Your stereotypical “My year aboard was the best experience of my life” speech from your returning friends

By Chloe Coradetti, Mechanical Engineering, The National University of Singapore, Singapore.

Hellooo Manchester, I’m back!

I’ve settled back to my Mancunian way of life since mid-September.
It all happened so quickly: moving out, grieving the Asian food, the beginning and the end of the blissful holidays with friends and family, packing and moving to my flat with my two lovely British roommates, starting Uni, seeing everyone you haven’t seen in a year like nothing changed, intense masters’ lectures, first coursework, graduate applications etc…

-Catching a Breath-

My usual Manchester way of life just smashed me right back in the face so hard and so fast that I ended up bamboozled lying on my bed looking at this elephant decoration I’ve brought back from Singapore thinking:
“Did this year abroad actually happened or did my brain tricked me to think so as a coping mechanism for the cold I’m experiencing right now?”– I pulled the blanket up, closed my eyes and softly went down the spiral of near-unbelievable memories of my past year, still doubting myself about the reality of it all, when my phone rings…

 

tales-of-burma
Tales of Burma – Photo Credit to Hannah Pezzack

 


“ Heyaaa  Chloe, watchaaa doing next week end? “ – A very excited voice screams in my ear. –
It’s Hannah, one of the most amazing human being I’ve met in Singapore while she was also on exchange from the University of Leeds.

“There is an event in Manchester that sounds pretty awesome next week
-Yeees Please!… I need it!
-We all do! Let’s gather the Ang Mohs*!!!”

*Singaporean slang for white people. Our exchange student group of friend embraced this term by secretly naming ourselves the Ang Moh Corner, as it was something we were regularly called there.

Back to reality – I feel fortunate that some of my closest exchange friends study in nearby Universities. We do manage to gather reasonably often enough, to recall the temple adventures, the mad ones in Singapore city, the enjoyable sunny campus life, the sweet sweaty mess… We share news of our friends from Singapore that we all dearly miss, and the ones from other countries too.

The year abroad experience last way beyond a year through the memories, the friendships and the lessons learnt.

As my friend Fah would say: an exchange is not a year in your life, it’s a life in a year.

exchange-fest-in-uk
Wok dinner in Birmingham, Night out in Manchester and Leeds House Party with my dearest friends who I all met half way around the world; in Singapore. Photo credits: Julia Yang and Hannah Pezzach

It is fascinating to see how profound the evolution that occurred in those fellows this past year has been. I probably have changed as well; it is just harder to see in yourself than in others.
Just for you though, I’ll try to pin point a few things that I’ve learned down the road:

  • Yes Man technique is Brilliant! – If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know what I mean. For those who haven’t, it’s simply to say Yes to whatever is proposed to you, even though you don’t feel like you will like it or it doesn’t sound especially appealing at first.
    Turns out, that the experiences which clearly pushes you out of your boundaries are probably going to make exceptional memories … Exceptionally good …or bad … but that the whole point, isn’t it?
    Good technique for all the aspiring storytellers 😉
  • That I look damn good with short hair.
  • Efficient ways of being more responsible about carbon footprint instead of feeling defeated and power less regarding the environmental crisis.
    Let me explain: I had to live with a filter-mask for more than a month because of air pollution coming from the intensive burning of Indonesian forest, endangering human and animal populations, if not entirely erasing them, for the sole benefit of big palm oil corporations  … #moneybaby
    I like to believe that I inform myself about global warming, but I think it is very hard to actually realize the extent of the problem until being in a situation like this or hearing about it, which is why I’m writing about it here, even though it is probably not the best platform to do so. We are fortunate enough to live in European regions where the climate changes happening are not inconvenient enough to give us that Take Action Now electroshock.
    Well, I had mine.
    Breathing air at a carcinogenic level, even when I was sleeping in my own room because I did not have AC, clearly gave me that electroshock.
    I became vegetarian. I took it slowly, reducing meat consumption all over the summer and made the final step when I moved back in Manchester. That’s one of my little ways to be more responsible about my carbon footprint.
  • To be able to understand Asian restaurant’s menu
  • That there isn’t a more intense craving than a Pad Thai + Milo Dinausor one
  • To Listen more
    People have so much to share if you let them do so. Abroad, I was immersed in a culture that I didn’t know, behind personal research and history classes which both can be pretty bias. It’s easy to make a fool of yourself intervening in a discussion on a topic you don’t fully understand. So, in order to avoid this situation, I laid back, listened, and asked questions about the experiences or points shared by my friends instead of fueling it with my own sometimes irrelevant outsider experiences. Some of the best discussions I had challenged my ideas on military organisation and states, arranged wedding or gender&sexuality.
  • To appreciate the occasional (*cough cough* slight underestimation) cold weather of Manchester
retrouvaille
Dining with Rachel, a NUS student that came to Manchester for exchange, The French Crew on holidays, gathering with the Brits like we haven’t been separated for a whole year, Helping out the International Office at the Study Abroad Fair with Anthony, another Global Ambassador

 

This list concludes my last blog entry…
I’ve really enjoyed writing in the blog, I hope you had a god time reading it!

 

–Environment Propaganda–

To Watch: Before the Flood – Movie about Climate change directed by Leo DiCaprio as part of his role of Climate Change Ambassador of the UN.
The haze of 2015 (when I was there) is cited in the documentary.

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