A Letter from The University of Alcala: Homesickness

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spain-airportI was booked to go home at the end of October, and after 52 days without my English comforts (including the boyf), I was definitely ready. Travelling alone has always been both liberating and entirely stressful for me, as although I have no one to wait for in the morning, neither do I have anyone to make sure I get up on time to catch my flight, no one to remind me to print my boarding pass, no one to explain to me that there are strikes every Friday in Spain meaning an easy one hour journey to the airport will take three. But it gives me such a great sense of jet-setting freedom knowing that in half a day I could be back in the warm arms of everything that is British (excluding the weather).

For the week building up to my return I was peculiarly homesick – pining for a Full English Breakfast and mum’s roast dinner, for fresh milk and watching Scrubs UN-dubbed, for the familiar chit-chat on Avenue campus and the gravity of Hartley Library. It’s an unusual sentiment to miss such small details of life that are completely taken for granted at home. Obviously I adore the thrill of being abroad, meeting new people, soaking up the highs and lows of a new culture and doing what I do best: speaking foreign language. However every now and again, I’ve realised it’s refreshing to pop to England and eat Cherry Bakewells with a fresh brew at 4pm and make casual small talk about anything and everything and absolutely nothing, especially when the Spanish weather darkens depressively and becomes very…English.

Homesickness is overcome purely by thinking positive and planning ahead. Here in Spain I’ve got my survival kit of English food rations and photographs, whilst surrounding myself with a network of people and places that keep me feeling safe and sound. When university work gets on top of me I realise that it is no mean feat to live and work in four languages! And even if I do hand in my eight page linguistics essay a few days late, at least I’ve written it, with a dedicated heart. I’ve taken to counting my blessings and my successes, no matter how small they are!

#MyAdvice: 1. Do not underestimate the power of homesickness. 2. Be prepared: pack tea, baked beans, marmite, cherry Bakewells, scones, photos, squash, paracetamol, recipes, scented candles… 3. It gets cold in the winter! After a 40˚C summer and some lovely sun throughout September and October, November rain hits Spain hard. It rains and rains and rains: the kind that is persistent, paralysingly cold and generally grim. Bring a hot water bottle, boots, thermal socks, hats and gloves and buy a duvet! 3. Write a list of all the positive things about the Erasmus lifestyle, call up a few amigos and go out and have a good time!

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