If I had to describe SOAS, University of London, I would call it a fascinating place. Back at my school in Hong Kong, I would never have dreamt of a Japanese garden or an underground photography gallery within a school building! It felt like wandering in a miniature city composed of a fusion of cultures.
Everyone I met at SOAS (as well as most Londoners) were nice, helpful and most importantly, non-discriminating. You could literally see people from everywhere around the world at SOAS. I really liked the teachers there as well, because they were humorous when they taught and also made sure that no one was left out in any activity.
Speaking of the teachers, the World Literature course itself was marvelous as well. Though I wished we had more time to look more deeply into the texts taught, I was surprised at how many topics we covered in a few weeks’ time. The course was designed to be both understandable to those new to literature, and challenging to those who have already come across literature in the past. Thus, I was easily engaged in lectures, even though I am not yet a university student.
The classes were brilliant, but I liked the visits we made off-campus even more. I went to places like the British Museum and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and I was very excited to experience everything firsthand. Outside of class, I also went to the Tower of London and some other scenic spots with my friends. The transportation was confusing at first, but once I got used to it, it provided a much better alternative to long walks around London.
My experience in London was like a reverse roller coaster ride. Instead of feeling excited and in high spirits, the first few days made me feel downcast and moody, for I truly understood how alone and helpless I was in a foreign country. This might sound discouraging, but I really feel the need to say that overcoming this hardship is my greatest achievement in the trip.
In an unfamiliar place, the friends I made at SOAS were my greatest support. Not only were they nice, friendly and accepting, but they were also experiencing and understood the same loneliness I was experiencing. Communicating with them helped me slowly forget about my sorrows and allowed me to enjoy my experience to the fullest. At the end of my experience, I felt much closer to the friends I made in my short 3-week stay than the friends I made in my 11 years of school life.
I am very thankful for this opportunity. It helped me realise that, when the time comes and we are left to our own devices, it is always important to learn to adapt quickly and just accept the good things life has to offer.