I’ve officially been home in the UK for 1 whole week. How has it been? Well…. I haven’t actually done a lot. I’m preparing to teach German kids at a Summer school starting next week and planning future blog posts and hopefully* business endeavours that will allow me to eventually girl boss like a pro.
Something very strange seems to happen when a person leaves and goes travelling or even moves away. Mr.Slovak likes to call it ‘Culture shock’. Not only did I have to adjust to being able to understand everyone again; Trust me, walking around and not hearing Italian or Dutch being spoken really hurt my brain for the first few days, but you begin to realise that there are part of your own culture that you really detest.
Prime example, Britain has forgotten how to speak to each other. I had strangely gotten so used to saying “Good Morning” or rather “Buongiorno” to everybody as I walked down the street in Italy, that it felt strange to be wandering up to the shops this week and not saying Good Morning. I even tried to say “Hello” to my neighbours and they did their typical act of turning their heads away and continuing to walk as though they hadn’t even heard me. But then again, they always did that, so why would they change right? I mean, manners are few and far between nowadays it seems.
Grown women spitting in the street? I’m not talking 20 year old women here. But grown 40-50 year old women. Maybe its the area in which I live in. Or maybe I just didn’t notice before as I’d become so numb to the crazy stuff.
Another thing that seems to happen is a shift in contact with friends back home. I remember texting a friend, it was about a month into settling in Italy and she was firstly surprised, but happy to hear from me, but then she said something that made me realise – okay if I’m going to maintain some of my friendships in the UK, I was going to have to put in the work. I remember her telling me she almost forgot that she could text me as I’d moved away. She knew it was silly and although we have a wide range of technological advances, there seemed to be something about me leaving the UK that, in her mind, made her thing I was no longer contactable.
I discussed this point with Mr.Slovak during my stop gap week in Holland before arriving home in the UK and he put it like this. “You left them.” Huh? I was confused I didn’t “leave them” I took a job and went to travel the world. “But, they stayed and are getting on with their day to day. It’s not like they can ring and say come for coffee, you were miles away in Italy.” Okay far point. But had I not made the most life changing alteration of them all? “Well, yes. But they didn’t up and leave to a new country. You did. You need to make the effort in this instance.” And here I was thinking all friendship worked both ways.
Now, the point I’m making isn’t that everyone should have been at my beck and call, but how the out of sight out of mind rule can often apply. Yes, some friends were lucky enough to be able to visit me and I continued weekly phone calls with others, but for some I simply fell of the radar until around a month before I was due to fly home. But then remember: it works both ways. I should’ve made more effort too.
Thirdly, you realise when moving abroad that it isn’t always possible to maintain all friendships. My Mum always said you should be able to count your closest friends on one hand. Okay, so mine technically still fit on two hands, but they are the people who I can call on at anytime of the day or night and one, if not all, would be on the phone or around in the flash if I needed them.
I’m realising more and more as I focus on what my next chapter will be, that if I am to keep travelling or working towards that end goal of no longer living long distance , with Mr.Slovak that the physical interactions with friends will be less and less, but I must also remember friends are put on this Earth “for a season, a reason or a lifetime.” Those that are meant to be will be. The rest are not for me to worry about.
“No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each others worth.” – Robert Southey
I also have to stop myself for saying common phrases like hello and good morning in Italian, as I’ve spent the past 6 months speaking to people with very (and I mean very) basic Italian day to day. My head also hurt for a few days as I got used to hearing just English around me and not a mixture of English and Italian and having to switch from English in the classroom to Italian at the Greengrocer’s.
Overall, it’s been strange but lovely to be back in the UK. I was born and bred here, but that doesn’t stop those pangs to go wandering and see more of this beautiful world God gave us to look after and ultimately see. I now understand what travel bloggers mean when they come back home and feel like they no longer truly belong there and hop foot it off to their next destination rather quickly. The itch feet starts to intensify and their hearts long for their next adventure.
So, What’s next? Am I staying put in the UK for the rest of this year? Will I hop foot it off somewhere new? Or will I finally take that end goal step and move to Holland to be with Mr.Slovak?
We have a whole Summer to get through first….Let’s wait and see.