The most popular two questions I’ve been asked since returning are ‘What’s it like being back in the UK?’ and ‘Have you settled back in yet?’
Seemingly simple questions, yet incredibly complex and deep, in which my response can change weekly! I thought it was only fair to people who’ve been following me for the year to hear what my reflections on returning to the UK . I’m sorry it’s not very concise and a ramble of thoughts but I hope it makes sense.
To begin with, i’ll try and answer the first question. Being back in the UK is refreshing, comfortable, stressful, pressurized, bland, tricky, gut wrenching and relaxing all rolled into one!
It is so refreshing to speak so easily in our language, using our funny English phrases and not be misunderstood or not understood at all! We’ve thoroughly enjoyed eating our ‘normal’food, wearing our normal clothes, visiting familiar places and people. Seeing the English and Welsh countryside again was just breath taking…it truly is beautiful and I don’t want to take it for granted!
I’ve realized how much more relaxed i am if there is queue or a wait…although i’m still not good at things being changed short notice sometimes!
What I’ve noticed most is how stressful and pressurized people are in the UK. People are just about hanging on, ‘surviving’ to the weekend because of high stress jobs etc. I saw people under pressure in Africa but in a very different way. This is what I’ve found hardest…being sucked back into stress and my life revolving around work. Its a hard balance to find. Having spent a year being able to see my husband in the evenings, having time to read and exercise without falling asleep (!) its been made it even more clear t to me that our British work ethic isn’t particularly healthy. Its one i’m still trying to figure out how to readdress this balance.
I miss the colour of Africa… England at the moment is so dull and gloomy! I drive to work in the dark and leave as the sun sets….drizzzle..eugh,..i’d not missed that!!
I now have to make a concerted effort to wear a seat belt, having spent so much time being sat in the back of trucks and getting out of the habit.
Also, everything seems more expensive than when we left – clothes, fuel and food all seem to have dramatically increased in price. Not good for the old bank balance.
I’ve cried many times on returning…..over the injustice of our life here and the poverty we saw, over the waste and disrespect of valuable resources I’ve seen, over the different priorities and morals I’ve not been exposed to for a while and the difficult journey to find a sense of purpose again being back in England. People said going away would give us a greater sense of direction here…well..its only split our hearts further and confused us as to what we can do to bring a piece of heaven to earth and where in the world that can be!
The most wonderful thing has been seeing family and friends. I still don’t feel we’ve done enough of this yet but i guess we’ve only been back 2 months. Its been so great to share meals together, tell stories and catch up on a year’s news. Having missed six weddings and several births, lots had changed! Seeing the children at school again was fantastic. I’ve loved hearing how their year had been and seeing how they’ve matured in their abilities and character. Its been great to share glimpse of my year with them. I hope it will inspire them to travel, explore and fight against injustice.
‘Have you settled back in yet?’ Hmmm…. some days i feel yes, others no. Anyone who has spent ant time out of the their home country will understand what this can feel like. We are currently house sitting which has been fantastic to have our own space, but if feels like we’re in limbo. We’re stuck – not quite settled anywhere – most of our stuff still in boxes but trying to make a ‘home’.
Nothing feels certain, secure or settled… words which usually scare me in some ways but actually what i’m craving at the moment!
I’m sure it will come…..for now, I’m attempting to have patience and resilience while its ‘baxtersinlimbo’… it could be a long, slow, journey…..