The University of York is a collegiate university, meaning that when you join, whether living on campus or not, you become a member of one its nine colleges. During my first year, I lived in Constantine College, where I moved in with a number of international students. In just one apartment, there were three British, one German, one Estonian, one Hungarian, one Italian, one Chinese and a Malaysian student! It has turned out to be a highlight of university life. We discuss food and drink, music, films, our different experiences of school, and more recently, the refugee crisis, among a range of other things. It has been fascinating; an excellent way to learn from one another about the world!
We have since moved out of Constantine College and into a house together. We continue to take it in turn to cook for one another, often specialising in the food from our native countries. It is a brilliant way to economise, as it is much cheaper to share your resources; we get a chance to try new, authentic food; and perhaps most importantly, it provides us with a chance to share in regular, meaningful conversation. Between us, we have made French toast, Thai curry, pizza, traditional English Sunday lunch, risotto, spaghetti carbonara, and much more!
This Christmas we went out to a restaurant in the centre of York to celebrate together. We also took part in a ‘secret Santa’. This involves taking a random name out of a hat a couple of weeks before, and then buying that person a gift for no more than ten pounds, without letting them know who chose it. This encourages thoughtfulness. For my friend Jerry, who has organised what is set to be a brilliant conference on international development, I bought a book called The Spirit Level. It is an awarding-winning book, co-authored by the University of York’s Research Champion for Justice and Equality, Professor Kate Pickett, who very kindly signed it for him!
He was so overwhelmed with joy, he cried…
…no, not really; he just had too much Tabasco sauce! But he was overjoyed. To celebrate the New Year, Jerry, who is from Malaysia and Aljesca, who is from Estonia, came to Birmingham, where I’m from. We went to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, checked out Birmingham Library, Birmingham New Street and partied in the Prince of Wales. As a house, we are planning to go to Dublin in the spring, and travel to Budapest in the summer. All as a result of our friendship, founded here in York!
But each Sunday, we round up our week in a thoroughly British way. We go to a local pub and take part in a pub quiz. We are yet to win, but we’ll get there! It’s a pleasant way to finish off the week and begin the next, doing something light-hearted and fun, often cosy in the warm pub while outside the weather is cold. But above all, it is a weekly reminder of the wonderful friendship with we have formed here in York.
Coming to York, you don’t know who you’ll meet. But perhaps, like me, you’ll make some great friends, and you never know where they will take you!