A Home Away From Home

Something I never thought I’d say was that I’m feeling right at home… 15,000 kilometers away. Despite pondering the various array of feelings that would come over me during my gap year, I never considered that I could feel so comfortable in rainy, tiny, green old England when I was so far from my home in Australia, as dry, enormous and bare as it may be.

Having said that, when I initially arrived, everything about England seemed so far from any place I would ever call home. The bitterly cold icy wind struck me the second I walked outside the airport, acting as a cruel and sudden reminder of my solitude on this new adventure. As if to say: “Hey, don’t forget! You’re on your own out here”. Truthfully, I was terrified. Who wouldn’t be? But as I shivered away my anxieties, specific little moments gradually unfolded around me that seemed to act as a reminder that I wasn’t so far away from home after all:

– On my very first day on the island, my boss made a grand attempt to help me fight my jet lag. In order to do so, she took myself and Johannes across to the mainland. We went to watch some of the year 6 girls play in a netball tournament, early on Saturday morning. After being introduced to my first set of Rydeins, I stood against the fence beside the courts at Windelsham House rapped up in a scarf and coat. Suddenly, I realised that this experience was far too familiar to my dear-old Frensham heart. I couldn’t help remembering all the freezing cold Saturday mornings I had already spent on the other side of the fence. Attempting to battle through the ever present Mittagong frost and accompanying goose-bumps to try and play the best netball that I could. As my boss asked me: “Are you sure you’re not cold? You can go and sit in the car if you like.” I smiled to myself like I was in on my own little joke. I politely declined as my heart was ironically warmed by the nostalgic feeling of watching bitterly cold netball on a Saturday morning.

– In my first week, during one of what would become many trips down to the school netball courts, I couldn’t help but smile as my eye caught the words written on the plaque pasted next to the courts. It read “Kennedy Courts”. This made me giggle to myself, as Kennedy was the name of one of the Junior Boarding Houses at Frensham. More importantly, the rival of my own Boarding House, Hartfield, which I was head of through numerous Christmas Decoration and Tip Top Tiday competitions.

– An epitome of nostalgia also fell upon me during my first Junior School assembly. We all stood for the hymn, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the all too familiar chords of Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace. I grinned to myself one more, as I enjoyed the singing of a Frensham classic in an octave or two higher than I was used to. The smile on my face seemed to be stuck there as I ascended to the Turner library (yet another coincidental Frensham reference) to supervise Colouring Club.

Within a matter of two months, I found myself feeling right at home, despite being physically just about as far away from it as possible. And that’s not say that I don’t miss my oddly shaped house back in Bywong, or the road-trips to Sydney with my friends consisting mainly of 2000’s R&B and Disney Sing-Alongs. It’s to say that I think I’m going to survive the rest of this year.

This month marks six months that I’ve been in Europe enjoying freedom from scholarly pursuits. I’m only half way through the year, and I can safely say that I definitely made the right decision in coming here. Realising that I’m half way through has left debating both good and bad accompanying thoughts. I remain very proud of my anxious self, for making it this far and for have already seen so much. But my heart also can’t help but sadden a little to think that in a swift six months, I’ll have to return back home to the real world. Where sadly, easy weekend trips to major cities like London and Paris clearly won’t be possible. However, attempting to look at the glass as half-full, I still have many more exciting adventures that are quickly approaching. With a whole summery two months of travelling Europe just around the corner, I think I’ll continue to endure the struggle of constantly battling gap fat in exchange for more travelling, good times and new friends.

Here’s to being somehow ironically simultaneously well-travelled and well poor! Am I right?!

Bring on Summer.

G xx

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