I wasn’t expecting that leaving for Manchester was way easier than returning home to Indonesia. I’ve lived out a number of exciting experiences over the past years; getting my degree, traveling across Europe, making friends with people around the world, going to a muddy music festival, being independent and working in London! I’ve made memories that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.

When I arrived after 16 months away, returning home felt strange and settling back was a challenge. Home felt small and not relatable. I had much thought that I couldn’t express to anyone; something that only those who had the same experience seemed to understand.

‘I am a different person’

It felt as if home had remained the same during my time away. Living abroad opened my mind and perspective to new ideas, cultures and ideologies. I was amazed by the world.

I faced problems and dealt with them on my own. I see things differently. Things that were important no longer matter and things that were neglected become a crucial part of my life.

Walking at camden market London

I learned about myself. I’m not afraid anymore to try something new. I understand the true meaning of friendship and family is those who I would never take for granted.

However, something that I didn’t realise is the fact that people here also changed. They also move on in their life. Friends get married, colleagues get promoted and even my brother is now taller than me!

‘Things are better back in London’

There were countless times when I was upset and pissed about how bad things are in Jakarta. My first month after returning home, I couldn’t handle the crazy traffic and the inconvenience of commuting. I often feel weird when weekends approach as going out wasn’t the same too.

Not only complaining about the city, I compare every small silly thing in my life, from food, payment system (I miss my contactless card!) to the Internet connection. Everything seems wrong.

Important thing after returning home: Planning a trip

‘You should come and visit me!’ or ‘I’ll come visit you next summer’ is a mandatory text. Only a day after returning home, I was on a FaceTime call already, planning a trip to Thailand on New Year’s Eve to meet friends from across the world.

What I miss the most about living abroad are the people. Even though I was far from my home, meeting people who are culturally different but connect with you makes a friendship so unique. I can’t afford to lose them.

For me, now the world has become a whole lot bigger but reachable at the same time. Going abroad is no longer a dream; it is something I’m planning to do again. Not that I’m getting richer, it’s just me who believe that everything is possible.

I care too much about what’s going on back there

I remember that morning, waking up with a bad news that there was a bomb attack in Manchester. Just a few days after that, London was attacked too. It happened London Bridge, very close to where I used to live. I was so upset and worried. I felt like I still live there.

Not only caring so much about the city and the people there. I am always ecstatic when someone asks for traveling advice in London or Manchester. A bunch of hippies and ‘hidden gems’ places become my top list. ‘Avoid the touristy places’, I always said.  Not to mention, how jealous I am with those who travel there.

What’s the best thing about returning home?

I can keep writing and mention all my thought and struggle after returning home from abroad but it will just make me miserable.

So here I am, trying to look at the brighter sides.

Returning back home

The memories of a lifetime

Long story short, I took a one-year master programme in Manchester and worked in London for a few months. When I arrived home, people ask me whether it was worth to do that.

It was absolutely worth it.

My master degree and work experience in London don’t give me a privilege to get hired on a high-level position in a big corporate nor it does give me a shortcut to get a normal graduate job.

It was the experience that matters; the story that reminds me about adventure. I have a unique perspective that helps me to grow as an individual and career.

I learn to be grateful

Besides all the regrets that I have, of not doing my best to stay longer in the UK, I’m so grateful for what I experienced in the past years.

Living abroad teaches me to be a planner not a dreamer and tells me to not give a shit about what people say.

If you have the chance to work, study or travel abroad. Then do it. You’ll love it.

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Alifa is a marketer who ended up in tech. A newbie expat in Singapore. She tries to turn her complaints, struggles and memorable moments being a 20-something millennials into a life 'win & learn'; hoping that maybe others would benefit from it. When she’s not writing, she enjoys beaches, workout and pizza.

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