This post has sat in my draft box for a little while now, but I am finally going to share it. Although I often write how I speak, and whatever is in my head. This is very much a raw and open post, something I don’t often do.
I guess what follows here is something similar to what many others write about at some stage; returning to where you started from, and the dreaded reverse culture shock.
When I left the UK, almost three years ago, I was unsure how life would pan out, whether I’d get to New Zealand and stay for one month, or one year. I left at the age of 25, not long after I had broken up with my boyfriend.
I wanted a change, I wanted to get the ‘travelling thing’ out of my system, which I’ve become to realise never happens. Travelling as much as I have done, has only made the desire to travel even stronger.
Living and working overseas was always something I wanted to do, and with a qualification which afforded me to do that, I worked hard and got there.
In the two and a half years that followed, I had many wonderful experiences. I met people that will remain lifelong friends, I challenged myself, I travelled, I explored and was part of a new culture, and general had an amazing time. However, in New Zealand, I had a base, I had a home, a job, a permanent income somewhere I felt that I belonged.
This week, I will turn 28, and I have spent the past 4 months tripping around South East Asia. Prior to leaving New Zealand, I wrote about the fears I had about travelling solo. Now that I am about one week away from returning to the country I once called home, I have again have fears about what the future will hold, and where I’m really going in life. My friends are all busy getting married, having babies, and buying houses, and I’m just travelling.
Where is home when you travel?
When I left New Zealand, I had a lot of sadness in my heart, it was a place that I very much enjoyed living, and I’ll always consider Christchurch as my second home. However I knew I was getting to the stage where I wanted to settle somewhere, to create a more permanent home, to set down roots, and after my dad got ill and was taken to hospital, it was a blunt reminder that the people I know and love are getting older, and returning to the UK felt like the right thing to do.
During my first week of travelling, I was sat in a café in Bali, and the song ‘life for rent’ by Dido was playing.
The following lyrics jumped out to me: “I haven’t found a place that I call home. I’ve never stuck around quite long to make it.”
Over the past 4 months I’ve lived out of my rucksack, wearing the same set of clothes, moving from place to place every few days, and I’ve had a great time, but I’ve not had a home.
Various travellers usually ask where you are from and where you live. My response to this is I was born in Northern Ireland, but don’t currently live anywhere.
Getting back to normal
People have recently said to me, won’t life back in the UK, be a bit boring? Getting back to normal. What is normal? Normal to me over the past 4 months, has been watching the family of 4 transport their lives on the back of a scooter, tuk tuk rides, eating noodles at the side of the road, and baking in the searing heat.
When I fly back to London Heathrow, I’ll stay with my sister for a few days, then I’m house sitting for a friend. One week later, I relocate to Essex, to start a new job. A 9-5 style job, and whilst it’ll be great to earn money again, I am a little worried that it’ll not be as exciting as my life was in New Zealand, or travelling through Asia.
That’s not to say that people living and working the 37.5 hour week are boring. It’ll be a challenge to settle into work again for sure, but I have never lived in the South East of England, so I’m looking forward to discovering this area.
I’m worried at how much my friends and family have changed and whether or I will still connect with them, like I used to. People have got used to me being away, will any of them care or even know that I am back?
So now I am onto a new chapter in my life. A chapter were I’ll discover the UK again, and reconnect with my family a friends. I am looking forward to having a bit of a base again, being able to cook for myself, making friends and cooking for them, going to the movies, and being able to talk to my friends and family in a phone, and not on Skype at some odd time of the day.
It is still not the end of my adventuring though. Europe is next door, and it is a huge continent that I’ve not fully explored.