And so my new life in my new home has begun (cheesy music from an American TV show anyone?).
Now, since we the people in Britain are meticulous, the whole first week is not about desperatly trying to get your University ID (quote any of my friends in Italy), but to make you feel welcome, at ease, beloved, cared for (maybe that’s a little bit too much, after all you don’t even get toilet paper…).

Accomodation (Home sweet home)

The first (and only) thing to do once you arrive in this place amongst the fields which is my Uni (still sounds strange, doesn’t it?) is to get the key (card) you’ll need for your room (unless you’re commuting, duh!).

Inutile dictu I managed to miss the key collection point by 400 metres more or less (¼ miles, as they write on road signs), but eventually I managed to drag (with some parental guidance, like Art Attack taught me) my luggages up to the second floor of the house which is now a home to me.
I was welcomed by our Resident Assistant and flatmate.

Small excursus: this university is the secret dream of any psychologist, a self-contained city with its own clubs, restaurants, supermarkets, neighbourhoods and skyscrapers.

But, what’s the room like? Mine is bigger than the average hotel room, with a bed, a desk, and a main light which takes a few minutes to power on. No bedding and no toilet paper (yes, I know, I’ve said that a few lines up, but it is important!). A shared kitchen every floor, with somewhere to put your plating and cooking utensils, and a fridge to share with all your friendly flatmates.

It was Sunday, so nothing else to do.

Monday

Every day during Freshers’ Week many activities are available, some of those mandatory, others simply quite embarrassing («Hello and welcome! Since you don’t know anybody, fancy to take part in “a sexual health and alcohol discussion with loads of freebies”? Your SU organised it just for you…»).

Personally I had to attend a welcome talk, an international students welcome talk, a talk on the English test and a (department) talk on how to make our CV more interesting from day one.

For the very first time in my life I heard words such as “transferable skills” being said by people who actually knew what they meant. And I ended up joining the Big Essex Award scheme, a way of logging your extra-curricular activities (as a volunteer, a worker in or out the uni, or an active member of societies) and learn how to attract future employers, getting an award when you’re done.

In my free time I got lost inside the campus, I did some grocery shopping, I opened a current account, and I got myself an UK mobile number.

Since I had quite a long to-do list, I ate my (cold) take away lunch at 3pm. Anyway Frango’s (in-campus restaurant) chicken is good.

Tuesday

As the first day was full of mandatory events, so on the second day all I had to do was… register.

As for optional and quite embarrassing stuff: SPEED MATING! That is a kind of speed dating to meet new “mates”. Sounds embarrassing and artificial, but it’s just embarrassing. I liked it so much I did it twice.

More free time? Oh, no! (Something I don’t think I shall say again from this week on)
So I went to Colchester (the closest town) with one of my flatmates (there are 6 rooms on each floor) and a friend of his.
Sound track (a chance to run away from this really long article): Petula Clark – Downtown.

The evening, cinema (as the song says, there are movie shows), inside the University (I said it was like a small city, why do I have to say it again?).

Wendsnday (the day of the week I can’t spell or pronounce properly)

And there was evening, and there was morning — the third day.

The English test, for those wondering, means you have to write two short texts of 125 words each, and then pick a day to go to one of the computer labs (yes, plural ♥) and complete on of those annoyingly annoying use of English tests.

As for things for everyone, international or not, I finally saw where my department/school is, I went there to get:

  • Official pen-drive (with a student manual and other useful info inside)
  • Plastic folders (to submit paper copies of assignments)
  • Protective spectacles (to avoid getting spit in your eyes when you screw up a simple equation)
  • Notebook
  • Permanent marker
  • A sense of anticipation when they tell you your lab coat size and ask the name for your name-thingy

And finally: GP (doctor) registration (guess where the Health Centre is… on campus!) at 7pm, by completing the on-line pre-registration you can skip a 20 minutes queue.

Thursday

Thursday, the perfect day for… waking up at 10, getting lost in Colchester (yep, I did it!), getting a nice shower (as in “outside without an umbrella) on the head and running back to the University.

The English test, part II — the revenge of the English in Use, is taken inside an (underground and hidden) computer lab, and I don’t want to talk about it until results are out…

In the afternoon meet ‘n’ greet with people from the court: twenty in the kitchen,trying some twister and beer-pong-with-candy (I don’t remember the real name).

Friday

So you’re starting to doubt you can study a scientific subject? That’s why you have a mandatory safety lecture in which you’ll learn just how often your lab partner might get some hazardous liquid in your eyes, even though you’re wearing safety spectacles!

The only other event today was a faculty/department “meet your fellow students”, that is a team competition to see who could avoid an egg falling from 3 metres to get cracked, using only 6 of the available objects.
Our was named Keith, and it almost survived.

Saturday — Freshers’ Fair

(Hallelujah I can finally end this article)

As one always keeps the best things for last, Saturday is all about societies, with many nice little stands awaiting for the average fresher.
If I say they have everything is not because I’m still in awe of the new country and university, but because they do:

  • Socialist Students (quite Marxist)
  • Ethical Fashion
  • Horse Riding
  • Climbing
  • Debate
  • Cyprus
  • etc.

Full list here: http://www.essexstudent.com/activities/societies/list/a-z/

Well, week’s over. Any comment or question you can leave it in the comment section below, or wherever I posted the link to this article.

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