How to adapt to life and study in the UK, as told by a Chevening Scholar

Social Media Ambassador Isabela Gómez Martínez reflects on her first month in the UK and what it’s like to navigate a new city, a new language, and a new culture.

I couldn’t believe it when I received my acceptance letter informing me that I had been one of the 14 Colombian Chevening Scholarship recipients. I read the mail ten times, making sure it wasn’t a mistake, and even so, for weeks, I thought they would retract their decision to choose me.

My journey from Colombia to England was quite a journey. My journey started from Cali – New York, New York – Delhi, then Delhi – Dharamshala for training with the Dalai Lama in peacebuilding. My move could not have been crazier, as my suitcase for the UK was going worldwide. Three weeks later, I could finally say I made it to Dharamshala – Delhi, Delhi – Dubai, Dubai – London.

Currently, I am doing a master’s degree in International Human Rights Law at the University of Sussex in Brighton. And it was only on my first day of classes that I could realize that this moment was real. I AM A CHEVENER.

My first month in Brighton has been a roller coaster of emotions. I have had to navigate a new city, a new language, and a new culture. I’ve bought expensive things before finding cheap places, I’ve had to laugh at new technologies that I don’t know how to use, I’ve learned that in London the train ticket is charged at the end and that it rains every day in England.

The University of Sussex is the most diverse place I have ever studied. During the last five weeks, I have felt the joy of meeting young people worldwide. I have felt the curiosity to understand a new legal system and to prove that I want to be the best in my field. But also, there has been the sadness of leaving people behind, of letting go.

All these challenges, so many emotions and feelings, have allowed me to reconnect with myself. I am a braver woman, the fear of the new and the unknown does not paralyze me. Facing so many changes has only allowed me to recognize my inner strength.

Brighton is my new home. I have begun to build my little refuge from the world here, which already feels like home. I have found love and friendship in the most unexpected places, and I can’t wait for what the rest of this year has to offer.

Chevening is not just an opportunity to access quality education. It is a door to change your life, to strengthen your soul, mind, and heart. But most of all, to connect with wonderful people who are also working for a better world.

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Discover more about living in the UK from a Chevening Scholar’s perspective. Korng Sok is a 2021/22 Chevening Scholar from Cambodia studying Educational Leadership at The University of Birmingham.