Just a quick note to say that this, fairly un-extraordinary Monday actually marks a particular achievement for me. I’m now well into my 7th week in India, and today was the beginning of my 6th week of work here.
Unlike most of the other Teaching Assistants on this programme, I have never taken a gap year, or spend a year, or even 6 months abroad before. This is true of most of the participants simply because quite a few of them studied languages at university, and so had to do a compulsory year abroad as part of their undergraduate course. Naturally, a lot of them were also British Council language assistants, and placed in schools, during their university years.
6 weeks is the longest that I’ve ever been out of Europe, or in Asia. It’s probably also the longest I’ve ever been with seeing my parents, sister or grandparents. My university terms were exceptionally short at Oxford – just 8 weeks – and although I usually stayed to do some sort of activity at the start or end of term, members of my family visited me every term whilst I was at university.
So this is a very personal landmark for me. I’ve finally started to get into a proper routine with work and hostel life, and that’s set to continue for the next 2.5 months. I think I realised from the very beginning that this wasn’t going to be a holiday, but now I’m actually starting to think seriously about whether I want to live and work abroad in 2016. Now that I’ve been away from the UK for my longest ever time, I can start to properly reflect on the good and bad features that come from living away from my native country.
I wonder if in a year or two, 6 weeks away will feel like nothing. I’ll get a job and settle in another country and that’ll be that. Or I’ll be back in the UK, wondering how I ever coped without cheddar cheese for so long. For now though, I’m not thinking too much about the future. I’m thinking about this moment right now, and this landmark that I have built for myself, out of (occasional) tears, plentiful patience, and enduring memories.