I’ve been putting off writing this post because I know there is no way that a few paragraphs will be able to encompass everything I want to say about my year living in Manchester.
I came to this city looking for absolution, or at the very least something that would give my life meaning once again. Whether that something would be football or my master’s program I really didn’t know or care — all I wanted was a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Have I found it? Not really, but I don’t say that negatively. Over the course of the past year, I’ve learned there is no one thing that will make my life worth living. The older I get, the more I start to understand that I have to look inward for that purpose, that motivation, that meaning. I have to believe not only that there is a reason for me to get up in the morning, but that the uncertainty and the doubt that often plague me are okay.
I’ve learned that Mancunians are some of the warmest and friendliest people you’ll ever meet. I’ve learned that living in a place where it rains for days on end without a glimpse of the sun is pretty shitty. I’ve learned that I’m not really cut out for “all-nighters” anymore, whether that refers to drinking or studying or stressing over an essay.
I’ve learned that the UK isn’t some magical entity that will fix me, that will make me happy all the time.
I’ve learned that I chose the right master’s course for me. Anthropology came into my life at the perfect time. I don’t know if I would have gotten as much out of it as an undergraduate as I have as a postgraduate. I’ve learned that I’m really not as clever as I like to think I am, but that I’m also smarter than what I give myself credit for being. I’ve rediscovered the euphoria of writing a really strong essay and getting a good mark for it, and I’ve learned, for the first time, what it feels like to fail.
Through it all I’ve had my friends, the old and the new. I’ve met so many people here that have made my life better just by having them in it. I had almost forgotten what that felt like.
I keep expecting the sadness to hit me, to overwhelm me and pull me under. And maybe it will. Maybe tomorrow I will set foot in the airport and start crying and not be able to stop until I touch down in North Carolina. I want to believe that it’s been worth it: leaving my job, moving to a new city, becoming a student all over again, being broke, going on the job hunt again, moving back into my dad’s house and feeling like I’m back at square one.
I started this blog with the intention of tracking my year abroad. I can’t say its original purpose has really been fulfilled. I wrote in this sporadically and when I actually did, it was always something more abstract than I intended. But I’ve enjoyed having an outlet again where I can express my thoughts in a more long-winded manner than most people really need me to. So I think for now I will keep it open — clean it up a bit, change it — but it will stay here. Maybe as a testament to a year abroad. Maybe as something entirely new. Either way, I’m grateful to everyone who has provided support and encouragement during my rollercoaster year abroad.