Before starting university I had never moved house. I had always called the same place home. So to move 300 miles away in one fell swoop was pretty scary. I was worried about so many little things (and some pretty big ones as well). Would I make friends? What if I got lost? Could I actually look after myself? But within a few weeks of moving to Newcastle most of these worries had gone away – I got on really well with my flat mates, the city centre was easy enough to navigate your way around, and cooking and washing weren’t that intimidating any more.
One thing didn’t change for a long time, and that was where I called home. For the first term the flat was simply ‘the flat’. It wasn’t home. Home was still 300 miles away. That isn’t to say that I wasn’t happy at university. I was having an amazing time, and loved the course and the people and the city. It just wasn’t ‘home’ yet. I couldn’t quite let go of home being where I grew up.
By the end of second term the flat had definitely become ‘home’ in Newcastle but I still thought of it as a temporary home, where I lived in term time. When returning from holidays I went ‘back to uni’. A friend asked me if I saw myself living in Newcastle when I’ve finished university and I replied:
But now, two thirds of the way through second year, I call Newcastle ‘home’ when I’m in the south – something my parents and friends there haven’t taken too kindly to. I love how compact the city is so I can walk everywhere. I love the places to eat and things to do. I love living right next to Jesmond Dene so it doesn’t feel like a city at all. The prospect of spending summer here, finding placements and work doesn’t feel wrong and the idea of going back to the sleepy area where I grew up just doesn’t seem to compare. I love East Anglia and all that comes with it. But I love Newcastle just as much. And that is why I call it home.
If there is anything I have learnt from this experience it is that settling in takes time, and that sometimes, even if it takes you longer than your friends, you end up being happier than you ever thought you could be.