From Kuala Lumpur to Bristol


By Natalie Ng, Accounting, Finance, and Management Masters Student

The Croft Magazine // An international student from the 'hustle and bustle' of Kuala Lumpur, tells of her move to the 'cold but exciting' streets of Bristol

I came to the United Kingdom for the first time four years ago. Time sure flies now that I think back to the days when I was still a fresher, but I remember those days as if they happened yesterday. My first impression of Bristol was that it was a less congested version of London and, honestly, as a fresher that was rather reassuring - I felt as though I had time to find my way around the city while not feeling overwhelmed by everything around me.

Bristol is a very different city from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur, so it took some time adjusting to. One thing that I was particularly surprised by was the number of hills in Bristol! Back home in Malaysia, we mostly drive because of the way the roads are structured, so coming here and realising that everyone mostly walked, biked, or took public transport was startling. I remember being impressed at how anyone’s legs could still be attached after walking up Park Street or St Michael’s Hill; hats off to the Deliveroo bikers cycling furiously around this city!

In Malaysia | Epigram / Natalie Ng

In the first few months leading up to Christmas, it was definitely a time of finding my feet around the university and the city. The university campus can be like a maze to a fresher so Google Maps was my best friend. It was not only a time for adjustment to being around a new campus, but a new city as well.

Instead of limiting myself to the radius of the university, I chose to venture out to the various parts of Bristol. I think that made the thought of being in a new and foreign country that much more exciting, it was like being on an adventure. Between the mix of modern and traditional elements that make up Bristol - City Centre being the most contemporary area, whilst places like Blaise Hamlet are definitely much more unique and cosy - there are so many places in the city where you can discover.

I would not say that adjusting to life in Bristol was seamless, though. There were certainly tough times; I missed my friends back home, I missed the lifestyle I had, and I certainly missed my room.

In Malaysia I am used to houses with much more room, whereas in the UK I soon came to realise that space is a luxury. Being cooped up in a tiny student flat the size of what would have been my bathroom back home was rather claustrophobic and depressing. Once you add the cold winter temperatures and increasing darkness, it did not make things easier. It was much “safer” staying at home where it was warm rather than to go out, which in turn made for feeling a lot more lonely.

That is not to say that life has been doom and gloom since. I got used to the cold by investing in a good jacket, I brought sturdier umbrellas back from Asia that do not flip when it rains, I made friends on my course, I dabbled in various societies which I never knew were things people were interested in and I gradually adjusted to the lifestyle here. Personally, I think ease of adjusting to life in a foreign country is largely attributed to knowing the language. So for those whose first language is not English, I would advise to brush up on your skills.

First time visiting the UK - Brighton Beach | Epigram / Natalie Ng

I would not say I adjusted to Bristol overnight; it took time, a year at least to be able to get comfortable being in a new environment. It was difficult because I had to mature overnight and learn to be independent, but that is not to say that it was an impossible feat.

I would say to give yourself time to adjust to your new life and embrace it for the things that it can and will teach you. Bristol truly is a wonderful city, highly praised by the people, especially the Uber drivers here I’ve noticed. So make the most of your time here, and don’t be afraid to adventure!

Featured: Unsplash / Matiinu Ramadhan

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