I came home for Christmas yesterday! *happy dance* I haven’t been home since the first week of September and I must say it has been a very long three and a half months.
Well sorta. It’s that weird time thing isn’t it? I look back at the beginning of term in September when final year was just starting with all the events and new classes and I think, “WOW that really wasn’t that long ago!”
But then I see my family decorating the house for Christmas over Skype, and out of nowhere those three and half months hit me like a train wreck and suddenly I’m trying to pack my suitcase way too far in advance, eating ice cream straight out of the carton, and all the while the Christmas music makes me want to curl up in a homesick blanket nest to nap the days away until I magically wake up at home. Throw in a bit of deadline stress and it’s a big whirlwind of: “I’d just really like to be home right now, right this second, with everything that needs to happen between now and then just perfectly sorted out.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work like that no matter how much I wish it did. (Shocking, I know.) Deadlines must be finished and submitted. Meetings have to be attended. And then of course 21 hours of planes, trains, automobiles, and lack of sleep must be endured before I’m greeted with warm hugs at the airport and many slobbery puppy kisses from Miss Bella when I finally get home.
ONE: The flight goes “back in time” rather than forwards. It’s harder to come to the UK from the states because it’s usually a red eye flight that lands in the morning of the following day. It feels like you’ve been travelling much longer that way, because not only do you hardly get sleep on the plane, you then have to stay awake for the following day to adjust to the time difference (England is 5 hours ahead of North Carolina time).
Coming back however, is so much easier. Most of the travelling is done during the day, and even though it feels like 4am to my sleepy brain by the time I reach home, I can go to sleep immediately.
TWO: Being a US citizen, the customs line is MUCH quicker. This makes that particular part of the journey twice, if not three times, faster than it is the other way around. (Yes, the customs line in London Heathrow is still about 3 miles long at 6am.) Yesterday, there were no lines whatsoever and I walked through in five minutes!
THREE: Each step through a security line, and each hour spent waiting in a crowded airport brings me closer to home, rather than farther away from it, and that makes all the difference. Side note: Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is also a huge help during the five hours between flights.
FOUR: I find it really difficult to sleep or even relax anytime I’m travelling, because I’m always scared I’m going to miss the train stop that I need if I’m not paying close enough attention, or that I’ll miss my second flight if I nap during the layover. Loads of little worries like that.
When I come home though, I can actually relax during the last bit of my journey because my awesome parents pick me up from the airport to drive me home every single time. It’s wonderful and so so appreciated because I know I arrive at 11 or 12 at night each time, but as soon as I see them my travel stress is over because they’re in control now and I can begin to rest for the remaining thirty-minute drive home. It’s just amazing.
FIVE: As I mentioned earlier, warm hugs from my sisters and parents were waiting on the other side of the ocean, as well as happy golden retriever cuddles AND (since it’s December) a pretty Christmas tree.
And that makes coming back pretty great if I do say so myself.