It was forty five Celsius. I was standing, dripping with sweat, bright red in the face, staring at the greenish-brown pool in which Jesus was baptised. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. The rollercoaster of my first year at LSE had catapulted me halfway round the world, planting my feet on the banks of the Jordan River. Soaked and sticky as I was, I couldn’t have been more grateful.

The journey that ended in Jordan was begun in the car park of Bankside House. As I said goodbye to my parents, watching them drive away in the car that had brought my material life to London, I felt a churning in my stomach, a somersault of my heart. Fear burned through me. I absolutely dreaded my inevitable entrance to the crowded bar in the Bankside basement. To me, at that point two years into recovery from an eating disorder, coming to LSE was much like being dropped from a plane – no parachute provided. It took every shred of my will power to get me into the bar that night. I walked through those doors like a damned woman walking to the gallows.

Ten months later, I strode into the residence of Princess Ayah Bint Al Faisal of Jordan with my head held high. That old fear had all but flown me. My first year at LSE had shaken me, profoundly. There were moments when I wanted to give up. But the challenges I faced, intellectual and social and practical alike, made me stronger. I decided anew every day to stick it out. Before I knew it, I had one year of a BSc in International Relations under my belt and I had joined the Grimshaw Club entourage in the Middle East.

The blessings that got me there were many. LSE was undoubtedly one such blessing. Although at times it felt like a curse (when I was snowed-under by reading or had an essay deadline sat upon my head!), this school has changed me for the better. Living in the heart of London, studying under the wing of great social scientists, teaches you a thing or two. And perhaps more importantly, because uni definitely shouldn’t be all work and no play, I’ve made friends I hope will walk with me the rest of my life. The way I see it, if we can survive one exam season at LSE together, we can pretty much stick together through anything!

I hope you, dear reader, have the most amazing year at LSE. It’s a crazy place, in the middle of a big, bad city full of weird and wonderful people. There’s so much to learn here, and it isn’t all in books. That’s why I’m writing this blog: to pass on the few pearls of wisdom I have collected as a student, so that y’all on the interwebs can (with any luck!) find them useful. I’ll be making semi-regular posts about all things LSE and all things London – so if you’re interested, I’ll be back next week with a little student survival guide!

For now though, I have some LSE100 reading to do…

Image credit: Tasnima Khatun