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My three month experience in Torquay

This weekend, we sadly say goodbye to Sofia, who has been working with us at TTPL for three months. During that time Sofia became our Torbay Student Ambassador and has been a great asset to the team. Sofia has kindly written a blog about her experience…

Arrival

Since the day I was told I would come to Torquay I couldn’t wait for that moment to arrive. Luckily I was too busy with my final exams to think about the experience and so the day of the departure arrived quickly. I was so excited and happy to see England for the very first time but scared at the same time to leave for 3 entire months my country and my family. Twelve weeks felt like a very long time and I was afraid of missing home but that didn’t happen (at all, as you will read in this blog!).

The adventures begun the very first day. After landing in London, we travelled by bus all night and arrived at 6am in Torquay, without getting a minute of sleep. Our host families picked us up from the coach station and drove us home where we went straight to bed. I slept for three hours and then I had to wake up to go to the welcome meeting. I couldn’t find my bus stop but a friendly old man helped me by accompanying me to the right stop. I arrived a bit late but everyone told me not to worry. At the meeting Debra gave us some useful information about the stay and in general what it’s like to live in the UK. After the meeting some Italian students and I did a tour of the city. I was so exhausted but I still enjoyed the day very much.

Work

The next day in the morning I started my work placement in TTPL office. I was introduced to the staff and then I started working at my desk. During my work placement I had different kinds of tasks. Some of them were the same every week (like taking the post, printing certificates, creating students files and making welcome packs) while others were more specific (for example I did some research online and I created some excel spreadsheets). I felt like I was given lots of responsibilities and that I was helpful for them. In the office the atmosphere is relaxed and you can have great laughs and pleasing conversations with everyone. Every day they offered me coffee and occasionally some sweets and cakes, and the radio was playing songs to jam to! Isn’t that a dream?  I was never bored and every morning I was genuinely happy to wake up and go to work.

Visits

Devon is a beautiful region, full of wonderful cities to visit. Every weekend I was excited to go and visit new places. I am going back with amazing memories of this part of England. We visited Brixham, Darthmouth, Totnes, Exeter, Plymouth, Teignmouth and other beautiful sites. The good thing is that all these places are easy to reach by bus or by train, so we could spend a lot of time there and visit every part of the city and not just the main tourist attractions!

Another great opportunity to visit attractions and do some activities was to participate to the Thursday meeting. Every Thursday afternoon TTPL organised an activity for all the students. Each time we did something different! It was a good way to try something typical (like cream tea or fish and chips), to visit pretty places (like Paignton zoo or Kents Cavern) or just to spend a good afternoon with the other students (we went bowling, we did a barbecue, a boat trip and a treasure hunt through Torquay).

People

The most amazing thing about my experience was meeting new friends. I’ve lost the count of how many people I’ve met here. Every Tuesday after dinner the students from TTPL and I were in a bar in Torquay or in Paignton for a social meeting. It was so good to be there and introduce yourself to other people that were staying here like me. I’ve met a lot of great friends with whom I’m still in touch and planning to meet when I’ll go back. It was so strange but at the same time so good to be surrounded by people from many different nationalities. I talked to Germans, French, Spanish, Croatians, Swiss and even to a boy from Saudi Arabia! I still can’t believe that all these different people with so many different cultures were chatting together as they were old friends. It was really surreal.

The result of having so many new friends was for me to go out every single night and that is absolutely not usual for me as I tend to stay home most of the time back in Italy. But I liked it. We had lot of fun together. My life was so frenetic and exciting, I didn’t stop for a minute. The only downside was seeing most of them leaving before me as they were here for a shorter time (usually two or three weeks).

In conclusion I am so glad I did this experience. I enjoyed every single day. I saw beautiful places, watched breath-taking sunsets, worked in an amazing environment, tried new things and met wonderful people. I think it made me grow and become more independent and confident about myself. I am also more aware of my virtues and my flaws. I will never forget this experience, this city and the people I’ve met here. Thank you to every person that contributed to making this experience unforgettable. I’m extremely grateful.