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My Study Abroad in the UK

Popularity 13Viewed 6499 times 2016-1-29 05:02 |System category:Life| Europe, study abroad, imperfection, fire, London

I wrote an article for a contest on youthreporter.eu. They're looking for entries about youth mobility in Europe, so I had to go back to the year 2010, when I did Erasmus Exchange in the UK. The topic is "My Special Person, our Story".

My article is below, if you like it you can vote for it here: https://www.youthreporter.eu/de/beitrag/this-is-how-i-became-a-special-person.11629/#.Vqp4X_mLTIU

I'd really appreciate your votes, because I see very poorly written articles getting votes from probably the authors' friends and relatives, while mine are... too busy or too lazy I guess, hehe. Hope you enjoy reading~

This is How I Became a "Special" Person

Sometimes your expectations don’t survive. But you have to make it through.


After a lengthy visa application procedure, I was ready for my first lenghty stay in Europe. I left my father with our dog, jumped on a few hours’ flight, and there I was in London, in the UK. Since Europe is an aspiration in my country, I had imagined it as a place where things always worked perfectly. Below, you will read what a revelation it was for me to find out that things meant whatever I made out of them, and how I perceived the world depended on my acceptance of it. I was alone in dealing with all kinds of problems as they arose, that was alright and this is how I became my own “special person” during my Erasmus exchange.


On the way from Heathrow airport to the city, the train suddenly stopped. “Please bear with us”, echoed the announcement. One apology followed the other. Some people complained to the official and he repeated apologies. I sat down, silent. 3 hours had passed when the train started to move again. Buses and trains often stopped like that and the passengers were asked to switch to another vehicle. At the bank I was told my stay was too short for opening an account. Registration at school as a temporary student was tricky. The accomodation I could afford was far from the city... So, life was just like how it was everywhere eIse, imperfect to the core. To make things worse, I was new to many things, and definitely an outsider. But wasn’t an exception to carelessness, I found out. My dorm was in a silent neighbourhood. Little did I know that those calm streets would be visited by loud fire trucks… And because of me.


The fire alarm rang often in the dorm. There were few residents, but it was either someone taking a hot shower or smoking in the room, and the alarm rang, causing a nuisance.


That morning, I closed the kitchen door after placing some bread in the toaster. I was still half asleep and looking for what to wear. For some reason, the automatic mechanism of the toaster to push the slices up didn’t work. When I went back to the kitchen, it was full of thick white smoke. Coughing hard, I opened the windows. Stepped outside the door for a breath, then went in again to reach for the fire extinguisher. It was the first time I used one, and had to get out of the kitchen to be able to see how to unlock it. It was only then the fire alarm went off! I went in again and made sure I put off the fire.


When outside, I apologized to everyone, including the dorm management. I normally was fluent in English, but was so shocked that even simple words escaped me. They didn’t believe I put off the fire and called the fire brigade, saying we can’t get in until they check. Soon, two huge fire trucks arrived in our small, peaceful street. People in neighboring buildings were looking to see what was going on. I was overcome with guilt and shame.


The kitchen appliances were left by former students and none belonged to the dorm, but they charged me for all of them, plus the fire extinguisher. They said they wouldn’t refund my deposit, and charge more if necessary. Luckily it wasn’t. But once they put a notice on my door, saying I had to pay for the upcoming week. I had to remind them I had paid for the whole duration of my stay in cash.


Nothing was like how I planned. A few times I hung out in the school cafeteria, but couldn’t make friends. I went to discover the city, alone. Independence wasn’t something to be ashamed about afterall. I wish I had made friends with people, but it turned out that I had to learn I wasn’t in need of others’ company to enjoy life. Tried to make the best of my time, thinking that being alone is a blessing too, just like being with friends is. My international experiences that followed definitely made me more social, but now I know that being alone is not a weakness, but a part of life to embrace. Just like our mistakes, carelessness or bad luck. I can say it was during my time in London that I learnt I was, despite everything, a strong and special person who can cope with anything that comes her way.


(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (14 comments)

Reply Report Anming 2016-1-30 12:09
You are back!
Reply Report BlondeAmber 2016-1-30 13:54
Good to see you back posting.
Yes you are right, being in a new country is definitely a learning curve.
It is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Reply Report SEARU 2016-1-31 11:37
I have offered you red flower since its color could remind you fire!
--------In Chinese we often say fire burns in the places where great fortune would come down! (火烧旺地!)-----------Good luck for the upcoming Spring Festival!
Reply Report Maierwei 2016-2-14 03:24
Anming: You are back!
Hmmm, "somewhat" back let's say  
Reply Report Maierwei 2016-2-14 03:26
BlondeAmber: Good to see you back posting.
Yes you are right, being in a new country is definitely a learning curve.
It is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Thank you ^_^
Yes, it definitely is!
Reply Report Maierwei 2016-2-14 03:27
SEARU: I have offered you red flower since its color could remind you fire!
--------In Chinese we often say fire burns in the places where great fortune woul ...
Thank you very much SEARU~ Happy belated new year!
Reply Report SEARU 2016-2-14 17:01
Maierwei: Thank you very much SEARU~ Happy belated new year!
Not late at all, since our spring festival lasts for half a month till the lantern festival!
Good luck to you for whole new year!
Reply Report claudeckenni 2016-2-21 19:52
That's a very interesting story. It happened to my Dad once in my home, and when he left home with the toaster still baking, my little brother (high school age) was alone at home. Luckily he woke up to the smell of smoke and quickly splash a bucket of water on the burning toaster. Our kitchen wall still have some black some stains to this day, but it was a small price to pay compared to what could have happened if my brother ever notice the fire. Up till today I still have never used a fire extinguisher, not even once.

Happy belated New Year and Happy Lantern Festival, Maierwei! =)
Reply Report Maierwei 2016-4-12 01:24
claudeckenni: That's a very interesting story. It happened to my Dad once in my home, and when he left home with the toaster still baking, my little brother (high s ...
Belated thanks!

Using the fire extinguisher was fun but it was expensive ^^ You have a reminder on your kitchen wall to be careful at all times! That's a gift of destiny :p
Reply Report horst yuan 2016-7-24 17:37
sister,are you a chinese or an english or a malaysian? if you are not chinese.what can i do for you?yeah,i am running a translation studio now.its name is shanghai new urban style translation studio.yeah,i am the head officer.i can provide chinese and english translation.say,if you want travel in china,but you don't know chinese.then,i can accompany you to interpret for you.trust me!
Reply Report horst yuan 2016-7-24 17:40
claudeckenni: That's a very interesting story. It happened to my Dad once in my home, and when he left home with the toaster still baking, my little brother (high s ...
from your photo,it seesm you are a boxer or practice boxing in your spare time.ok,i like boxing too.before these beautiful girls,hi,i must say,i don't fear of you.we can have a fight.with gloves,we don't worry we will be injured seriously.hi! fight me?egg crash stone!!!!
Reply Report Maierwei 2016-8-10 00:31
horst yuan: sister,are you a chinese or an english or a malaysian? if you are not chinese.what can i do for you?yeah,i am running a translation studio now.its nam ...
Hello, thank you very much. I left China more than a year ago, and can travel without a translator :) Best luck with life!
Reply Report guanyin2016 2016-11-22 09:57
weicome !
Reply Report Liononthehunt 2017-1-6 22:17
Hi, Maierwai. Admittedly, it is fun to read your blogs, as some of your stories about your life on exotic lands are intriguing and hilarious. However, I would also like to read about things you have experienced that would be billed as positive. Is there anything that your really appreciated when living abroad, e.g. in China, Japan, the UK and etc. I don't think that you are an overly cynical person, and you simply can't be critical of everything, right?

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Maierwei

Whenever I get lost I look super-confident. Whenever I feel so scary, boring and ordinary people tell me I\'m so nice, interesting and friendly.

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  • My Study Abroad in the UK 2017-1-6 22:17

    Hi, Maierwai. Admittedly, it is fun to read your blogs, as some of your stories about your life on exotic lands are intriguing and hilarious. However, I would also like to read about things you have experienced that would be billed as positive. Is there anything that your really appreciated when living abroad, e.g. in China, Japan, the UK and etc. I don't think that you are an overly cynical person, and you simply can't be critical of everything, right?

  • 有趣的人 needs to hold her tongue? 2016-12-22 09:30

    Maierwei: That question is common worldwide. They want to see if you have vision, if you plan to stay long in the company and take more responsibilities. They w ...
    Sorry for the late reply. Interesting. I will remember it in my next interview. Im working as a foreign teacher in China now, teaching my mother language in university. At the interview, they asked me a question like this
    "How long do you plan to teach in our university?"

    And I answered
    "At least for two years"

    And they accepted me. I don't know if my answer have nothing to do with it or not, but Im just trying to be honest with them hahaha.

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