Yes, it’s true. London! In just two weeks!
I’ve always wanted to study in London full time, but there is no way I could ever handle it financially. It’s one of the most expensive cities in the world! The Erasmus exchange is another story, though. It’s a European Union student exchange programme, where you can study for a semester or two in a different European country, without having to pay any fees. You even get a scholarship to cover part of your expenses; a very small part, when you’re moving to one of the more expensive countries.
I applied last year, because the university in London only accepts fifth-year students. There are many places available in Spain, Germany, France, Italy… but only two in London. I, however, didn’t want to go anywhere else, so the choice was obvious. And then my dream came true!
I was accepted into the programme in early 2013, but the weird thing was knowing I had to wait more than one year before anything happened. It felt like the day would never come. I applied in January, got accepted in February, applied to the school in August, received confirmation in January and I’m leaving in two weeks. Which is almost April. 2014!
For the curious among you, I will spend four and a half months studying at the University College London, which is, gasp, the fourth best university in the world (right after MIT, Harvard and Cambridge), according to QS rankings. Its most famous alumni include Ricky Gervais, Christopher Nolan, everyone from Coldplay and Alexander Graham Bell (he invented the telephone!). Movies have been shot there. The more I read about this university, the more I can’t believe this is really happening to me.
What is it that I’ll be doing there, you ask? Research for my master’s thesis, which will probably have something to do with cancer. Or Alzheimer’s disease. I’m not sure yet, but I will find out on my first day, which is 26 March.
Of course, this is not a permanent move, so I didn’t have to sell my car (I don’t own one) or house (don’t own that either). The whole process was easy because I’m a resident of the EU and I don’t need a visa to study in the UK. All I had to do was apply for the scholarship and find a place to live. That turned out to be a very hard task. I had to change my perception of the words ”cheap” and ”expensive” a few times. I ultimately found a student residence that’s cheaper than the rest of them (and looks nicer, too).
I’m now wrapping up the last few things at school and home. Cleaning, selling and donating things I don’t need any more, that sort of thing. I don’t want to leave a mess behind when I leave. It’s a weird feeling to know that I’ll be gone for almost five months, but it won’t be the first time. I have yet to tackle the most intimidating task of them all: packing. The last time I left for four months, it was for the US where I was packing for one season only: summer. To work on a farm. Now I have to pack for three different seasons, and the real world. Well, at least this time I have a bigger suitcase. (And a mother who has already agreed to send me everything that won’t fit into it, by post.)