Over the Christmas break I took the unusual decision within the exchange community to go home for the holidays. Whilst my friends from here in Canada headed off in the respective directions of Las Vegas, New York, Washington and Cuba, I hopped on a plane to old blighty. I had a really wonderful Christmas at home, seeing family and friends and enjoying the Christmas traditions England does better than anywhere else in the world.
I’ve always been morally opposed to spending winter anywhere warm so I can’t actually say I was jealous of those headed to warmer climbs, though the prospect of Christmas in New York really tugged at my heart strings! Even so, I’m very glad I went home. People always talk about the culture shock when you return home after a year abroad and you’ve changed immensely but everything in your home country has remained frozen in time. I feel like going home over Christmas will have broken that spell; whilst I can appreciate that I’m changing this year, going home teaches you to have a bit of perspective about the temporary nature of your trip. You remember that at the end you do have to come home for good, and that no one’s going to want to be friends with a person who sees their home and the people associated with that place as somehow stuck in the past. Going home also brought it to my attention that I’m now half way through, a really scary thought! I’ve experienced a lot in the past four months, but in the next six I really need to pay more attention to my bucket list.
Finally, going back to the UK for Christmas also showed me how much Kingston is a new home to me. I got back on a plane at Heathrow with none of the trepidation about entering a new culture, university or group of friends that I had four months ago. Instead I was just excited to get back to a place comfortable enough for me to call home. For some reason it’s a really comforting thought that I have a home to go to on two different sides of the world.
But now I’m back in Kingston, arriving to temperatures of -12 degrees and no coat (long story). But the snow is actually fun (who knew given all the hatred the UK is able to force on the two days of snow we experience each year)! Walking to university through a foot of fresh, unploughed snow when the sky is bright blue and the sun is out is just the nicest feeling. It would probably be pretty easy for the snow to soon lose its novelty, though, so in the next few weeks I’ve got a ski trip and a Winter Wonderland trip (X-Country skiing, tobogganing, snow-shoeing, skating etc) planned and I am determined to make the most of this once in a lifetime winter. Given that I haven’t skied since I was seven, though, my next blog might come from a Quebec hospital, so watch out for that and keep your fingers crossed for me!