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#tbt: November 2014
Two years ago I’ve spent a semester abroad in England. In Winchester to be precise.
Before coming to the main topic, the short comeback to Winchester this year, I think I have to take a detour and start from the beginning.
3 months England. 3 months Winchester. “3 months holiday”, some people think. Haha, no. 12 weeks preparing courses and assignments, working on the mid-term assignments, the mark of which contributed to the final mark. Furthermore, one had to adjust to the different “system” as even essays are structured differently there.
3 months full of interesting courses and I had the luck of meeting amazing lecturers who were truly inspiring, not only concerning the content of their courses but also concerning their method of teaching. Moreover, I had a course about the short story and that was when the prose line of my writing started.
3 months of meeting new acquaintances, but moreover, making new friends. Friends who I still keep in contact with and in whose lives I still can – due to modern communication channels – participate at least a bit.
3 months I like to remind myself of. Not because everything was peace, love and harmony in a sea of milk and honey. It was a nerve-stretching time and a lot was moving and changing and it continued when I came back home. But maybe that’s the reason why I like to remember this time. Because it was milk and honey in sleepless nights and cake combined with contemplative days.
3 months, I wouldn’t want to miss.
Interim: I came back home. The first thing I did? Taking everything out of each and every single cupboard, shelf and other storage possibility I own and sort it out. Outside the box so to speak. Making room for air to breath. Meeting friends. The friendship to my beloved people intensified and we grew closer to each other than we were before. And I’m thankful for that.
Uni. Work. Creative stuff. Inhale, taking a run-up and run. Making up time. Tearing forward in order to hopefully get where you want to get.
Fast Forward: 2014.
Finally there was the possibility of visiting Winchester again. Even if just for four days.
After the bus that started at Heathrow spit us all out at the King Alfred Statue and I was able to inhale deeply, I had to smile. The sleep deprivation and the inconvenience of travel (and yes, it is an inconvenience to ride on a bus for one hour when it smells as if a complete fish market decided to lock itself up in there), was irrelevant. Washed away. I was there.
Besides the fact that in most cases when you travel and you are “away” the atmosphere is different, England always had something special about it for me.
When saying “away” we mostly mean being “away from everyday life”, away from routine, from constant repetition. Taking a break from the meritocratic and hectic society in whose wheel we run every day just to fall out of it at the end of the day, crawling into bed and falling asleep with the feeling that we haven’t achieved enough.
At least this is how you can feel from time to time. We’re just talking about a feeling, not about it being an actual fact. And whether this is optimal or not we don’t want to discuss now, either.
But here’s the main point: I often tried to analyse why I felt so comfortable in Winchester, in England. (So comfortable, that it’s always hard for me to leave again.) Is it because of all the memories I harbour? Because of the fact that I always connect it to an aha-moment and a moving time? I really tried to analyse it over and over and over again. Do I idealise and if I’d be there for a longer time, everything would be as much routine as here, as stuck, as hectic, just the same?
For now, and I say for now, the diagnosis of my analysis is this: I personally perceive the mentality there as different. The people there also have a job, a house to clean, hobbies, friends, families, obligations, ambitions and goals. But somehow they still manage to meet their friends once a week for a pint and a round of pool in a pub or to have dinner together and talk. Without watching the clock all the time, without getting nervous and making the impression as if the length of their to-do-list just doubled because of this enjoyable time.
It’s this having time, or maybe taking time for things that make you happy. And still managing to get everything else done. But the people seem more relaxed about it. I say seem, because it is my personal opinion, my personal impression. If you want to agree, you can agree, if you can’t agree, then you don’t agree with me, that’s ok. As said, I’m talking about a feeling, not necessarily of a fact that can be proved.
I was asked “Is Winchester still the same as when you left?” Well, yes and no. Of course, the air is the same, the city didn’t change too much, although there are some new shops and some building sites. But of course, things changed, we changed. It’s been two years now and it would have been a shame if everything was still the same, wouldn’t it? We all progress and proceed with our lives and that is good, we grow and develop. But what I can say is this: It was an absolutely amazing feeling to meet again after such a time span and seeing old friends again, catching up, sitting in a pub and talking as if two years had been nothing at all.
And no, to say “just take this relaxed attitude and atmosphere and apply it when you’re back home” and believing that this is as easy as it sounds, is just wrong.
But it’s worth a try.
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