Prior to searching for my ideal university course, I needed to firstly search in within myself so that my persona will later reflect in my academic choices. In order to do this, I only needed a pen, a piece of paper, a little bit of time to think about myself and…voilà, here comes the map that led me to Warwick University.

The first point on my list: the sense of belonging: I come from a small Romanian town where people find the time to smile after saying ‘Hello!’ and where everything you may need is just a few steps away. This piece of information, as negligible as it may seem, became one of the reason why I’ve chosen Warwick. Being a Campus university, the sense of community and security is likely to form within the first few weeks here. This allowed me, a first-year student filled up with the anxiety of leaving my household, to develop in a surprisingly short period of time, that homely feeling I was craving for. When I would need a few moments only for me and my thoughts, a short walk through the wooded area surrounding the campus would come as a ‘oasis’ for my mind, and, in the same time, when the social nights ‘knocked’ on my door, my flat mates and course mates made sure I am felt with some precious “When I was a fresher at the university…” stories.

Now having checked the ‘settling in’ part, the next points to tick were my abilities to socialize which would however interfere with a trace of shyness. Alright, now these ones are very tricky. Changing environments, group of friends, sometimes even the language, may hinder our ability to open up towards people. Knowing, however, that Warwick is a very multicultural university, caught my attention and catalyzed my decision to apply here. Only after starting university did I understand how broad the meaning of ‘diverse’ and ‘multicultural’ was. Just walking around the central campus, I could take a glance of its dynamics by looking at the uniqueness of every person, in terms of interests, style, cultural background. I was afraid, however, that diversity doesn’t necessary imply homogeneity.

One way of getting rid on this fear was through joining societies…yes, that hard task of choosing a few out of over 250. After a lot of mental equation and simplification, I’ve managed to reduce my choices to two volunteering societies that I’ve committed to. Working with people from various parts of the world and shaping everyone’s idea in a final product made me realise that homogeneity doesn’t necessarily suggest ‘people from the same background’, but people driven by passion, enjoyment and the desire to work together towards a common goal. At the end of the day, my biggest struggle didn’t turn out to be the attempt to integrate in a group, but the attempt to remember every person’s name that I’ve encountered throughout my first term. Many of the people I’ve met, are, implicitly, my course mates, which leads me to the next point on my map: my academic interests.

Following philology classes during high school, I’ve became interested in how language shapes the way interpersonal communication is performed. Originating from a cosmopolitan family, I’ve always been exposed to linguistics diversity and thus multiculturality. Gradually, I’ve realised that, on a micro level, every person is a symbol of a culture and to decode ourselves as individuals, we need to firstly decode the language. While trying to reflect my curiosities in my further studies, I’ve discovered a relatively new course called: Language, Culture and Communication. Not only have my interest been aroused by the high academic standards of Warwick University overall, but after browsing through this particular course’s modules, it became ‘my perfect match’ in terms of future studies.

Now one term in, I couldn’t be happier with my choice. Belonging to the Department of Applied Linguistics, the course enlarges the narrow, general view of language, and makes you perceive it as a dynamic phenomenon, influenced by cultural, historical, social changes. At the end of the day, expect to question everything you thought you had known about people and their language…and, probably, about yourself, as the speaker. And the best part is yet to come. You can reflect upon yourself while taking a new language from scratch. I’ve chosen Japanese, driven by the desire of challenging and exposing myself to a diametrically opposed language. And I’m glad I’ve done that as every lesson becomes a perspective upon how language and culture are mutually determined.

Without realizing it, the map that led me to Warwick is now expanding as I’m constantly developing myself through my course and my university experience. Gradually, it will guide me to a world I will perceive with more awareness and in which I could capitalize all the knowledge I am gaining right now.