I’m all done setting up my room at Queen Mary University, and the housing couldn’t be any better than it already is. At my American university, I’m used to sharing a room with one, or sometimes even two, other girls, and sharing my bathroom with an entire hallway of 20-30 girls. There’s only one kitchen per building, but they’re barely furnished and rarely used due to the requirement that anyone living on campus have a meal plan that revolves around the campus dining hall.
The British, however, seem to prefer personal space over sharing. In the student village section of campus, each building is broken up into apartments, called ‘flats’ here in the UK. I have my own personal bedroom, which is almost the same size as the room I shared at my university back home. I even get my own attached bathroom. Sure, my room overlooks the railroad tracks behind campus, but the view of the park behind the tracks is beautiful, and the thick curtains included with the room really help to block out the city lights late at night when I’m trying to sleep.
Queen Mary doesn’t have a regular meal plan program; they have several restaurants on campus and offer a limited prepaid voucher plan for dinners in one of the restaurant on weekdays, but there’s none of the full day, all you can eat plans that I’m used to back home. Instead, we’re expected to fend for ourselves the majority of the time, either cooking our own food or paying to eat elsewhere. Fortunately, each flat comes with a kitchen, fully stocked with everything you’ll need except for food, cutlery, and cookware. For example, mine comes with a toaster, microwave, fridge, stove, etc. It feels rather odd sharing a kitchen with ten other people. Most of my food goes into the school provided mini fridge under my desk, but anything that needs to be kept frozen has to go into fridge in the kitchen. Even though no one has taken any of my food yet, I’m always worried that one day something will look too good for someone else to pass up, and I’ll come back to find part of my lunch missing.
The food here is taking a little getting used to. Fortunately for me, the campus is located in one of the cheaper sections of London, so buying already cooked food from the little shops nearby isn’t costing me an arm and a leg; thanks to this, I’ve been able to try a little bit of the local cuisine. The Indian and Bangladeshi dishes are amazing; out of everything I’ve tried, they seem to have the most spice and flavor to them. On the other hand, the British food I’ve tried seems to be much more toned down than what I’m used to in the US. The ramen noodles I bought to make myself lunch had less than three grams of salt in the total package! Oddly enough, I have yet to try the national dish, ‘Fish and Chips’.