Okay, I have been in Vilnius, Lithuania for over 24 hours and I really don’t know what to say yet. I have to admit it is a culturchock for me, maybe not the people and the University itself, but the dormitories really are.
I had checked the Pictures and thought I was prepared but my first thought yesterday whas “really??”….
Soon the girl I’m sharing the room with (who is very kind) and I are going to IKEA to by some necessary things, mostly for the kitchen! I wan’t complain but it is really difficult to find something to cook on and eat on. It’s not very fresh but it could deffinetly be worse!
The school is slightly different from the dormitory I’m living in. It’s a modern school and very nice teachers and I can’t wait to start all my Courses!
Went in to the city centre today. Spent about 4 h walking around and still feels like I’ve only seen a fraction of the city. Countless different types of shops and food places and so many people!
The time I spent in the city made me realize something. I believe that I come across as quite rude to the Aussie people. The reason is that in Sweden when you are in a crowded space, you usually tend to squeeze yourself by an person who is standing in your way making your best effort not to touch them. If you do bump in to them you might mumble “excuse me”. So that is my usual way of interacting with people in crowded spaces. In Melbourne if you face someone in a narrow space going in the opposite direction as you, they will say “sorry” before you have even started to make an attempt of walking past them. Conclusion: I need to work on my manners.
After a 24 h long journey I finally arrived in Melbourne on Saturday night. On the plane I got to fill in a standard incoming passenger card saying that I’m not bringing heroin or machine guns in to the country, and also another card to make sure that I haven’t been in Africa and gotten infected by ebola in the last 21 days.
I live in a big house with one dog and 4 very relaxed people in a suburb called East Malvern. I Haven’t gotten around to exploring the city center yet, although Russel (one of the housemates) has been kind enough to drive me around different places in the area. Today he took me to Chadstone Shopping Centre which is the biggest shopping centre in Australia. Got 3 pairs of shoes for a total of $30 (= 180 SEK) and then we ate schnitzel in a roll.
The weather here is not what I expected. I expected every day to be around 40 C, but apparently it varies a lot in Melbourne and both today and yesterday has only been about 20 C. That means I’ll probably have to go and buy myself some more cardigans since I hardly brought any, but that shouldn’t be a problem with Chadstone Shopping Centre not too far away.
I haven’t got any picture to upload at the moment, but I will upload in the next couple of days as soon as I’ve got some pictures to show you!
The first week of your exchange is usually filled with excitement, expectations and everything new. If you have an introduction week like I did at Sussex University, you will meet people from all over the world, fill your head to the brim with informations about your new school, get confused about timetables, maps and the campus and just generally have incredibly much going on.
My introduction week at Sussex is the third time I am moving to a new country and start over again and after one or two “first” weeks somewhere you realize some things, that might be helpful for you guys:
1. You will be okay once you start traveling.
Before every trip, every move, every new start you will feel anything from excited to anxious. The last days at home before you fly out are usually extremely stressful and emotionally challenging. They are so many goodbyes during that time, so much left to do and not being able to sleep or having to cry, because of the littlest things is totally normal. However for me (and a lot of people I talked to) as soon as you start your journey and you are on your way to your new home the anxiety will get better, mainly because after months of thinking and talking about your trip, you finally start going on it and you will soon realize that while a move across Europe or even across continents is a challenge, that if you take it step by step you can absolutely do it.
2. It´s okay to take care of yourself first
At least in the first few weeks you are in this alone. So you need to start taking care of yourself as good as possible. If after a long journey you are tired and all you want to do is sleep, it is fine to skip one pub night (trust me there will be loads to come) and just relax. If you need alone time in between all those introduction talks and meetings that is fine. If you are too tired to cook, it is fine to just order a pizza If you do not feel comfortable with the people you first hang out with, it´s okay to talk to other people. Being a little selfish during the first weeks of your exchange is okay and necessary. Listen to your gut and learn to trust yourself.
3. It´s okay to just start talking to strangers
Worrying too much about not finding friends is unnecessary. In the first week everyone is more than happy to have someone to talk to so if you just start talking to a stranger sitting next to you in a lecture or someone who looks just as lost as you are they will probably be thankful. Invite people for a coffee and get to know them better.After introduction week try to get involved in sports or clubs at your exchange university to meet local people with the same interests as you. Generally just talk to as many people as possible and smile at everyone. Try not to only hang out people from your home country or your school, but make it your goal to at least chat with a new person every day.
4. It´s okay if your first week is also your most expensive one
In your first week you will probably spend more money than in any other week of your exchange. You will spend ridiculous amounts on airport food. You will totally mess up your budget for public transport because you have no idea about discounts. You will go to the most expensive supermarket by accident and the drinks at all these bar nights will slim your wallet more than any crash diet. It is fine. Start budgeting once you settled in, use the introduction meetings to ask for the cheapest options and don´t worry too much if you spend a little too much in the beginning.
In general be nice to yourself the first week. Starting new is never easy and it is extremely stressful emotionally. So be good to yourself and do not sweat the small stuff. Be merry, go out, have a good time and just enjoy the start of this new chapter of your life. Hope you have a great introduction week!