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Leeds University – Sweet memories – Part A!

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Η ανάρτηση του Leeds University-Sweet Memories – Μέρος Α’  , μεταφρασμένο στα αγγλικά για τους international φιλους μου! 🙂

Chris Pine is a University of Leeds graduate…and so am I!!

Awesome introduction huh? Hahahahah


So Leeds is located in the West Yorkshire in England and nearby Manchester (for the football fans out here). Ooooonce upon a time, in the Victorian era, Leeds used to be one of the top industrial areas, and since then has developed into the a modern economic “gem”. At least that is what I was told!

Leeds has 2-3 universities, but the University of Leeds is the most famous one. I did my Masters degree there, the period where euro was about to succeed the drachma in 2001-02. It was one of the most renowned universities with excellence in teaching and research, beautiful architecture and great facilities  for studying. In addition, the multiple choices of entertainment made the place ideal for studies.

The people in Leeds speak with a different accent than the people in Oxford (the one we were taught as Greeks in our English modules back in school). It sounds a little bit weird, but in the end you are getting used to it.

Personally, I had to solve the language issue first rather the “accent” one. I was taught different type of English back in school and not the the colloquial one. Therefore, during my first month there I was almost mute. Luckily, I was there with a fellow Greek classmate from the college I attended back in Greece and he did all the talking. Otherwise, I would have been in deep trouble.

So, during the second month I slowly started to talk, but as it appeared the people around me could hardly understand anything that came out of my mouth. Talking on the phone and achieving any sort of communication was seriously impossible. Hence, I started communicating with people via text messages. Problem solved!!

I formed my first English sentence during class and since then all my friends tease me even till this day. The lecturer asked us to introduce ourselves, by stating our name, where are we from and what is the main reason our country of origin is famous for.  The class was absolutely crowded and the more my turn was approaching to speak the more I was feeling like fainting (that stressed I was that I had to speak in English). I sit between an Aethiopean classmate and my Greek friend.

It was the Aetheopean classmate’s turn to speak. He said his name, that he comes from Adis Abeba and that his country is notorious for the poverty existing there. My turn came and with a shaking voice I said «hello, I’m Efi, I come from Greece and my country is famous for it’s night life!”

Yes Ladies and gentlemen, inside my stressed out mind, Greece is famous for its night life. Not for the Acropolis, or the culture or the ancient Greeks! These were my first sentences in English!

After the third month passed by, I started enriching my English vocabulary too! Since people used to say to me “your Greek accent is very sexy”,  I never actually cared about the way my accent sounded.

Personally, I learned the colloquial from the young people there, the movies and the magazines. The ‘ancient’ photo below was taken in the cinema, where we watched the “Oceans Eleven”.

I met my housemates in the university’s halls, where future students used as accommodation temporarily until they get their own place to live.

That was my first encounter with people from many different countries and I still remember these first days as an amazing adventure. Also my stay in the country started dramatically. Me and my Greek friend flew with KLM to the UK and as it appeared our suitcases were lost. That night and for the next three nights, we washed the same socks and underwear and put them on the radiators to  dry in order to be able to wear them the following day (after these 3 days our suitcases were found).

I also remember being hungry at 10pm but the kitchen in the halls or the stores were closed. The place was dead, nothing was open at that time of the night.

In the mornings, we were searching for accommodation. In my mind there was only one thing; I wanted a two floor house with colourful carpets located in a ghetto area (like the ones in the movies) and housemates from exotic countries. Fillipos, my Greek friend that took the same flight with me, and was full of chivalry and thought he was taking care of his younger sister was trying to bring some sanity to me.

He was so diplomatic and polite in his ways that very later on I realised he was totally freaked out with me.

Eventually, we stayed also with 2 sisters from Thessaloniki in an elegant beautiful house with a garden full of squirrels, nearby the university (5 minutes walk) and the Hyde Park. The first days, staying the four of us in the same house felt weird. The 2 strangers, me and Fillipos. Ok! Me and Filippos we knew each other from college but I had the feeling he was getting scared of me now that we were under the same roof. Over the time though, all four of us were strongly bonded and became like a family. We had housemates’ meetings, hmmm, for the people staying over the night in our house, we ate altogether, we offered a piece of advice to each other when needed and we respected each other’s individuality.

Akhh I don’t know what to mention first from that brilliant careless period of my life.

Great student parties, pub crawling, bank arrangements Natwest/Barclays, kebab, donner, fish & chips and pasta with cheese, pasta with ketchup, pasta as pasta! Too much pasta there! hahahahahaha

Apart from pasta, once we had also an extraordinary goat for a meal which my grandfather,  sent me with a parcel/cooler (he used to make terrific parcel). The goal was for the goat to be consumed as soon as possible and therefore it had to arrive as soon as possible in Leeds. But KLM for once more lost the luggage/cooler! After a marathon of arrangements with the people in charge in the airport, the goat arrived with a two days delay. I started cooking the goat in the oven in order to make the dinner for my housemates and my best friends Yusuke, Estelle and Patrick (Japanese, Taiwanese and Jamaican respectively).

While the goat cooking was on-I really don’t understand what was the problem with it- the smell of it being cooked was weird. The female housemates abandoned the house with some sort of excuse (afterwards that we became best friends, I was told that they couldn’t handle the smell from the goat cooking). Everybody else stayed for the dinner. After the goat was fully cooked, the weird odours finally stopped. So I thought to myself “here we are, finally we will eat!” Ha! Think again! The meat wasn’t edible! It was unbelievably hard to chew on. I remember Yusuke putting all his effort in getting a bite and politely saying “very tasty!”

I thought “at least I made a nice, rich Greek salad! We will eat this and we will submerge our bread in the salad juice, super cool, we will feel full” Ha! Think again for once more! Someone wanted to add some salt on the salad and apparently the big hole in salt box was used and a mountain of salt landed on the salad…the salad wasn’t edible either. The outcome? Fish and chips take away and my reputation as a cook totally destroyed.

In terms of night life, my favourite night club with 3 dancing rooms hosting different dancing music (Pop, RnB και Electro) was the “Creation”

The managers of the club provided me with a membership card. Every time I visited the venue and showed my card in the entrance of the club, an electronic banner was coming out saying “Hi Efi, welcome to Creation”. I was absolutely over the moon the first time I saw this! Awesome promotion idea from the marketing department of the club! I found my “Creation” membership card in the “Leeds memory” box, while searching for photos I would like to scan.

I loooooooved that one year there, I managed to fully adjust in a glimpse of an eye.

Although it was getting dark since 4pm and there was no sunshine, I loved that cultural element that included people from different countries/cultures living in harmony. Nobody cared about what other people wore, did or how they looked like. Everyone were accepted. I had been on my pyjamas  to the off license shop in the corner countless times. No-one ever looked at me in a weird way.

I also loved our small house! Mainly, because there were so many ‘domestic’, sweet squirrels! I Mind blowing to me!!!  Moreover, it was within a walking distance from the campus, and you could get more sleep and still be on time. Also, it was close to the Hyde Park and in sunny days we were laying under the trees. Also, it was safe coming back home from a night out and last but not least our neighbors were young, not students and therefore we had peace too.

The house had 4 ensuite bedrooms. That was a super plus for the house! Finally, there was only one common room which included the kitchen and living room. That was the area where we all spent time together and bonded!

We threw a lot of birthday parties and gatherings with friends, classmates and neighbours! The apartment next to us was rented by 3 English guys. Really good guys and quiet. We used to take tea together all the time! There was a small issue in the beginning with the tenants in the downstairs apartment. They started the whole thing by banging their ceiling-our floor with something and therefore we ‘replied’ by banging our floor with the broom, hence, their ceiling. I remember once they switched the main power off as a payback. I don’t remember what we did from our part, but I still remember a humongous guy coming up the stairs with a rugby bat and bad intentions (this is when we realised that they used the bat to bang their ceiling!)

At that point, Vaso the housemate, intervened; which I am not sure how and what, but within the next 10’ we were all sharing my couch and talked like friends!

Talking about Vaso, I definitely have to refer to the incident, where I caught her taking it out on the dryer!! The laundry machines and dryers were located in the entrance of the building. The dryers had their own psychology/mentality and decided on whether to operate or not according to that. You might have been collecting 20p with great effort for days and when you fed the dryer, the machine would not work. The outcome was that you would have stayed without coins and with your laundry still not done. In one of these days, I caught Vaso taking some steam out on the dryer!!! Hahahaha! My housemate was a woman with passion!

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