The Beginning of My Exchange – by Connor Deegan

When I walked out of Leeds airport I was greeted by drizzle and the sight of my own breath hovering in front of my face. This was despite the fact that summer had ended just days earlier and it was the middle of the afternoon. I am lucky enough to have one of my best friends accompanying me on my semester away, but we were arriving in Leeds separately. It was thus up to me to find my way to my accommodation, which I did by catching a bus in to the city and then walking to Uni using what I now realise was a very indirect route.

The reason I realise this is that I am now 2 and a half weeks in to my exchange and know my way around Leeds a little bit (only a little bit but yeah). While it’s been a very hectic time, I feel as though I have settled in as well as I could have. The first day or two consisted of just surviving – I didn’t have a kitchen to cook in and was using a pillowcase for a towel as I hadn’t packed one – but after moving in to my permanent accommodation I was able to settle in.

Despite the fact that I feel ‘settled in’, things haven’t exactly been ‘settled’. I haven’t had any real down time as there has been something happening most days and everyone is keen to spend a lot of time out meeting each other. I have found myself hanging out with a bunch of other exchange students, many of whom are Australian, which has been and no doubt will continue to be great fun.

I’m also getting along really well with my flatmates (one of whom is my mate from home). The others are also exchange students – from Denmark, Belgium and 2 from Japan. We’re spending plenty of time together – I was lucky enough to have a couple of the girls take me shopping yesterday in a bid to improve my disgrace of a wardrobe. There is a flat of 6 of us sharing a kitchen and living area which I think is an ideal setup for a semester away and I can see us all becoming pretty close by the end of the semester.

While I am yet to do anything overly exciting during my time here, being out and about in Leeds and meeting everyone has been excitement enough for now. I’ve also now booked trips to Dublin and Amsterdam over the next couple of weekends with some of the people I have met, as well as committing to the ski trip to France in December, which is apparently a bit famous over here so should be good. Classes started the other day and things seem pretty similar to the way it is at home so hopefully I can find time to do some homework and stay on top of things. Overall I couldn’t really have hoped for a better two weeks to start my time in Leeds – hopefully the rest of the semester is just as good. And the weather’s actually been alright since the first day or two, but I wont bank on that lasting.

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