Coming back


What is it like to come back to a place where you have held so many memories and spent so much time as a visitor? The feeling of going home to a place that you have moved away from is often discussed online for the disorientating and strange feeling it produces. Last weekend I visited Durham for the first time since going on my year abroad to visit friends and to watch the Durham University Charity Fashion Show (DUCFS). This was my experience.

I have never travelled into Durham by aeroplane before, I have never lived in Claypath before and I have never been in Durham without having the pressing weight of university work to do. The whole trip was marked by novelties which left me feeling a disconcerting pit of anxiety in my chest (whether this was due to the trip or from not taking my medication for a week we will never know). Reflectively it is hard to look back and decide whether staying with my old flatmates in a new space was more or less weird than if we had been in the same location as last year. On one hand, seeing their lives appear so similar save for the fact that I am not in Durham gave me a sense of being invisible. On the other hand, the new location allowed me to separate my own experiences of Durham from the ones which they are now having without me.

Before going on my year abroad I was so concerned with feeling FOMO. However, after a brief moment of loneliness in October, I have realised that the grass is often greener on the other side. When I saw some friends in the street upon arrival who told me about their galentines plans with my flatmates usually I would feel a sense of missing out, but now I feel very little. After all, I don’t think many things could convince me to trade the sunny, stress-free year abroad lifestyle that I have adapted myself to for a rainy, stressful Durham. Seeing everyone for the first time in a while is always fun no matter where we are or what we are doing. I am a self-proclaimed awful texter and prefer calling or catching up in person. Immediately I bubbled with the excitement of asking all the questions I had been saving for when we reunited again. Is anyone in a new relationship? Who is staying at Durham next year?  Is there any college drama to catch up on? While often I know the answer to all these questions  there is at least one thing that slipped between the gaps in our group chat.

At one point during the weekend, I was asked whether I was enjoying being back ‘home’. It took me a few seconds to even understand that the place being referred to as home was Durham. Is it wrong to call Durham my home? Now, it is hard to see it that way. While being treated with hospitality, there was a sense of awkwardness of not knowing where to go when my friends wanted to work, not knowing which things in the house I could use and just a sense that I was being a nuisance and invading other people’s space. A home is a place where you have your own space, feel comfortable and don’t have to tip-toe around. While Durham may not feel like a home at the moment, the friends  I have there will always make me feel at home when we reunite.

Although this article may seem to have focused on the negative aspects of returning there were equally many positives: the chit-chats on the sofa that I have so dearly missed, the excitement and constant moving lifestyle in Durham and of course all our adventures. Let me tell you. I love Durham clubbing and I think that it has the upper hand on clubbing in Spain for the simple reason that you can be in bed by two and ready for your nine am lecture rather than staying out until the early hours of the morning. However, I wasn’t quite used to the cheesy pop soundtrack, the static dancing and the very bright lights in Fabs that illuminated lots of people making out with each other. What I can get used to again is the post-club chip trip.

The main event during the weekend was DUCFS. I truly believe that events like DUCFS are a once in a degree experiences that everyone should try to go to. The fashion, the music and most of all the free items were jaw dropping. I have never experienced anything like the fashion show at Durham and it is a testament to the exec that the whole event flowed so smoothly. Events such as DUCFS can give students the well-needed break they need during the stress of summative essays and exams. However, going to the event without having the stress of work was amazing as I wasn’t constantly stressing or thinking about the work that I would have to continue the next day.

What is it like to come back to a place where you have held so many memories and spent so much time as a visitor? My experience in Durham allowed me to be very reflective about the whole of the university experience. I had a very enjoyable weekend catching up with some of the people I miss the most and I feel very thankful for being able to come back. At the same time, I learnt that coming back and visiting doesn’t have to be a sad time to view all that you have left behind. It can equally be new and exciting and allow you to view a place in a whole new light.

Feature image:  Vlad Bagacian on Pexels



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