Homesickness. THAT’S “what’s occurin”!
My worst fear has been realised: my accent has changed. Yup. I fought it. I fought it hard. I tried to keep my vowels flat, I endeavoured to pronounce "year", "ear" and "here" the same ("yur", "yur" and "yur") but alas, it's only week four and I've already crumbled.
I now say "Thats SO jokes!" when I find something funny, instead of engaging in the normal practice of just laughing. I now say "thank you" with a weird "yuh" sound on the end, instead of my former "thank yoooo". I've stopped saying every sentence with an inflection and worst of all, I've started pronouncing Primark correctly.
Before I left for uni, freinds and family would quip:
"You'll come home with a posh voice and a best friend called Tarquin Harrogate-Smythe, who will have a vinyard in France and a chateau in the Alps, where you'll spend the odd week doing class Bs and having candlelit-private-jazzband orgies on his dad's money."
"You'll have actually tried quinoa, and pronounce it properly." (I used to deliberatly say "kween-ow-ah" to annoy my vegetarian friends. Oh how I laughed).
"You'll say "rah" and "terrific" and nod compulsively, like it's a tick".
"You'll have kissed a proper genuine Tory poshboy (angry reacts only) and you'll swear off Cinzano for life."
The last is the one that made me sweat the most; the thought of changing. The thought of me changing. As a person I mean – I wouldn't mind an appearance change; my look is influenced by children's TV presenters and Howard from Fresh Meat.
My mum wrote in a letter for me to read on the train journey to Cambridge, "Never compromise who you are". She also warned me to never use perfumed sanitary products, but that's a story for another day. If my own mother thinks I have the potential for my character to change, then maybe everyone was right? Maybe I would come home from Cambridge a Tory-loving-"rah"-saying-keenwah-eating-posho?
The short answer to the above question is absolutely not. Quinoa is vile for a start. Just because my accent now sounds like I'm doing a dubious Ruth Jones impression, it doesn't mean that I'm a different person. As much as I'm loving it here, I really miss hearing a Welsh accent on the daily. "Oh, but then why didn't you go to uni in Wales then?" I hear you ask. Because I didn't want to and this is the small price I'm paying, so just let me whine, okay? Also, if you happen to be a Welsh CanTab (you're a rare breed for a start) please hit me up and just speak to me in a Valleys drawl, diolch yn fawr.
That being said, I quite like hearing my mates haplessly try (and fail) to say Welsh place names and attempt to do a convincing south Walian (not north Walian, we don't speak of north Wales) accent. I find it endearing; it reminds me of home, which I miss a lot.
I ring my mum, who I'm very close with, nearly every other day. As lovely as it is to find out how everyone at home's doing, it is such a nice feeling hearing a voice that sounds like yours. Though my friends Anna and Steve, who I went to college with, are at Cam, and I feel so lucky that they are here to provide me with a feeling of home, you'd never guess they were Welsh in the sense that they actually speak properly and can be understood by all.
Even after being here over a month, its rare that I'll hang up on my mum without crying. That's not to say I'm not having THE best time of my life with some of the best people I've ever met, it's just sometimes you miss the little things; the smell of the washing powder that your clothes are washed with at home or coming home from a night out to find a bottle of water waiting for you by your bedroom door and a towel on the floor at the side of your bed because your mum knows better than anyone that you can get a bit* (*very) messy after a VK or two* (*twenty four).
I got a bit teary infront of Brian the Porter the other day and he said, "Just remember that even though it will never replace it, this is your home from home". As homesick I might feel sometimes, he's got a point. A community has formed, with everyone having their own role, their own place. Tight bonds have been forged as, after all, those who queue for an hour to get into Cindies together, stay together.
Tangent over, I've realised that it's okay to change a bit. We're all made up of the parts of those around us that we like; we're magpies, really, clinging on to the sparkliest and shinest personality traits of those we call our friends and trying to make them our own. Which is fine, as long as you are mostly made up of you.
So whereas I might say "bahhh-th" now, and use slang like "chirpse" and "butters", the Welsh flag above my bed is going nowhere.