It’s been ten days since my return to the UK. I have caught up with friends and family, my cat is as cuddly as ever and I am home. Yes, the weather is cold, it even snowed yesterday, our house is a slight mess as we only just moved and I have just set up the wifi this afternoon, but I would have it no other way. It’s so good to be back.
On my arrival back to Liverpool, it was strangely comforting to hear the Scouse accent around me for the first time in four months. Even after ten days here, it still feels a little strange to be able to interact with people in public in English. As whenever we spoke in English in Perpignan, we would get strange people trying to speak to us as it sounded so ‘exotic.’
Us Brits are renowned for our politeness, patience when it comes to queuing and being able to just start a conversation with anyone; I must say, I never appreciated it enough before now. Here, the checkout girl apologised for making me wait two minutes while she dealt with a client, when this happened last week I was so glad to hear those words. In France, they talk about something completely pointless for twenty minutes, after that, the lady behind the counter goes off to do something else, and finally serves me with a brisk “Bonjour,” like there is no problem at all with making me wait 30 minutes to just buy a bunch of bananas. Don’t get me started about the bank either over there. I was so happy when I was welcomed in to HSBC and Barclays the other day, where they give you a seat and someone to see you straight away, when in France it was common that at least four people would skip the queue in front of me before I could get seen to. Britain, I have missed your ways.
Every morning I have made the most of having a warm Ribena drink which I never had in France, and the day after my return, I abused the chocolate aisle in Asda – now the kitchen cupboard is full of British brands of sweet snacks that will take me ages to get through. Although I have to say, the cereal here tastes odd. It is much sweeter than in France, which upset me when I served myself to my Special K at breakfast. We can’t have everything I guess.
The last week I have been busy seeing family, friends and helping out at home. It’s absurd to think that I had not seen the majority of my family since last Christmas. It goes to show that I have had an incredible year travelling, seeing the world and meeting people from all over, yet I haven’t spent time at home. I will spend more time at home this Christmas than I did during the summer months of 2014, which isn’t hard, as it was only 2 weeks in the summer! This long break before I fly to Spain is well and truly needed.
It’s great to travel and explore the world, but there is nothing better than being at home and having somewhere to come back to. Experiencing other cultures really does make us appreciate our own even more, the things we grew up with and the things we may take for granted when we see them every day.
Tomorrow morning I am taking the coach down to London to see James for a week. We have plans to go see the ballet, go to Fortnum and Mason’s for Afternoon Tea and a trip to Brighton for shopping and the theatre.
Later on in January, I am going to Sheffield for a few days to visit. As my second home, I have missed it too and I may break down in tears of joy when I see the beautiful university campus with 24/7 library services, cafés, the Student’s Union and buildings which are more than one-storey tall with real tarmac pathways and not just dirt paths – Perpignan just does not compare, you see. It is even chillier there than Liverpool, so I am building up to this. I will have to take the train because if it snows, it would be difficult to return home in the car. And also, because my GPS got thrown out during the move!
I finally received the date for when I will be able to move into my room in Salamanca, which will be from the 31st January! This week I will be able to begin my plans for flying out there for next semester.
I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season with family and friends. Good luck to all Year Abroaders who will also be changing locations in the New Year for the second semester. I feel sorry for all the people who will have to put up with my spoken Spanish in the first few weeks of my arrival in Salamanca, as it is completely shot at. But let’s worry about that in 2015.
See you next year!