This is the second post in the “Christa in the UK” series – stories from the year 2009 and 2010 during my time living, studying, working and traveling in a small beach town called Bournemouth in South West England.
It was early September when I arrived in the soil of England, all by myself. I remember feeling very optimistic, very excited to start my new life. Unfortunately, due to visa conditions, I arrived a week later than I was supposed to, thus making me missed orientations week and only had a weekend to settle before school started.
Worry not, through the help of Facebook I was able to make some friends before school started.. I found 3 other Indonesians in my year (there were only 4 including myself) and one of them – Andrew, pick me up at Bournemouth Coach Station after I spent 2 hours coach ride from London. He helped me find my house and carry my big suitcases (thanks Ndrew! hehe), and later on we met with the other 2.. Poppa and Yovita. Except Yovita who were an undergrad student in her final year, the three of us were postgraduate students.
Later on, I also found out that there were a total of around 20 Indonesians in Bournemouth.. some Bournemouth University students as well but started school the previous year, some working already, and a family with 3 kids. I think the amount of Indonesians were just the right amount. Not too little, not too many… A lovely community. I was happy and not worried that I would get homesick.
Now let’s talk about my house. I rented a room in a 4 bedroom flat.. the smallest room to be exact. There were no communal room, only shared kitchen and bathroom. It’s a tiny flat indeed.. located in Winton, a suburb (supposedly) not far from the university’s Talbot campus. When I looked at it through Google Maps before my arrival, it seemed close, a 20 minutes walk to the campus. It’s not too far from the town centre too, it’s only 3 minutes walk to the nearest bus stop. Oh, my housemates were nice as well. 2 British, 1 Japanese. All girls, no drama. Everything seemed promising, right? 🙂
Then came the first weeks at school. My class schedule was looking great, I loved the lectures, it was not hard to make friends and I felt like I’m adapting well. I was excited. On my first weekend, I went out to the beach during the day and spent the night painting the town red with my class mates. I had my first experience of hanging out in an authentic British pub, had fun and made more friends. Again, all seemed promising. I (thought) I was adapting well.
Until… I experienced my first British rain. Oh, the lovely rain. I still remember it clearly, even after all these years! I was on my way home from the university; it was around 4 in the afternoon. I was carrying two bags.. one for my stuffs – laptop, books, wallet, etc – and one was my shopping bag – I made a stop at the supermarket to buy milk. The weather seemed pleasant at first. I was halfway to my house. Then, out of the blue.. it rained! I immediately grabbed my umbrella and tried to walk faster so that I could reach my house safely. Unfortunately my umbrella was not big enough so I still got sprinkles of water here and there. As if that’s not enough.. suddenly it became soooo windy. I was having trouble in keeping balance of my tiny umbrella and walking (plus carrying two heavy bags) at the same time. The wind didn’t want to stop, though. I felt it became stronger and stronger until my umbrella got broken… and there I was, soaking wet and freezing. I was lucky that my bag was somehow waterproof that my laptop and books were not wet… but everything else (read: me) were.
When I finally reached my house, I couldn’t help myself from crying. Never in my life before I had to experience being wet from the rain. Everything else went downhill from there. The homesickness started to kick in – I felt miserable, I missed my family, my friends, my (then) boyfriend. I was freezing and I hated the weather, I wanted to go home. I felt like coming here was all a mistake. It was midnight in Indonesia so I couldn’t call anyone.. and kept crying (even in the shower! Hahahahaha so dramatic) until I managed to cook myself a bowl of Indomie.
So that’s how British Fall season welcomed me. Afterwards, I managed to buy a bigger (and stronger) umbrella.. a thicker (waterproof and windproof) coat, and waterproof boots! All to keep myself warm during the rest of Fall and even Winter. I may spent a night crying like a baby because of homesickness, but I managed to live a happy life for the rest of my stay in the UK! 🙂
To end this post, here’s a collage of pictures.. Clockwise from top left: me and my (short hair) plus red (RIP) umbrella before the wind took it away – a glimpse of Winton (my neighborhood) – Bournemouth Beach – a night out with my class mates – and… a group picture of Indonesian community of Bournemouth, wearing none other than Batik! 🙂