Maybe I don’t remember so well, but when I did this 3 years ago, I wasn’t this anxious.
In 2012 when leaving England, I was sent off to study abroad in Australia for 6 months by my sister, as my parents were on a round the world trip. I knew I’d be coming back; I had my third year of university to complete. The nerves then were mainly whether I’d be able to fly by myself, whether I’d get lost and manage doing something independently, without people to rely on. And then after that, whether I’d make good friends.
This time, I’m going away for 2 years to Canada on a working holiday visa. There, I’ll meet my American boyfriend I met in Australia when we both studied there. The nerves this time are a little different. The living is a lot more long term, it’s a true test of my so far long distance relationship with the boy and it’s working instead of halfheartedly studying.
But the main reason I’m nervous right now, that I’m not so much feeling outward excitement (for the record, I am very excited in general) is because of my family. I’m much more aware of having to say goodbye to them, and although I’m sure it won’t be much longer than 6 months until I come back to visit, it’s a difficult thing to part knowing I’m settling up a life – albeit temporarily – so far away from them.
I cried when I left for Australia, but this time will be so much worse. Since my experience in Australia, I’ve strangely become way more of a softy than I used to be, and unfortunately a byproduct of that is an ease in crying. It’s fairly embarrassing, really.
But of course, I think if there’s any good reason to cry, this is it. What’s not great is the time or the place – airport tears are my least favourite variety, and just before I go through security? It’s the most emotionally distant thing you could do after saying farewell to your loved ones. And then once you’re through, you’re left standing there like a lost lamb to entertain yourself in duty-free and find your gate.
I’m looking forward to experiencing and living in Canada – Toronto is frequently voted one of the most liveable cities in the world, so it can’t be that bad. But as I find things out about Canada, I start to realise how good England is sometimes. Paying a monthly fee to use a bank?! Seriously, what’s that about? Plus, healthcare, while not on the level of the US, is still not like the NHS. As much as people in Britain complain about the NHS, as many faults as it has, it’s an absolutely wonderful system, the theory behind it of which I’m very proud.
One of the things I learnt about living in Australia was that while it made me feel like an honorary Australian, it also made me realise the ways I was oh-so-British. I feel like that’s going to happen again, and to be honest, it’s something I welcome (especially considering the way I feel about a lot of other things going on in the UK at the moment…).
Some people say their home is the country they feel the most “at” home in, which I totally understand. I feel very strongly about Australia, which I refer to as my home away from home… but that still says it all. Underneath it all, England is always my home. It’s the place I grew up, it’s where the majority of my family and friends are, it’s where I’ve obtained many of my quirks and preferences.
It’s the only place where I’m able to bond with someone about childhood shows (y’know, the ones only belonging to the UK). It’s where everyone will understand just how important a good cup of tea is (it solves everything, just so you know). It’s these kind of links and many more that will always keep me feeling England is my home.
It was definitely time for me to leave England, but I know it’s going to make me feel a lot more appreciative of it and put the spark back into the desire to explore more of it.
London, England, Great Britain, the UK… you will be missed. I love you.