10 October 2016

Sunday in Clifton Village & Life Update

It's been a month since I'm back in Bristol. A month since I've wanted to sit down and write, but haven't made the time for it. But here I am - on a Sunday afternoon, typing all my thoughts about the start of this university year and life chapter. I find Sundays to be a good excuse for pretty much anything - an extra slice of cake, procrastination, unnecessary shopping. They have that careless feeling to them that sets you free a bit - and this is especially true in Northern Europe, where free Sundays are sacred. You might not want the U.K. to be classified as Northern or European (I hope you do) but it does feel a little like that to me: I grew up in Italy. So please understand. Also, I tend to forget that readers don't always know all things Western. Like some of my Arabic cousins found it strange for Sunday to be the festive day of the week because for them it's Friday, while for a European that would be weird to conceive. However, I'm sure that anywhere in the world you come from, you'll have an equivalent day to Sunday and can get what I mean.

Life has been good in Bristol. I got back on the first week of September. I'd been in touch with my housemates through a Whatsapp group we made since January, but didn't really know them. Basically my dream since second year was to go and live with all languages students, but I hadn't been able to because my friends from first year did other subjects and because in my third year abroad I just didn't get enough time to choose. There just don't seem to be enough languages students out there! Anyway, when a friend from mine invited me to live with her housemates who all did languages and were, apparently, all very nice, I immediately accepted. Someone set up a Whatsapp chat, and we messaged every now and then about stuff for the house. Meanwhile, I wondered what they'd be like. Some messages intimidated me; some others felt too nice to be true; some silences after my texts made me question what their impression of me was like. You know what texting can be like. And also, it's easy to get the right impression of a person from their messages but just as easy to get a wrong one. So I started imagining what they'd be like in reality, but my family and friends immediately put me off saying I should just wait and meet them. So I did - and I have to say that most of my impressions were true, but some things were actually a lot better, which brings us back to the idea of not judging from a message. Anyway - we'll pick that up later.

The summer passed, and I guess people stopped thinking about the house topic a bit. I got to the flat knowing that I would spend the first days there on my own (thank god my friend Emily was there so I spent the first days at her place to avoid homesickness!). I actually had to open the door of the house on my own, which can be tricky, if you know studenty houses in England. Lizzie, one of the housemates, left me a voice message and a few pictures explaining how to get in, but I wouldn't relax until I'd actually done it (I appreciated that a lot - not many people would bother hiding your keys and sending you pictures of them plus a detailed explanation with so much patience). So dragging my two suitcases, actually, three, because I also had a piece of handluggage, from the taxi to the house, I went to get the keys were they where hidden and tried to open the door. First key: didn't work. Second key: didn't work either. By this time, I forgot which one was the first and the second key, so I probably tried these two again. I finally found the right key and the door opened. I was so relieved! I let out a breath and entered the house. Before actually going in with my suitcases though, I stopped for a second. I did this in Barcelona first and I'll do it anywhere I go in the world in the future. I set myself the intention to be happy in the house, and commit for a productive university year. Now I could get in.

Next scene was me dragging the suitcases upstairs, which I could avoid describing but was such a big part of my first day haha! We have a total of two floors, but actually the bathrooms are halfway through the ground and first floor, and the first and second floor, so there are a lot of stairs. So it actually felt like five floors - at least it did with those massive bags! So little by little I carried my stuff upstairs, and somehow I got to the top (in all this I'm thinking, it might not be too bad that I'm on my own since this would look rather embarrassing around people). Once that was over, I felt like I'd done the biggest workout of my life and I just laid down on the floor of my bedroom for ages (yes! English carpet I'm back!!).

I found out my room was exactly the same as in the pictures - bright, with a double bed, small so it could heat up quickly (I was so cold in second year that this time I'd asked for a small room so it would get warm faster), and the house to be overall very nice and modern - some factors not to take for granted in Bristol.

That evening my friend Emily cooked pasta with tomato sauce for me and let me sleep at her place which was the nicest thing since I didn't have any food or bedding with me for obvious reasons (I'd just got there). We talked about Valencia (she also did her Erasmus there) and Welcome Week since she's also an ambassador at the university. It was so nice to catch up, and we're planning to spend plenty of time at each other's places this year.

The first week, which I spent between the International Office, my place and Emily's, went by quite fast but it made me tired - I did so many shifts and hadn't worked full time since Barcelona. But it was just a week, and I couldn't complain. Also, it let me meet so many international students including Erasmus that I made friends with. To be fair, I kind of used the excuse of being an international ambassador to chat and get to know more of them - Erasmus was such a good experience for me, and I really want to keep living it this year too!

Eventually, my flatmates arrived. There were some changes with my friend, aka the only housemate I knew before moving in: she had to defer her year and so I was going to be left with the other four girls. By then I could just hope for the best. The first one was Lizzie - the one that made sure I got in safe. When I first met her, she was with a friend, so we didn't speak much until the evening (I was so curious by then!), when we had dinner together. We spoke both English and Spanish, since she lived in Spain and has a perfect accent and I'm always up for practice. Then we just ended chatting on the sofas of our kitchen (we don't have a living room, our kitchen serves for both which is actually quite nice) and got into very deep topics like the future, spirituality and more, which in my head was a good sign - I wouldn't open up to someone like that if I didn't like them!

Because it'd just been my birthday and it was going to be Hannah's, another housemate, we'd planned to celebrate together without actually knowing each other. Which kind of worried and excited me at the same time. Looking back to the day when I met her, I know Hannah in a completely different way. She seemed quite serious at first, which is obviously normal when you don't know someone well, whereas now we're literally joking and being silly all the time. At first though, I questioned whether celebrating together was going to be a good idea. Later in the day, I got to see Naomi, whom I'd met before but only chatted briefly with. Just like when I first met her, I thought of her as a very nice girl, but I still didn't know her well. In the evening we went to Falafel King to have dinner, which was lovely, then to have some drinks at Flipside. By the end of the night it felt like we knew each other a lot better than the morning - or at least, that's how I felt. It was also so nice to have my friends there with me - Emily, Bea and others from the course who I also met during my year abroad despite being in different locations.

As time went on, we got closer. We started cooking dinner together and spending time together at home. Two weeks ago, we threw a house party which was an absolute success (according to the guests...not just me!). The good thing is that we're the kind of friends who laugh together about pretty much anything - of course, this was more frequent in our first weeks when we didn't have to study and were happier (lol) and now we're kind of just enjoying each other's company in a more chilled way. I can't stress how grateful I am for having met these girls and living with them this year. Even though this might sound silly, but I think it happened because I always wanted it so much - to have friends in Bristol that I knew I could trust. I often felt very lonely in my first and second years, mainly because the people I hang out with were cool, but not always my types, apart from a few. If you keep trusting, I believe that the Universe will listen and help. You just got to be positive and trust, always.

Today, Hannah and I went for a walk around Clifton Village and I took some snaps of cafes, pubs and the bridge. Coming back home, we had tea and cake and listened (and danced) to some Christmas songs (I know, it's ridiculously early but I'm that keen) which strangely put me in the mood to write a blog post. As I said, Sundays are for exceptions and breaking the rules a bit. I normally don't share so much about my private life, but last time I wrote about moving to Barcelona so many people enjoyed the post, so I thought I would do a similar one. Another exception for this Sunday :)

So now, who knows what challenges this year will bring. So far it's been a lot of studying and reading and socialising. Hopefully it's going to stay this way for a long time - I'm rather enjoying it! Thanks for reading <3
Hope you enjoyed the post! What do you like doing on a Sunday? 


  1. Sounds great, Assia. I left the U.S. and am living in Aachen, Germany now, so maybe I'll come for a cup of tea when I go to see my friends in London. Or you can come visit Aachen :)

    1. Hi Gary, well done for moving abroad! What's Aachen like? Was there a specific reason for you to move there? Ah, London... you'll love it!

    2. I replied via email, since I'm not so regular on the blog ... and your other blogmates may not be interested in my personal story :)

  2. Thanx for the report, dear. I could learn some of your impressions you hadn't told me about, simply because living far away doesn't always mean "communication".
    Glad you are having a great time + happy the girls you are living with are a very good match for you.
    Wish you all the very best

    1. You're very welcome. I'm so happy here, and hopefully this year is the best to come. I'm glad you enjoyed the article <3

  3. Loved the update, Assia! Looks like you're adjusting quite well :) I love the first part you wrote about Sundays 'cause I did a post about Sundays not too long ago! ( Sounds like you're having a great time with your housemates!