MELBOURNE. It’s been a good day. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. It’s been busy but strange as I’ve tried to find my feet and re-move in. Reverse culture shock is real and I have had to re-acclimatise. It hasn’t been easy, and I’ve felt odd as the pieces start to settle and begin to feel normal again. Initially everything was super bright and shiny and exciting. Then it felt like I was walking on moving stones, trying and hopping from one to another, avoiding the cracks in between them because I didn’t want to fall. I’ve been keeping busy, seeing people and going from person to person, never really alone – which I realised after a jog the other evening, when I sat looking out at the canal outside my house, and realised that this was the first time I had been alone with myself since I got home. It was quiet and remarkable as I sat and realised where I was.
I can’t begin to count the number of times I dreamed of Melbourne while I was away. I had the time of my life and I wouldn’t change a single thing! But I won’t pretend that there weren’t times I wanted to be in the comfort and familiar warmth of here.
I pinched myself yesterday to remind me that this was real. I remember nights in Leiden when I dreamt about being home in Melbourne. Those night when I would close my eyes and imagine that when I opened them I would be in my room here in Melbourne. Then a few days ago I was laying on my bed here in Melbourne and remembered one of those moments in bed in Leiden. I closed my eyes and dreamed that when I opened them I would be in my room in Leiden. Of course both times I found myself resolutely in the place I had not been imagining or pining for, but the point is that I was and I am still pining.
I’m looking back, reminiscing and wanting desperately to be there, home. It’s strange, because I do this knowing that once I’m there I’ll pine for another place, I’ll pine for here. To many this might sound like the definition of a “first world problem,” being somewhat unhappy in whichever amazing global city I happen to find myself in. But I can assure you that this is perhaps the most serious downfall of moving away to a place that isn’t easy to just nip back to and visit. It is a feeling like no other. An awful feeling that even when you’re at home you’re never truly content, because you’re no longer fully at home. I moved in, I made myself at home, I made myself a home! I got involved, I planted seeds [rather nurtured plants but the metaphor works nicely]. I flourished in my new environment, and lived every moment I could to the best of my ability and I loved it. But I pined for here and now that I’m here I pine for there.
It’s been patchy coming back. It’s been great and for the first few days I was moving too fast and doing too much to draw breathe, catch up with myself and realise what had actually happened. Then on my 5th day back I went back to university. Walking around the campus felt familiar but fresh. I’m thoroughly enjoying it despite my atrociously auto allocated timetable that has me as an under loading arts student at uni every single day! – and yes I have to go as they are tutorials and seminars, not just recorded lectures. But it’s been okay because I’ve had plenty of time to socialise and see people and I actually enjoy just hanging out at uni, especially as not having gone back to work and only being weeks 1 and 2 I haven’t had a lot to do. I’ve been getting myself back into a routine and focusing on myself, trying to be the best person I can be here and really trying to maximise my potential. It’s been strange, which I feared and momentarily considered but didn’t expect. I never really gave myself time to think about what would happen when I got here. All of my attention was focused on how much I wanted to be here and the actual act of getting me here. But now I’ve been home in Melbourne for just over 2 weeks and it’s time to settle back into reality. I had my first shift back at work yesterday and have a full on week ahead of me consisting of work, umpiring, uni social events, 21st’s, assignments and then committee camp this upcoming weekend. If it didn’t feel real before then it certainly does now!
I’m happy, I really am, but I miss the Netherlands. I miss going to the Saturday market, and riding my bike everywhere, riding along cobble stone streets and across bridges with spectacular views of the canals. I’ve never been home sick, and I don’t get home sick. I’m lifestyle sick. That being said I love being back in my car and driving around Melbourne. The coffee is 100 times better! I’m loving varying cuisines, great food and my personal favourite the brunch culture! The comforts of a queen size bed with amazing quality linen and manchester, going to bed before midnight every night and waking early to enjoy spending extra time in bed. It’s taken adjusting too and 8 months has taken its toll on me and my life in Melbourne, but I’m finally finding my feet again, feeling comfortable and it’s all looking pretty good!
In all of this there is one incredible bonus. Those people who were in Leiden with me and are all now back in Melbourne. They get it. They know what this feels like, and with them alone I can be the me I was when I was away. With those three girls my strong personality is reined in and kept in check, forced to take a seat and be a player rather than the referee. With them I laugh and grin and get to openly talk and appreciate the past 8 months of my life! Those people alone, although blank on my life in Melbourne prior to exchange (except for the things I have told them), have been the only people to understand and witness the last 6-8 months of my life. They understand as no one else can, and with them alone I have sought comfort and familiarity in the past few weeks. It’s getting easier to be here again, but I miss our lives. I miss the fun we had and being with them here feels so exciting and rewarding. I’m excited and I’m smiling.