Chapter 2: #IndiaAbroad: Living with people from different nationalities: A row or a ride!? Part 1: First Impressions

Last Sunday Dinner ritual at our flat (H1.1)

In my previous blog, I spoke about how one can plan towards studying abroad this year. In this one, I decided to take you through a journey- a journey some of you may be taking this year or in coming years, some could have experienced earlier, for some it might just be a sweet pleasure to read amidst the dozens of bad news floating around. So sit back, grab some popcorn because this is straight from the house of Big Boss. (LOL, not really). 

With much enthusiasm, rush and the (Jaipur) heat filled summer of 2017, I had finally decided the college I really wanted to go to for my masters. Many people think getting into college is THE STEP, but from my own journey, I believe that’s exactly where struggles and troubles begin. Sitting thousands of kilometres away you have to pick your perfect home for a year or more. Sitting thousands of miles away you want to ensure when you arrive after a long journey to an unknown land you can embrace the place and find a few things you need everyday to call it home. But, you know what’s the most scary bit, WHO WILL BE YOUR FLATMATES? 

Months: May- July 2017 

I have 27 options of houses and 129 opinions of people who have opted the same university with me all trying to crack the code of choosing the best accommodation and of course, as Indians are the first instinct is “Sab saath mein rahenge yaar” so opinions raged-  “Bro!!! Let’s book this one”, “rooms too small with this one”, this one has a free laundry service”, “this one has bars nearby”… I am sitting and staring at those options as the International Student Office sends out a form to fill and choose your accommodation- well, it wasn’t just choosing a place to stay but also a menu card of options to choose which “type” of people you wanted to live with- smoking,non-smoking, vegan, vegetarian, beef eater, pork eater, mixed sex, only girls, only males, only alive….dead….(LOL, later two are just a joke) and again the hustle bustle of opinions begin, “Let’s go all boys/girls”, “let’s do this” “arreee, you fill na we will then request the uni to put us all together” bla bla bla… weeks of discussion we all sent out our applications. In 3 week’s time Everyone started getting their accommodation acceptances meanwhile I didn’t, I swear to god- I panicked a little, almost everyone had a place to stay- some of them got a Flat together, some of them were on the same floor, same wing and I was almost tanking thinking all possibilities of worse, maybe the uni never got my application, maybe I wouldn’t be offered a place, maybe I would live far from friends

Few FOMO night’s later…

if you ever find yourself studying at University of Leeds, please choose to STAY HERE 🙂

I got my acceptance, it read you’re allotted a place B2.2. I was happy for a few moments and then another wave of anxiety hit me “Who was I sharing the place with?” Everyone who were living together had a plan of action, duties assigned etc. I went around asking people I knew, if anyone was in the same flat/ floor as me and BAM!!! Nobody!!! was on the same flat as me (quite a weird situation looking at the 134 of us who were visiting the uni for masters from India alone that year) but actually a great chance so embracing the fact to meet and live with new people, I excitedly wrote to the uni accepting the offer and asking if they could introduce me to the flatmates or just tell me who they were. A day later I heard back- I was in a mixed sex flat, with 3 boys and 3 girls, which were from Taiwan, South Africa, Lebanon, China and India and I lived with that for another 6 weeks. 

(Note: I am skipping the process of application and finding accommodations, in case you all want to know we can make it a separate blog)

Date: September 9, 2017 

Time: 1pm GMT 

My Favorite human from Leeds, our residences night porter used to take care of our safety, scold us for noises but eventually would spend the night chatting with us; would give me hot chocolate on cold nights and bring me sweets and candies every day! Gary, if you read this, I miss you.

I reach my accommodation after a long and thrilling journey, meeting a very interesting stranger (whose no. i still have on my phone and he still stalks my Whatsapp stories but we never spoke after that flight), an eavesdropping front seat passenger (who became my first international friend of that year- from NEPAL who is one of my most defining and lovable human for the entire masters journey (I love you, Suru) and of losing few friends at the airport and from an all packed flight to having 10 less passengers on board, with literally no sim and connection and ALL EYES ON ME, like what the fuck?! (Yes those were all my friends! Yes, you can get lost at London Heathrow if you DECIDE TO WALK TERMINALS, Yes I am still sorry about that Preeti, Sanya, Sanskriti, Sugandha, Debs, Prateek Bhai etc.- You know I love you all the most!!!)  

Suru and I – Summer 2018, Cardiff, UK
Might have lost them on airport but here’s to our little forever. <3

(Note: All these stories ARE REALLY PSYCHOPATHIC and deserves additional and subsequent blogs) 

Flatmate number 1: (Yes, I am everyone’s number 1, she’d say)

I was so tired but SO CURIOUS as I checked in and entered my new room which I was going to call home for another year. I heard some hustle in the corridor and then a knock on my door, I open the door- there are two people standing: a girl from a nationality I couldn’t have guessed from the looks and a sweet and calm Chinese boy standing there- The girl almost looking like she is already tired of all this and goes on talking in her american accent “Would you have a pair of scissor”? I am like ermm… not really. “What’d you need it for?” “I need it for cutting my luggage wraps.” “Oh! I instantly go around and bring her a knife, here… maybe this can help?” I am sure I have scandalized her by that, in a normal circumstance why would anyone carry a knife around but without any questions she takes it, thanks and leaves. 

(I still don’t know why was that boy accompanying her because from that day till next one year we have only known him as the boy who lives next door, never seen around, never troubling…just there.)

(P.S: I had a knife from the kitchen essentials I had ordered which arrived before I did, I don’t carry them around, LOL)

Flatmate No. 2: (By will, everyone’s No. 1)

I decided to walk up to the kitchen to get some water. I grab a cup and start seeing around the kitchen and living area sipping water slowly when suddenly I hear somebody come in. I become a little alert- a girl with short hair not more than 5 feet 4 comes, by the look you could guess she could be Asian probably Chinese or Taiwanese, I say Hey, Hi…before I could finish she walks to the sink only to find her dishes in it. She walks towards me and starts yelling (not really!!! but just high pitched) Next time you want to use something of mine, ask me first” and she walks past me, out of the kitchen , slamming the door and I am just left there like “Ohhh… okay….Okay! Welcome to your new life, Diva” 

I return to my room and start the unpacking drill, when I almost done I get a knock on my door- It’s the scissor girl again still looking messed up: “Can you come help me with the luggage wrap? I just can’t get away with it” and as amused as I was I decided to help her- we walk with her to her room to solve this mystery. I help her rip the luggage wraps, open the linen, do the cushions and fix the bed.About 45 mins later I have learnt,  She is from Lebanon. It’s her first time staying away from home. She has a boyfriend. Her course is in Business school too. We have even made plans to go to buy groceries together in the evening. 

From Ben’s farewell and one before ours too from B2.2, Summer 2018

Flatmate no. 3: (The Guru in the house)

While I am coming back to my room, the door opposite mine opens, an Indian boy walks out with his father to exit the house, I smile, there’s a smile back. I return to my room. 

After an entire day of trying to adjust, shopping groceries and essentials and of course, eating Indian food for dinner at an Indian restaurant in the city center with my new Lebanese friend, talking about our exposures to each other’s culture,  We return home. 

From our first dinner together at Shahab- Fall, 2017

Flatmate no. 4: (Our neighbors were seen in our house more than him)

We go to the kitchen to adjust the stuff around, picking what shelves can one use, we encounter our Flatmate number 4, the Chinese boy… sweet, shy and extremely reserved. We entered, we smiled at him, he left.  Both of us looked at each other, smiled and went back to our conversation. 

The foundation of one solid friendship

Some time into our conversation, I mentioned how in the afternoon I met our flatmate who yelled at me only to learn the dishes were used by the Lebanon flatmate which she thought was the common kitchen’s utensils and we both laughed. We discussed how we have seen all flatmates but not the one from South Africa and wonder if he is even joining the Uni or what must have caused him delay. 

A week passes by, the flatmate number 5 hasn’t still arrived. However, we have made acquaintances with the boys flat right opposite ours, the crazy (but much loved) ones from flat below ours. We started hosting dozens of “get-to-know” each other parties, brunches, lunches and teas.

Flatmate no. 5: (Warning: my LOUD INDIAN/Nepalese Friends needed to Calm the F* Down)

It’s the new week, Some friends are over, everyone’s hanging out in the living area. We see a white- tall man enter our house. We are all a little confused but he introduced himself. Hello to the 5th flatmate. He sat with us for a while as courtesy and eventually left. Everyone returns to their chatter talking about the week that’s gone by and journeys so far. Planning the week ahead of us with what’s happening around the town and the university.

First Impressions:

That’s all the first impressions I recall now after 3 years however, there’s a whole lot to the bonding and how we began to accept each other’s differences and similarities. We definitely did have small arguments, rounds of meetings to keep the house & the noise in check but we have also cried and stayed up all night chatting and sharing huge pieces of our lives eating ice creams and sipping teas. Fun Fact: We had a wild card entry too in our house. But maybe, let’s keep it for another round of pop corn and weekend?

Until then, Keep Smiling and Be Safe!

Read More of Diva’s Blogs : #IndiaAbroad : Chapter 1- SHOULD YOU GO TO STUDY ABROAD THIS YEAR?

About The Author

Diva Bhansali
Diva is a Manager-Communications and Public Relations for a consultancy based out of New Delhi. Mostly found relaxing (read: going mad chasing news cycles and clients) and being sarcastic, Diva is also an adherent lover of nature, coffee, reading, art and travelling. When not found doing any of the above, she can be found on Instagram sharing weird memes and life (read: live) stories.

How is it to live with People from Different Nationalities?
Article Name
How is it to live with People from Different Nationalities?
Studying out of your country and living with people from different nationalities is a difficult task. Read how I met my room mates.
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Living Inside Suitcase

3 thoughts on “Chapter 2: #IndiaAbroad: Living with people from different nationalities: A row or a ride!? Part 1: First Impressions”

  1. Very interesting and exciting journey. I admire your skills in delivering your feelings to everyone reading this article. Keep going, you have a great future ahead


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