Having been prepared for my return to British culture after an amazing year abroad between France, Germany, and Spain, I was expecting a few minor re-adjustment issues as I entered back into the country that I had been an all-but-stranger from for the last 14 months.

What I was not prepared for, however, was the sheer overwhelmingness of everything when I came hurtling back into student life, final year looming and the practicalities of living in a student house, work deadlines and catching up with people I’d not seen for over a year all threatening to take over my ever-more-precious time.

I’d been looking forward to coming back to the city that I love for such a long time — albeit with a sense of nervous trepidation —, and so much had changed. It was as if I were starting all over in another country yet again.

My year abroad helped me to learn to adapt to new situations in so many ways, but arriving in a house where we had no internet for the first week, the cooker would only ignite when it felt like it, the age-old boiler decided to stop working — leaving us with no hot water for over a week — and receiving an electric shock from my bathroom tap proved to be quite a challenge. Add to that the hectic schedule of welcome back introductory meetings, trying to sign up for seminars online and career-meeting emails received at what seemed like two-minute intervals. It’s no wonder I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown by the end of the week. I’d been looking forward to coming back to the city that I love for such a long time — albeit with a sense of nervous trepidation — and so much had changed. It was as if I were starting all over in another country yet again.

Nevertheless, things were not as bad as they seemed. I must admit, it was a huge relief to be able to spend time with good friends who I’d not been able to hang out with in a very long time; and with many of them still here doing Masters degrees or working in the city, I have a great reason to be thankful. Nottingham also still has so much to offer — perhaps not quite the same as a weekend trip to Paris, but the music scene is one that I’ve missed dearly on my travels. Also, if I’m ever feeling homesick for a far-off land, the huge number of international students, often cut off from the regular student population, have a wealth of cultural information and help me out whenever I’m craving some freshly baked Liebkuchen or a spot of Spanish chatter over coffee. What’s more, all the career meetings are turning out to be reasonably helpful even if the idea of finding a career in itself strikes me with fear every time I think about it. No wonder I want to do another year out!

All in all, coming back to student life in the UK has certainly not been easy. I’ve been bombarded with demands on my time and energy, and had to hunker down and take things a lot more seriously now that I’m back. But that’s to be expected of a final year student in any field of study; and the benefits of living in a vibrant student city with a great international community and dear friends almost outweigh the grey skies and study stress. At least I only have to stick it out until the end of June. After that, maybe I’ll just head to South America for a while.

Natalie Arnold

 

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Image courtesy of funktic.cat via Flickr

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