On Living in ISH
When deciding to study abroad in London, you are given two options of housing, either live with a family in a homestay or to live in the International Student Housing (ISH). There are certainly pros and cons of both and most students decided to live with homestays and most everyone I have talked to really loves their family. Some of the nicest options of living with a homestay include financial reasons, having a family, being immersed in British culture, home-cooked meals three nights a week, and the opportunity to really connect with people living in London. However, despite these wonderful qualities I decided to give ISH a shot, mainly because of the students who came before me and lived at ISH. Each of these brilliant women I look up to, told me about how much they really enjoyed living in ISH, and I have yet to regret my decision.
While I am missing the opportunity to learn the British household culture, I am gaining an entirely different experience. ISH brings together people from all around the world, some of whom barely speak a lick of English, and we live together, happily, under the same roof. I have never heard so many languages, or seen so many different cultures in one place. I have made friends from Brazil, Nigeria, Spain, Italy, and the list continues. I have had an absolutely eye opening experience, just by sitting with a different person each night at dinner. Some of my most fun nights have included karaoke and dancing Thursday nights at the ISH bar, where we see cultures join together to sing terrible songs that are known and loved, no matter where you are from.
Another aspect of ISH that has made me happy for deciding to live here is the opportunities that are provided. From free pancake night to a dinner theatre evening with the Tudors or even, free Scottish dancing lessons, ISH has provided ample opportunities to meet other students in London and have fun on a budget. There also happens to be a venue below ISH, that plays live music on the weekends. On the first week I was here in London, one night my friends, who live with host families, had decided to eat dinner with their families and the commute had changed their minds about going out that night. I wasn’t very tired, and was still nervous about going out and exploring London by myself, so I was a little disappointed while I ate my dinner in the ISH cafeteria. However, while I ate, I overheard loud music coming from a room nearby. Deciding to not let my night be a bust I was determined to find the source of the music. I stumbled into the sound check for that evenings music line up. I ended up having a lovely conversation with the Londoner who books the bands and a nice man from Italy who does the sound for the venue. Later, that night I went to listen to the bands and met some really nice people. It is easy to find something to do, when you live at ISH.
When I was deciding to room in ISH, my roommate from Hollins had to drop out of the program. I was warned that I would be randomly placed with a student by the ISH facility and asked if I would like to opt for a homestay. I decided to go ahead and give ISH a shot and I have been so lucky. My roommate’s name is Paula and she is from Spain. She is here, studying English, and is remarkably understanding of my shoddy at best Spanish. One morning I woke up are rolled towards her as she got ready for her early class and asked, “Que tiempo?” thinking I was actually asking, “What time is it?” To which, she looked out the window and said, “Uh, how do you say… uhm… it is raining?” I have enjoyed living with her and being surrounded by the sounds of a foreign language that I somewhat understand. Just another unexpected yet pleasant aspect of London.