Words By: Sellah Penteliuk
Image Credits: Sellah Penteliuk
When given the opportunity to move to England and study law for three years, it was a definite answer. From living in Canada my entire life, and my eagerness to travel, it was the perfect plan. Especially when 2020 hit and the world shut down, it taught me that I must take every opportunity while I can.
After studying at a Canadian university for two years, most of which was online, I had my doubts about the move in hopes of getting more of a normal university experience in Canada. Nonetheless, I went back to that mindset of COVID lockdowns and decided that there is no good time, and I can’t pass up this opportunity.
When arriving in England, it felt like a different universe. I was used to mask mandates and capacity limits. I was shocked to see ‘normal life back’. The first humbling experience was setting up a bank account. Due to my lack of research, I wasn’t aware that you can’t just walk into the bank and leave with an account and debit card. It was going to take a couple of weeks to send through the post. By far the easiest transition about the move was definitely setting up a new phone plan.
When all the logistical things got finished, the effects of moving set in. What I mean by this is that I was expecting the move to be how those Tik Toks are. With a Taylor Swift song playing in the background and all my new incredible photos to be playing. I was so ready to be posting on all social media showcasing how exciting this new life is.. There was never a doubt in my mind that my life wasn’t going to be this picture-perfect moment, as naive as that sounds, that was my expectation.
I think it is important to note, I absolutely love it here and made the right choice. It is equally important to talk about the hardships that have come along with the move. I found myself in a country that I have only visited once previously, with no family, and experiencing a cultural shock. The simplest things like grocery shopping, attending lectures, and crossing the street were all different. The adjustment period was longer and harder than I thought.
As someone who comes from a very close family (and a loving cat back home), it was so weird being away. Adjusting to the facetime calls that had to be planned due to the time difference was something I never thought about.
My friend perfectly summed up the emotion, ‘the empties’. It’s a feeling you get when it’s the end of the day and you just feel a little empty inside. Like something is missing, and you can’t quite figure out what that is. Suddenly, your support system that you have lived with for 20 years is on a different continent. I am so lucky to have moved here with familiar faces from my previous university, but nothing compares to that feeling of going home for a weekend and having home-cooked food after a long, stressful week. Or when you catch a case of the freshers’ flu and wish you could go back to your childhood bedroom and hide out for a few days.
Social media does a really good job at portraying everyone’s best moments in their life, and rightfully so. Not everyone wants to post the hard parts. It is a very dangerous slope when so many influential minds see online that if they move to a new country all of their problems will disappear.
What doesn’t get shown is the time it takes to meet new friends, adjust to a new culture, and get through the mental hurdle that you can’t physically go visit your family at any moment. Social media is a highlight reel and provides an unrealistic way of living. Capturing the beautiful sunsets and going on picture-perfect hikes, when in reality you could be doing those things just to take a break from all of the changes. It goes without saying this isn’t applicable in everyone’s situation, but nonetheless, still valuable to talk about.
I want to leave it at this point, I am enjoying my time so much here. I have met the most incredible, kindest people, travelled to different countries, and experienced new cultures. It is such a rewarding feeling seeing yourself grow into someone and mature in a way you never thought you would. I absolutely believe that everyone should have an experience that makes them step out of their comfort zone no matter how big or small that is. A key element to setting into reality is learning that social media is a place as a highlight reel for only the good.
I hope that this article can provide more of the emotional side that goes along with packing up your entire life and moving it across the world. I am so grateful to be given the opportunity, and wouldn’t want to change it for the world. The reality of it all is that some days are harder than others, but letting yourself feel those emotions and riding the rollercoaster, makes it easier and worthwhile.