I find that I miss England the most when I’m finding it hard to be alone.
It’s an odd sensation to associate with being abroad, but it’s true for me all the same. I studied at Sussex Uni in Fall 2013, and it’s one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. The three months I spent there existed in a kind of hole in time where I was neither the person I am, nor the person I was. I was content with being alone, and spent a lot of time by myself. Sure, I was happy to engage with others most of the time–I don’t think I ever went into London alone, and I joined two or three societies on campus. But my time in England was a limbo that sometimes, looking back on it, I feel as though did not exist.
I remember once, I was feeling a combination of homesickness and general social anxiety and depression. To rid myself of the pestering, nagging thoughts, instead of wallowing in them, I simply took the bus into Brighton by myself. I bought myself a coffee, sat outside the Costa coffee shop and read my Oscar Wilde collection. A homeless man asked me for change, but otherwise, I wasn’t really bothered by anyone. And it wasn’t the time alone that I cherished necessarily–it was where I was in my aloneness. Churchill Square, surrounded by people hustling about in shops and on the street. Life was happening. Life was happening around me, and I could watch if I wanted to. Participate, even. Or I could sit, and read, and let the world function as it might as a kind of blanket which served as a reminder that I was alive, too.
Now, when I spend too much time alone, I become restless. My mind folds in on itself, thoughts cramming together to keep out of the cold of reality. Being clinically depressed, this happens often to me, but I can’t remember it happening as much when I was in England. It wasn’t until I returned home that I realized how much location makes a difference for me. There are a lot of things I miss about living in England, but I miss most the feeling of being myself, and independent, and alive in someplace new.