Towards the tail end of June when we would have originally been heading home for good, we were in fact gearing up for the next leg of our adventure in South America. We planned a stop in the UK for 10 days to attend the wedding of some friends and catch up with loved ones, a little holiday at home before setting off again.
It ended up being a bizarre experience for two reasons. 1 – we never actually set foot in our own home and 2 – we were completely living the high life with the best weather the UK had seen for at least 3 years. Both of which are extreme false advertising for what our lives used to be like! It really did feel like a holiday which is very odd to have in the place that you normally call home.
Paul’s parents kindly took us in for a few days in the town we call home and we also spent some time in my own home town with some dear friends. It was great fun and absolutely exhausting at the same time. We arrived in Buenos Aires 10 days later and were sleeping around 11 hours per night! Our short stay at home was somewhat in contrast to our relaxed (read:lazy) lifestyle in Asia.
It was so very strange being thrown back into British culture after so long away and it really makes you look at your own country with fresh eyes. It was weird noticing that very little had changed physically, our town still looked exactly the same in every way. Of course relationships and personal lives had evolved, but for us as returning travel hobos we found our feelings swinging from embracing the familiarity to feeling completely alien in our surroundings.
A few examples of what you would probably call reverse culture shock
How very polite everyone is
It’s a massive stereotype but not something I actually noticed until I’ve spent a prologued period of time out of the country, Brits overall are ridiculously polite. My favourite example is that someone could get barged into on the street and yet they will still apologise to the person doing the barging. It also made us giggle on one train journey that was running a whole minute late, the conductor profusely apologised over the intercom and assured us that we would make up the time so there was no inconvenience.
Being welcomed by extremely friendly folks
It goes without saying that hugs from friends and family were amazing and so needed. What I’d forgotten is how friendly the folks in the north of the UK really are. From shop keepers to waiters to people you bump into on the street – it was so nice to feel the genuine warmth from random encounters every day. Just having someone ramble away to you in your own language is an amazing feeling after being away for so long.
Only in Yorkshire
We were rolling about laughing at some of the oddities that you will only find in our corner of the world. We’d hardly noticed any of them when we lived there full time. On another train journey the service was running 20 minutes late due to cows wandering onto the line, seriously. The train conductor again apologised profusely and said he was sure the cows felt terrible for the inconvenience. The news on t.v is truly terrible, when we looked at what was actually going on around the world and yet a steam engine exhibition was the lead story on the evening news. It explains to a certain extent the bubble I used to live in when it came to world news.
Food is actually really good and the portions are massive
I’d always defended the UK food scene against its many critics but since we’ve been away I feel like it’s reached an entirely new level. We had some really excellent meals with top quality produce, I was in food heaven the entire time and definitely left a few pounds heavier.
I’ve lost count of how many people have said “but America is just full of fat people eating enormous portions of junk food” whenever I harp on about how much I love it there. I’ve got news for you folks, our portions in the UK are at very least the same size and quite often bigger than what we had in the U.S. We were also quite shocked at how many seriously overweight people we spotted wandering around, after being in the land of extremely petite folks for 5 months it made us realise that the problems the USA have with food are just the same as our own.
Despite being one of the most expensive countries in Western Europe some things are incredibly cheap
Sandwich meal deals at lunch time, early bird menus in restaurants, if you know where to look then food can be very reasonable which was a huge surprise. Also, if you plan ahead public transport can be dirt cheap. We used the rail system a lot on our visit home and I was pleasantly surprised by the prices. I’ve just booked Paul and I train fares from London to Harrogate in October (a 4 hour journey) for only £13pp.
The time at home also made us realise how easy it would be to fall straight back into exactly the same life we had before. As we’ve travelled we have acknowledged that we need to change a few fundamental aspects of our lives at home in order to be happy and this trip acted as a sort of test. The result is that we’ll need to fight like hell to make those changes, it would be all too easy to slip back into our lazy ways.
Your relationships with people have effectively been on pause for over a year but in that time you have so fundamentally changed, it’s very strange feeling like a completely different person in somewhere so familiar. I’m grateful to have had the time at home to get a tiny glimpse of some of the feelings we’ll have when we go home for good but mostly just because we had the opportunity to spend time with the people we love. I’ve said on occasion that I haven’t missed the U.K all that much but I have gone through phases of chronically missing our friends and family. Thanks guys for giving us an action packed week of love and laughter, we’ll see you soon.
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