Gabrielle Tse, one of the winners of Study UK Summer School Competition 2017
Gabrielle Tse, one of the winners of Study UK Summer School Competition 2017 

I spent my summer studying Creative Writing at UEA, standing on the shoulders of famous authors such as Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro. Being part of such a free and vibrant community was an incendiary experience. No matter in or out of the classroom, I was constantly being inspired: by my surroundings (cobblestone streets!), the atmosphere (sizzling with ideas!), and the people (absolutely brilliant folk). Every moment had its beauty, and every day left me fulfilled.

Learning was never classroom bound. I had the chance to venture into artisan bookstores, awe-inspiring museums, and ageless ruins. In a place where everything either has made history or is making it, stories are told every moment. A trip to the Roman Baths reignited my childhood interest in the glories of ancient civilisation. Seeing Stonehenge left me in awe of man’s never-ending pursuit ad astra. Reading my poetry out loud on the final gala helped to bolster my confidence. But my fondest memory is of sailing down a river with a bowl of strawberries and cream, leaning on the shoulders of my newly-made friends. The people who lived by the water waved as we passed, and sleepy geese dotted the riverbed like fallen clouds. It was a tranquil moment without a single word exchanged, but in that moment, it struck me how blessed I was to exist.

I was ecstatic, of course, when I first learned I’d be in UK for the summer. But after I’d settled down for a bit, dread began gnawing up at me in the form of insurance policies and washing powder. I’ve never been abroad alone before. What might happen? There are infinite negative possibilities, and my brain never hesitated to tally them out. Fortunately, most of them did not occur: my luggage did not get swallowed into the void, my visit did not meet with unspeakable tragedy, and my mother did not wither away from worry for her little lost ingénue. Instead, infinite wonderful possibilities unraveled before me, many of which I could never have imagined happening before. I held a baby lamb, introduced myself on a trampoline, and while walking through London, had a fascinating conversation about Serbian and Japanese poetry. 

In one class, we were told to weave a poem from random words dealt to each of us from a bag. At first I was bewildered. But from this heap of coincidences, a poem slowly emerged, like light filtering through morning fog, turning dawn into day. These infinite wonderful possibilities wove together into the vivid tapestry that was my stay in the UK.

Finally, I would like give my thanks to the staff of the British Council. This summer school experience was truly once-in-a-life-time – thank you for making it possible!

Summer School Competition 2017: Gabrielle Tse