By Nirali Jain
The life of an international student is exciting but comes with its own challenges and uncertainties. Will I fit in? What if I feel homesick? Will people respect my culture? In fact, Oxford is home to a diverse community of cultures in which I am lucky to have found a home away from home and am learning more about myself and my roots.
As an Indian having lived abroad my whole life, I wasn't sure where I would fit when coming to Oxford and how I would seek out the Indian community. But fear not! Whether you are coming directly from India, or from another country, or if you are simply intrigued by Indian culture, there are a myriad events and opportunities to keep you busy the whole year!
To start the year off with a bang, our Oxford Hindu Society (HUMSoc) organizes the renowned Diwali ball, a celebration of the Festival of Lights. The Diwali Ball is a chance for you to wear your best "lehenga" or "sherwani", dance away to energising Indian beats, and feast on some amazing food. Each year the ball gets bigger and better with live performances, henna stalls, photo booths and more. Oh, and it's one of the most affordable balls at Oxford!
The Oxford Indian Society (OIS) also organizes the Diwali Dinner - a more formal three-course meal accompanied by live music. So many flavours and so much style packed into one glamorous dining hall!
Aside from the social events, you can give vent to your creative side by joining weekly Bhangra and Bollywood classes (they are a great workout, too!). Through these classes, I had the opportunity to work with the Oxford South Asian Arts Society to help put on Utsav, an annual showcase of dance, music and the spoken word performed by students and members of the local Oxford community. Let me tell you, I was in awe of all the performers and learned so much about different dance forms!
Trinity term is filled with outdoor events that take advantage of sunny skies and warm weather (rare in the UK). We celebrate Holi, the Festival of Colours, with a fun-and-friendly game of colours, music and food. For the cricket enthusiasts out there, there is also a chance to play in the much-anticipated annual cricket match between PakSoc and OIS!
And, of course, we can't forget the bustling Bollywood BOPS held throughout the year at various clubs - these are the perfect way to share your love for Bollywood music and your best dance moves!
Each of these events, along with several other activities organised by different societies, has allowed me to meet new people, form strong connections, and ultimately feel at home.