to the UK. This impromptu willingness to be kind and humble is what touched my heart most. The most important thing that surprised me was the nonchalant quality of being understanding and humanely caring. Though at first, it struck me as a ‘shock’ at how ‘normal’ people behaved, I was happy to be received by the university and the people of Exeter in such a warm, welcoming way. To speak my truth, it allowed me to put my guard down and just be more comfortable with the new environment and the university life, one day at a time.