When you’re on a Year Abroad, you get used to watching everything back home from a distance – watching friends push through the final year of university towards graduation, seeing the aftermath of terror attacks play out in the news, looking on as the country celebrates achievements in sporting events like the Olympics, and, most recently, watching the General Election campaign and results unravel in all its messy glory. Sometimes it’s hard and frustrating because you want to be at home with people either celebrating or standing together with them, and sometimes it’s great because you can detach yourself and keep a healthy distance from certain things. And for the Election has been one case where a bit of distance has been appreciated.
I was on FaceTime talking to my boyfriend when he got a notification from the BBC News app saying Theresa May had called a General Election, and at first I thought he was joking because it seemed so ridiculous. Then when I checked for myself and saw that he was right, my second reaction was more in line with Brenda’s – three major elections in just over two years is enough for anyone and the thought of going through it all again was exhausting.
When I left for Australia three weeks after the EU Referendum, I was relieved because it meant I could get away from talk of Article 50 and who the next leader of the Conservatives, and thus Prime Minister, would be. Coming over here I was able to open a newspaper and not see these things plastered all over the first few pages, and instead I could moderate my coverage – I’d look online at different websites to see what was happening, but it wasn’t in my face 24/7, and that was nice because it had been everywhere since the Referendum campaign began in May 2016.
And now the same thing happened with the Election. After making sure I was registered to vote and then filling out a form for a Proxy Vote so my mum could vote on my behalf, I’ve watched it all unravel from a distance and I’ve been able to keep tabs on it without being over-exposed. I think that constant exposure to politics is what makes people feel like Brenda – being surrounded by talk of politics can get tiring, and even boring. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s really important to vote and to make an educated decision about who you vote for, but there’s only so much news coverage and chatter about politics that a lot of people can take, and after the 2015 Election and EU Referendum I was really reaching my ceiling.
But being able to choose when I want to look at information about the election, and examine party policies to see which I most agree with when the time suits me, means this election hasn’t been half as overwhelming as the previous two, and it actually became pretty exciting (especially as the polls narrowed). So it’s been one of those times when the distance between home and Australia has actually been really appreciated, and it meant politics didn’t wear me down as much as it can. Obviously we can’t all just down tools and move abroad for the month of campaigning so we don’t get overwhelmed with information and arguing parties every time an election is called, but it has been a nice break for me. The other great advantage is that I didn’t have to stay up through the night to watch the results roll in – when I was waking up over here the Exit Poll and the first few results had been released at home, so I’ve been able to watch the whole process play out whilst doing some revision and without needing copious amounts of coffee to fuel me.
As I write this the BBC has just announced that we will now be heading for a hung parliament, so I realise that the country is about to head into (another) period of political uncertainty as there are calls on Theresa May to step down, discussions of what this means for Brexit, and what coalitions will (or will not) be formed. As I head home in three weeks I realise I’ll be heading into the eye of a political storm and so I won’t be avoiding the repercussions of the election at all. But I’ll come at it all having had a slight break from politics. And I’ll probably be so grateful to have things like the 10 o’clock news back, or English voices on the radio, that I’ll be lapping up the drama.