By Megan Hitchock (University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia)
I came back to the UK in the middle of August, and after 13 months away from the UK, it was so surreal being home. My last six weeks in Sydney seem like a blur. I spent the time nannying for a 9 month old baby and exploring more of one of the Australian cities I have come to love. By the time my time in Sydney came to an end, I was ready to come home knowing that it hopefully won’t be too long until I’m back on that side of the world. On my return I had a crazy month catching up with family and friends, and although in some ways it felt like I had never been away, in others it was really strange adjusting to being back. I was constantly asked ‘How was Australia?!’, and each time I tried to come up with a different way of trying to sum up such an incredible experience.
Coming back to Manchester was equally surreal, catching a Magic Bus and being back on Oxford Road (even with the diversion!) really has felt so normal. I thought I would find moving back into a house strange, after a year of being in college and having all my meals provided, but in some ways it feels like I never left. I’ve now been back two weeks and had my first week of lectures, and am really starting to get my head around being in my final year of university. It was strange walking into lectures and only seeing a handful of faces that I recognised, as I am one of only six Psychology students who went abroad last year. However, us six have already bonded over sharing stories and it’s been fun sharing my experiences abroad with others in my new year group. It feels good to have my feet firmly back on the ground in Manchester and seeing what this year has to offer. This experience has definitely made me much more aware of the study abroad students who come to Manchester and what I can do to help aid their experience over here. Through the Global Friends scheme I have already met a few of them, and it’s really interesting hearing about Manchester from an exchange point of view. Even just helping them plan their travelling or where to find places around Manchester, I feel like I’m giving just a little bit back. Studying abroad was such an amazing experience for me, I’d really like to make sure incoming students to Manchester are getting the same experience that I had.
It’s crazy that this time three years ago, a girl stood up in one of our lectures and told us about the opportunity to study abroad, and immediately I knew it was something I wanted to do. At that point, I never realised how much studying abroad would shape my vision of what I want to do next or how much it would benefit me. I feel really ready to take on my final year at Manchester and I already have lots of ideas of what I’d like to do after university – but maybe I should just get through this year first!