I am currently adjusting to winter in Australia after my five months of gallivanting across Europe. My relocation to what is nicknamed the ‘dungeon’ in my sister’s house is nothing short of a stereotypical ‘crazy younger sister returns from Europe’ scenario. If we were in comedy she’d be incredibly uptight and I’d mess up her life with my erratic ways (incidentally, I’ve already been called out on hording mugs in my room and putting the meat on the wrong shelf in the fridge).
Now, instead of waving to the Italian Nonna across from my apartment on my espresso filled mornings, I have a cat who likes to nestle on my face or prod my stomach for new pasta and gelato-filled squidgy places to sleep. The adjustment from days in the Tuscan sun to freeze-my-ass-off Melbourne has been brutal at times, but before I drive my friends crazy with recollections of a time that has past, I try to remind myself of some very important things.
Here are my tips for readjusting to life back home after travels.
1.) People care about your trip for a bit, but then shut the hell up. You don’t want to be the person who gushes about wineries,delicious food and of days spent eating and discussing life while your friends worked/studied/lived in the ‘real world’, because then you’re a douchy traveller and rubbing it in their face. Oh, wait.
2.) Photos are fine, but don’t be a masochist. Scrolling through a select few photos in your mini presentation to your family is fine, but weeping into your pillow because you’re no longer painting with Vlad in Florence, or getting free limoncello from Lorenzo the waiter, is unacceptable.
3.) Expect and accept that everything will pretty much be the same as you left it. Just because you may have had these crazy experiences, some of which are life changing and others which merely broadened your waistline and left you with a taste aversion towards certain types of wine, doesn’t mean that the world has changed with you. You can, however, use these lessons to move forward. I have utilised my work experience to springboard into new job opportunities, but more importantly, have already cooked a mean pasta dinner dish and taught my friends Italian swear-words.
4.) Reunions with your ex are bittersweet. Despite your occasional fantasies of a sweet reunion, it will be confusing as fuck when you sit in their apartment to collect the last of your things and alternate between wanting to talk/linger/make-out or run the hell out of there with your dignity in tact. Realising you can’t really just be friends sucks, but you know what doesn’t? Rocking out on the instrument that has now been returned to your time-rich hands.
5.) Job searching and ‘finding your feet’ and ‘feeling lost’ are just within the territory. Sitting in cafes for the sake of free Wi-Fi while frantically typing out cover letters is part of the process. Sometimes my victory energy for the day lies in that awesome breakfast I cooked, or the fact that I didn’t trip down the stairs this time, or that I got a missed call from Cathy from recruitment. Then I remember that when I am working or studying or being a ‘real’ person who doesn’t Google baking recipes in her spare time, I will envy the freedom of my days now, and thus deflect questions as to what I am going to do next.
Returning home is filled with conflicting emotions. Overall, however, I am happy to be back in Australia, and I am learning to embrace the downtime and uncertainty. While I miss the days of travel and beaches and attractive strangers, I will (for my sake and for the sake of those around me) stow away the “OHMAHGOD, EUROPE CHANGED MY LIFE” rants, because I am able to recognise it’s probably pretty fucking annoying.