“Moving away from home has its perks: you do things on your own terms and learn to become an ‘adult’”
That’s what I was telling myself when I was packing my bags and getting ready to move from sunny Spain to smoggy London a year ago, right after securing my place at QM. As I was getting ready to leave, I couldn’t help but look back at the 18 years I had spent in the same town, and the 15 years I had spent in the same British school, was I going to turn a new leaf and forget everyone, or will I long to return?
The answer to that question had been on my mind during most of my first year of university, and now, after successfully completing year one out of three, the question remains unanswered. After visiting home a couple of times I realised one of the reality checks that come along with moving away: home never feels the same again. No matter how hard I tried, it still felt different to do the same things I used to do back home… and that’s something I hadn’t anticipated. Being an international student has its perks, you’re perceived as more ‘interesting’ and more ‘wordly’. One of the major downsides to homesickness when your home is not a car journey away is the hint of disappointment when you do return home, and find that it feels different and somewhat ‘alien’.
The second harsh reality that struck me was the fact that I had to learn how to make my own decisions, in all aspects of life: work, money, friends, personal life… the cushion that was once provided by the safe-haven of my home no longer supported me in my new life. To me this was a mixed bag: on one hand I felt overwhelmed at the amount of things I had to learn to do for myself, but on the other hand it was strangely gratifying and satisfying to know that you’re in control of what you can do, and what you want to do. Most importantly, it is okay to ask for help, in fact, your family most likely finds it endearing that you still need them. (One thing to bear in mind: this realisation didn’t happen in one go. I had to go through several panic-ridden phone calls to my sisters and one tipsy email to my dad asking for more money and signing off with a ‘thank you’ in a language I don’t even speak to realise that it is sometimes ok to cry for help).
The third, and probably the most important reality check I received when moving away from home fulfilled itself via a realisation I had whilst meeting new people in fresher’s week. Despite not being ground-breaking, it remains important to remember that everyone was in the same position. Everyone was an eager and excited fresher, wanting to know what’s in store for them and equally as scared as you. I asked two of my childhood friends and two of my university friends what their biggest challenges were since moving away from home and their answers were too good to keep to myself:
“For me, it has been taking out the trash, I HATE IT. I HATE IT WITH ALL I HAVE”
“The existential crisis that comes with realising my degree is essentially incompatible with any job I want to do, coupled with the frustration of not being as promiscuous as Rihanna on a nudist beach.”
“Waking up on Thursday mornings for a 9am lecture after Hail Mary…only succeeded a couple of times.”
“Keeping my room clean.”
And if you ask me, my biggest challenge (and it remains the bane of my university life) it is doing the dreaded laundry…it’s just so boringgggg.