Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Day 1: Arriving at Imperial College London

At just before noon today (London time) I arrived at Heathrow Airport and made my way on the Underground to Imperial College London! There were LIYSF staff positioned strategically throughout the station and area around the Imperial, and offered help and a warm smile to all arriving students. They also offered encouragements such as, "You're so close! Keep going!" and "Just keep walking in a straight line and you can't get lost!" I think they knew many of us had traveled far to get here and needed some encouragement to lug our suitcases just a little further. The beautiful buildings and their architectural mastery was an amazing sight to behold as I rolled my suitcase up to my halls of residence.  
Here is a sign I was happy to see - the Picadilly Line from Heathrow! The ride on the Underground was about 45 minutes. As the train car hurtled on down the tracks, my eyes soaked up all of the beautiful red brick buildings in London. 
Here is one of the architectural masterpieces located near the Imperial. See what I mean about the red brick?! It is never ending and so wonderful.
One of the best parts of today was getting to know other participants in a relaxed and informal setting. There were many introductions made in the line up getting our welcome packages, in the hallways looking for correct rooms, during dinner, and during the tour and evening stroll. 
Here are some of the wonderful people I shared dinner with! Starting from the far left is Hasam and Shahar from Israel, Alice from Sweden, Christine from Norway (who speaks three languages by the way), a fellow from Cyprus whose name escapes me, and Shu representing both England and Japan. It's amazing what happens when seven students from six different countries get together.  
And a non-selfie photo of dinner! 
I have never interacted with people from so many different countries and so many diverse backgrounds as I did in this one evening. The first fellow attendee I met was Alice from Sweden, followed shortly by Shu who is representing both England and Japan (both pictured above). We met up with Christine and Masha from Norway, and Shahar from Israel, and talked for about an hour and a half before dinner. It was instantaneous friendship as we shared much laughter over our countries' traditional food and clothing. I tried to explain poutine, and I'm not sure if I made it sound disgusting as I attempted to describe the cheese curds and gravy... The maple cookies, however, received an all around positive response! Good thing I have two boxes in my suitcase to share during the International Traditions of Home Evening. 

After the delicious dinner we met with our halls of residence team and were given a tour of the key places we'll be going to over the course of the forum. This was also an opportunity to meet more participants! Two students from Germany, Tobey and Alex, explained their work to me in detail. Tobey had an idea for a hologram machine a year ago, and so he wrote around 150 letters to companies asking them for sponsorship. Wow, talk about perseverance! In the end, Tobey had over 25 successful requests for sponsors! Alex is studying the relationship between exposure to different ratios of wavelengths of light and the immune system in plants. So cool! Both students are only in Grade 12, and have already done so much amazing work.

I finally met my wonderful roommate Jade (pronounced Jada) about twenty minutes ago when we both came in exhausted ready for some sleep! She is from Ventimiglia, Italy, which is just 7km from France and located on the coast. So according to Jade, days at the beach are a very regular occurrence!

Today was an excellent first introduction to LIYSF 2016, and the official welcome ceremony hasn't even happened yet! Tomorrow is a full day of lectures and the welcome party in the evening. And for now, time for sleep...

- Vivienne    

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