Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day 150: Well, I'm Back

“But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap.
He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.”
-- J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Final day in St. Andrews- a walk on the 18th hole of the Old Course

Day 150. I’ve been back in Canada for 150 days. Yikes.

It’s been good, for the most part. I won’t lie and say that it wasn’t hard to leave Scotland and that every moment back in Canada has been amazing and that I never want to leave here again. Coming back was difficult and stressful and full of reverse culture shock and longing for cobbled streets and old stone buildings.

But, despite all that, it has been good to come back. I needed to return to Canada and see my country through new eyes. Yes, there are plenty of things that now frustrate me, like how spread out everything is or how people don’t know how to queue or how no one properly appreciates a good cup of tea. Yet, there are so many things I do appreciate, like proper malls and nice airports and heated houses and having all my clothes with me and having a family who knows me so well and loves me anyways.

I’m glad to have returned. I don’t think it would have been good for me to have stayed away much longer. Living the crazy life of an exchange student, it’s far too easy to forget that “home”—whatever that word means—does actually matter.

That’s the problem with going on exchange: it’s so temporary… and so exciting for that very reason. During my one year at St. Andrews I packed in several years’ worth of travel and theatre-going and celebrity-meeting. I did so much that home couldn’t help but feel boring… but I only did so much because I wasn’t at home. My friends who call Britain home could have done just as much as I did, but they didn’t, because they were at home. It was the exchange that gave me license to have such an amazing year, not the living in Britain.

An exchange is fundamentally transitory. It’s got an absolute beginning and end. It’s like a little bubble space off of real life. I never want to say that it has no bearing on real life, because it absolutely does, but it still is a special time that must end. I might even go as far as to say that the fact that an exchange year ends is ultimately what makes it all worthwhile.

That’s why I had to come back. Because returning to Canada and reevaluating my homeland also allows me to look back and appreciate Scotland for what it was: a life changing year. My year abroad changed me in so many ways that didn’t even become evident until I came back. It’s all well and good to reinvent yourself in a new country, but the real test is when you come back “home.”

This probably all sounds too final, like I’m content return home and put my exchange year behind me. That’s not true at all. Right now I’m doing all I can to get myself back to Britain and I still don’t particularly want to stay in Canada long term. But I know that returning here was important, even essential, and I’m so glad, after 150 days, that I came back. 

No comments:

Post a Comment