An untimely goodbye
25 June 2020
Eleanor spent her year studying at the University of Queensland. In her final blog she shares her experience of leaving Australia and reflects on her time abroad.
Leaving amid the pandemic
Leaving Australia was always going to be difficult. Being forced out due to reasons beyond my control was even harder. For reasons I probably won’t need to spell out to you, the coronavirus pandemic meant the UK was going into lockdown imminently and I needed to get home before then, as it was unknown when I would next be able to. Naturally, I fought to stay as much as I could; trying to overlook worried texts from my parents, and UCL’s advice to get home as soon as possible. The reality in Australia was actually very different, except in Tom Hanks case of course who fell ill then recovered from COVID just streets away from where I was living, but ultimately I felt safer and better off over there. However, as the situation grew worse at home, the decision was almost made for me. I booked my flight for the week later, and made the most of the time I had left. We had one last road trip to my favourite place- Byron Bay. I spontaneously decided to spend the last of my money on a skydive as a final goodbye. My flight home was extremely anxiety-inducing- UAE were closing their airspace the day after my flight so a lot of my friends' flights ended up being cancelled. Luckily, I made it out in one piece and landed safely back in Newcastle on the day the UK went into lockdown.
Adjusting back home under quarantine
It certainly was not the homecoming I had anticipated. I couldn’t reunite with my extended family or friends who I hadn’t seen in months, but I was lucky to be safe and healthy at home with my mum and dad. I took a break from uni work, as I was still expected to complete work for my Australian uni, to just relax and process being home. I spent time reading, watching films, re-watching my favourite shows and being lazy (which is very much needed sometimes and I make no apologies for.) As lockdown is beginning to ease now, I have been able to get back to work and meet up my friends and life is slowly starting to go back to normal.
Reflecting (and reminiscing)
I found it hard to reflect on my time there at first, because leaving strangely felt like a form of grief and I didn’t want to dwell on that feeling. I was struck by feelings of guilt of not appreciating it enough, or regretting coming home for Christmas when I could have been there for an extra month. To cut something so amazing so short was heartbreaking, but only made me realise how grateful I am to have stayed there for as long as I did.
My year abroad was the best 8 months of my life. From road tripping through Australia and New Zealand, diving the Great Barrier Reef and backpacking through the world’s oldest rainforests, Australia truly is the most special place. I’ve made friends for life from all around the world, and have plans to visit and stay with them in their various locations.
By: Eleanor Lake