Having been in this city for almost three months, I feel as though I can now share an experienced position of what life is like in Leeds. Upon exiting the train station, I found myself surrounded by buildings certainly older than my great-grandmother and surprised by the city’s bustling atmosphere. I was finally where I had planned to be for over a year. There is something so weirdly unsatisfying about fulfilling travel plans. The build-up is part of what makes the journey so exciting, but once the destination is arrived at, one cannot help but feel a certain melancholy that all of the planning has been fulfilled. Of course, I had other plans to travel and see other places, but those would not be for a while.
I knew coming on exchange I would have to eventually put myself “out there,” where “there” means the socials, events and pub crawls the international association at Leeds University organized to better help exchange students adjust to life in Leeds. At a late afternoon tea, I met some wonderful people who were keen on having fun. Later, I realized we had formed a group that would hang out on a weekly basis throughout the term. This probably saved me, and I am proud of myself for attending the sometimes-awkward events that resulted in me finding friends (and places to stay all across the world).
A friend suggested we try out Bikram yoga—myself unaware, I agreed to the hardest form of hot yoga out there. For some reason though, I continue to frequent the studio on an almost-daily basis and have found the yoga somewhat life changing. Getting on the mat helps me work through minor social anxiety and stress I feel from being away from family but from also having to leave this place eventually, because I do love it here.
The freedom to travel, write, dance, drink, and do as I please is what I will remember about this place when I’m old and pensive. Maybe it is the magic of Leeds or just the sense of independence that living in another country gives me, but I’m glad to be here.
by Tori Matoga – Concordia University – Canada