It’s been just over a month since one of my greatest and oldest high school friends from Sydney visited me in London and to be honest, it’s been a little hard. Having to say bye upon her return to Australia was only compounded by the fact that the day she left my eardrum burst from an ear infection, leaving me with a constant ringing and humming 24/7, like after being at a loud concert but louder and with a headache! Weeks later it is now starting to improve but a problem like this only highlighted the fact how good it was to have her around, to have someone look after me and to have positive people and vibes around you in general.
Landing in Heathrow on New Years Eve, we were lucky that we got to spend the final day of 2017 together, which was the only day that year we actually saw one another for an entire 12 months. This was made more special by celebrating the night with my best friends I’d made in London throughout the year, who without them my time would not have been the same or as easy.
For a brief ten days following NYE, we packed in a bunch of things: a weekend away in Stockholm, shopping in Notting Hill, lunch date in Chinatown on my work break, romantic dinner at the oldest wine bar in London. We spent hours talking and catching up and I had the realisation that while it is the general belief that “not a lot changes back home” when you travel, it actually can. And while travelling grows and develops you as a person, so does life experience in general.
I base this understanding on a few things:
1. People can learn and grow wherever they are in the world.
Yes when you travel you learn; you learn about new cultures, people, history, interesting (and sometimes annoying) local customs. You learn about yourself because you are infinitely navigating new environments and situations without having any real prior experience but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen when you aren’t travelling either. In fact, being away from home can also get you so preoccupied with doing ‘new things’ and going out that sometimes you forget that it’s OK to take a step back and learn new things and reassess if you’re really achieving what you wanted to.My best friend has a bunch of new hobbies: cooking, gardening, meditation, painting… this has even led her to create an etsy store ‘The Art of Life Studios’ to sell all her creations! Check how cool her Instagram is… @theartoflifestudios
2. While you might want to be ‘independent’, it is still nice to have someone to look after you every once in a while.
So many people travel to be or “become” independent but what is often forgotten and often taken for granted is how good it is to have someone waiting for you when you get home, to eat dinner with you (or even cook dinner for you), and to put your clothes in the washing machine when they have space with theirs! Living on your own means you need to do all this yourself, which means you can eat when and what you want, as well as getting away with leaving washing until you literally have no clean clothes to wear. However, the downside is that you really start to miss just having someone to eat with and being a twin, I especially missed being able to borrow their clothes!
3. Being by yourself teaches you but sometimes you need someone to guide you (so you don’t miss the obvious).
Okay I am aware this example puts me at risk of sounding like a total idiot but since I moved in to my flat a year ago I had gone the entire time thinking that my oven simply did not work. Why? Because my former housemate told me it didn’t and I didn’t think (or be bothered) to give it a go. Then walks in my friend from Australia and asks if she can cook a nice meal. No, I answer, we only have a microwave. She walks in the kitchen turns a few knobs, plays around with a few things (few is even an exaggeration) and next thing you know I have a fully functional oven. Since then, not only have I put that oven to good use making lamingtons for Australia Day, I’ve realised I actually like baking and in effect have discovered a new hobby myself all thanks to a visit from an old friend.
It is now 14 months since I have been home and I am very much looking forward to my own ten-day visit. What will be different? What will have I changed? I’m really excited to go back home even for such a short time because I know a lot has changed for me; experiences, perspectives and memories but I’m sure that’s the same for my family and friends too. I can’t wait to share my stories from the past year but to also hear about theirs.