Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ‘2015-16:
Buy a good umbrella.
If I could offer you only one tip for London, an umbrella would be it. The short term and long term benefits of having a good umbrella will be known as soon as it rains (which is every day) whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.
Enjoy the sun while it lasts. Oh, never mind. You will not appreciate it when you have multiple submissions, seminars and assignments. But trust me, in 20 years, when you look back, you will remember the picnic in the park with friends more than the word count of that essay. You are not as busy as you imagine you are.
Don’t worry for the future. Or past. Or present. In fact, don’t worry at all. Okay, I take that back. If you do not have a good umbrella that can withstand the mighty gusts of Victorian England, you have to worry. A lot.
Make a new friend every day. Say hi to the person sitting next to you who is tapping crazily in the laptop. I just did that. Since he had his headphones on, I had to be a bit loud. Anyway, to cut it short, do this when you are not in the ‘silent zone’ of the library.
Run some miles every day. It keeps you fit and helps you fit in. Fit in to the fad of running and fit into those tight skinny jeans. Do not run away from deadlines. Well, you can try but they’ll outrun you.
Go to the street markets and try different cuisines. It is an enriching experience – in terms of tasting new delicacies but also as a reminder of your budget as a student. Grey skies remind me of Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens reminds me the everyday benefits of thrift.
Maybe you’ll find love(s). Maybe you’ll have heart break(s). But no matter what, the odds are ever in your favour with the chocolate cake at Garrick. Indulge.
Go around London. Soak in the sights and sounds. Click pictures. If you do that send those photos to me, since it is easy to advise people.
Learn to use the words – regression, collective action problem, confidence interval, variables, t value, and dummy variable. With them you can sound intelligent in any topic or discussion. For eg: my cat is not eating food in the winter. “It is a collective action problem in your household.” How to solve ozone layer problem? “Someone has to do a regression with the relevant variables and check the t value”.
Sing. Don’t sing in front of the girl you want to impress.
Have patience. When you wait for your luggage by the baggage carousel and while giving advice.
Know your batch mates. You are here to learn, but also to make connections for the future.
Learn to greet in different languages. It helps to break the ice. But remember, the best way to greet is with a ‘smile’.
Disregard everything I said, but trust me on the umbrella.
*Inspired by the Wear Sunscreen speech by Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune