They say you can’t go home again. I say that’s 100% false. After four months on exchange and six months away from home, I flew back to Toronto in mid-December. And it was WONDERFUL.
I knew before I went home for the holidays that I had been a bit homesick, but I didn’t realize just how homesick I was until my plane dropped me back on Canadian soil, and I felt instantly happy. I got off the plane smiling like crazy and (ok, this is pretty embarrassing),I even teared up a little bit when I saw the ‘Welcome to Canada’ sign at the airport.
My crazy emotions could probably have been chalked up mostly to sleep deprivation (I had been awake for 40 odd hours because of travel delays) but I was also really happy to be back in Toronto. Because really, there’s nothing like home. Squeezing your friends and family in too-tight hugs, getting to go to your favourite restaurants again, not feeling a little bit confused and out of place all the time – it’s all great.
But it’s also pretty weird. Six months isn’t a huge amount of time to be away from home, but it is long enough that it seems strange to be back at first. And the strangest thing is how little anything seems to have changed while you were away.
I assumed that I had missed out on some major changes, or some big, momentous events while I was away. But as soon as I got off the subway from the airport and started walking to my old apartment, where I was staying with my old roommates, I realized everything was EXACTLY the same. Same buildings. Same roommates. Same weird neighbours. It felt like I hadn’t gone away at all.
In some ways, it’s really great to feel like you’ve never been away. You feel like it’s only been a few days away from your friends and family, rather than months, and you can jump right back into doing all the things you missed while you were away.
But in other ways, it’s disorienting. It makes the time you spent away seem unreal, and that can feel a bit isolating. Weirdly, I also missed the things about Edinburgh that I found the most foreign when I first got there – the constantly grey skies, the sometimes incomprehensible accents, the cold and aloof customer service.
Even though I had a great time back in Toronto, that disoriented feeling kept niggling away at me. And I didn’t realize until I flew back to Edinburgh what the cause of that feeling was. When the plane touched down in Edinburgh, I didn’t quite tear up (I was a little more emotionally stable after that flight, thank goodness), but I did feel pretty happy to be back.
That’s when I realized that this is one of the coolest things about going on exchange: you get a whole new home out of it. Or maybe it’s more like a home away from home. Whatever it is, it’s a pretty great thing to have.