It feels strange to be back. The hardy Scottish accent, the lively west of Scotland breeze and the eloquent selection of Glaswegian ‘boulangerie’ have all welcomed me with open arms. As my plane landed in Glasgow, the tropical rain that buffeted the tarmac and masked myself as well as the rest of the passengers with an additional layer of water seemed almost natural to me. I had arrived back home. Admittedly I found a steak bake at Greggs shortly after.
Everyone always says the same thing about an exchange abroad. They say that it passes by rapidly. When you’re over there you live everything in the moment, especially shortly after arriving. You discover new people, places, ideas and cultures and so I can say that at the end of the day you absorb all these exciting new things and try to use them to grow as a person. If anything else, that’s what your exchange, mine and everybody else’s is about – growing as person. Here I simply mean being able to adapt to different people, places and ideas efficiently and then be able to radiate this new found confidence so that people around you can benefit also from it. The easiest way to do this is by telling people you’ve done it as well as how and why. In doing so, it shows to other people that they can do something as crazy as packing up and moving to a new habitat with a new culture and potentially language and not only cope in their endeavour, but succeed and prosper while doing it. It helps inspire people to do what they want to do.
And they’re right. Your exchange is going to pass by swiftly no matter what you do. This isn’t a bad thing at all, in fact it shows that you’re enjoying yourself. When I look back on living in Lyon, it was incredibly difficult for the first couple of weeks. Moreover, when things just start going against you (such as your suitcase breaking 15 minutes after first getting there) you have to persevere and get through it even when it’s sometimes an immense struggle (which it was). When at the end of the day your bag is snapped in half and you’re soaked in wretched sweat, try to smile because it’ll make you appreciate the experience even more. As I’ve said many times before, the start is definitely the toughest part of the year. Leaving the calm and familial surroundings to (for example) the bureaucratic nightmare that is the country of France is daunting. Finding somewhere to live, finding friends, opening a bank account these things are all stressful sounding but the best way to deal with them is calmly and individually. My best tip would be to picture how you want to enjoy your time there every day. Then you stop worrying so much and the seemingly stressful things will become more approachable and possible – even if you do have to queue for 4 hours to apply for social security.
In this blog I haven’t so much highlighted my individual experiences but rather a great approach to looking forward to and then enjoying your own experiences. Even after coming back, you can still greatly use these experiences to your own and others benefit. And yes, there is a period when you’re back in Scotland basking in the glorious grey sky when you’ll miss the time you had abroad. But that was only 10 months at the most, there’s endless opportunity afterwards to go again and explore. Hopefully by that time, Greggs will have expanded throughout the world.