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?