Once you’ve been out in the big wide world travelling long term it can be hard to fit back in to normal society right away. Things that seemed so normal before are suddenly questioned, or even forgotten.
“Why in England do we have a hot tap and a cold tap? Why don’t they come out the same one? Why do Brits apologise and say thank you all the time? How does this tap to pay at tills malarkey work? Why are the Brits so patient when queuing – get in there!”
Y’know those kinda normal every day things. Things that I haven’t considered or experienced for coming on to three years, but now, they’re my reality. Stupid taps.
I’ve been back in the soothing arms of the mother island on the UK for three weeks now, but I don’t think I’m quite acclimatised fully yet. There are still a few things that are a total novelty to me.
The Strangest Things About
Being Home After Long Term Travel
Having my own space
The majority of my travels have been solo, in hostels. Honestly, I’m still taking my toothbrush out of the bathroom after cleaning my teeth. I have to go and put it back. I’m so used to not having somewhere to keep it permanently and worrying about others touching it (ewww).
On my first day in my new flat I bought coat hangers. Having somewhere to hang my clothes and seeing them all hung up, was glorious. Just to have some sort of organisation in my life. Anyone reading this who knows me as a real person, not as a blogger, will be thinking ‘Vic? Organisation? Nahhhh, seen your room mate’. But, in my defence, since I’ve been a fully fledged adult I haven’t actually had a proper sized room with proper places to put things. I basically lived in skag dens in London to save money for travel, and then lived with my ex for four years, in his family home with no space of my own, and then I travelled.
The joy of having my own space to put things after all that, is a special feeling. My things are just the way I like them.
How good is it being able to use your phone without worrying about data roaming charges?!
Cooking for myself
Again, it’s these little things that the average domesticated person sees as a chore, but making my own food, in my own kitchen, my own way, brings happiness to my heart. This last three weeks I’ve made shakshuka, stuffed some aubergines, made meatball marinara, learnt how to do eggs in a multitude of ways and baked a sweet potato.
Yeah, basic right? Not for me!
That supermarkets are exciting
I think for the reason above, and the fact that I haven’t really been in a British supermarket for three years buying what I like, it’s genuinely exciting to see what they have, and be able to read the labels in English. I came home from Waitrose the other day absolutely laden down with stuff. It was actually quite embarrassing because I couldn’t fit it all in my designated cupboard in our shared kitchen.
Ate it all. Problem solved.
I don’t need to convert the currency
Still, I look at prices here and try to convert, until I realise it’s already converted. Yes, that’s the actual price. Or, when I’m in London, ‘fxcK that’s the actual price!’
Or work out what time it is in England
I go to phone my parents, check it’s an appropriate time, then realise it’s the same time in Derbyshire as it is in Hampshire. Easy!
Your obsession with TV and box sets
Gawd people are obsessed. The last box set I watched was Breaking Bad, about three years ago. It’s an easy conversation starter with new people though…
“So, any cool box sets you’d recommend’
“Stranger Things-Amanda Knox-Making A Murderer-The Killing-Luther-OJ Simpson vs The People- blah blah”
Ok. Overwhelmed. Definitely don’t have time for all that, but I’ll nod along.
Everything isn’t a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’
When you’re travelling you’re probably only going to be in that destination once. So, I feel the need to do, see, explore, eat and drink everything. ‘I’m on holiday! Might never be here again! It’s the only chance I’ll get! Gotta do it all!’.
I’ve really enjoyed the last few weeks of walking around and being able to clock somewhere for the future. I don’t have to do everything right now, this minute, which I’ve come to realise is a strange mindset to be in.
One day I’ll go eat there – I don’t need three lunches today.
Understanding what’s happening
I’ve spent quite a bit of the last three years not really knowing what’s going on. Little things like being able to read signs, menus, hear conversations in the street, read headlines on newspapers – all totally underrated activities.
I mean, it’s my fault. I’ve made zero effort to learn the local languages thanks to moving around so much, so suddenly being able to hear people and understand my surroundings absolutely, totally appeals to my nosey inquisitive nature. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed knowing what was going on.
Learning what’s normal behaviour
So I’ve learnt that in Portsmouth people like to limit what they drink on a school night – although that could be London that deemed it acceptable to just keep drinking till they stopped serving. I’ve also learned that some of the conversations you have as travellers are not appropriate in polite company in England. Oops.
Trying not to sound like a travel bore
I’m super conscious about this. Obviously because of what I’ve been doing I want to start a lot of my stories with ‘When I was surfing in Mexico… / I was skiing in Japan…. / This guy I met in Vietnam… – you know, that kind of thing – but I know it makes me sound like I’m showing off. Like I’m one of ‘those’ people. Truth is I’m giving you context. Like when someone says to me, ‘Oh I was at work / I was at mum’s house / I was with Bob… – but I’m trying to limit my country name dropping.
There’s a weekday and a weekend
Over the last three years they’ve merged for me – both a good thing and a bad I guess. I only ever really know it’s a weekend when my email inbox slows down. It’s nice to have a cut off, and I’m trying to pratice a better working pattern rather than tapping away at my laptop until midnight and not being able to sleep.
Although right now I’m just trying to get a few things out of the way ready for my upcoming trips (excited!).
Going to sleep in the same bed every night is relaxing
Knowing exactly where you’re going to be sleeping every night takes a lot of aggro out of the day. Thin mattresses, worn sheets and questionable marks on the wall are a thing of the past for me. I bought myself the best duvet and pillows I could afford and have had some excellent sleeps knowing that I don’t have to get up and move anywhere other than the locale the next day, and best of all, I don’t have to pack up my things every day.
I feel totally at home
I thought I might feel a bit disorientated, like a bit of an outsider, but I’m well at home. I love England. I have this new passion for it and I’m excited to get out and about to explore. I’m planning a few exciting UK trips this year to see even more of it.
I’m not bored
Life before 28th of February was a new destination almost every week, new friends, new ideas and a new airport. When I told friends of my plans to move back to England pretty much all of them replied with a warning: ‘you’ll be bored’. Usually followed with ‘what will you do?’.
Well, turns out that with all the work I have to do, a gym membership, trips to London every week, a beach just a few minutes from my house, those damn dating apps and new friends to make I haven’t really had the chance to be bored.
Sure, life is more leisurely, but definitely not boring.
Being able to process what’s happened
Travelling so far for so long has given me a lot of experiences that I kind of haven’t had the time to process. Both good and bad things have happened along the way and it’s been much-needed to have the time to think about them. I still have so many videos and photos to go through, but my month of uninterrupted England is soon coming to an end.
I’m so happy that I decided to chill out on the travel when I did. I’m almost ready to go again!