Friendly encounters with kind strangers

Friendly encounters with kind strangers

Whether it’s a helpful local or a chatty barkeeper, you can find friendly Brits throughout every corner of the UK. Melissa Guadalupe shares her experience of getting to know the British people.

Think of all the typical stereotypes of British people: they’re cold and distant, they don’t have a sense of humour, they like their personal space, and they always talk about the weather.

Now forget all of that because it can’t be further from the truth. Ok, maybe the part about the weather is a tiny bit true.

During my time as a Chevening Scholar, I built truly meaningful relationships with my professors, classmates, hosts, and just random people I met during my travels. In addition, I found that all of the Chevening staff (from programme officers to senior officials at the FCO) are incredibly kind and always there for you when you need them. You can really feel the British spirit shining through.

Scholars in London

Studying for a master’s degree in the UK can definitely be an intimidating experience. I must confess that before starting my course, just thinking about the high academic level of my professors and future classmates made me quite nervous. I feared that I would find myself in a highly competitive and impersonal environment. Fortunately these fears went away during ‘freshers week’ at my university, a time where new students are welcomed by staff and university ambassadors, and receive an orientation about the different services and opportunities that the university provides.Chevener-and-professors

We were also able to interact with our new professors in an informal and welcoming environment, which made us feel like we were joining a big family rather than entering a competitive race for grades. We learned that our professors are friendly, caring, and genuinely interested in not only teaching, but also learning from us and our experiences. This created a pleasant environment for students to interact with each other, and I cherish all of the friendships that I made with my classmates and fellow scholars at my university.

Memorable experiences

One of my most memorable experiences in the UK was spending a weekend in East Sussex with the parents of a British friend that I made a few years ago. Her parents, Michael and Kitty, are the most adorable hosts I have ever met, and even though they had never met me before, they welcomed me into their home as part of their family. They showed me the different landmarks of the region, shared with me their family’s history, taught me some typical customs and traditions, and even helped me understand British humour and slang better.

This kind of hospitality isn’t rare. I’ve been equally welcomed by the parents of my best British friend, Anna, whose mom even organised an Easter egg hunt for a couple of Anna’s friends just for fun! One of the great perks of being a Chevening Scholar is that you can also participate in a HostUK experience, where British families welcome you into their home for free and share with you their time and local knowledge. Truly something that you can’t miss when you come to the UK as a Chevening Scholar!

Friendly people

Speaking of your time as a Chevening Scholar, be prepared for a lot of travelling within the UK and therefore a lot of interactions with British people. Being personally fascinated with finding hidden gems and wandering around small towns, I’ve often found myself lost in the middle of the great British countryside without a clue. In these situations, I’ve relied heavily on the kindness of locals who have happily helped me find my way, and who have shared a tip or two for my future travels. It’s also very easy to just engage in really lovely and interesting conversations with barkeepers at the local pubs in these small towns (when the place is not too crowded, of course).

All in all, you can be sure that during your time in the UK you’ll find inspiring mentors, fun friends, and kind strangers!

Amsterdam Cheveners

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