The University of Southampton
International Voices

A Year of Firsts!

Touch down. Heathrow Airport. Needless to say, it was quite an emotional moment for me coming from India to do my masters. Having realized this dream of studying abroad after two long years, I was looking forward to what the great United Kingdom had to offer. And after five months, well, it sure hasn’t disappointed me. So here’s a list of some of the things I have experienced that certainly makes my short stint in the UK  ‘a year of firsts.’

First set of Chinese, Greek and British friends

And we’re all living under the same roof! It is amazing how well we get along and our lives are all the more enriched by getting a taste of each other’s culture. I have tried learning as much of their culture as possible including language, food, traditions etc.

First step in London

London is THE place to be in. Period. If you’re an avid fan of Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes or any British- related literature or pop culture, London would be a real treat!



One of the best things I find not just in London but most parts of the UK are the amazing museums and galleries where you can gain so much knowledge and most of them are for free!


First taste of British food

I joined a local Church here in Winchester and as part of their student group, they have something called ’Student Sundays’ where every Sunday someone from Church would host lunches at their homes for freshers. This is where I got to try great English home-made food for free including  the delicious Triffle pudding and got to meet wonderful people. I have tried to replicate a few dishes with my own touch.  I would definitely recommend joining any local community group. You get a chance to make friends and they make you feel like you belong here.

First trip to Scotland

Well, I could write a whole other blog about the beautiful city of Edinburgh and my time spent there during Hogmany (Scotland’s New Year). Perhaps, some other time but all I can say is it is well worth a visit!


Also, I got to see a pair of Scottish street punks in kilts belting it out to the Star Wars theme song. Now that was definitely a first!

First Christmas done in British style

Family bonding over Christmas at Edinburgh- what more could I ask for? And since they’ve lived all their lives in the UK, I got to experience how Christmas is celebrated here first- hand. A few things that are distinct to a British Christmas that I got to learn- pulling crackers before the Christmas lunch, watching the Queen’s speech and raising a toast to her, hogging on turkey, mince pies and mulled wine. I would here, recommend staying at a bed and breakfast at a local resident’s house if you’re travelling anywhere to get a real taste of the local culture (Airbnb is great).

First Snow

This was pretty magical as this was my first snow. I was a little kid all over again when I saw it snowing outside (just like they show in the movies).


So these were pretty ordinary ‘firsts’ but were quite memorable to me. I hope to experience other unique ‘firsts’ in the coming months. Until next time..


Faith Stephenie Syiem

International Student Digital Ambassador









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