Well done: we’ve all survived our first term together! I hope you have found Connaught Hall to be welcoming and friendly, and that you have now fully settled in and are calling this place “home”. I know many of you have made friendships here already that will endure long beyond your time at University.
We have enjoyed lots of freshers’ events together, a great Hallowe’en party, a really fun and festive night of decorating the Christmas tree last week, and a sophisticated night out at Senate House on Foundation Day. We’ve hosted a Thanksgiving dinner and a Diwali celebration. The Residents’ Club have organised a bingo night and trips out for fireworks and a carol service. I hope events like all these help you to meet people you otherwise would never get to know and reinforce your sense that this place is your home, and that our community is your family here in London.
This Hall can only be what we collectively make it. It’s up to all of us to think what kind of environment – both physical and social – we want to live in and make our own positive contributions towards making that happen.
This is a good time of year to reflect, repair, and renew. We’re at the end of term 1 already. That’s the hardest bit of university out of the way. For let’s not underestimate the massive upheaval of moving home, making new friends, settling into a new way of studying, and finding your way around a new city. But you’ve done it. It perhaps doesn’t seem impressive until you stop and look back – then you realise how much you’ve been through in the last 2.5 months. You should allow yourself a little bit of pride for this alone.
Here at Connaught Hall, I believe we can all draw strength, support, and encouragement from those around us – our London family. That’s something else that maybe doesn’t seem impressive until you look back and realise none of us knew each other 3 months ago. Yet now we are all bound up together in so many ways.
Christmastime is about selflessness - about giving without expecting anything in return. Unconditional love, friendship, and respect are the most wonderful and valuable things we can give. Lets all try to embody those qualities this season and throughout the year ahead.
Some of you are leaving the Hall tomorrow, others are here for another week; some, I know, are staying in London throughout Christmas. If you are travelling during the holidays, I wish you a safe journey and look forward to seeing you back relaxed and refreshed next year.
And I wish all of you a wonderful, joyful Christmas, and a happy, successful new year.
Photographs from Christmas dinner are online: http://www.flickr.com/photos/connaughthall/tags/christmasdinner2012/