Sunday, April 30, 2017

Day 600: Almost Home

Boarding passes for the flight home after my year abroad. 

Day 600

If my calculations are correct, today is my 600th day in the UK. Well, since I've travelled a bit, I should say my 600th day in Europe (though perhaps not for long... *insert mandatory Brexit joke here*)

At any rate, it's the 600th day since I left Canada. 600 days since I stood in the Halifax airport, surrounded by my bags, and said goodbye to my country. 

It's actually quite a fitting time for this milestone to occur. Firstly, two days ago was the two-year anniversary of the day I discovered I was coming to St. Andrews for the PhD. And, more immediately, I'm now just two days away from heading back to Canada. 

Back with my family for my 22nd birthday

For a variety of reasons, I haven't been back to Canada since starting the PhD. But this summer I'm going back twice-- first to Ontario, where I did my undergrad and masters, and then (in August) to PEI, where my family grew up.

I'm really excited to go back. There are a lot of people I can't wait to see, and I've started to get invited to facebook events at my old Uni that I can actually go to, and, of course, I'm very ready to get my hands on a Tim Hortons ice cap. 

But there are also a few things I'm apprehensive about. I've never been to Canada as a visitor before. I've never been there not as a resident. I have no idea what it'll feel like to just be passing through, now that I don't live there anymore.

I'm worried about it feeling foreign. I pulled out my Canadian money from my stash of random currencies, sorting it out amidst piles of euros, American dollars, and Polish zloty and Romanian lei, and the Canadian money felt just that strange. After the weight of British pound coins, the 'loonie' just felt thin. 

St. Andrews friends at Starlight Ball

I'm worried about saying the wrong things. About accidentally asking where the toilet is, not the bathroom. About complementing someone on their jumper, not their sweater. I'm worried about sounding pretentious because I say 'trousers' and put the stress on the wrong syllable of Renaissance. 

But there's a positive side to the fact that, for a month, I'll be a tourist in my own country. For the first time in my life, I'll be able to see and appreciate what's uniquely Canadian. Having spent 602 days in the UK, I'll be able to enjoy Canadian culture that much more, since I won't be taking it for granted.

I've come back to Canada after a long absence before, of course. Almost three years ago, now, I flew back to Canada after a full year abroad. I remember how weird it felt to stand in the airport, surrounded by people speaking in Canadian accents. I remember trying to walk to my university the next morning, only to take two hours because everything in Canada is so ridiculously spread out.

Cast photo for Utopia Limited, this year's Gilbert and Sullivan show.

I remember hating these things. Reverse culture shock is hard. I missed Scotland. I missed British accents and narrow Scottish alleys and proper Yorkshire tea and decent public transit and having my friends all within walking distance. There were so many things I missed, it was hard to appreciate anything about Canada. 

This time, since I'm only there for a month, I'm ready to love Canada. I'm ready to enjoy how everyone has the same accent. I'm ready to revel in the vast space.

I'm so ready for this chance to realize just how great a country Canada is. I'm ready to see my country with new eyes. 

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