“This time last year I was…”, “If I were there now I would be…”, “Oh, I’d just love to pop back!” – a small sample of post year abroad discourse I’ve heard around and abouts this week…
I guess it’s only natural. Final year means looming deadlines, caffeine dependence, lack of social contact and most crucial of all, that icky realisation that you will soon have to start making some important life decisions. It’s no wonder we find our minds drifting back to the good old year abroad days, when the biggest concern would be what your travel plans were that weekend.
It’s been four months, give or take, since leaving Austria. And I can’t help but feel like something is missing now. It occurred to me today that since being back at university, I’ve not once done something and thought, ‘Oh yes I should blog about that.’ Last year I found myself getting excited at the prospect of writing about all the good (and not so good!) things going on, and now I barely have the time to do fun and exciting stuff, let alone spend countless hours writing about it…Well that makes my life sound rather dismal. However it isn’t so bad! It’s just all very normal, back to reality, back to final year.
Therefore I decided that I would take a little time out. Time to breathe, collect my thoughts and inform the internet, natürlich.
Whether it be the people, the food, the place, the independence or just the whole encompassed year abroad experience, there are countless things I could say I miss, and I don’t hesitate to say that many of us final years feel the same. I believe we are all suffering one way or another, with post year abroad syndrome.
Austria; a compact centre of cultural and alpine beauty that opens the door the rest of continental europe and beyond. Returning to the UK has made me feel somewhat stuck; an island, overpriced train fares, and lack of desire or time to venture much further than the local Sainsburys. All in all, a serious case of Fernweh – aka – spending half my time searching for cheap flights on skyscanner.
Having said that, it’s mainly the trivial things that really bug me. At lunchtime I can’t help but think what toppings I would be choosing for my Käsespätzle, on crisp autumnal afternoons I long to walk up on Schlossberg and it truly bothers me that I can’t find asparagus here half as good as in the hallowed Spargelzeit. Now is also getting to the magical time of year when the festivities begin; seeing pictures of the lights and christmas markets appearing on social media is almost painful!
No matter where you go or what you do, one of the feelings most attributive to post year abroad would be that of change. Whether that be at home, at university, with friends or family, things are inevitably going to be that little bit different upon returning. There is no getting away from the fact that a year abroad puts you out of sync with the ‘normal’ structure of university courses, therefore this means that many people you get to know before may have graduated by the time you come back. Few stay for masters and many move away for jobs; I guess it’s the harsh reality of realising that life still passes on by even when you aren’t there. Upon return you undoubtedly realise that you’ve changed a lot too and that alters your perspective on everything you thought you knew before about your own life or even your own culture. Having to accept change can sometimes prove harder than you may expect.
Meeting new people is also one of the most poignant aspects of a year abroad; it’s almost guaranteed that you are going to meet a lot of lovely, and maybe in some cases not so lovely people, but the ones you click with very quickly become your second family. Numbers swapped, addresses noted and then a sad goodbye. Yet months later the realisation is that life gets in the way and you are back into the swing of normality again. I was incredibly lucky to have got to know such a diverse group of people last year, and now I find it such a privilege to say that I know people from all over the globe. Yet, the sad reality is just that; they are really all over the globe, quite literally once you all part and make your way back home. We all have own paths in life, but hope ours get the chance to cross once more.
Anyhow enough rambling on for now. The most important thing I’ve learnt upon reflection is how grateful I am for the whole experience in the first place. My train journeys this year don’t quite live up to meandering round the Alps, the Christmas market’s aren’t quite as magical, and I now need to do a round the world trip to catch up with friends (not such a bad thing I guess!), yet all this just fuels my willingness to get back out there! More news on returning to come in due course!
In the meantime I shall be getting on with manic final year of student life…Last night was spent clubbing, no wait, we just ate mince pies and cried watching a Sound of Music documentary… (I did warn you post year abroad is hard hitting! See http://erasmusexplorer.com/2015/06/12/yes-the-hills-are-still-alive-stories-of-salzburg/ and you will understand why!)
Till next time. So long, farewell… (Sorry couldn’t resist)
Throw back to November 2014… http://erasmusexplorer.com/2014/11/