A fresher’s reflection on time and home

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As we comfortably settle into the midpoint of this Easter break, it is an apt time to reflect on the conflicting emotions occupying our minds, with sleep debts paid off and stomachs nourished with a that isn’t purely coffee and instant meals. As a fresher, coming home for the holidays is starting to feel like the weekend to a stressful and frenzied week; a vacation from the maelstrom and pandemonium of the Epiphany term.

Coming home is starting to feel like the weekend to a stressful and frenzied week

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about time; how it sometimes seems to stand still, sometimes turns weeks into eons, and days into blinks of an eye. As an international student from Hong Kong, it feels like I’ve not only travelled to a different time zone, but to a whole new space in time altogether. Hong Kong, although much louder and busier than the quaint charm of Durham, now seems like a bubble where time has stood still.

I now wake up every day to my little sister rushing off to school after bickering with my mum, a scene I’d never have expected to be something I would miss. I’ve been catching up with friends from high school, who have new stories to tell but haven’t really changed too much. I no longer have to wear layers of clothes, yet the light fabrics in my wardrobe don’t feel stiff or unfamiliar on my skin (possibly a result of my sister furtively borrowing them while I was away).

It almost seems like I never left, hence the growing feeling of existing in a predictable bubble of time persists. Therefore, while Hong Kong has always been emblematic of animated crowds and busy traffic, in the absence of a routine of my own, it has lately seemed like a standstill moment, frozen in place.

It almost seems like I never left, hence the growing feeling of existing in a predictable bubble of time persists

As the penultimate week of Easter break begins, I begin preparing myself for the elements of structure and routine that my return to Durham will require of me, however, my current inertia is making it quite difficult. It is a feeling akin to that of a vacation nearing an end; a vague homesickness, or more specifically, the urge for a routine coupled with a simultaneous reluctance to leave.

It’s unsettling to say that about a place you call you home – the need to ‘return’ when you’re essentially at the place you returned to. It feels like a form of betrayal to that sleep deprived and stressed girl hanging in there during the final week of term, yearning to be on a plane and flying away from responsibilities. In a way, I’m exhausted of being untired, but it’s so difficult to utter those words when I know that I will no doubt be aching for this inactivity during the stress of exams.

In a way, I’m exhausted of being untired, but it’s so difficult to utter those words when I know that I will no doubt be aching for this inactivity during the stress of exams

Perhaps there is some comfort to be taken in such conflicting feelings. And perhaps that comfort lies in the fact that a little over eight months ago I was sitting in this very city, absolutely anxious about what my life at university would be like. And now, approaching the final term of my first year, I sit here writing about how much I wish to be back in the gripping rush of stress, responsibility and memory-making. The feeling of university becoming a home away from home is definitely something to take pride in, and frankly, having two places you call home isn’t a bad thing at all.

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