So here I am, sitting around in my massive double room in my Superman pajamas eating M&Ms, whilst outside along the streets of one of London’s posh-est and most expensive areas there are parked some of the most ridiculous-looking cars I have ever seen. What was I doing this time last year? Sitting around in my small bedroom in my Superman pajamas in the decidedly un-posh Limerick city of Ireland, eating M&Ms and desperately trying not to think about the horrific, life-changing Leaving Certificate exams looming over the following days.
I honestly didn’t expect to end up in London this year – I had applied through UCAS on a whim but had always planned on
taking it easy at Trinity College Dublin. When I actually got my offer to Imperial I hadn’t even seen the gaff! So I arranged a visit with my all too eager Dad (engineering/nerdiness runs deep in our family) and we managed to get a mini-tour from Bioengineering’s Outreach Officer, which was super helpful (if you’re considering a visit just send the Department an email, that’s what I did, I even got a Bioengineering goodie bag!). To my intense surprise, I liked the place straightaway. Aislinn in London? Interesting…
Sadly, my motivation didn’t last long after I actually did my exams. I was 100% sure that I hadn’t met the required grades after a particularly horrific Chemistry paper, and I set my sights on Dublin instead. I distinctly remember thinking “There goes London” as the invigilator called time. I almost didn’t even fill in the London accommodation forms over the summer because I was absolutely convinced that it wasn’t going to happen.
Fast forward to results day. I wasn’t expecting anything shocking, my course in Dublin was almost guaranteed so long as I didn’t make a complete mess of things. I really do love Dublin, having spent a few summers there over the years, so I was assured of a happy move. So I open my results, and my eyes shoot straight to the small letter beside the big aggressive CHEMISTRY. Apparently the marking scheme was especially kind because of the difficult exam, and I managed to scrape the mark I needed for London.
Can you imagine what happened next? Shouting, celebrations, pop the champagne? On the contrary, I took one look at my results, and didn’t say a word. I sat down to discuss everyone’s results but my own. I didn’t know what to think. Instead of the lovely Dublin one-way street I had set myself on, I was now at a crossroads. London or Dublin? The possibility of even having to make a choice had never occurred to me. I knew how lucky I was but I guess I was more shocked than anything else.
Making the choice wasn’t easy. I thought about nothing else for at least two weeks. Countless discussions with my parents, my friends, my then boyfriend, and I was still clueless. Everyone was telling me different things – my Dad was all for London (because of the stellar education), my Mom was a bit more reluctant (Her baby daughter so far away?! Heaven forbid!), my best friend was adamant that I wouldn’t abandon her, and the boy himself refused to give me any advice, even though we both knew well that he would eventually be in Dublin. It might seem strange for people from Britain, but moving from small town Ireland to any other part of the world is some feat, one that only 2 or 3% of people in my graduating year took on. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go home all that often, and that was quite worrying.
I’m not sure what swayed it for me in the end. I guess I knew that I would always regret it if I didn’t at least give London a chance. My parents told me I could always move back home after a year if I didn’t like it, bless them. I think I’ve got the kind of personality that means if I get an exciting idea in my head, I will inevitably go for it. Both a blessing and a curse it seems.
One year on, and things genuinely couldn’t be better. I’m still on my post-exam high (and haven’t yet hit the post-results low), so the rose-tinted glasses are still firmly in place. For all the apprehension I had coming here, I can’t believe how fast the year has gone. The course was tough but the craic was mighty – best check Urban Dictionary if you’re unsure of my Irish lingo! London is as amazing as everyone told me it would be, and despite their best efforts my home friends haven’t managed to cut me out just yet. I’ve met some amazing people here too who’ve learned to put up with my wayward antics. And, not to mention, the weather here is amazing. Seriously. For all that I’ve heard about London being rainy and miserable, between here and the West of Ireland, there’s no contest.
Sorry if this seemed a bit hormotional, the whole end of year thing kinda does that to you. I really couldn’t have asked for a better first year at uni. (I’ll let you know if these feelings have changed post-results… That would be embarrassing…)