It has now been over a month since being back at university. Still, to this day, I’m going through a whole heap of mixed emotions. Initially, I was faced with reverse culture shock, a concept thrown at us by our tutors but one I disregarded. I can assure you that it is definitely a valid, but hugely unappreciated notion.
I’m back in a society completely different to that of Mexico and Guatemala, one in which I slotted right back into as though I had never left, but one that I no longer feel 100% comfortable in. I went back to my old casual part-time job that brought on a horrible bout of back problems – something I’ve suffered with for quite a few years now – and with it a feeling of exhaustion and lowness.
Heading back to university was an exciting moment for me, one that I’d been looking forward to as it’d allow me to be back with friends and back in a bubble I’d settled well into in second year. But this bubble is exactly that. It seems so distant from what we all experienced on our Year Abroad. With essay deadlines, exams, and even just being back to lectures and seminars, I feel like I’ve gone a step back. From living, working and being immersed in the Spanish language, I’ve now gone back to academia which seems like I’m no longer moving forward with my desire of travelling and learning about new cultures. This is something I just have to get through because ultimately my degree will enrich my knowledge and allow me to progress in life in the way I want it to. Once I figure out exactly what that means for me.
I recently had a strange “episode” the other night which is affecting me and in no way helping my mental health. Headaches, lack of concentration and lethargy. Horribly bad timing, with an essay due next Monday and work seeming to pile up uncontrollably.
But even with all of this going on I’m grateful for the positive parts of my life.
A couple of weeks ago I embarked on one of the strangest but loveliest life moments. A long distance relationship. Relationships are not exactly my forte, as some of you know, but this is one part of my life that I’m not freaking out about, that I’m not worrying about nor am I strategically hurtling through. A cute weekend spent in Southampton and Winchester with someone I feel wholly connected to is exactly what I’ve wanted for a while now, something I’ve only just come to realise.
Being back with friends and family has also been wonderful. Our little house of three is great. I loved seeing my old schoolmate settling in in Bournemouth and having a little boogie at her housewarming party. Finally going to a gig and seeing one of my favourite bands slay The Roundhouse reminded me of how much I love live music; it completely takes me away. Seeing my brother settle in to his new flat and love his career makes me proud and also inspires me. These are just a few of the things that I’m hugely grateful for.
Although returning to reality has had a few downs, it’s certainly brought some ups with it. That’s what I need to focus on, along with getting back on track health wise, and staying mindful.