Departure (with hindsight)

Harry at McGill in Montréal


Not thinking too far ahead is a useful trait to have to prevent anxiety and worrying too much, but not great when one of the blog topics suggested by the global guidance ambassador scheme was ‘thoughts and feelings in anticipation of leaving’. In consequence the construction of this ‘pre-departure’ blog was hopelessly put off for fear of lack of content so late that it is now being written in Montréal… Though I feel the power hindsight will contextualise some things and make this more informative.

I guess I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought or felt anything. As occupied as I was with reams of necessary paperwork, I did occasionally reflect of the implications of what I had signed up for with the study abroad program. Though never for too long since there seemed to be more to be immediately worried about than eventually enjoyed.

Examples being:

Where am I going to live for the year? Still working it out with five more nights in hostels booked.

Exactly how much French do they speak in Montréal? Loads. They speak loads of French in Montréal.

How long before I have friends as close as I do back in Britain? I’m getting pretty chatty with the hostel staff.

I also thought and looked forward to a number of things such as the opportunity to join the outdoors McGill society, take my camera through the streets, try my hand at snowboarding and get going with my course’s research project but appreciated they would be pleasures that would come after all the initial worrisome stuff.

I feel my mentality for the weeks prior to departure and the couple of days I’ve been here could be summarised as taking each thing as it comes.

The Saturday before the flight my Mum had organised a little soirée with family and friends and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone and listening to all the snippets of advice they offered. Then at the airport I was sad to have to say goodbye to my dog and parents and be left in the cold unforgiving chambers of Gatwick. Though once they’d gone I picked up my complimentary copy of the i newspaper and was happy I had an unlikely British souvenir to keep me occupied. All was OK again.

In summary, what I am trying to say, it was nice for me to live in the moment and absorb little memories that I could take away with me. Plenty of time to actually enjoy the year abroad rather than enjoy thinking about the year abroad.

An anecdote to end on. Once off the plane I proceeded to immigration services the queue for which was easily a kilometre long. I got chatting to a nice elderly couple who happened to be from Coventry and we discussed topics varying from the state of British politics and Corbyn’s bid for leadership to the recent decision of one police force to only respond to robberies at even numbered houses.

It was about fifteen or twenty minutes before they asked where I was from and when I said I was born in Bristol they looked utterly surprised. Slightly taken aback I added that I had studied in Manchester for the last two years. It turns out, that despite extensive discussion of British politics and us being stood in the non-nationals immigration queue, they had thought I was Canadian. Due to the strength of my accent. Mere minutes after entering the country I was seamlessly assimilating into the population as a Canadian.

It gave me the feeling that everything would work out for the best.

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