by Jasmine Angus, University of Bergen, Norway
In many blog posts, we often read about the transition to a placement country, cultural differences, newfound independence, language barriers, and unforgettable adventures. However, one aspect that is never discussed is the experience of moving back to the UK after what could possibly be one of the most extraordinary years of your life. This transition can be both comforting and homely, yet also asphyxiating and sad. It brings conflicting emotions, as you navigate between newfound independence and your parents asking if you’ll be okay to sort yourself out for dinner. “Yes mum, I’ve been feeding myself for the past 10 months, I think I can manage one night by myself!” But returning from a year abroad, independence feels more instinctive, and if you’re anything like me, you may feel protective over your ability to navigate this big scary world all by yourself. Therefore, coming back to the familiar confines of my childhood room, which I spent WAY too many hours sitting in during COVID, feels like a regression in personal development.
However, deep down, we both know that isn’t the case. It’s simply a matter of adapting back to home life. One aspect I have struggled with since returning is finding ways to utilise my spare time. In Norway, there were forests to explore, fjords to spend hours in, mountains to climb, and rain to dance in (which, admittedly, with the horrific weather of the past two weeks, I could still probably do, but I think I’ll skip). On the other hand, back at home, unless I want to spend all my free time in Spoons or walk along the canal for the umpteenth time (another lockdown ritual), there is not as much natural space to access. This adjustment has been challenging, to be completely honest.
Despite these struggles, this time at home has allowed me to reflect upon my time abroad and truly understand both the privilege I had to experience it and the hard work I put into getting there. It was the most phenomenal year I have experienced thus far, and it has ignited a burning passion within me to explore the world even further. Additionally, as much as I miss being able to take showers at 2 AM without worrying about waking anyone up or doing my whitewashes whenever I pleased, there are countless things I cherish about being home. It means sitting with my sister for hours on end, chatting absolute rubbish, enjoying endless cuddles with my cats, laughing uncontrollably at my dad’s awful jokes, and receiving the biggest, most suffocating hugs from my mum.
It has undoubtedly been a challenging adjustment, and as much as I miss living in room C512 in Fantoft, Bergen, Norway, I have come to appreciate the comforts of my lovely little room in Leighton Buzzard. Being at home does not signify regression; I am still independent, still, the girl who embarked on countless adventures. I simply need time to collect myself, relax, and prepare for the next big adventure, which I cannot wait for!
Moving back home after an extraordinary year abroad brings about a mix of emotions. It requires adapting to a different pace of life, finding new ways to spend your free time, and appreciating the comforts and connections that home offers. As you reflect on your experiences and prepare for future adventures, remember that being at home does not diminish the independence and growth you achieved during your time abroad. Embrace the transition, cherish the moments with loved ones, and get ready for the next chapter in your exciting journey.