If you know someone who’s on a year abroad, then the chances are you’ve seen their boastful blog plastered all over Facebook, along with some equally gloating photos. It’s annoying isn’t it, reading about how much fun they’re having and all the fun places they’re visiting whilst you’re stuck in Hartley? I can very much relate to this, not only because there are currently more year abroad blogs than memes on my Facebook feed, also because, this year, I am that annoying person myself.
My blog, like most others, is full of all that irritating fun stuff: day trips and weekend breaks, Christmas markets and delicious French food, and you may well be bitterly reading our blogs, wondering how on earth it can be possible to be having such a good time 24/7. Well, I’m here to tell you the (sad but obvious) truth: it isn’t possible. Much like a celebrity’s Instagram feed – this is merely an analogy, I am, in no way, comparing myself to a celebrity – the year abroad blog is a highlights reel. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we’re lying, or that we’re not having a good time, but apart from the odd eye-roll about foreign admin and occasional complaint about missing Cadbury’s chocolate, from what I’ve read – and written – YA blogs tend to skip out the things that aren’t quite as fun.
It goes without saying that homesickness is a big part of your year abroad. Of course, it’s something that affects some more than others, but I’d be surprised to hear anyone say they haven’t suffered from it at some point. Yet, funnily enough, that’s not what we’re writing about. Why? Well from the perspective of my second-year self, I almost think that we should be. For someone who is about to embark on a year abroad, it’s potentially problematic to read these somewhat deceptive blog posts. Yes, it can calm nerves and make you more excited, but equally, it can raise unrealistic expectations. Then, when the inevitable homesickness kicks in, you can feel alone and condemn yourself for not having as much fun as you’re “supposed” to be having.
However, now that I’m here, it’s clear why that’s not what we’re writing about. For me, the YA blog is primarily a way to remember my year abroad. Of course, I’ll remember that sometimes it was difficult, that sometimes I was sad or homesick. But when I look back, it’s not something I will want to remember in detail or dwell on, it’s just an inevitable downside of what’s otherwise an incredible experience. No one wants their friends and family to think that they aren’t having fun, or to imagine that they are sat in their rooms sobbing. We want to be envied by everyone at home because that’s what is supposed to happen, but also because, secretly, whether you’re going home for the weekend, to Stags for karaoke, or even to Hartley to revise, we’re actually envious of you.
In writing a year abroad blog that isn’t wholly representative of reality, we are slightly deceiving you, yes, but that’s okay. When we get off that plane and return to normality, it’s the highlights that will be first and foremost in our memories. However, if you’re someone who is reading these blogs to prepare you for your own year abroad, just remember that you might want to take what you read with a small pinch of salt.