Arianna's Story

My name is Arianna, I’m an English and Creative Writer student from Italy, and this is the story of how the passing of mum’s childhood dog ended up being the reason I applied to study at UoB, and eventually moved to the UK. 

Arianna's Story

From the beginning

I was seven years old when my school organised a mandatory writing competition. For some reason, I thought it would be fun to write a short story about the heartbreaking life of my mum’s childhood dog, who had tragically died too soon by being suffocated by a tennis ball. In an unexpected turn of events, I won the competition, and as a prize, I received a stack of books from my school’s library. This resulted in A) me falling deeply in love with writing, and B) my first encounter with Harry Potter – included in the prize – and my subsequent fascination for England. 

The problem, I realized ten years later, was that Italy unfortunately did not offer the chance to study Creative Writing at University. And when I started considering other countries to move to for my studies, it was quite easy to find the winner, but a difficult journey to get there.

Weighing my options

My final year of high school was probably the hardest moment of my academic career. I had never been an anxious person, but all of a sudden my entire future relied completely on me, and I was in the hands of a school system that has been deemed the most stressful in Europe (another reason why I needed to get away). Looking back at it now, I should have probably allowed myself to sleep more. But eventually, those months that now just feel like a distant fever dream which paid off.  

What I forgot to consider between the process of getting a visa, plane tickets, packing, hanging out with my friends as much as possible, eating too much pizza and annoying my little brother more than usual, was that, eventually, I’d be alone. It didn’t really hit me until I laid in bed, the first night in my student accommodation, in a naked and anonymous room that didn’t feel like mine yet. My mum had flown with me to England, and as I laid there at night I thought about her, staring at an equally naked ceiling in a hotel on the other side of Birmingham.  

In Italy, they don’t prepare us for that. I feel like when you grow up in the UK, you know that there’s a high chance that one day you’ll move away, wherever your studies will take you, when you are barely starting to call yourself an adult. We don’t. We try to delay that moment as much as we can. That’s probably why my mum still cries, even after three years, every time she drives me to the airport. And even though I know he’s joking, it still breaks my heart every time my brother says “you abandoned me”, just to guilt-trip me into doing his English homework (it works every single time). 

Getting used to my surroundings

But eventually, the naked room that didn’t feel like mine slowly started to feel like mine. All those accents that made me reconsider my twelve years of studying English finally started to make sense. The insecurities, the loneliness, the moments of doubting and thinking “maybe I should have stayed at home like everyone else”, started to get replaced by people who saw me as a completely different person than who I had always been. The only thing that stays the same is my deep hatred for baked beans. Seriously, why?

I will also never forget what my professor said during my first-ever Creative Writing lecture: “We don’t want you to think about grades, or what you think will make you do well on the course. We want you to explore. To find your own voice. To say what you have to say.”

At that moment, the anxiety that had been hovering over my head for months finally left. And now that I’m embarking on my final year, I can happily say that this anxiety hardly ever came back to visit me after that. And even though my journey at UoB is coming to an end, and I have to start thinking about what’s next, I’m reassured by the realization that the terrified and anxious girl who got on that plane from Milan to Birmingham three years ago is not the same girl that is writing this blog. 

And to her, I can only say thank you. 

Got a story to tell? We're looking for students – part-time, full-time, undergraduates, postgraduates (taught and research) mature students, and distance learners – to share their authentic stories of studying at the University of Birmingham. Share yours today.


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