I am a student once more.
Went down to studentland today to check out my new university and get all enrolled and the like. Only got part-way through the process as
a) enrollment was rammed and they asked me to come back an hour later
b) an hour, a grilled cheese sandwich and a strawberry tart later, I went back and queued up for 30 minutes, only to discover that I didn’t yet have a student number as I hadn’t returned a form (I tried to explain I’d been out of the country for most of the month, but for some reason exciting 3 week holidays in Japan don’t engender much sympathy).
So, I join a queue for the woe-begotten who cannot enrol the easy way, and spend another hour in this one, listening to two Biomed engineering students talking about departmental intrigues at their last uni. I could have it much worse – the girl beside me is being told her grade average for her first degree does not meet the UCL entry requirements and therefore won’t get a place.
Officially enrolled, I go off in search of a student ID card with the obligatory horrendous photo. The light tan I’ve picked up in Japan seems to inspire quite a few inquiries about my nationality this week, so I’ll have to do my best to play the mysterious and exotic card. Although trying to appear exotic at “London’s Global University” may be a bit of a challenge. I’ll have to go for mysterious and just not talk to anyone.
In a strange way going back to university is much more intimidating than making my way around Japan alone, even though I’m in the middle of London on my home turf. It seems to combine all the social anxiety of starting at a new school, with the personal anxiety of wondering whether I’ve chosen the right subject, or even whether I’m cut out for a masters at all.
Those of you who know me are aware that I’m pretty lousy at first impressions. Descriptions of my demeanor range between “measured”, “reserved”, “aloof” and “stand-offish”, which is apparently how you come across when you’re quite shy but trying very hard not to appear that way. At least in Japan I was automatically a weird outsider by virtue of not being Japanese, and was unlikely to see any of the people I came across ever again anyway. UCL is full of young, bright things who will be my peers and companions for at least another year.
Still, tomorrow is another day, in which I will meet my coursemates and hopefully get some kind of clue as to what’s going on at my departmental welcome. I’m also going to lay down 4,000 spondoolicks and buy myself a year’s supply of lectures and exams, which will hopefully be incentive enough to work hard and try and get a return on my investment!