‘I left it at home’, I said to my Dad.
‘Home? This is your home’, he replied, as we discussed the whereabouts of a piece of clothing.
He was right. That was my home but I, without thinking, referred to my university halls, also as ‘home’.
My language adjustment bemused my Dad – he cracked several jokes throughout the day about my weekend ‘home’ being merely a weekend back at my “parents’ house”. Now, both are home, and I’m lucky I feel that way.
I’ve been at university for almost two months now and it’s been intense. Freshers Week overlapped with Fashion Week. I entered with the intention of acting in more plays but have ended up on a sports team. I have met so many new people and am constantly experiencing new things. There have been many surprises and I love it.
If you followed my writing over the last year, you’ll know that the application process was a turbulent period for me. For a long time, I expected to be as far away from London as possible; staying here was never my plan. As much as I loved growing up in the city, I was aching for a change and new territory. And of course, as it so often happens, things went another way. As a result, I went into the London university I now attend with some excitement but no real expectations. Now, I think I’m close to the happiest I’ve ever been. I know a lot of people who are struggling with the adjustment from school to university, which makes me even more grateful for how well it has worked out for me.
I’m studying English Literature and one of our modules is called ‘Writing London’. We study pieces of literature set in London/by London based writers from vastly different time periods, social perspectives and genres. We discuss themes like surveillance, whether that makes London safe or sinister; loss and gain of identity and whether the city helps facilitate a purpose or actually makes it easier to lose yourself; how the mass of people makes ‘chance encounters’ more likely and therefore more likely to initiate stories. It feels particularly special because we’re living it. All of the themes we look at can be applied or understood through our own lens of London. My lens of London will be different to that of people who have moved here from other parts of the UK, even more so to international students; we all have a different relationship with the city. Growing up in West London and moving to central means I too am seeing London through fresh eyes and also getting the change I so wished for.
One of my lecturers said the other day, ‘city is the space of story making’. I liked it so much, I wrote it on a post-it and stuck it on my wall. As I study the stories of everyone from Woolf to Spenser, I am living out my own story, my own narrative. It’s something I agonised over last year, trying to predict where it would be set, who would be the supporting characters, the love interests – all of it now is coming to life.
The story is only just beginning.