5 recurring thoughts on my return home

by Mai Le

Kia Marie Hunt is a student of Hispanic Studies at University of Birmingham, and spent her third year abroad at the Universidad de Montevideo, Uruguay, and the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil. To catch up with her adventures, check out her blog and, in the meantime, here are her recurring thoughts after returning from her "legendary third year abroad".

1. I really, really, really want to talk about it
I feel like I need to where a shirt that says "I've been on a year abroad - ask me about it!" And I don't mean when people say "Hey how was Uruguay/Brazil/South America/Your year abroad?" and I reply "Oh it was absolutely amazing" and then they abruptly say "oh great" and change the subject. I mean, come on! That was an entire year of my life, a year that changed my entire perception of myself and the world around me; I could literally talk about it for hours. Now I'm not proposing a lecture where I talk and talk and you are resigned to simply listening to my countless stories. Let’s have a good old conversation! Let’s compare cultural differences, our attitudes, share travel anecdotes, memories from the places we have been, exchange tips and ambitions; that's what I’d love to do.

2. Sorry not sorry
On the subject of talking about the year abroad, sometimes I do find myself waffling on about the experience even if no one ever asked me anything. It may seem like I’m making up excuses to start a sentence with "when I was on my year abroad..." or "back when I was in..." However, as I mentioned earlier, it’s really rather difficult to not mention any details from the previous year of your life! Every little thing can somehow be associated or linked back to something from my experience, so it’s hard not to be reminded of it and bring it up constantly!

3. Wow, how did I ever afford to live here before!?
My first semester in Uruguay was expensive for sure, but life in Brazil was sooo much cheaper than the cost of living in the UK. I never had anything to compare the cost of life in the UK to before... so upon returning I keep find myself asking questions like: Was I richer before I went away or something? How did I not notice that everything at home is so damn expensive?! When I pay nearly a fiver for a drink in Costa, and think about how that equivalent 20 Brazilian Real could’ve got me about a weeks’ worth of fruit and veg - the price difference really hits home!

4. I never realised that English people were sooo…
It's hard to understand what people at home are 'like' until you have a grasp on another culture to compare with. After a year abroad trying to understand how the native people in our host country work and interact, we are more reflective about the people at home once we return. Its extra interesting to talk to friends that have spent their time somewhere else, to get a whole other perspective on it all. For example, after returning from a year in Germany one friend remarked that he has now realised just how friendly English people are - whilst I am on the other end of the scale! My experiences in South America made me think that English people are so cold and closed.

5. Wow I’ve missed eating this so much…(but oh no, now I miss eating something else!)
I’m sure If you asked most people what they were missing on their year abroad, the majority of their top ten would be made up of food and drink items from home - mine was anyway! There's something so comforting about food you've grown up with, and rediscovering the joy of eating those things after a year away brings an indescribable feeling of happiness. Yet, at the same time, as we gain some nice things back we lose others. As great as it is to finally be able to eat roast dinners or mum’s lasagne again, there are some things from my year abroad that I really grew rather fond of. And since it’s pretty much impossible to bring açai to the UK in a suitcase (I thought about trying it), I find myself wishing I could fly thousands of miles and back just for a snack. What a conundrum... we can't have it all I suppose!

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