I turned nineteen two years ago. Instead of heading off to university, I spent two years in the military. The story of why that happened and more importantly, what happened during those two years is best reserved for another blog post.
The important thing is that by the time university arrived, unlike most people who had a relatively smooth transition from one academic phase to another, mine was pretty extreme. Have I also mentioned the fact that I am an international student? That meant being away from home too.
I have always scribbled down my thoughts and experiences in one incoherent form or another. Yet I have never thought about writing to tell others what life is like at Imperial.
Given my circumstances, how relevant would my posts be to the community at large, whatever that may mean? How could someone who has lived a completely different life understand my experiences? It seemed like an exercise in futility.
But coming to Imperial has shown me that we have more in common than we think, despite our love for individuality and identity.
I could understand how other international students felt when they missed home. And while we may not miss the same kind of food, it is a similar form of agony.
I could understand the struggles in trying to hack together a decent meal. Anyone who has tried to cook has struggled with the difference between best before and use by dates, regardless of where you come from. Wondering where all your time went after washing the dishes is a perplexing affair, one that plagues you whether you are from Bulgaria or China.
I have struggled to get others to understand my accent despite having spoken English all my life. But there are times when I am at the receiving end. And because communication is a two-way affair, there will be times you realise you have to change the way you speak to get your ideas across. It doesn’t matter how proper you speak it.
Last but definitely not least, how could we miss out staying awake in lectures? (Hint: most people don’t). Waking up to find your lecture started 5 minutes ago? The struggle is real.
I am not naive enough to believe that we have identical experiences and perspectives. But knowing the fact that we have a common ground despite all our differences is good enough. At least for me, that is enough to begin writing.
Sometimes with all the diversity at Imperial, it’s easy to feel that no one understands what you’re going through because of how different we all are. But when you realise people from all across the world are going through the same experience that is Imperial, it makes our differences less apparent. Perhaps that is what makes Imperial so special. A place where we learn how to navigate the line where our similarities end and differences begin.