Almost exactly one year ago, we published a blog in October to kick start the class of 2018’s scholar blogs titled, ‘Fifteen first impressions of the UK’. A year on, with a new class of scholars, we wanted to find out again what the first impressions of the UK have been like for our new […]
Six of my best purchases so far
If you’re moving to the UK, your packing list will probably include a few key items which you will want to bring with you. Among these; your toothbrush, stuffed bear, comfortable walking shoes, all 312,441 items from your wardrobe, and one item of dry food that you know customs won’t take from you – as a reminder of home. Other items will need to be purchased once you get here (duvet, we’re thinking of you) for a variety of reasons. Some of these items however, will prove more useful than others and you’ll be extra glad to have gotten them. We asked, what has been your best purchase so far, and six great answers from our scholars are below.
1. WINTER-FRIENDLY MATERIAL
Rofida Lathifah Ghofir, Indonesia
‘Living in London is not that expensive if you know where to buy.
I came here from a tropical country which meant clothing materials are different from the UK. I brought a few clothes from home, and planned to get some new clothes here.
There is a large variety of famous clothing brands available in London and if you walk through the famous Oxford Street, you can choose any brand that you like. Despite only being autumn, I felt the need to buy a winter coat since I get chilly easily as I’m used to living in a hotter country.
I searched the many stores hoping to find a decent coat for a reasonable price but in the end, I couldn’t find one. The prices were all over the budget I’d set myself and I didn’t want to go over this as I wouldn’t need to bring the coat back home.
So, I looked for a way to get cheaper clothes but with the same good quality I’d seen. I asked my friend and he suggested that I go to a charity shop. Charity shops are places where you can find good quality used items for a fraction of the original cost. So, I went to a charity shop near my flat and successfully found a branded coat for only £7.50 – down from the normal price of £50. Woohoo!
The coat is really warm, is long enough to cover part of my legs in the cold weather, and it came with the hood too. It is absolutely perfect. Thanks to the charity shop, I can now explore London without having to worry about the chilly weather.’
2. SHAKESPEARE IN THE RAIN
Charles Douglas, Canada
‘For months, I have been looking forward to arriving in London and seeing a production at Shakespeare’s Globe! A couple of days ago, I finally had the opportunity to do so. I purchased a ticket to Henry V (for only £5!) and stood within arm’s reach of the stage. Though it poured rain for much of the evening, I had a great time taking in the company’s stellar work. In the photo, you can see that no weather could dampen the joy on my face and that of my Canadian friend! I am looking forward to returning to Shakespeare’s Globe and to sharing this quintessentially British experience with other Cheveners!’
3. THE HANDY KETTLE
Sunjolinet Bora, Cambodia
‘Before coming here, I was very concerned with the high cost of living in London so I came prepared. Yet, shopping was still the biggest part of my first week in London.
I had to buy many things ranging from bedroom kits to kitchen kits to make sure that I could settle in as soon as possible. I did not expect that I could buy bedroom and kitchen kits in London for very reasonable prices but I could and that made my shopping easier.
I was able to get a nice kettle for as low as £6! I decided to buy this kettle at Wilko after doing some pricing research. I decided to take a photo and write about it because with such a price, this kettle helps me to solve my breakfast problems as I can just have a cup of hot instant noodles in this cold weather as soon as I get up.’
4. THE NEED FOR A NEW PHONE
Wadhah Hubaishi, Yemen
‘I never realised how outdated my mobile phone was until I arrived in the UK. Until I left Yemen, I didn’t feel the need to upgrade my five year old phone.
One part of living in a country with war is that things deemed normal elsewhere are often hard to come by. An example of this is the use of modern technology in an increasingly connected world.
In Yemen, I never really had to buy a new phone because apps that are useful here in the UK have no use there. For example, electronic banking, ticket purchasing apps, and things like being able to pay using your phone – which is unheard of back home.
Moving to the UK, I was astonished by how much you can accomplish with a modern phone when the right technological infrastructure exists. It’s truly an eye opening experience for me and something I wish for for the millions back home who don’t have the same access to new technology.’
5. A CONCERT TICKET
Reza Fauzan, Indonesia
‘My Chevening journey led me to my best purchase which was a concert ticket to see my favourite British pop-rock band Keane live! The main vocalist used to attend the same university as I do now too – the University of Edinburgh.’
6. MY DILEMMA: FASHION OR SURVIVAL
Cephas Ke-on Avoka, Ghana
‘I love African wear. My wardrobe is usually filled with all kinds of designs from fashion designers across Ghana which I especially like to wear when I travel.
Before I travelled to London, I contemplated getting a jacket for the cold. A friend of mine who makes clothing recommended his trademark “Maka” thin jacket – a kind of mosaic of “maasai shuka” from Kenya. This seemed like a good option.
When I arrived in London, the weather was very bright and sunny, and I immediately felt at home thinking I can totally survive in this weather.
The morning after my arrival was relatively colder so I wore my colourful “Maka” jacket and went to locate my friends who lived in London (for a kind of settling-in-London orientation). On my way back from my visit (I admit, I got lost in the underground more than once), it rained and continued to rain for the rest of the day, and as you can see, my designer jacket (on the right in the picture) was not designed to save me from the rain.
First thing the next morning, I bought the black jacket (pictured on the left) and what a relief it was to feel the warmth in that jacket. I never imagined that such a light jacket could be so warm and comfortable, and more importantly, protect me when it is raining (and it rains a lot in London).
This black jacket is not only my best purchase so far, it is my companion during all my commutes around the city.’
Fun side note: We spotted Cephas and his awesome jacket at the FCO during Open House London but did not realise he was a Chevener!
Thank you to all of our scholars who submitted pictures and stories to this theme.
For submissions to future scholar blogs, please find full details including current themes in the scholar Facebook group and in your monthly Scholargram newsletters.
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