26 Mar Share Your Story – Oscar
I came to London to study Opera at the Royal College of Music (RCM) in 2011 and the student halls I was staying at initially were not the most welcoming to an international student, to say the least. I then saw an email from the RCM calling for applications for a scholarship to live at a place called Lee Abbey London. I checked out the Lee Abbey website and in their videos I saw the students having a real fun and social time.
I was lucky to be one of the two students to qualify for the scholarship! The community members and the students were very welcoming, friendly and helpful. It was just something about the atmosphere in that building! The ‘coffee-bar’ was the highlight of the day where I got to meet with students from various universities, disciplines and nationalities, conversations that open one’s mind to the world, and then open one’s palate to the world when we would share food from our countries in the kitchen.
During my time at Lee Abbey I got the opportunity to sing for the Queen at the Diamond Jubilee and I repeated the performance at the ‘Formal Dinner’ at Lee Abbey which was a moment to remember. I got the ‘Warden’s Special Award’ at the event and that lead to another year’s scholarship at Lee Abbey. This was at a time when I was finding it difficult to raise money for another year of education in London and I faced the prospect of having to discontinue my training in Opera and return to my country. This scholarship made sure I could continue my training! The experience was so good that I stayed at Lee Abbey for 4 years in total and made hundreds of friends. Until today I live with my Lee Abbey friends from all around the world when I visit their countries. How cool (and economical) is that! I recently went to sing at the Mars Convention in California and stayed with my Lee Abbey friend Mary who was the most wonderful host. As I am an opera singer, I needed to learn European languages and at Lee Abbey I had many teachers!
It is now four years since I have left Lee Abbey, and my best friends to date are those I made at Lee Abbey. The infrastructure, facilities, cleanliness and location may be great, but for me, the aspect of Lee Abbey that I appreciated the most was that it was a catalyst in creating great relationships that last in the long run. I have asked a few people who have lived in multiple halls and all have said that nothing can compare with Lee Abbey. This is a gem and I am glad to have discovered it, experienced it and I continue to share a strong bond with the halls as well as its people.