To my family, it was just like a movie – their son heading off to the United Kingdom to study.
They thought I would return a much smarter, wiser, fairer and more heavily accented individual.
Unlike all dreams, this wasn’t just green fields, rainbows and bright sunshine. Having spent my entire childhood in the brutal heat of Angola and Portugal, I was entering a climate that was frighteningly different. It was hard to imagine not being able to wear shorts and slippers and walk about without jackets or coats on a daily basis.
So I walked into University Campus Suffolk with all these worries existing somewhere in my mind, and within a few weeks realised the most important thing about moving to a completely different environment – you don't need to change at all. All you need to change is your perception.
It's important to embrace the environment you enter, so you and it can maintain a mutually happy life. If you're heading to a country like the UK, you have a lot to embrace. You grow accustomed to the cold and rain – so much so that you start enjoying every bit of sunlight and noticing the beauty it brings with it. The beauty that lies within the old architectural style prevalent throughout UK cities is hard to find in the nest of high-rise buildings in other parts of the world.
Students come here to learn – not just their courses, but more about life, other people and their countries and cultures, and a lot about themselves. It’s an endless learning process, one that is filled with great friends and unforgettable experiences.
It’s not hard to associate in and become a part of life in the UK. Good people are not hard to find, and once you find them, language, accents or even cultural or religious differences don’t come in the way.
All you have to do is embrace the world given to you, and in turn it will embrace you.