No, this isn’t one of those cheesy posts where I confess about how much I’ve learnt about myself during the last year and how I’m a different person now. It’s more of a recognition of how quickly time goes. I’m not quite sure where the time has gone, but I’ve just hit (and passed) the ‘two marks until I fly home’ mark. It honestly doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was thinking ‘wow, I’ve been here for two months now’, so I know these last two months are going to fly. But I am starting to think that that’s just how life goes now – every year at Leicester seems to go in the blink of an eye as well.
I’m starting to reach a point where there’s an element of juggling two lives. For so long it’s just been focusing on Sydney life and doing everything I can here. But now I’m writing an essay here whilst also thinking about starting my dissertation when I get home, I’m emailing a course convenor here with a question, having just sent off an email to a lecturer at home about my module choices, I’m considering the best way to get to an event in the city whilst also trying to choose the best date to fly home, and I’m organising final days out and visits to places whilst also arranging reunions with friends and family back home. Yes, it is kind of exhausting because I feel like I have 100 things going on, but in reality a lot of them are months away. And having things to look forward to at home will make leaving here easier, and hopefully will force me to be awake in the day when the jet lag hits. I’m already terrified of that.
I remember being in the reverse situation this time last year, and how exciting it was. On the 5th May last year, I got my offer to study here at Macquarie after what felt like a lifetime of waiting (if you’re still waiting on your offer, fear not – it will come!). So I was starting to choose units to take over here, looking at all my housing options, sorting out my visa and health insurance requirements, attending all the preparation sessions Leicester puts on (which are super helpful for making sure you’re on top of things and not forgetting to organise something really vital). I also spent an impressive amount of time flicking through my Australia guide book now I knew it was really happening. And at the same time I was snowed under with coursework, exam revision, and working out when I would fit in all my final catch ups with friends and family.
So if you’re going to be embarking on a year abroad in the coming months, make sure you iron out all those details. If you hit any hiccups, don’t worry. I feel like the whole processes of getting here was a massive hiccup (after my health insurance payment failed to go through for a second time, thereby delaying my visa application for a total of four weeks, I thought the whole year was going to come to a grinding halt before it had even started because I wouldn’t be able to get into the country before the semester began). But these things have a way of sorting themselves out, so fear not (although also do make sure you do things by the deadlines the University suggests, and in the order they suggest, because I imagine it is theoretically possible to not have sorted your visa before you’re due to fly). Keep on top of coursework, because if you’re suddenly failing all your second year modules the university/your department can take away your place even if you are meant to be flying off in two days with everything sorted.
But most of all, enjoy your last few days/weeks/months. Make sure you make time to see all your friends and family before you jet off because you might be like me and not see them for a year. Squeeze in that trip to your favourite restaurant/club/nature reserve/art gallery (whatever your jam is really) because in the homesick moments you might find yourself missing that place and a recent memory is nice to look back on. I know I wish I’d made a last minute trip out into deepest darkest English countryside because I miss that place.
Oh, and also start packing sooner rather than later because a year’s worth of stuff that has to be within a certain weight limit is a challenge and a half. And if you’re coming to Australia and you only remember one piece of my advice, let it be this – bring a coat because it’s colder than you expect in winter. Trust me on that one.