As a first year undergraduate, returning home from university for the first time was always an intriguing prospect. I’m sure everyone has repeatedly questioned, internally or openly, whether they could survive their first term at university. That certainly dominated my mind, having not lived away from home before.
Thankfully, my first term was enjoyable, full of different experiences and eye-opening. Nonetheless, after four essays and multiple readings I was ready to return home, celebrate the Christmas period and spend some time away from Warwick.
I wasn’t sure what to expect back home. Having been away for two and half months, I didn’t know how my home city of Cambridge would have changed following my departure. During my first term, I had been in regular contact with my family, but that is not the same as seeing them in person. I was looking forward to seeing friends from Cambridge too and hearing about their adventures during our many weeks apart.
My life had dramatically changed in the last few months so I was expecting the same of my home city
The thing that struck me most about Cambridge was what hadn’t changed. On my many journeys into the city centre, whether to frantically buy Christmas presents, go to the local museums or enjoy a few hours in Waterstones, the level of continuity struck me. In my time away hardly any architecture had changed, the roads remained full of cars and bicycles and streets still bustled with people. While the colleges continued to look aesthetically pleasing and winter decorations had been added, nothing had really changed.
Was I really expecting a visible change? I didn’t expect any grand welcome or complete transformation to coincide with my return. Perhaps the prospect of returning created an unrealistic expectation that the area would have evolved and inevitably altered in my time away. My life had dramatically changed in the last few months so I was expecting the same of my home city.
There was certainly an atmosphere of liveliness, but I imagine that was more because of the Christmas season. Nevertheless, I did find it pleasant to walk around the local area I had come to love since my childhood. Seeing the natural beauty that Cambridge has to offer for the first time in months meant I inevitably held a greater fondness and attachment towards the area.
The experience also literally and metaphorically got me out of the Warwick Bubble
A pinnacle of the festive season was seeing my family again. My weeks away from Warwick were defined by catching up with my extended family, which allowed me to tell them about my university experiences and reminisce about the positive and negative parts.
I also had the chance to find out about what had occupied their time over the last few months. It offered a chance for reflection in a way that seeing someone each week or everyday simply doesn’t allow for. The experience also literally and metaphorically got me out of the Warwick Bubble by ensuring I heard about other people’s life experiences.
The festive season was just around the corner which, although I personally love the occasion, meant there was lots to prepare. Whether it was choosing presents to buy or spending the day reflecting and relaxing, the time at home offered me something that was completely different from the essay-packed term at Warwick.
While I enjoyed the opportunity to unwind, it did mean I was ready to return to Warwick in early January
However, I did start to miss a sense of routine after a couple of weeks. I’m the kind of person that enjoys having a timetable and fitting my leisure activities around compulsory pursuits. Without that sense of routine and purpose, time can stretch. While I enjoyed the opportunity to unwind, it did mean I was ready to return to Warwick in early January.
If anything, the Christmas period reassured me. Going to university in September was completely out of my comfort zone. This was what I had been expecting and was helped by the excitement of something new. In a sense, I didn’t know what to expect.
Going back to university after weeks at home was also going to be difficult. I knew all about the good, the bad and ugly parts of university life by then! However, I knew it was the right decision. There was work to be done, I was ready to leave Cambridge behind again. After all, I would be seeing my family again in only a couple of months. Plus, there is still plenty to look forward to this spring at Warwick.