24 Dec Share Your Story – Inês
When I think of what was the highlight of being in London for 4 years, I think of Lee Abbey. This place has definitely become a home for me, so it is with a heart full of emotions that I write this testimonial to Lee Abbey London.
I was born in Lisbon in 1997. Around the age of 10, I started to say that I really, really wanted to play the harp. I don’t exactly know where I got the idea of playing the harp from but suddenly I really wanted to do that. I had music lessons since I was about 7 years old. I used to perform a lot with my choir and I played the guitar. I insisted so much on the harp that just before turning 13 I began lessons.
And 4 years and a half later, I was admitted into the Royal College of Music. My life was about to completely change, and I would be moving to London just after turning 18. Living in London is great but also financially challenging. During my second year I heard from a friend about this student accommodation and I reached them asking for support. From first speaking to Chris Barry to arriving in Lee Abbey for my first day, I felt so welcome in here.
Before arriving at Lee Abbey, my life in London was very different. I always struggled to make friends as I was working a lot to be able to afford my studies. When I came into Lee Abbey I felt like I was finally making friends and meeting people I can relate to. Today, the friends I made are my London family and I couldn’t feel happier for feeling that in here I am accepted for who I am.
Lee Abbey’s scholarship has completely changed my life – from living far away from university and spending most of my time alone and working, to being surrounded by friends as well as having time to focus on my studies.
I keep thinking of what makes Lee Abbey better than other Student Halls. There’s just one word that comes to my mouth – Everything. The Christian values shared in this place makes everyone feel loved and consequently when people feel loved, people love back. Lee Abbey is special because people feel at home – here we share our meals together and after meals we stay around for a game of pool or table tennis. In most student accommodations, you end up eating some cereal at the end of your day alone in your bedroom while watching something on the internet.
Lee Abbey is a home not just for us students. Staff members and volunteers live right opposite my bedroom. This makes this place being respected and taken care of. Plus it’s a great opportunity to share this experience with people that came to London for a different reason than studying and feel inspired by their life stories. There’s a saying I learnt when I first arrived here, “sharing is caring”. Sharing a room, sharing a study space together, sitting down in the lounge area after a difficult day. Sharing me days with people that come from completely different backgrounds than mine have made me become a better human being, feel more interested about different things and value people more.
Lee Abbey is welcoming and familiar and it shares important values that make this place like there is no other in London. You are accepted for who you are and everyone around is a great contribution to the community spirit. Everyone takes part in the several different activities we have such as music concerts, international nights or even Quiz Nights. It’s because people who work here treat this place like home and put their personality into their jobs that this place is so special.
I couldn’t attend the last formal dinner event but when I arrived I had food saved for me by the volunteers. This space doesn’t feel like a business to me, it feels like a place where everyone wants to share happy memories. Lee Abbey has given me much more than a roof in London, it gave me a family and made me feel part of it.
This is my second year in Lee Abbey and I can see the amount of things that have changed positively in the past 14 months in here. All around lee abbey there are suggestion books that have been taken very seriously. When something needs fixing like a broken tap this is done very quickly. Also all staff is very keen on listening to your opinion.
I truly believe that Lee Abbey is constantly striving for the best that what makes this place wonderful.