I’d be the first to say my life has been anything but normal in the last year. I flew half way around the world to live for 10 months, I sailed the Whitsundays, snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef, drove the Great Ocean Road, completed 88 days of regional work and lived in the world’s most liveable city. On top of all that I travelled non-stop for two months around New Zealand and South East Asia but at some point it all had to end. On the 25th September after 50 weeks away I arrived back in the UK. But what is it like coming home after all this time?
For four months before we came home I knew the date, I knew the flight, I knew the time but I didn’t know the feeling I would have boarding that flight to come home. Every day until THE day I was excited about coming home, seeing my family and friends, but when the day actually arrived all I wanted to do was run from it. Getting on planes or trains or buses to go to a new place was second nature by now; we had been doing it for two months straight but boarding this plane was a bit different. We were not heading off somewhere new, we were going home.
I sat on that flight from Singapore to Heathrow feeling scared, not because I hate flying. I mean I have taken more flights than I can count on two hands in the last 12 months, flying was easy. What I was scared of was going home, going back to ‘real life’ and living in the UK for the foreseeable. I have never felt so scared and full of butterflies as I did flying home that day. Some people find it hard getting on the plane to go travelling; I find it hard getting on the plane to come home. It meant saying goodbye to the life we have known for the past year, where it has been the two of us against the world and no responsibilities.
That was over a month ago now; I walked out of the airport and drove home in my parents’ car with everything feeling vaguely familiar. Slowly I have gotten used to everything again: English money, western food, driving, the cold and fresh air, not living out of a backpack, sleeping in my own bed, waking up in the same place every day, cooking for myself, and so on… It has been strange getting used to things in the UK again, but it’s not the difference between here and Asia I’m struggling with. It is the difference between here and Australia; I find myself constantly comparing everything to ‘when I was in Australia’ – after all I was there for nearly ten months. Things like the first time I went and did my food shopping, when I walked around the supermarket fascinated with how cheap everything was. Or when someone says ‘that’s a two hour drive away, it’s too far’ – I look at them, confused: a two hour drive is nothing.
I haven’t just had to get used to being back in the UK; we have had to flat hunt and move all of our possessions across the country as we find ourselves setting up a new life in Glasgow. Yes that’s right, I’m back in rainy and cold Scotland for the winter. You might be wondering how this happened? Well my boyfriend secured a job at the Commonwealth Games and so since the 18th October I have been living in Glasgow. We have probably one of the nicest flats I have lived it, I have a car again and WE TOOK OUT A GYM MEMBERSHIP. WHAT?! I have never signed up to a gym before; I have always thought it’s a waste of money, so this is a huge thing for me. In Australia (there I go again), when we lived in Melbourne our flat had a swimming pool which I loved using. So when we moved in opposite a David Lloyd I had no excuse not to get back in to my regular swimming again.
Knowing I will be here for ten months is exciting but it also scares the hell outta me. However knowing that come September 2014 I want to start a degree for three years scares me even more. I absolutely loved my expat living and travelling life but it is something that had to come to an end. Still, just because I am back in the UK does not mean I am going to stop travelling. I have been trawling the blog world for the best ways to travel with a full time job, save money but not skimp so much and make my life miserable. Finding out about travel events here in the UK is another big thing on my list – there is already the Newcastle Traverse Conference in February which I would love to hit up. I wrote about the 10 Countries in Europe I want to explore, heck I have the whole of Scotland on my door step to explore!
Have you recently come home from at expat life? How did you find it? Or do you travel around a full time job? If so what are your best tips?
I agree, sometimes staying is scarier than going. “Real life” is so much more daunting than the life we live traveling, but as a friend so gently reminded me, traveling or not, my real life is right now. The trick is making it an adventure no matter where we settle, right?
With that said… I am TERRIFIED about going back to New York after I graduate with a master’s.
I definitely, definitely agree! When I got home at the beginning of this year I jumped straight into a two year masters degree. The number of times I’ve panicked over this commitment is insane… I can promise it’s worth it though – at least it is when you’re staring down the final hurdle! What are you looking at studying? Don’t forget there’s always semesters abroad!
Hey Lindsey! Thanks for the comment. I want to study teaching – something travel has made me realise so it’s not all bad! Yes semesters abroad would certainly help 🙂
I’m not in even back in normal life as I’m still in the student bubble but I’m already finding it hard. I at least have the comforting thought that I will graduate in June so I can get planning my next adventures then. But in the meantime, I have been making the most of my time here and the relative accessibility of other countries. I’m off to Copenhagen next week, Barcelona in February and I’m sure there’ll be others too! But definitely come to Traverse, it’ll be great fun and it’s in Newcastle which will be good fun (OK, I’m biased it’s my home town) Do you think you will stay in the UK to study?
Hey Naomi. Thanks for your comment. Yeah I guess being in the student is a bit of a cushion to real life! Yeah I will study in the UK as I want to teach I feel this would be the best place. At least I’ll be back in London (hopefully). Excited for Traverse!
I think its perfect that you have a degree lined up in 10 months time. You have something to look forwards and work towards.
The coming home thing can be really tough, and I think how you feel once at home all depends on if you were even ready to come home in the first place. The first time I wasn’t and fell into a depressive state. The second time I was and had no problem adjusting.
Setting goals and keeping yourself moving forwards is the key for me. If you have nothing planned and/or do nothing once you get home, you’ll forever look backwards whereas you should be looking forwards.
Great read. Enjoy Glasgow and games.
P.S. Your year in travel info-graphic is beautiful!
Thanks for the lovely comment 🙂
I know what you mean about needing to be ready to come home and in the right place myself! I certainly have a lot planned which really does help, especially when I’m struggling to find a job!
Thanks! My first shot at an info-graphic but was pretty happy with it.
I came across your blog whilst getting inspiration for my latest travels round New Zealand and this article really struck a chord with me……the fear of going back home is beginning to hit. I am excited to see friends and family but I am also terrified at ‘real life’. This isnt my first time coming back from travelling but this time I’ve been gone longer, I’ve changed a lot and this time home will really be home….I think!
Great to read your blog 🙂