Written by Calyste Revel, MSc Investment and Wealth Management, Imperial LGBTQ+ Officer
[Sidenote: LGBTQ+ means Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer/Questioning, and the + is for all individuals that do not identify with the previous categories]
Letting go and finding yourself
What I found very peculiar in my transition to university was the fact I suddenly could be totally myself. I come from a small village in France and my sexuality, although not something I was ashamed of, had never been something people were willing to discuss back home. So, arriving in London, where the opportunities to express my identity and be recognised for it suddenly felt unlimited, was truly overwhelming at first.
I mentioned in a previous blog post that I am currently studying French which I am doing through the Horizons program. It is going well, I think, my grades from my coursework are good and I’m starting to revise for the end of year exam. Speaking in front of other people in French still makes me nervous. It has been years since I’ve studied French at GCSE and having language classes every week had me thinking a lot about identity.
In my spare time, I also have been gradually learning sign language which is a bit harder in terms of finding resources and revising when you cannot really write any of it down to refer to, it is all in my head.
If you search up ‘Subtle Asian Traits’ on Facebook, the top result you will find is a group with over 1.8 million members inside. Culture and identity is a key definition of a person’s character and that what makes travelling so special. Some people seek the adventure of immersing into a different culture and lifestyle to be able to see the world in a different perspective. As I have grown up in Malaysia and primarily only interacted with Malaysians for the past 19 years of my life, settling into a new country was fascinating as I learned to adapt to this new culture.
The biggest concern I had before coming to London was that I would not fit in. The drastic cultural differences between London and South-East Asia can be noticed easily from the food we eat, the way we speak and sometimes even the way we dress. People in London are phenomenal and I always find myself being able to dive into deep conversations about various topics. The experiences and ideologies that we grew up with are so different that it amazes me every time and allows me to constantly learn new materials from every conversation. However, there comes a point in every international student’s time abroad that we will miss home more than usual.
It’s that time of year again; we’ve officially kissed 2020 goodbye and have hailed in 2021. For some people, approaching the end of a calendar year calls for a moment of self-reflection to figure out how they can better themselves during the next one. They toss the last Quality Street box in the bin and vow never to eat a chocolate again. Or they dig out their trainers and pledge to start exercising more. They may even take a pass on the Winter sales and resolve to start saving more money. At least these are the more common resolutions made.
However, statistics condemn that most (90%) of these resolutions will be broken long before 31st December 2021.
For many Hindu students, this year was the first time they spent Diwali away from home. This never seems to be met with the same ‘shock horror’ response as a student spending Christmas away from home, but for those of us used to spending Diwali with our family and friends, this felt like a big deal.
Diwali is truly a family festival. The festivities start a few days earlier by decorating the house with flowers, diyas (earthen lamps) and rangoli (a display of coloured powder). On Diwali itself, we start the evening by gearing up in traditional Indian attire and then taking some time to visit the temple to pray as a family.