An International Student: First Impressions of Western

As soon as one journey ends, another begins… I am now a student of the University of Western Ontario.

The Pioneers
Photo courtesy of Cyriëlla Hermann.

Having arrived five days ago, I think I’m now in a good position to write a post about my first impressions. I’ve had chance to explore the campus and a small portion of London, and I’ve met a whole host of students; students from all corners of the world and walks of life.

What a show this has been already: from being locked out of my room on my first morning (without being appropriately clothed), to witnessing the infamous North American university-style welcome through a mighty opening ceremony.

Yes, unfortunately for me, my first day got off to a bad start as I had to be rescued by residence staff following an embarrassing ‘I’m locked out of my room’ scenario. How was I supposed to know the door locked upon closure? Well, I know now that’s for sure! Things got much better in the afternoon as I attended my first induction and began to meet some fascinating people. As the days progressed, trying to remember everyone’s name became so difficult that I had to keep track of the new ones using my mobile phone! I’ve met people from The Netherlands, France, Germany, Sweden, Russia, to Kenya, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and of course the UK. Naturally, all of these fellow students have been amazing and have helped to make the transition to Western University a whole lot easier. Ironically, I haven’t met many Canadians yet, due to their later move in date. In actual fact, this is probably a good thing, as it has forced me to find my way around without the need for local knowledge!

Given the limited amount of exploring that I’ve done so far (which is unlike me, I know), I don’t want to comment on what London is like as a city. I will, however, share with you the beauty of Western University. It’s certainly a sight to behold. It may not be a surprise to you reading this, but for me, the campus is far more spread out than I had anticipated. Of course I knew that Canada has vast amounts of land and low population density, but it’s not something you truly appreciate until you’re actually on the ground. It takes roughly 20 minutes to get from my halls of residence to the centre of campus – where classes take place – despite my halls being in the’main campus’ still. In Southampton, it would take me around 5 minutes! But the walk to central campus is far more beautiful, lively, and there is no need to weave your way in and out of traffic jams, terraced housing and convoluted roads. As luxurious as this is, I do however, get the impression that walking is not a common mode of transport here…

Just this morning, my walk to campus involved a stroll under rows of oak trees; passing over the River Thames (a lot of ‘Canadian London’ road names and rivers are named after ‘UK London’, which might become confusing!); having a personal fly past from Canada’s very own geese; and a view of Western’s ‘Hogwarts’ building. So far I get the impression of a very idyllic form of University life. Great sunny weather (for now), great company and friendly staff, and comfortable living. Yes, I could get used to this…


Next post will be about the ‘O Week’ events… Will a North American ‘orientation’ be just as it appears in films? [ceremony compared to speeches]

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