Sunday, January 8, 2012

[Flying] home for Christmaaaaas (da da daaa)...

January 2012

I’m currently sitting writing this in JFK Airport, back on US soil after three weeks at home. Those three weeks have flown by, with a busy time had seeing various family and friends. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see everyone I wanted to, or some as much as I would have liked. It was nice to be back with the familiar; everyone knows how to respond to the greeting “alright?”, the Queens head adorns the currency (of which I know what each coin is actually worth) and Huw Edwards docile Welsh tones reads the news. Despite it being full of doom and gloom and how politicians are inherently evil (OK, exaggeration there!)

I was greeted by a screaming mother running down the exit walkway bit at Gatwick Airport, a very hungover sister and a pretty chilled out father at the godforsaken time of 7am on a Sunday morning. After a 13 hour trip. So the screaming wasn’t particularly welcome… Although it did give some fellow passengers a good chuckle (I jest of course). I was incredibly happy to land on British soil and see my family again (hungover sister and all!) and it was great to be back. Until I walked outside and felt the temperature. God it was bloody freezing! It took me AGES to get over jetlag too. It’s a bitch enough with the 5 hour difference, but coupled with two nights of very little sleep (stayed up till the wee hours on the Friday before flying, and then didn’t sleep much Saturday night on the plane), meant I would not get to sleep till 1am, awake at 5am, crash out again at 9am and then wake up again at 12. It was bloody annoying and incredibly hard to get the body clock back in order (even now I don’t think I’m fully there). It was fantastic to be home,  with the grey clouds and drizzly weather, back in a city with pollution and sirens at all hours of the day (OK, slight exaggeration there…), and to be back in the family home. With my own room (finally!) and comfy bed and sofa with a TV and decent food whenever I want it! Absolute bliss!

Over the course of the three weeks I was able to catch up with my home mates, many of whom I have known for over 10 years now, and some I haven’t seen in over a year. A couple of good decent trips to the pub were had, which I always enjoy doing – even if we as a group bring the average age of the place down by about 30 years! It waws great to see my mates, and I really realised how much I missed them whilst in the States. Some of them have graduated now and have joined the adult world of working (ugh!) and two of them are getting married in the summer (which I unfortunately won’t be back from). Scary stuff at how quickly we’re all growing up now compared to leaving school together just under 4 years ago. Time flys!

Pretending to be adulting

Christmas day was spent in Birmingham (UK, not Alabama that is…) with my cousins, which we have done for the last few years and I love doing. Christmas in the UK is very similar to Thanksgiving in the US, in the sense that we have turkey and all the trimmings, where as I understand in the States (as obviously I haven’t spent Christmas there!) ham or vension is usually the meat of choice of Christmas Day. Again, im not sure of the parallels with the States, but in the UK it is traditional to have crackers, with silly paper hats, awful little gifts and even worse jokes inside of them, and the meal usually lasts for hours with everyone passing out from overeating in front of the Queens Speech. Which she does every year without fail. Nice to know she works for the Tax Payers money there! Boxing Day follows Christmas Day (logically) and im not sure of the traditional meaning of it, but in today’s commercialised society everyone goes mental and beats each other up to get hold of sale items. No comment on that…

The family also holds a traditional annual Christmas Meal where all 18-19 of us get together in Cardiff (that’s in Wales, which is another country but part of the UK for you Americans who don’t know their geography) and have good fun eating drinking and catching up with one another. Oh and share presents. Of course. This was (obviously) the first time I had seen my extended family since arriving at UNC and it was great to see them all, hear about what they’re up to and share some amusing stories about situations I managed to get myself the previous semester. Which often involved a bad impression of the Southern accent…

With the (extended) fam.

Southampton (a seaside city on the South coast for you Americans who have never heard of it!) was visited for New Years. Luke is at Uni down there and has a house, so a few of us went down there for the celebrations. Which were sensible and sober. Except there may have been an incident involving late night lets-pretend-were-5-again moments in the local park. Being sensible and sober of course… I would comment on the “traditional” NYE festivities, except I’d imagine they’d be exactly the same around the world. So there’s no point in that! I also had a fantastic day out in London with two of my closest mates from Manchester – Roseanne and Deanna. It was great to see both of them (although unfortunately Becky couldn’t be there), and we had a right blast drinking the day away in Camden. The fact that it then took me over 2 hours to get home is beside the point (at least I was then sober on getting through the front door!)

Being tourists

Looking back on the Christmas holidays it has been great to be home, and I’m glad I did to recharge and see everyone again. And whilst there were a few moments where I really didn’t want to come back to Chapel Hill (things such as sharing a room, bad food) I am looking forward now to landing in Raleigh, seeing the other exchange students from last semester, Pat and the Pritchard girls and meeting the new exchange students coming to UNC for this semester. And then getting on with this semester and the fun that will be had throughout it. Aaaaaand the increased amount of travelling that’s going to happen! Even better is looking forward to the summer, with fantastic weather lined up (so I’m told at least) and 6 weeks travelling over to the West Coast! Sitting here in JFK bored out of my mind with a body clock all over the place, that seems a damn good thing to look forward too!

I was sensible all holiday. Honest...

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