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Student Journeys

3:27 am

I stood in front of a blank page for more than six hours looking for an inspiration. I kept thinking that I had to make something creative, something catchy, not boring, something worth to read. But what can I say that will not be repetitive? What words should I use?

I thought and thought for hours about “being original” and “inspire” and, maybe, that was my problem.

I asked myself what makes my experience as an international student worth a read, and perhaps, there will be nothing interesting for some people, but it could be that others will feel understood, less lonely.

When I first came to London, I was only a 14-year-old girl, with no clear ideas about my future but one goal: living here. I grew up in a small town in Italy, with a mixed European and Brazilian background, and I studied languages my whole life. And even if I cannot still figure out half of the ideas that come to my mind, I clearly remember being in Hyde Park, in windy day of mid-July, with my grandmother arguing with the swans and me falling in love with the city. Little did I know that this would have become my reality in five years’ time, and in the middle of a global pandemic.

I remember the anxiety and the stress of choosing a path. I remember the failure I felt when I did not pass the entry test in the university I wanted to attend in Italy. I remember the tears, the panic attacks, the nights spent looking at the ceiling, the books I read in order to find someone able to put into words how I felt. I remember my family (or better, part of it) blaming me for my decision of taking a gap year to understand what I really wanted to do. And I remember the moment in which something clicked into my mind. The day I received the acceptance letter I recall feeling like everything was going to be ok.

And then the pandemic hit, and with that: the old, bad feelings. The uncertainty, the doubts, the anxiety, and stress I felt cannot be described in this short article, but I believe it is something relatable to the majority of people.

So, what is the point? What made me have this stream of consciousness at 3:27 am and tell this story?

There is a Buddhist principle which says that “everything happens for a reason” and only now I understand how true this is. I was so certain about my future back in Italy, that I did not even bother to look for alternative paths after high school. I failed the university’s entry test and I ended up choosing Politics and IR instead of Translation and Interpretation. I used to see myself trapped into a routine I did not like, in a place that I was not able to call “home” and now, like I’m in a romantic comedy, I am living my happy ending in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

So maybe, my patient reader, you are not an international student, but I feel like you asked yourself at least once if you are taking the right decisions in your life. My answer is: yes, you are. Things might not always work out the way you hoped they would, you might fail, you might cry, you might feel at your worst, but it is going to be worth it because, as my favourite Disney movie mentions: “the flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all”.

Michelle  Ceruti, Year 2, BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations

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