Ancient Greece, Rome, the Persian Empire! All great civilizations that have shaped the course of history, each one of which I have studied and found myself asking, “What would it have been like to be there? What would it have been like to be a part of something that big?”
Now don’t worry, I am not about to make the inductive leap of comparing LSE to an entire civilization. Yes, it is possible to get a free lunch EVERY DAY from the friendly Hare Krishna man outside Waterstones. Yes, LSE does have the awesome Shaw Library where you can sink into a high-backed armchair and pretend you are a Bond villain – but no, admittedly, it is not enough to challenge the ancient cities of the past. I bring up this connection to civilization because I wish to recount a small moment that struck me on the day of my registration.
Like many prospective students I was extremely anxious about what life at LSE would be like. Open days and glossy brochures only go so far in terms of giving you an image of the future. I certainly found myself most anxious about the people I would meet. Would I like my other course mates? More importantly, would they like me? Would my lecturers be nice? Would the lectures be stimulating? Would the course be well run? WILL I BE HAPPY?
These thoughts were uncontrollable on the day of my registration, running one after the other on a carousel of excitement and anxiety. Even though I had been through this process before at other institutions, it didn’t make it any easier. However, just before the moment of registration, when I would pick up the LSE ID card that would cement my student status and more importantly provide discounts at the cinema, a moment of calm settled upon me.
I was sat under the statue of Gladstone in front of St Clement Danes Church. Ahead the traffic snaked from Aldwych towards Fleet Street, and behind me lay Temple station and the Thames. In the middle of this cacophony of noise and colour, of architecture and business suits, I suddenly realised that I was sitting in the beating heart of a living city. Instead of taking the sights and sounds around me for granted, I imagined for a moment I was a time traveller from the future, sent back to experience the civilization of London. It occurred to me that not everyone in the history of time will get to see a red London bus with its “Mohawk” design rolling past the statue of Gladstone.
Somehow, this put things in perspective. I did not know what life at LSE would entail, but I did know that it would involve being in the centre of London where great people were doing great things all around me.