Prepping for Uni
If being a university student means sleeping until midday, watching loads of films and developing a taste for alcohol, then I’ve already made the transition to higher education! Granted, I’ve not got a university to go to yet, nor received my A-level results. Still, embracing the student lifestyle has been a doddle so far.
I finished Harrow International School Beijing on the 29th of June this year, leaving me with a three-month break before university would start in the UK. You could call that ample time to prepare for my first year at uni, but, like most people my age, I leave things to the last minute. Point in case: getting my student loan and bank accounts sorted.
Let’s be honest – who wants to spend ages trapped in a bank signing different pieces of paper, or sitting in front of the computer tapping information into online questionnaires when they could be doing nothing instead? At the start of the holiday, I much preferred playing computer games and listening to music than sorting out my finances, and because of this I spent the last few days of my recent trip to Britain in a frenzy, buried up to my neck in paperwork. I’m now in possession of three bankcards, multiple PIN numbers, and innumerable student discounts (everything from buy-one-get-one-free cinema tickets to ten percent discounts on car rental – joy).
Which leads me to another thing I’m leaving to the last minute: driving lessons. Thanks to Grandma and Grandad, I’m now the proud owner of an old banger that I’m not allowed to drive. Sadly, I failed my theory test on the first attempt (could have something to do with not bothering to read the highway code). Funnily enough, both parents disappear when I ask for a quick driving lesson. However, in a stroke of genius I got around this dilemma by purchasing a Student Railcard, allowing me cheap train tickets to almost anywhere in the UK. Still, I’m not giving up on my driving dreams yet, so steer clear of green Peugeots …
The final part of my preparations was sorting out my possessions in Beijing and the UK. I nicked three boxes from the local Tescos and labelled them “Uni Stuff,” “Keepsakes” and “Charity Shop.” This classification system created several key dilemmas, the most important of which was where to place my cuddly Derby Ram. The furry warrior (mascot of Derby County football club) has been a friend of mine for 18 years, so he just couldn’t go in the Charity Shop box. He spent a long while in Keepsakes before finally getting promoted to the Uni box. Hopefully his fortunes will mirror that of my beloved Rams in the Premiership this year. (This is REAL football I’m talking about, by the way, the kind in which the players use their feet as opposed to their hands!)
The big question is: Which university will I be dragging Rammie and my Uni box to? During the application process, I narrowed my choices down to the universities in Durham and Nottingham, two places with almost nothing in common. Durham is a tiny but beautiful city in the northeast of England, close to Newcastle. I liked its small-town atmosphere and unashamed “Englishness.” I thought it would be a nice respite after living in big, crazy Beijing, and I would be able to keep up with my fencing (which I’ve been doing competitively for seven years). I liked that it’s split into many smaller colleges, each with its own personality, as well as its small student body and catered accommodations (no worrying about living off baked beans).
Nottingham, on the other hand, is a big and vibrant city in the East Midlands close to Derby – Rammie and I would get to take trips to all the Derby home games! On a more sensible note, its uni is very international and respected, and has a great Geography department. Moreover, if I studied Geography there, I would get to spend part of my second year in Ningbo, near Shanghai, learning about China and improving my Mandarin.
I’ll find out shortly how I did on my A-levels and where I’ve been accepted, and then I’ll have to make my big decision. Either way, no matter where I head, I’ll be miles away from Beijing, the city I’ve called home for the past two years. The prospect of moving away from here is unsettling. I enjoy living in China, walking the Great Wall, playing football in Chaoyang Park, lazing around in the Bookworm, and playing pool in local dives. Still, as much as I am nervous about moving on, I am more excited about what awaits me in Britain. It’s time to swap jiaozi for teacakes and kuai for pounds. Zaijian Beijing!