It’s been a year and eight months since I’ve been home from Hong Kong now and as today marks three years since I flew out on a one-way ticket, I thought it was about time I reflected on what I’ve learnt since moving home. First (of all) and foremost, I’m a real homebody. I’d never even thought about moving out of the town my parents live in, never mind to the other side of the world! But these things happen, wild thoughts run through your mind and suddenly come to fruition as if by magic – or, y’know, a successful 12 minute job interview – and the next thing you know, you’re adulting hard. It just goes to show that you truly can do anything you put your heart into. Let’s do this…
1. Life slows down and that’s okay
Regardless of what 2017 society demands of us, it’s okay to live a slower lifestyle. When I moved home, it was because of a family emergency and thus I had absolutely no plans once home. I woke up each day with the sunrise (jetlag woes), enjoyed a coffee with my Mama and I’d potter. I’d tend to things like clearing out old drawers, organising my belongings that were in travel disarray, I’d write tiny odds and ends of book chapters, blog posts and other things that would never see the light of day, take care and time to message my friends on WhatsApp and pay real attention to conversation. Life was very slow and it’s still slow today, compared to ‘life abroad’. I suppose that’s part and parcel of upping sticks though, you find a way to balance it back out.
2. I’m more capable than I thought
When people ask me how I survived solo living, 12 hours away from home, I like to tell them my story of when I decided to finally stay in and cook one time (eating out is genuinely more cost-efficient in Hong Kong) and had to take the lift downstairs and ask our doorman to help me open the lid on my pasta sauce jar. It’s true that when I first moved abroad, I felt very incapable for about a month and then I levelled up, glowed up and got shit done. And that’s the main thing people (ahem, my parents) have noticed. I can talk to strangers, greet baristas with confidence, ask for help if I need, carry a 10kg sack of rice home, open a jar, fix a washing machine, build furniture, order mattresses.
3. British humour and wit can’t be beaten
I have a very dry and sarcastic sense of humour, much like the majority of England and abroad, nobody really ‘got’ it. But since moving home, I’ve found myself laughing constantly and truly appreciating our wit and humour around these parts. It’s funny what you’ll find yourself missing.
4. I love the city and country equally
As soon as I land home from Hong Kong, I enjoy nothing more than taking huge gulps of fresh air at Heathrow Airport. Fresh isn’t a word you tend to associate with London air but believe me, London air is as fresh as organic kale compared to Hong Kong’s. I absolutely love being able to walk beside lakes and farms and spend mornings in my Hunter wellies but I also dearly miss the busy city and its neon lights, its beautiful beaches and scatterings of islands.
5. Less is more
Does anybody else remember the great packing dilemma of 2014? You know, the one where I just took my favourite coat, pyjamas, all of my lingerie, make-up, handbags and straighteners and left? I moved country with one suitcase and a carry-on. And moved home with the same. I’m not sure when I became so materialistic but what I learned from coming back was that less is more because I’m not convinced that I miss any of the things I chucked out before moving. Except my first sofa. Man ALIVE I miss my sofa. I try to adopt a minimalist approach these days and throw things out as I replace them. Clothing is kept minimal, about 18 pieces per season. Possessions are just things and when it comes down to it, you just don’t need 8 drawers full of clothes ‘you might wear again’ or ‘are keeping because it reminds you of being 18’.
6. Life is better shared
Whilst I’d truly recommend moving abroad and doing it solo if needs be/the opportunity arises, I’ve learned that life is better shared. I’ve always been a fairly independent and ‘lone wolf’ kinda girl so living solo felt like the ultimate test of that, but as much fun as taking yourself out for dinner and finding new friends alone can be, life reaches a whole new level shared. I thrive on sharing everyday moments with my family, my friends, my boyfriend, even with you, I love trading stories, no matter how mundane, after each day and taking stock of our precious days. As determined as I was to ‘prove myself’ to everybody that I could do it alone, there’s also no reason why you can’t share the entire journey whilst you’re at it.
7. Everybody’s path is different
A couple of times last year, I felt really low about being back in England. In fact, I still do today. I think that’s just a natural part of moving, reminiscing about before and where you’d be now. And that’s how to beat it: look at where you are now. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. And just because I chose to move home in order to deal with my Granny passing away, I’m where I am now. I chose to be with my family and I chose to give up my pretty-great-actually job and career prospects. I cut my living abroad stint short, but what’s to say I can’t up sticks and do it again? Who’s to say I succeeded or failed? Who’s to say there has to be a goal or a set path?
Photos by Kaye Ford