I’m back, back, back again in the U.S... kind of. I’m writing this from Calgary airport as I wait for my flight back to Phoenix soon.
I have a lot of mixed emotions about leaving the U.K., the most overwhelming one feeling like it was all some weird fever dream. Although for a lot of reasons this year was more down-to-earth than my year abroad (I worked, paid for most everything myself, didn’t travel as much, etc.), it still doesn’t feel real. Additionally, on my year abroad, I knew I had to come back to at least finish my last year of university. I hoped that getting my Master’s degree in the U.K. would allow me to stay on after my program but sadly, that didn’t work out. Anyone who is close to me knows how upsetting this is to me, but I’m trying to roll with the punches.
Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share things I will and won’t miss about the U.K.
Things I will miss about the U.K.
- My friends and Diego: I was friendly with most everyone on my course, actively made a few friends in my program and really enjoyed bonding on our field trip to South Africa in April. I’ve also made some friends through Diego, met up with new online friends, and reunited with old friends from my year abroad. It goes unsaid that I will miss Diego the most though.
- Public transit: I love being able to go anywhere at any time, whether it’s into town by train or to the other side of the country by MegaBus. No such transit system exists in most places of the United States, certainly not Arizona. It was a privilege to have such convenient travel options.
- Closeness of everything: I loved having a lot of what I need from a five minute walk to the shops to a short hop on the bus into town.
- Bathroom stalls: I’ve just used the toilet here at the Calgary airport and already miss the ceiling-to-floor stall doors in the U.K., I feel so exposed.
- Travel: In addition to convenient traveling within the country, it was also easy and affordable to travel to other European countries. With the airport only half an hour away by train, budget flights for as little as $50 and quick flights to the mainland, it was easy to explore more of Europe.
- Vegetarian food: Especially in the last few years, I never had a massive problem eating as a vegetarian, but in the U.K., it’s so much easier and more convenient than it is in the U.S. I will especially miss Linda McCartney’s sausage rolls.
- Casual drinking: Pubs and general casual drinking aren’t as much of a thing in the U.S. How I will miss Spoons.
- Nights out: How am I going to live without alternative music nights?!
Things I won’t miss about the U.K.
- Everything about driving: I had a car for six months and while it was a massive help, I hated driving in the U.K., mainly because the roads are so curved it takes twice as long to travel the same distance in the U.K. as it would in the U.S. and the roads are a lot smaller, I always felt claustrophobic.
- The rain: Although some light rain is a small price to pay for relatively mild year-round weather, it always comes at the worst time! Like this morning when I had to walk through town in it with 100lbs of luggage.
- London trips: I recognized how grossly spoiled I am to be able to say that I’m not the biggest fan of London. Although it’s fun and exciting the first few times, London is very busy, crowded and full of cheesy tourist attractions. It’s not my favorite place in the world.
- Daylight hours: Winter has been absolutely miserable for me. The sun “rises” at about 8AM and sets before 4PM… and even during daylight hours, it’s usually extremely overcast this time of the year. It has me feeling really down and I can’t wait to get some sunshine again.
- Lack of opportunities: Since before I even arrived, it was always hard to live as a foreigner, even someone from a relatively similar country. I’m slapped with some extra fees (tuition, housing deposit, car insurance, etc.), have to jump through a few extra loops for administrative purposes and employment and after all that effort, I still wasn’t able to stay. I hope the U.K. seriously revises their immigration laws for international U.K. graduates like myself who have worked hard to contribute to the community and academia.
Photo by Hamish Duncan.