After spending twelve months in the sun on my year abroad, September was the month that my course mates and I returned to Sheffield, back to the student life of beans on toast, back-to-back episodes of Come Dine With Me and countless Broomhill Friery trips. Although thrilled to be back in the best student city in the world (who are you calling biased?), the transition back to life in the UK hasn’t been as smooth as some of us had expected.
For starters, burning to a crisp despite basting myself in SPF 50+ and desperately trying to eat my ice cream before it melted in the sizzling Spanish heat now seem like trivial problems when the first thing I now see when I wake up in the morning is my own breath. If it weren’t for the invention of onesies and hot water bottles (I wholeheartedly advise all fourth year languages students to invest), my housemates and I would probably be frozen to the sofa after another discussion about whether or not we should finally switch the heating on.
The second hardship has been getting used to having to study properly again. Although I was still learning Spanish and Portuguese while abroad, it’s safe to say that chatting to my new friends over tapas and a couple of cervezas didn’t feel much like studying. Now that I’m back, I’m having trouble with the most basic tasks. How do you write an essay? How do seminars work? And more importantly, how do you hold a pen? Not that anybody uses those anymore – at some point during the last year everybody seems to have sacked off the traditional pen and paper approach to note-taking in favour of the more modern iPad and wireless keyboard method, and I didn’t get the memo!
The sheer amount of work we have to do has also been a shock to the system. While most other degree programmes have two years of a gradually increasing workload before the dreaded final year, we followed our first two years with what was effectively a year-long holiday before coming back and finding ourselves thrown in at the deep end. My housemate, a student of English and Spanish, came home after her second day back at lectures so traumatised that she sat down at the kitchen table and stared at the wall in silence for a good 15 minutes before she regained the ability to speak.
That was almost a month ago, and after four short weeks it’s safe to say that we’re getting back into the swing of things. I’ve decided that the autumn chill is just an excuse to dust off the winter wardrobe after a year-long hiatus, I’m staying loyal to my Pukka Pad and biro combination, and IC study sessions seem much less depressing when there’s the prospect of a sausage sarnie from John’s Van on the way. Maybe being back in England isn’t so bad after all…