Moving Back Home After Living Abroad

What would you do if you lived away from home for so long that it no longer felt like home anymore?

What would you do if you lived the most crazy life filled with adventures, no day like the other, working many jobs and rarely sleeping but loving every minute, every second—good and bad—because it taught you so much about yourself and the world that made everything you once knew seem so small?

What would you do then?

I find myself asking this a lot as I’m finally coming to terms with being back in my home city after the expiration of my Youth Mobility Visa.

This visa let me, a Canadian, live and work in the UK for two years where I not only thrived in a busy environment, but also got to travel to so many amazing places and make friends from different countries.

To be back in the quietness of my house and old routine, I fully reflect on all of my wonderful experiences and how outstanding it was to have met the people that I met.

No matter what happens in the future, I’ll always be thankful for the time I’ve had and the memories made with my friends who have become my family over the past two years.

Since I’ve been back a few weeks, I thought I’d share what it’s really like to experience reverse culture shock—and hopefully I can help some other travellers see that any change of this magnitude does affect you in ways you may not have anticipated.

Exhilaration Rush

You just get off of a crazy long plane ride and are instantly met with family. Having been away for so long, it was of course so nice to see my family and it’s a great distraction for the sadness of leaving behind my housemates and friends. The first week or so is just full of family dinners and is go-go-go.

Lack of travel talk

Okay, hear me out. I know that if your audience (AKA my friends and family) are not used to travel they may not have much to contribute in conversation. But it was a bit disheartening to not even be asked much about my travels, and I just found myself defaulting to conversation about the local less-exciting life of my home town.

Not having people to converse with about my adventures is the main reason I’m writing this post, because some things need to be said and there’s just too much in my head to not put it somewhere!

Life here has moved on

I admit I wasn’t the best at keeping in contact with all my mates back home while I was abroad. There was just always so much happening and the time difference turned phone calls into text messages which turned fewer and fewer as the months went on.

The space you once filled in their lives, they filled with something else. And now that you’re back, you’re the one with the huge gap and it’s a bit shocking to deal with all of that at once.

Of course you can try to reconnect or even make new friendships, but you have to accept both of these courses will require work.

Yet things have stayed the same

As much as people have gotten used to you being away, much of the daily lives of your friends and family have remained the same.

It’s difficult to relate to people who have worked at the same job everyday and have stayed in the same city.

I haven’t even spoken to many people in person yet about my travels but to “catch up” with me would require a 200 page PDF document listing everything that has happened in the past 2 years.

I’ve already even classed (to myself) three different versions of each country I’ve been to depending on who I was talking to; ie. there’s a scandalous version, a PG version (for the fam), and a personal version that could contain small things that meant a lot to me but may be indifferent to others.

Let me know if you’d like some tidbits of any of these possible lists! I’ll put a list of the countries I’ve been to down below, feel free to question me on anything as I consider myself quite knowledgeable now on solo travel.

The isolation is real

Right before moving back home I was living in a share house with 8 other people similar to my age from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England.

If you know anything about these lovely countries, you know that they mean a great time with a social atmosphere.

Coming from that to living with a dog is a lot.

I’ve barely been alone at all in the past few years, so it’s very different to experience quiet and personal space. I’ve grown used to always being around people, which as an introvert, has been such a great transformation for me personally.

I’ve grown to speak my mind and always have someone to bounce ideas off of. That connection is something I miss, but hope to find again wherever I am.

I guess you will never really feel at home again, so what you have to feel is at home with yourself.

I really think that that is key in moving forward.

Please let me know if you’ve experienced this reverse culture shock before and how you’ve handled it! Alternatively, if you had the means to move to another place, would you?

xoxo

Christina

PS. As promised:

Countries I’ve explored:

Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnian, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, United States, Wales

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Adapting to London

I have been in London for a few days now and am slowly getting better at finding my way! I haven’t tried the tube yet, but I plan to within the next few days.

I also got around to asking the front desk how to work my stove. I can now successfully cook pasta in a pot, though I still don’t have a strainer so it’s been an adventure.

One thing that I have noticed is just how stylish everyone is on the streets. No offence to Ottawa (Canada), but this place is much more expressive!

I haven’t seen one poorly dressed person yet, which makes me glad that I decided on two suitcases instead of one.

My internship has also been excellent so far; everyone is really nice and the tasks are interesting. Being allowed to look at clothing websites for research? Yes, I can do that.

As for brands that I’m loving, MANGO and COS seem amazing! MANGO originated from Spain, and COS from Sweden, but we don’t have either in my hometown.

As for working in fashion, these are my Day 2 and Day 3 outfits:

Day 2
Top: Guess | Cardigan: American Apparel | Pants: Smart Set | Purse: Guess
3rd Day
Top: Guess | Cardigan: American Apparel | Leather leggings: Dynamite | Purse: Guess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess I should try to sleep now, seeing as it’s 3 a.m. Does jet lag ever wear off?

Also, Sainsbury’s or Tesco? I am out of food…

Flight Changes

So looks like I will be arriving a day later than planned in London. This brings me right up to the day before my internship starts! I’m not sure if I should be happy to spend another day with my family or disappointed to be missing out on whatever the other interns will be getting up to! FOMO is real, y’all.

I guess I’ll just have to be extra prepared, which is something I’m used to. I’m not so much worried about the jet-lag, as my circadian rhythm has never been normal, but having everything in order would be great.

Let’s just hope I can get everything set up in the span of one afternoon! Well hey, if a 3000-word research paper can be written in one day…

Officially an Intern

So a few days ago I was informed of an interview that I would be doing today at 5 a.m. (10 a.m. in London) via Skype. Despite the early call-time, I was super excited and nervous about it for the past few days! It was with this cool fashion trend forecasting agency, and I am happy to say I landed the internship position.

I might go more into detail about it in a future blog post—for now I am not sure how much I can really say about it. What I will say is that it is exactly what I was hoping for!

I have always been interested in fashion/beauty/lifestyle articles and brands, so it is amazing that I am getting the opportunity to see some behind the scenes action.

That’s all I’ll share about it for now, but there will definitely be more posts to come as I get ready for London fall 2016!

 

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa

My application for my visa has been approved! I am officially all ready to fly to London at the end of August. Under this visa, I have permission to be in the UK for two years as a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) Migrant.

For anyone from Canada, Australia or other qualifying countries, the process wasn’t as bad as I expected. I hear applying for the BUNAC visa is a bit more difficult. The most painful part was the ~$1200 fee comprised of application and health surcharges. There was a fee to use the Ottawa Visa Application Centre (VAC) as well.

Luckily I was home when the New York UK Visas & Immigration Office returned my Canadian passport via DHL mail service. All in all, the process from start to finish took just over a week.

Now all I have to do is collect my Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from the local collection point from where I will be staying in London after I arrive.

I’m excited to meet new people, and if any UK bloggers feel the same, it would be great to eventually meet up/collaborate!

Anyone in or around London, England from September to December?

Travel 2016

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I’m starting to get more excited about my upcoming travels interning in London, England from September to December! I’m currently applying for my Tier 5 Visa which has been interesting. 

I’ll be in London with others who are also doing internships, and we’re going to be staying in student apartments. I’ve never lived on my own before so I’m both excited and nervous!

I like sticking to a planned budget—doing groceries will be something new. I’ll be using my XE currency app all the time to figure out what I’m actually spending.

Despite all the possible challenges, I think it will be worth it for the experience.