Bethan Rowsby, University of Sydney, Geography.
I am writing this having been back in the UK for a month now, and back in Manchester for about 2 weeks. I have just finished my first week back at uni, involving talks regarding my dissertation, introductions to my new classes and seeing friends and coursemates who also went abroad – it has been so great being able to share stories of our years away from Manchester. Amidst all this I have sometimes felt as is my year in Sydney didn’t happen, because everything here has hardly changed and when I returned, I felt the familiarity of it all so quickly.
Leaving Sydney was hard because I was leaving behind friends who I didn’t know a year ago but who had become so close to me. Whilst I was looking forward to being home and especially to seeing my family again, I knew I would miss the people I had met in Sydney and that the goodbye would be a sad one. As well as all this, I knew I would also miss living so close to the beach and going for swims and hangs in the evenings! Sydney really was good to me.
The journey home was a smooth one, despite it being three flights and over a days travel. I managed to sleep for 10 hours and made up for not watching any of the Olympics this year by viewing all the Olympic themed movies that were on the plane: Race, Eddie the Eagle and, my fave, Cool Runnings. But by far the best part of my journey home and the biggest surprise of my life to date (beating randomly bumping into two friends from Manchester on the biggest beach in Sydney), was the welcome I received when I came home. I had a room full of family and friends who I hadn’t seen in over a year and who all told me how aussie my accent was and how they had rushed the surprise and spelled my name wrong (pictured below).
As I settle back in to life in Manchester, I find myself making some comparisons to my life in Sydney. These range from small things, like how small our 50p coin is compared to the Australian 50c, to bigger and more important things such as the UK’s inability to brunch well and the significantly reduced availability of good coffee. I’ll get over it soon and have already frequented the Northern Quarter several times, so not too many worries there.
Overall I am looking forward to finishing my degree in Manchester; the Geography department here really is like no other and I am keen to tackle my modules this semester, as well as just live in Manchester again. It is hard to describe what I love about Manchester, especially when I compare it to Sydney on paper, but I fully know I am glad to be back, having had an immense year abroad.