Ilse Wijnands has been living in the UK for the last couple of months. For ESN, she wrote a column about going back to the Netherlands after all this time.
‘London is a bad habit one hates to lose.’ – Anonymous, and a very popular saying in the city.
For the past couple of months, I’ve traded the countryside of the Netherlands for a little bit more adventurous place: London. Occasionally, I could be found studying in the university, but if you were really looking for me, you had more chance to find me in a beautiful museum, a lovely park or at one of the many vintage markets. And then I haven’t even mentioned that I became more familiar with the pubs in London than with my own temporary bedroom.
In those months, I had the constant feeling that I was so lucky to get this kind of life. It felt like an upgrade: there were still the normal everyday things, but because you live in a different and vibrant city such as London, everything feels new and exciting. Meeting new people from all over the world gives you a new perspective on their or your own culture. Studying at a different university gives you a new perspective on the education of your home university. Exploring a new city changes your mind about your hometown. You are completely away from you’re life at home and you start building a new one. You learn, see, understand, and explore new experiences with new people. Without even realising it, two important things happen. One: you have the absolute time of your life. Two: This will change you forever.
hardest goodbyes I ever had to say. Don’t get me wrong; I have amazing friends and family that I really wanted to see. There was nothing wrong with the life I had before I went to London. It was just that I never had to say goodbye to a life I’ve loved to live, and would never have the chance to experience again. Sure, I could go back to London. And of course, I will try to see the friends I’ve made. But I will never go back to the amazing time I had in London.
Since I’ve been back home, I start to notice how much it has changed me. And then I realised something: even though I’ve been away from London, London would always be inside of me.