Its Friday and I've completed all the information sessions I had to go to today. I have only two more days before the hardest four years of my life start. So let me fill you in before I have to start paying the University to take all of my time away from me :)
First of all- I've been going to lots and lots and lots of information sessions. And I must say, the University and especially the International and Study Abroad Office (ISAO) are doing a really good job on keeping everyone informed on pretty much anything we need to know about. They also both offer lots of way to socialize and meet people, which has been really fantastic for me.
I went to a HOST info session where I decided that HOST probably isn't my cup of tea. The HOST scheme lets students live with a British family for a weekend for free. The student just has to pay an administrative fee and the price of travel. However, you don't get to pick where you go and the woman running the session really stressed that its not a tourist/travel thing. Its to live like a real British person for a short amount of time. However, I'm here for four years, have made British friends, and really believe that I'll probably get my own feel of real British life over the length of my course. So, no thanks HOST. I really do just want to travel.
After the HOST session was a Keeping Safe in the UK session. And while I had read most of the information online that.....
... Fire Alarm just went off. Freshman FAIL....
.... the lecturer said, it was nice to meet the head of the University's security. And nice to know that he had over 20 years of police experience. For all of my family that are overly worried about my safety- I live on one of the safest universities in all of England. That's a fact, so don't worry. Also, interesting side note- here, its 999 instead of 911 and pepper spray is illegal to have on your person as it is considered a firearm in this country. Craaaaaaazy.
At the end of that day (Wednesday), I went to a postgraduate cocktail party at Falmer Bar, which is on campus. It was the best social event I've gone to so far. While I've loved meeting all of the undergraduates and exchange students, it was really nice to meet fellow postgraduates who will be here for longer than just a semester. I also met up with my Alumni Friendship sponsor (a mentorship through the University) and she's very nice. I'm making friends, YAY. Hahaha.
On Thursday I finished registration (such a relief), went to the international postgraduate welcome talk (put on by the ISAO), and went to an international student trivia night. Registration was really just a headache of a process, so I now have a lot more respect for all international students patience. I still need to pick up the rest of my loan, but I'm not sure where from. I think that might be a fun journey for me later today when I finish typing this. There seems to be a serious lack of email response happening with the university right now. I also went to one of the HUNDREDS of welcome talks the University puts on. And I'm not exaggerating (ok, maybe a litte). There are welcome talks for freshers, postgrads, internationals, and any combination of those three that you can think of, put on by many different organizations- like ISAO, the students union, life sciences, etc. Its nice to have such a good source on information constantly coming from the school. The University of Sussex has the most helpful staff of any institution that I have ever learned or worked in. And I think that is really something special about this school.
The international trivia was so much fun. Again, I met a lot of really wonderful people from all over the world- this time Sweden, Canada, Germany, India, and Hong Kong. We didn't win, but we were only 5 points behind from the winners. And for how bad I am at trivia- I'll take that as a personal win haha! After trivia ended, some of the group went to East Slope Bar to get to know each other better. One of the most interesting talks of my life went on in the hours we passed at East Slope. A little bit of politics, views of personal countries (and other countries' views of my own), and some serious differences in social constructs were talked about. And while five very different countries were represented, everyone kept a cool head and stayed open minded. I can't quite put into words how refreshing it is to meet so many people who are SO very different that are willing to talk about "sticky" subjects with an open mind and an educated view.
I've run into one of the girls from my floor a lot these past few days and we get along well (she was the Canadian at East Slope that I just talked about). I still have the majority of my floor to meet, but we all pretty much keep to ourselves since we are all postgrads.
Finally, today- the head of Life Sciences (the school that my program falls into) gave a welcome talk to the new postgraduates, I went to a Banking in the UK information meeting, a library induction, and a travel tips session. Basically an information overload day. I THINK I've decided what bank I'm going to go with, but the only problem is that it takes 4-6 weeks to clear a check. And, I'm not sure, but I think my loan comes in the form of a check. So that would suck. BUT, plastic IS a girls best friend and at the worst, I can just use a debit card from the US until my money goes through. The library induction really wasn't that helpful, I think only because I've used a university library, and even worked in one, before. They are pretty much the same. I do, however, have a more intensive library induction through my school where they will show us more research-related library information. I'm looking forward to that one. And then, finally, Travel Tips. Very useful. I'm getting really excited about visiting my friend from home who is studying abroad in the Netherlands. Hopefully I'll get to visit (it'll be before Christmas) and I'll have at least one exciting travel story to bring home and share with you all during the holidays! My floormate Caitlin might even come with me :). We shall see how this pans out...
Here are some pictures of the pub crawl I talked about last post: