Five Things I Learned When I Went Back Home After A Year…
1. I don’t have a Canadian accent…or do I?
I mentioned in my last post that every single friend I’ve spoken to since I’ve been back has commented on my accent, or lack of one. It seems like a year has been long enough to pick up more than a slight twang, though how strong that twang is depends on who you talk to. The one thing I will admit is that my vocabulary has definitely been altered somewhat, with words like toilet, autumn and lift being replaced by washroom, fall and elevator. If it’s any consolation, I get the same funny looks when I use the wrong word in both countries, perhaps even more so back in the UK!
2. Home will always be home…
I was excited, nervous and more than a little apprehensive about heading back to the UK after a year, mainly because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know whether arriving home would make me feel happy or sad, or whether everything would be the same as I remembered it. As it turns out, I didn’t really feel any of these things. There was no rush of emotion or epic conclusion to the weeks of worrying, I just, well, came home and got on with it. I was surprised at how quickly I settled back into normal life, and how weird it wasn’t being back in Ipswich, Southampton, London and Cambridge. When I met up with friends it really didn’t feel like a whole year (or in some cases much longer) had passed since I left; we just got right back into our flow. Which I guess is a good thing.
3. …but one person’s home is another’s holiday.
Despite feeling comfortably at home as soon as I touched down at the airport, my trip back to the UK was a vacation in all senses of the word (three weeks of work…hello?) and I did make the most of the holiday feeling as much as possible. There are so many, many differences between England and Vancouver, and I found myself naturally appreciating the things that make each place unique rather than comparing the two. I loved sailing down the Orwell River in the freezing cold, wandering past historical colleges in Cambridge and enjoying a (cheap) drink in a London pub. I insisted on taking photos of everything, because ‘my friends back home would love this’, and I realised how lucky I was to be spending three weeks of my year in a place that many people only dream of coming. It sounds a bit soppy (and a tad unbelievable), but there’s definitely something to be said for looking at your everyday life through the eyes of a tourist.
4. A lot can change in a year.
It’s true; a year is a long time. Since January 2011 I moved to another country, started a new job, lived in three different apartments, travelled to the US four times and met more new people than I can count. And I’m not the only one who has had a busy year. Every person I’ve met with has their own story of 2011, and although many of them start with ‘you know, same old’, there is always much more to tell. So many of my friends are living in new places (or with new people), starting new careers or heading off to see the world. It’s been so inspiring catching up on someone’s a whole year in just a few hours, and who knows what we could all achieve this time next year!
5. Living in Canada is an amazing opportunity.
The more I tell other people about life in Canada, the more I realise I could always be doing more to make the most of it. This year the focus was on getting to know Vancouver, settling in, finding a job and generally surviving my first year living abroad, and this will change now that particular mission has been largely accomplished. 2012 will be the year I start venturing outside of the city and see more of North America. I’ll do my best to ski and snowboard much more than I did last year, and I’ll aim to visit the beaches and the park much more than I do now. Instead of worrying about whether I’m going to like being away from home, I can just enjoy being here and focus on creating the memories and experiences that will form my highlights of 2012.