It’s been a while since I last posted and a while since I returned from the US. I left this time for a reason, to give me time to reflect. Coming back from the US at first was quite a strange experience, I felt in the first few weeks quite lost and not sure what to do with myself or where I fit in (I was away for 10 months without coming home). But gradually as the summer passed I found my place again and settled in. Starting university again in September was definitely scary, it felt like starting first year all over again, not knowing teachers or students very well. After a few weeks this feeling had, however, completely disappeared and it felt like i’d never left. One thing I did notice was that I was definitely more outgoing, more engaged with my subjects and eager to try new things. I think this was definitely a consequence of my time away where everything I was doing was new and scary, so being back in a city that I knew everything felt way less scary.
The classes that I took in UCSD gradually seeped into my studies back at Manchester in a way I couldn’t have imaged or expected. When I was away I felt as though all the different subjects I was taking were completely isolated from other parts of my degree, yet they informed the way I approached classes at Manchester. Whether this be a person I had read, a film I had seen or even just an opinion somebody had voiced, these were individual to me and it gave me a really unique perspective on my degree. I also didn’t realise the role my time away played in my long essay subject. I was in America during the election of Donald Trump, and I found myself completely dumbfounded and confused by the whole experience. Back in Manchester, clearly I couldn’t get this off my mind, and this led me to question the how and why of it happening despite the fact I had been there and lived through it. As a result, I ended up writing my long essay on the election of Donald Trump, studying areas in particular I hadn’t visited to try and learn more about the psyche of those voting for him, looking specifically and class and racial hegemony and the role that played.
Now i’m coming to the end of my degree and applying for jobs every application I write i feel as though i’m discovering new ways my time abroad has helped shape me. This is either through experiences I had or things I gained. I was undeniably homesick for part of my time away, and at the time it felt like this feeling was ruining a lot of the experiences I was having. Looking back I can now see that this isn’t true. It’s only natural to feel homesick when you’re so far away from people you love and care about, negotiating time differences and navigating new experiences. I now know this period has given me a newfound resilience which has turned me into a stronger and more capable person.
It is a daunting prospect figuring out your place when you’ve been away for a while and this can be an off-putting idea for many people thinking of studying abroad, or people who are abroad currently. My advice would be to plan lots of things for your immediate return so you feel like you have thing to return to. But I can also offer you the insight that the gradual realisations you make once you’ve returned are invaluable and can help you in ways you won’t even be able to imagine yet!