I woke up this morning, surprised to see snowflakes tumbling down from the grey canopy of clouds. Although I’ll be in Liverpool for two more weeks, today was my last day of classes. It’s a melancholy feeling I can’t describe: the inevitable passing of time, hours melting away like a snowflake in my palm.
As the morning bus careened through the snow-laced streets, honking only once at the cars that crawled like frozen beetles, I thought back to my first week in Liverpool. Back when everything was new and unknown. When every face was unfamiliar and I google-mapped my runs and didn’t understand the Scouse accent of the campus security guards. Now, I smile at my classmates in the hallways, recognize the names of the streets along the bus route, know the difference between a Birmingham and a Sussex accent, and have learned why you should never mention to a Scouser that you’re visiting London.
Campus too has become familiar as I’ve settled into the rhythm of the weeks. I’ve found my favourite study places (library study room, second floor, the one with the windows overlooking the garden courtyard), decided on the best pastry from the canteen (the chocolate twist), joined the Christian Union, memorized the shuttle bus schedule, visited the special collections in the library and set off the alarm for accidentally taking a book, learned how to save money by using my catering card to buy groceries at the supermarket on campus, played football in the weekly friendly matches, and attended office hours with each of my tutors.
Just as this place was beginning to feel like home, just when friendships were beginning to deepen, it’s time to think about packing up, and moving out. As I reflect back over these past few months, I’m grateful for the everyday moments. It’s those day-to-day experiences that time turns to golden memories. So, here’s a glimpse into my ordinary days.
University Life Snapshots
Mornings always start with quiet time before a quick breakfast washed down by gulps of earl grey tea, speed-walking from my Aigburth Flat to the bus stop, waiting for 2-20 minutes for the free university shuttle to arrive, hoping there will be room on the bus and maybe even an open seat, and occasionally finding alternative modes of transit (i.e. Uber, city bus, or walking) when there isn’t room. Days that I have a late morning start time, I get to enjoy a sunrise run along the river or through Sefton Park.
Once on campus, I usually head to the library, the cafe on campus, (incase I didn’t have time for tea), or attend one of my four courses, depending on the day:
- British Life – an international student requirement, 10/10 for intention, 0/10 for execution. Mondays.
- Theology: Christianity Encounters the Enlightenment – 10/10 fascinating lectures and 10/10 for traditional students being welcoming. Mondays.
- British Literature – 10/10 I love books and English profs are some of the coolest people. Tuesdays and Fridays.
- Challenges of Democracy – 10/10 British humor and 10/10 fun classmate debates, plus the UK perspective on US politics is intriguing. Thursdays.
- Creative Writing Workshop, Poetry – 10/10 workshop feedback and 10/10 faculty who care. Mondays. (Math is not my thing but even I know I just listed five courses). This one doesn’t count because there was a kerfuffle with the international department at LHU so I couldn’t take this course for credit, but the tutor graciously allowed me to join last minute. YAY.
The international system is structured very differently from the traditional student course load since only select courses are “approved” each semester to be available for international students depending on how the modules are scheduled. Because my British peers only specialize in one or two courses (majors), they attend lectures, seminars, and tutorials within that topic area. They often have long days with multiple lectures, seminars, and tutorials as they study different modules within their degree. Because international students are jumping around between departments, we are only assigned one module per course. Therefore, most days, I only have 3 hours of class, Mondays being the exception with 5 hours.
Campus Life Snapshots
Each afternoon and evening look a little bit different. Sometimes I catch the bus back my flat right after class, somedays I stay on campus for Christian Union or football, sometimes I FaceTime my family or call friends, on Mondays I go to Calisa’s Coffee Shop for lunch with friends from theology, this week there was a silent disco on campus, some afternoons I spend in the library, sometimes I run in one of the parks near campus, sometimes I go to the city centre, and on Thursdays I walk down to Halfway House with my politics classmates.
I’ll miss this place but more than this place I’ll miss the people that have welcomed me, a total stranger, with such warmth and kindness.
New British Word/Phrase: “Rizz” charisma or charm.
Kodak Moment: Enjoying live music at the Albert, a local British pub on Lark Lane with fellow international students.
Someone new I met this week: I didn’t actually meet anyone new this week (unless the random person in my flat kitchen that I’d never seen before counts?).
Word of the week: Presence.