There’s No Place Like Home…
After 11 months in Vancouver, I’m happy to be writing this post curled up on the sofa of my house in Shotley Gate, near Ipswich, in Suffolk, England. The Christmas tree is up, the wreath is on the door, and I’m watching The A Team on Sky. I’ve been back in the country for a week now, and I still have another two weeks before I fly back to Vancouver. I’ve spent time with my family in Ipswich, friends in Southampton and grandparents in Basingstoke. I haven’t checked my work emails once, and am well and truly on vacation.
The flight from Vancouver was better than I expected it to be; I didn’t sleep or watch many movies, but I did close my eyes and listen to Westlife for 2 straight hours (oh yes). I arrived at Heathrow very, very tired but very, very excited to see my parents waiting with a huge ‘Welcome Home’ sign and a UK SIM card. Priorities indeed. I managed to stay awake for the drive back to Ipswich, and thoroughly enjoyed the toasted cheese sandwich that was waiting for me when I arrived. My first evening meal was an infamous family speciality: sausage meat pie with mashed potato, vegetables and a lot of gravy. How very British.
Once I got home it felt like I’d never been away, and it was the same when I arrived in Southampton. I was nervous about what it would be like being back on campus, but I had a fantastic few days of coffees, lunches and dinners with friends. I found myself repeatedly pinching myself to remind myself that being back wasn’t a dream, and more importantly that Vancouver wasn’t either. I was surprised at how easy it was to settle back into old patterns, and before long I was complaining about the prices of drinks on campus and fighting for a seat on the bus to town. The only difference was that this time I was openly celebrating drinking soda with lime cordial (finally), and paying for the bus with a £20 note as opposed to exact change (a luxury). Catching up with friends didn’t feel like a whole year had passed, and the awkwardness I’d worried about just didn’t appear. It was a little surreal being back in Starbucks in Southampton High Street after so long, but this time I savoured my toffee nut mocha, knowing I couldn’t get that flavour in Canada.
Before arriving home I made the conscious decision not to be one of those people that starts ever sentence with ‘In Vancouver…’, but I did find myself looking at London, and to a lesser extent Southampton, through the eyes of a tourist. The windy, cobbled streets of Covent Garden seemed even quainter because I know that nothing like them exists in Vancouver, and the good old British pubs were even more warm and welcoming. The underground was the one casualty of my rose tinted glasses, as I found myself desperately wishing for the clean and spacious SkyTrain.
The other significant event of my homecoming is one that I desperately wish I wasn’t writing about; one of my beloved dogs passed away on Saturday. She was taken to the vets on my first full day back in the country and despite constant care and attention (and a blood transfusion) she unfortunately didn’t make it home again. The Canadians among you know that I’ve been banging on about my dogs for months and months, and spent much of my year worrying that they wouldn’t remember me. Well, the good news is that they did remember me, but the bad news is that ‘they’ have just become ‘he’. Life is unfair and random blood diseases suck, though I’m trying to stay positive in the knowledge that at least I was in the country and got to see her again.
Oh, and then there is the Europe debacle. From what I’ve heard, that’s pretty significant too. I’m still at the stage where I know more about the Canucks than I do David Cameron’s veto, but I’ll figure it out over the next couple of weeks. The one final piece of information I should leave you with is that contrary to popular belief, a year was not long enough for me to pick up a Canadian accent. Now you know this, I’m hoping you’ll be less disappointed when you see me. I do however say things like ‘washroom’ and ‘fall’, so you can still make fun of me for that. I miss Vancouver and the beautiful city I’ve lived in for a year does seem like home (for now at least), but England always will too. On that note, Merry Christmas everyone!