As I wave goodbye to my tearful mother, it finally dawns on me that I am actually going to live all by myself in a completely new environment, that I will have no choice but to become independent. Which means washing the dishes, grocery shopping and (gasp!) doing my laundry all for the first time. You might think I should add ‘cooking for myself’ to that list but-I am not going to lie to you- I cannot even boil water. Therefore, throughout my three weeks in London, I have depended on cereals, sandwiches and pizzas-in short the diet of a typical student.
Silly me, I forgot to introduce myself: Hi, I am Bayan Al Balushi, a first year Chemical Engineer student. Being 17 means I am practically a child here and, no matter how many times I point out that my birthday is next month, people still perceive that I am too young. I am from Oman (that is a country in the Arabian Gulf, you know, bordering the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia; you would be surprised that only a handful of people know where it lies) where it is warm all year long. So carrying an umbrella and zipping myself in more than 2 layers is quite unusual for me.
Despite the fact that I’d rather stay home with a good book than go out, I tried my best to participate in most of the events. I met a few interesting people at the boat party my hall organised. We chatted the night away huddled in our coats and jumpers but somehow we were still shivering. Seeing the Tower of London and its poppy garden made me realise that I have so much to discover in this great city and I really couldn’t wait to get started. Of course that would mean I would have to take the tube for the first time of my life and perhaps get lost once or twice but that is what makes an adventure.
Freshers’ Fair was a fantastic experience. Everybody is trying to sell you their own society and club with such hopeful faces that you cannot say no to and by the end of the day you would have signed up to some twenty societies and return home only to find that your e-mail is swamped. I was slightly more sensible; I was determined to sign up to only those that I could actually see myself committing to. In retrospect, I might just join a few more as I didn’t have the chance to see every society and club. So wherever your passion lies, you best believe they’ll have something for you at Imperial. And if not, you could just start your own club anyway.
I have to confess that it has been difficult to shake of the lethargy that swept over me during my four month break and get back to work mode. I don’t think I have completely lost my laziness yet, though it was much easier to slip into a new routine than I have anticipated. Hopefully, when I get buried in work I’ll be able to stop procrastinating, have a nervous breakdown and then get on with it.
Overall, it was an amazing start especially since I have been able to make new friendships (not an easy thing for me as I am quite awkward and shy). I know that Imperial’s motto might be ‘work hard, play hard’ but right now just focus on recovering from ‘freshers’ flu’!

6 comments for “Introductions

  1. Hi Bayan! I was wondering if there was a restaurant belonging to the university which offers healthy food, and how are you dealing with the accommodation? Are you feeling comfortable.
    Kind regards.

    1. There are a few cafes around the college which sell all types of food from sandwiches to pasta to rice etc. There are vegetarian and halal options as well. I am lucky enough to have my own room and my own bathroom as well as living 5 minutes away from the college. It is a smaller room than what I am used to but you have lots of storage space and it is quite comfortable.

  2. Hi Bayan , I stumbled across your blog post and what you wrote is exactly how i would feel going around London and into uni :), i wanted to ask why you wanted to study here instead of Oman , i mean i thought they have good universities there and why you chose to do chemical engineering and how you feel about the work , like what do you do?? – im actually considering applying to this next year and probs going to take a gap year in Oman(i come from there too) too haha

    1. I wanted the whole university experience. Honestly, the education in Oman does not compare to Imperial and I knew that if I stayed in Oman my parents would still take care of everything for me unlike here where I have become completely independent. Plus, after living my entire life in Oman I needed a change desperately. I chose Chemical Engineering because it is really broad and I get bored easily so I can literally go from the oil industry to pharmaceuticals to even cosmetics. It is a lot of work and you will probably hear more about it in my next blog post.

  3. Hi Bayan,
    Huge fan of your blog!
    I was wondering if you could tell us interested applicants what the application process and interview are like.
    Also, what are the odds of actually getting a place for Chemical Engineering if you do Maths Chemistry and Economics at A-Level?

    1. Thank you Aifey!
      Well, I am an international student so, like everyone, I applied via UCAS but was not asked to come for an interview. I had a phone interview some time in March and it was more like a conversation about the college with a few questions.
      I can only guess the odds; there are about 130 students in my year. We were told at the beginning of the year that it was one of the most competitive courses (after Medicine)-only that’s what probably every department tells their students. Your subjects fulfill the entry requirements, I guess it comes down to your grades and the competition.
      Good luck!

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