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Matthieu Santerre

November 26th, 2013

Live London

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Matthieu Santerre

November 26th, 2013

Live London

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The landing was smooth and soft. Usually the plane reaches the ground with an unpleasant bouncing thud. After dizzying circles above London, waiting for clearance from Heathrow, I was finally here. Customs was slow. Soon enough I was outside in the crisp morning air. Britain, England, lay before me. This was not shy and sleepy Ottawa. This was big busy bustling London.

Although I arrived over two months ago, the day remains etched in my mind. When you come to a country as a tourist you appreciate it from the margins. You see the monuments and galleries, the restaurants and museums, and come back home with a showcase view of a city. When you come to a country to live, the magic and wonder of the first few weeks quickly peels away. You no longer see a city, you ‘live’ a city. And what a glorious city London is to live in.

Of course there are challenges. For those, like me, coming from an environment where vehicles drive on the right side of the road, they usually involve not getting run over.  It is hard to get used to. Even once you think you have managed to internalise the “look left, look right” automatism, a near miss with a taxi reminds you that you have not. Every once in a while you wonder how you managed to avoid the somber transition from student to roadkill. How you managed not to appear in the evening newspaper under the headline: “Foreign Student Turned into Pancake by Double-Decker Bus. ‘He Damaged my Windscreen!’ Says Driver”… And so you march on. Weary at every unfamiliar intersection.

Then there are those academic trials you must face. When first presented with your reading list you faint. The length is insurmountable. But you soon figure out, after a kind soul has brought you back round with some smelling salts, that these are guidelines. You must approach it like a menu. You pick a few items that sound appealing. Sometimes none look appealing, and much like in a Brussels sprout themed restaurant, you close your eyes, make a random selection and hope for the best. Sometimes you want to taste everything. Soon you reach your rhythm. Soon you get the ideal balance. And just as you start to settle in, essay season is upon you. But you roll up your sleeves to meet the challenge because this is LSE.

Yes this is LSE, but it is also London; extraordinary, energetic London. You may be run over or you may be bogged down in the library, but you are in a formidable setting. They say you should not allow London to get in the way of your studies, but really, you should. Live London.

About the author

Matthieu Santerre

I am a graduate student in the MSc History of International Relations programme here at LSE. I did my undergraduate studies in Political Science at McGill University in Montreal. I like drawing, and have done a number of illustrations for Le Délit. More recently I illustrated In Through A Coloured Lens, a brilliant book by Pat Watson.

Posted In: LSE | News | Off Campus

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