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.
All the cliches come to mind when trying to answer the question “What did you get from this year? My experience living abroad in Bergen, Norway was incredibly rewarding and life-changing. Undertaking this year abroad has granted me the unique privilege of immersing myself in a new culture and gaining a deeper understanding of the world. Living in Bergen, I have been constantly reminded of the beauty and simplicity of nature, something I will miss incredibly when back in Manchester. The opportunity to explore Norway’s rich history, unique traditions, and pristine natural wonders has broadened my horizons and instilled in me a profound appreciation for the exploration of new cultures. It has been a whirlwind with both the most insatiable highs and devastating lows. It has rounded me as an adult and I will always remember my time in Bergen.
Looking back after the most fantastic year I thought I would write a cheat sheet of things I wish I knew before my year abroad. Some of it will be generic and others will be specific to Bergen, but I hope it helps anyway!
Reflecting upon the past few months in Bergen has been met with an overwhelming sense of happiness, pride, as well as anticipation for the future and sadness that time is passing awfully quickly. Fortunately for me, I have had a solid support network of friends, family, and loved ones that have ensured that each emotion and experience, both the highs and the lows, have been faced with humility and gratitude.
It has been 3 months and 19 days until I boarded the flight at London-Gatwick with a complete stranger on my way to Bergen. 3 months and 19 days later and so much has changed. I have climbed 4 of the 7 mountains surrounding the city. I have travelled around Europe and have more trips to come. I have made incredible friends and I have also cried a couple of times. The past 3 months and 19 days have been incredibly testing; but also monumentally rewarding.