Life is all about adjusting, and sometimes it feels like as soon as you get comfortable you have to immediately readjust. This is especially true when you travel from new environment to new environment constantly. A few months abroad is plenty of time to establish a new home, you begin finding your footing in a new everyday routine and suddenly your previous reality becomes a distant memory of what once was.
Then just as you find yourself content and comfortable with the new life you lead – bam – you’re whipped back to reality via a painfully long and draining flight. Months later, when you’re dragged down with university deadlines, you’ll probably find yourself wondering if your summer travels even happened, they can feel like a whole other lifetime; one that if you didn’t have the pictures for evidence, you might even be convinced was all just a dream. Or is that just me?
I struggled the day after I returned back to England, it was a shock to my system when I could just get in a car and drive on the left hand side to a massive supermarket, I had only seen a handful over the last few months in Asia. It was slightly intense seeing the endless supply of food that for once was not covered in flies or rotting from the sun’s heat. And I must admit I did go a little over the top by indulging my cravings of English food that I had been longing for the entire time away. I mean Marmite, beans on toast, roast dinners and Cadbury’s chocolate is some really godly stuff.
When I went for an exploration around a few of the clothes shops I had a weird moment of realisation that I no longer needed to recalculate prices in my mind, £1 was worth just that. I found it so difficult to shake the habit, even though I knew it was unnecessary I still caught myself viewing up an item price of £12 and trying to do some form of maths to find its equivalent value. I guess that is what changing between six different currencies will do to you.
The language change back to English confused me greatly. For the last two months most other people surrounding me would converse in languages I couldn’t understand and at some point that just became my normal background noise, even offering some level of comfort. My ears were so adjusted to blanking out every conversation I passed by that it was odd hearing my own tongue being spoken by the majority. It was weird but once being back in England it just felt like something was missing, as if someone had turned off an instrumental song that had been playing quietly in the background. One I wasn’t particularly listening to, but I had on some level acknowledged and enjoyed it anyway.
My subconscious did not want to accept that I was back in England, that was for sure. Trying to sleep my first night back was a miserable experience, I was disturbed every two hours and awoke in such a hazy state that I found it impossible to recall my journey home even though it had occurred not long before. I would spend the next 10-15 minutes massively confused as to which Asian country I was in now and wondering where the hell I had lost my travel companion to who hadn’t left my side for the last two months. Once I had regained my memories and resettled everything was soon okay again, well at least for another two hours.
The whole experience was bizarre and really taught me that even if you’ve spent your whole life living in a country and know every aspect of it inside out, that doesn’t mean you are only limited to its comforts and familiarity. Living abroad is a daunting change but I believe one that is not too extreme for anyone to manage. It has the potential to build you as an individual, by embracing a new environment and rising to the challenges it brings.
Ultimately I think if your own home country can somehow feel very odd and surreal after you’ve escaped its presence for just a few months, then that must speak volumes as to people’s capabilities of finding a home wherever they so chose to make one.
We can all be reshaped and we can all readjust to a entirely different reality with just an open mind and a little time.