This is the seventh 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.
To be honest the first time I heard about Bournemouth was the first time I came across Bournemouth University’s MA Advertising and Marketing Communications program. I was doing an extensive research about master programs and universities and instantly got interested to the program. But.. I have never heard of the town before. So before deciding to choose the uni and ended up going there to study, I did a little research on the small town.
My initial search landed me to a beach image. I was then sold instantly. It has always been in my dream to be able to live nearby the beach! (Well… Jakarta has Ancol beach but that’s totally different. It probably takes me over 1,5 hours from my house to Ancol!). Long story short.. I chose to enrol myself in Bournemouth University’s MA Advertising and Marketing Communications program and lived in Bournemouth for a year.
So, what is it like to live in Bournemouth as an international student?
First, you are not alone. Bournemouth – thanks to its geographic location (a beach town so it’s really pretty, not too cold… and is relatively close to London), is a popular destination for students. In fact, based on my observation, most of the town’s residents are students and the elderly! Besides Bournemouth University, Arts University Bournemouth, and some colleges, Bournemouth is also home to some language schools so there are a lot of international students coming not only from Europe but Asian countries as well. The abundance of international students means you get to enjoy a very diverse environment… in simple words it’s very fun!
Second, your friends are from all over the world. Perhaps it’s just how the UK attract people from everywhere. But still related to point number one, In Bournemouth you got to meet people from various countries. By various I don’t mean “only” famous countries like France, Thailand, Germany.. but also from lesser-known African countries and even the Caribbean! I never thought that I would be friends with someone from Trinidad and Tobago – because at first I did not know where it’s located! but I did, and we remain friends until now. My classmates are from around 15 nationalities and I also met other friends from work or other activities with different nationalities. The experience was so eye-opening and it helped shaping the person I am today.
Third, you can enjoy beach life. Yes, Bournemouth beach is one of UK’s top 10 beaches according to this source. But trust me it is really pretty. The beach is not too far from the University so if you want, you can spend some time relaxing at the beach after your classes. I used to go to the beach almost every day after I work on the city centre just to chill and enjoy the scenery. I only went home when it’s dark and it’s getting too cold :p It’s so nice and refreshing to live nearby the beach!
Fourth, without you realising, you became an outdoor person. Well, since Bournemouth is a small town, and as a student I did not have a car, I
was forced spent a lot of time walking or taking public transportation. And because the bus system was not as established as London’s.. there were times when I had to walk to get to places. It was during my walks I got to enjoy my surroundings and learned to appreciate the little things. Oh, and it was during my stay in Bournemouth I went on my first ever trekking/hiking trip!
Fifth, don’t be surprised if you find yourself alone in the streets… Yep, again I need to emphasize that Bournemouth is a small town. Most shops close at 6 every day and they close on Sundays. Coming from Jakarta, I found it hard to adapt at first. I missed the city lights, the hustle and bustle of a big city. But after a while, I began to enjoy the serenity and got used to life in a small town. Life was much more simple to me, less stressful despite the heavy assignment and part-time work. I guess that’s just the beauty of living in a small town 🙂
The list can go on but I decided to stop at #5 this time 🙂 So there you go, my take on what is it like to live in Bournemouth as an international student. Did you study abroad? what was it like? 🙂