What does it mean to be going on a year abroad?
I can’t work out whether I’m really excited, or really nervous
For many of us, the prospect of moving to an entirely different country, becoming attuned to the various nuances of a vastly alien culture and making friends is very daunting. For a person going on their year abroad, this is the reality of our next year of education and work. This is not an article to bemoan the prospect, I am extremely grateful to have been afforded this opportunity to expand my horizons both metaphorically and literally and to do otherwise would be selfish and egotistical.
I am looking forward to embarking on this year of fun and possibilities as much as the next man. I know I have worked hard to get here and to have earned my place. This is a disclaimer, this article does not aim to be a self-indulgent bemoaning of our good fortune, instead it is a tentative evaluation of what it means for your housemate who is moving to Valencia for a year to study, New York for an internship or China to teach, even if they don’t or can’t show it.
One of the effects of committing yourself to a year abroad is in the name, committing yourself to a ‘year’. A year away from the friends and connections that one can build up in two years. It doesn’t help that many of my friends are on three-year courses and whilst I will see them, there is the element of distance, of intransigence that is both liberating and oddly sad. The classic end of uni tropes which have been ingrained in our collective psyche, of dissertations, nostalgic Instagram photos & 21st’s are all events which I will loathe to miss, if not for myself but for the multitude of people I will leave behind. This includes my best friends, the people I met in first year and the heartbreakers.
It will be a strange experience to return to Selly Oak in fourth year, hopefully having found myself on my gap yah…but all jokes aside, it is odd to talk about this in a Tab article as I have not been able to express this sentiment in other terms. Yet, this may very well be one of the last ones I write for some while so tough, I have unlimited power.
Many people who I know are embarking on a year abroad are treating it as a year of new experiences, not necessarily better ones than the ones they have had or would have had in third year. What this article is trying to express in a rambling manner is that frankly we will miss Brum. With its packed Bristol Pear on a Friday night, the Bournebrook pitches and its glorious six-a-side matches (no bias) and the indescribable Fab combo of Justin Bieber and an orange VK. However, time changes and so must we, with exam period looming and deadlines lurking, there’s no choice but to keep calm and carry on or something along those lines. Very cliché I know.
I hope for some people like myself who are simultaneously excited and nostalgic will draw some solace in the fact that if you do feel this way, you are not alone. Whether it be in Germany, France, Spain, Italy or New Orleans Louisiana, there are others whom feel the exact same.
However, some might dismiss this article as an exercise in ego, in which case please go on playing the facebook messenger basketball game. I know that this may seem like a soul-baring exercise and maybe you’re right. Who is this callow youth and his chirlish opinions. Well, it may be that. Or could I possibly be as excited as I am sad? I’ll leave that for you to decide, to all of you who have taken five minutes from your lit reviews, dissertations or creative writing exercises, muchas gracias.