Two Months in Chester

It has been officially two months since I cried my eyes out going through international security at Melbourne Airport. Since then, there has been more tears (I’m a cry-er) but also many amazing memories already made.

I spent my first few weeks in Chester walking (almost literally) every inch of downtown Chester. I was promised a beautiful, typically ‘English’ town centre, fantastic shops and enough coffee to fill a pre-service teachers’ quota. And MAN OH MAN did Chester deliver. A brisk (has to be brisk otherwise my fingers freeze) 15-minute walk from my accommodation and I am in some sort of English wonderland. Black and white timber buildings, cobbled streets, every English shop I love and yes, coffee shops and restaurants galore. Little did I know this would only get better as Christmas mania hit- I will give this ‘season’ the recognition it deserves in a separate blog post to come.

As a CSU Global student I was guaranteed university accommodation at the university of Chester. I have never lived in ‘student halls’ before so this was something that excited me. I spent hours looking at all the options on the University of Chester website and secretly hoped for one specific location. By some miracle, I was placed in Grosvenor House on the main campus of Chester. This mini “studio” room included a little kitchen and ensuite and felt perfect from the pictures. Although a little on the pricier side, I was thrilled to have a little place of my own.
As an international student I was moved in a day before UK students. After being picked up from the airport by the Uni International Team, I found my building and my room quite easily. I got to work unpacking my single (extra-large from Aldi) suitcase and began the process of making this room feel like home for the next 9 months.

Fast forward 2 months and my room, apart from needing a bit of a deep clean, finally feels like home. There are enough fairy lights, Christmas decorations and throw pillows to fill my heart.

I was fortunate enough to be in contact with some people who live on my floor through Facebook leading up to moving in. This really helped when everyone arrived and encouraged me out of my room and into the ‘corridor’. The corridor is yes, a corridor but also the hub of floor 1. Even though I am good 3 years older than most of the people I live with, they were nothing except welcoming, fun and understanding and have remained so.

(Photos will follow-having some technical issues…)

Journey To Exchange

Hi, I’m Claire. I study a Bachelor of Education based on the Albury Charles Sturt University campus. I have now been on exchange at the University of Chester, England for a little over a month.

My road to exchange started at the beginning of 2016 when I first stumbled across the idea. I started researching and although I had missed the application date to leave in 2016, I had plenty of time until the next one. This was a blessing and a curse. I spent the next year & a half excited and wishing the time to hurry up, however, it took almost that long to complete the application and prepare myself for the big move.

The Application Process

This, I will be honest, can be tedious and at some points disheartening, however very worth it, as the more organised you are on arrival the smoother settling in will be. I’m  unsure if it is the degree I am studying but it was a lengthy process to find and approve equivalent subjects to study. My course director and the CSU Global team were incredibly supportive throughout the whole process and always responded to my many emails (often irrelevant and sent at 1am) quickly and with great advice. Once you have a subject set approved the process is a lot kinder. I am incredibly fortunate to be a dual citizen with the United Kingdom meaning I did not have to apply for a VISA.

Packing

About two months before I was due to depart I grabbed a huge whiteboard and some markers and wrote everything I thought I needed to pack. Over the next two months I wrote and rewrote on the whiteboard, piled clothes and items next to it and subsequently took them away again. This process, apart from an attempt to make the time go quicker, gave me an opportunity to really think about what I was packing and to make sure I had everything.
I said goodbye to my beloved hair curler in favour of a good raincoat (good decision) and traded my favourite pair of heels for a sturdy pair of Dr Martins (another surprisingly good decision by past Claire). Upon reflection, anything I left behind I have been able to buy here (except my fav teddy  which I am glad made the final cut).

Pre-Departure checklist

As the weeks until departure dwindled I made sure to do all the last minute jobs. This included sorting out banking, bills and all those boring things. I said goodbye to the many families I babysit and my numerous jobs whilst completing a few final subjects with CSU. This time was a very busy and emotional one, but reminded me how lucky I was to be embarking on such a big adventure with an amazing support system behind me.