I’ve been back from England for more than a month now.
The return home wasn’t as bad as I had expected. At least it wasn’t at first. I arrived home on Christmas Eve, so I was immediately busy with the holiday, friends and family.
Just like London always felt like a weird aside from my normal life, that’s how my time at home feels.
But coming back to Chapel Hill was when the “reverse culture shock” began. It was so different to be back on a proper university campus. To see packs of students in hoodies and yoga pants or sweatpants instead of posh London outfits. I shamelessly ditched my trench coat to wear my bright pink North Face rain jacket. I mean, it’s a more practical jacket any way.
It was nice to be around people I knew and to catch up with old friends. But it was also disappointing that going to see a play on the West End or trying a new night club or visiting one of London’s free museums or taking a day trip somewhere were no longer viable options for how I would spend my free time.
I was happy but very quickly bored. I had a lot of trouble focusing on my schoolwork and keeping up with the academic demands of UNC.
I think what was and is hardest about being back is no longer feeling like I’m living out a dream. There is something undeniably exhilarating about being able to say that you’re living out one of your life’s goals.
Not to say I’m not working on my goals and dreams here, it’s just that being here is a part of a bigger journey.
London was instant gratification.
Going abroad seemed like such an impossible dream for most of my life, but it probably will be one of the easiest things of all that I want to accomplish.
After all, all I had to do was show up.
But, I have begun readjusting. I am rediscovering excitement in the things I love about Chapel Hill. The reminders of Europe hanging on my walls- postcards, maps and posters- have blended in with the rest of my decorations just like my memories from last semester have been filed away with the rest of my 20 years.
Every now and then I’ll be sitting in my room and forget that outside the window is Carrboro not London.
But then I’ll see a ray of sunshine peek through the curtains and realize that gray Britain is thousands of miles away.