Travel alone for the first time!
I learnt many things during my first year at Warwick: drink hot drinks (coffee! I never used to drink hot drinks even in winter; well, the weather in Peru is warmer than in the UK), sleep 2-3 hours and be ready to study, travel, go out… and one of the most important things ever, travel alone.
Peruvian and Latin American culture is very different to the UK or European culture. Most of the parents are overprotective with their sons (and more with their daughters). Living in a male-dominated society made me understand that I want to be different, that I want to be independent, travel around the world, live in many countries and be fearless. I was lucky because my parents supported me as much as they could. They did not look or know anything about the application process, the VISA or the university life abroad. They tried; however, limitations such as the English language and the lack of information about studying abroad in Peru (Because approx. 1% of undergraduate students in Peru study abroad, and this percentage represents students around all the world, not just the UK) did not help him at all.
I remember I was nervous (I am still nervous) during university procedures and more in this time of pandemic! Peru is on the red list too, so this made things more complicated!
The first time I considered that I travelled alone was from Miami to London. My parents travelled with me from Lima to Miami on February 13th. At Miami International Airport, we said goodbye. The most amazing and exciting trip of my life had just started, and I was not going to turn back.
My flight was good. I enjoyed the food and the variety of films, series and resources of entertainment. I arrived at London Heathrow at about 10 am, on February 14th. It was a nice Valentine’s Day: wake up with the view of London city!
Heathrow was almost empty when I arrived because on the next day, February 15th, the hotel quarantine for countries in the UK red list started. I left terminal 5 alone because I had to wait like half an hour for the validation of all my information. I was shaking until they gave me all my documents back and smiled at me. “The hardest part is done”, I believed.
After leaving terminal 5, a taxi was waiting for me. Yes, it was the most expensive taxi I paid for in my whole life. At that time, I was no confident enough to travel by train to the university. The journey was about one and a half-hour, and then I had the best view of my life: Warwick Campus. I was smiling like a child who has received the best gift ever. My biggest dream has come true, and it was in front of me the beginning of the most exciting time of my life.
Probably this experience is the reason why I am always an optimist and I believe that my first year at Warwick was amazing, even though I studied the first term remotely and struggled a lot to arrive at campus… I love challenges because easy things are never worth it. In Peru, we have a common quote: “If we do not suffer, it is not worth it”; you can apply it to any situation!
Nowadays, I am still worried about how I am going to return to the UK. Fortunately, I am fully vaccinated. I got the first dose in the UK and the second one in Peru. It was a miracle (Peruvian people of my age will get the vaccine between October and December).
I hope things go better this year. Please be optimistic because good things always come at the right moment!