I'm about one month away from finishing my degree at Birmingham, and recently I decided to make a kind of video-yearbook thing. Asking my coursemates what they'll miss most about their time in Brum and why they chose to do the course in the first place, that kind of thing. It was really only after I interviewed about 10 of my coursemates that I started to get quite nostalgic. Then I interviewed our American Studies receptionists, who pretty much hold the department together, and are very affectionate towards us kids. I soon realised that over the years, I have been very fortunate to become part of a community.
Not much more than 40 like minded people- students and teachers alike, who I enjoy spending time with, who are kind, caring, wise, and literally very close. Our humble department is a small one, but one that I am proud to be part of. In Birmingham, I'm a 10 minute bike ride away from campus, and about a 5 minute ride to my furthest-placed friends. Such short distances reinforce the strength of the community that I have found at university.
This year, I've also encountered something very unusual in England, let alone Birmingham. It's a place called Canvas House; a Christian ministry (queue Jeremy Clarkson voice) ....with a twist. Inside, it looks like a giant coffee lounge, with THE most comfortable sofas in the world, and a stage for bands to play open mic nights. Now, I'm a Sikh, and I don't much fancy being converted to anything else just yet, but the guys there - get this- are normal. Their main focus is actually creating a solid community among the students of Brum. There's very little mention of their faith, and if you do ask them questions, they're very cool about it. Oh and they're American, which by default makes them more friendly and fun. So far I've gone there to see my friend Aaron play open mic and jam out, watched a couple of movies on their massive projector, played some Goldeneye, some foozball, hung out with a bunch of people, gone to a nice local bar for drinks, and generally had a good time. More of this needs to happen in the UK. Fast.
When I move back home to London, I would like to have a sense of community. My closest friend lives 45 minutes away by tube, and I don't feel like I really "belong" to anything back in the big smoke. My brother is fortunate to have a genuine community with his colleagues at work, but how many others can say that they wholeheartedly love and respect their workmates, and not just for after-work drinks?
If you're lucky to have it, hold on to it. I will miss having so many likeable people around me on campus and in Selly Oak, but I will find a way to replicate it to the best of my abilities.
(If you subscribe to this blog, you'll have to click the "Community" title to view the videos below)
Here's a really weird video with the loveable morph. A laugh a day...
I try to put music up here every now and again, and this girl is simply awesome: