Starting from scratch
My mom was always independent and she expected us all to be able to take care of ourselves and survive. I managed to smuggle over 60kg of stuff onto the plane and had to convince the bus driver to accept me without incurring any additional charges.
My mom who I had not seen for absolutely ages was waiting for me at the bus station and took me home with her to some dingy little room that the hospital had provided as accommodation. Not much to my surprised she had been living in rather scruffy conditions just to make ends meat.
I was depressed since climbing onto the plane. Greg and Marina had come to see me off and of course my dad, so the three people that I really care about. Greg looked heart broken that I had finally decided to leave and was going through with it. I tried to look for internet cafes daily in order to send emails back, every 10 min costed a pound or more and that was equivalent to 110 rand, which to me was an extortionate amount of money.
The weather was ok, there was some sunshine and I went for walks to encourage my mood. My mom expected me to leave quite soon for Bristol, so again with all the luggage I was put on a train and off I went to a place I had never been on my own. Didn’t know what to expect when I got there, no accommodation really sorted out for University. I wasn’t apprehensive, I think I was just naive. I was lucky when I arrived because there were some bristolians helping the new university students find their way and one very kind lady took me to the student centre where I managed to get my things sorted. On top of this, she took me around the city with her car to show me around and took me to her home while I waited for another couple that I was going to rent the room from to pick me up.
The first couple of days were horrendous, I lived with this really strange couple, I didn’t feel comfortable at all. The room I stayed in was cold and dark and I cried all the time. I didn’t know where to buy food to cook it and I was so out of my depth.
Later I moved to a student hall and things became easier. I could go and have breakfast and dinner there. The room I stayed in had a lovely view, but it was a 2m,3m box and ultimately really depressing. I remember regularly closing the blinds and shutting the world off. I stopped going to eat food and I stopped going to all my classes. I just didn’t want to partake in life. I fell into a really deep depression, especially before my first exams as I had found out that my granddad had passed away.
G wouldn’t return my emails or talk to me and was already involved with someone else, I felt really alone.
I was lucky, because there was a really good greek guy that really helped me out. He used to come round and bring me food and make me company. I felt so much better for it and I will never forget to this day how kind that was. I also had a French girl staying in the room next door, who would have heard me cry and always came to make me company.
Losing my innocence
I met this really exciting girl that I got really close with, she used to stay over in my room and we used to spend day and night together. She was on my course and had come from France to study Engineering. I fell in love with her literally, she was my new rock and the person I felt the closest to.
She began taking me with to parties and meeting with other french people. She actually introduced me to my next to be boyfriend. Things in the UK were very different to things in SA. I had always been a conservative girl and didn’t want break the values I had been brought up with. Now I was in my 20s and pressured to move forward in terms of what was expected in a serious relationship of this age.
I felt clumsy and uncomfortable and it was all scary, but it happened and wasn’t the way I had expected it to.
Unfortunately, I was also still getting the flu regularly and my mom and I decided that it would be best to find a flat to buy and move into. My two french girlfriends joined me once this was organised. I remember building all the furniture, we lugged so much stuff with us from the shops with no car. It was really crazy but exciting at the same time. Initially we slept on a sofa which turned into a bed. I mean the flat had nothing in it. It was an adventure I shared particularly with my new closest friend.