Being home in England!

I haven’t really said much about what it has been like coming back to England after a year abroad, in a very different country, and I always planned to write about the reverse culture shock of coming home. So this will be my last post on this blog…

I’ve been home almost 2 months now – where has that time gone?? I was pretty down my first couple of days as the realisation I wouldn’t get to see my family and friends in Honduras for so long set in… and I guess the return to England had been a bit of anti-climax; I had been expecting some kind of change but it felt like I’d never been away! Like Honduras had been a dream even; it definitely doesn’t feel like I was there for a year now. 

However, after the first few days of really feeling down, I started to enjoy being home and seeing the people I’d missed so much, the places I’d been dreaming about and the food I was craving. I’ve had a pretty hectic couple of months seeing friends and family all over the country, even having Brynja from Iceland visit, as well as going abroad again myself to Ireland to visit Joel. I’ve also been running around the country trying to find a job – somehow, I have managed to get a really great job that I start in a week! I’m so excited about moving to Oxford and beginning a new adventure there with a really great youth charity 🙂 I don’t think I have suffered too much culture shock, it’s just been getting used to a lot of little things: 

  • putting toilet paper down the toilet! I still have to take a minute to work out what I’m doing when there is no bin in the bathroom and then I realise…
  • the prices; wow it is so expensive here! And you really don’t realise just how expensive until you’ve lived in a developing country and it makes it really hard to buy things that you now know are so ridiculously marked up *cough* coca cola!! 
  • driving on the left…. there have been a couple of times I have found myself driving on the right, whoops! 
  • speed cameras – one of the things I actually managed to completely forget existed. You can imagine my reaction when I saw one for the first time again 😦 
  • just general road courtesies, I don’t think a lot of my Honduran friends would cope very well on our polite, calm roads…
  • actually being able to walk into local shops and choosing things, rather than guessing at what they might have from behind bars
  • being invisible, I definitely don’t get gringa and guapa shouted at me anymore!
  • people being on time…. that was definitely a nice cultural thing to get used to again 🙂

… and so many more little things! 

 I have lots of things from Honduras in my room to remind me of my amazing experiences there and I speak to someone from Honduras almost every day so it is definitely still a big part of my life, but of course it is so different and a part of me is really, really sad that my adventure there is over now. I miss the country and my friends there all the time, and more than anything my host family. I hate not seeing them every day and I often want nothing but to jump on a plane to go see them. I will definitely do this though before the year is out. I saw Cuban Fury last night and the salsa dancing and spanish music made me miss Honduras A LOT. It’s so great to be able to see the lyrics of a Daddy Yankee song without even realising it but then I have a huge craving to drink a bottle of Salva Vida and get moving on the dance floor. I’m so, sooo glad I went to Honduras and had the incredible experience I had, but sometimes it is really hard missing it! 

Overall, coming back to England hasn’t been as cold, boring or depressing as I was expecting it to be. I think living in such a nice place and having a job I’m passionate about is going to help a lot in making me enjoy being here and for now, it’s where I want to be. But Honduras, I will be back, I promise! 🙂 

 

Thank you everyone for reading this post and any other part of my blog you might have read. Seeing that people have been viewing this and even emailing me to let me know you’ve enjoyed it has been a really great feeling and inspired me to keep up with it. I’m so glad I have something now that I’ll be able to read again when Honduras does seem like a distant memory… 

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Saying goodbye to Honduras

Well I’ve been pretty useless updating this since I got back to the UK a couple of weeks ago… I’ve been quite busy but I also just couldn’t bring myself around to writing something, I’m not sure why! So anyway here is my gooodbye story…

 

My last few days in Honduras were really amazing; my friends and family in Honduras went out of their way to show me how much they love me and they managed to make me fall in love with their country even more. I had really bad homesickness for the last few months of my time in Honduras  but when it came to actually saying goodbye it felt too soon and I would had loved to stay a few weeks or even a couple of months longer. But I guess it would have never felt enough…

I was really upset when it came to saying goodbye to everyone at the airport… especially when I hugged my host mum and dad, they have looked after me so well the past 9 months and I just ended up sobbing onto their shoulders. I really love them so much. My goodbye was incredible though – some people showed up to say goodbye as a surprise from my project (thank you so much Emma and Norma) and I felt so loved. Thank you everyone who came to see me off – Elizabeth, Raul, Raeli, Azariah, Julia, Joel, Teddy, Christopher, Nora, Leonardo and David. And the people who called me – my host brother and his wife, Sophie (sorry I didn’t get a chance to speak to you!) and Juan Carlos. It meant sooo much to say goodbye to you all. I love you all millions!! Especially a huge thank you to Azariah who gave me the most amazing gift – my two favourite countries together:

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It’s beautiful, thank you 🙂 

 

My last weekend

My goodbyes started on the Friday before I left when I visited my project to say goodbye for the last time. I got emotional about leaving for the first time when we had a meeting and I just thought it was my last one with them 😦 what I love the most about the people at my project is that they are a little crazy and just so positive and happy all the time. They are one big family and I just being around them; they make me laugh so much. I will really, really miss that every day. I especially want to thank my team: Emma, Lurvin, Hector, Kelvin and Estefany for everything. They are all beautiful people and I owe them so much. 

I then met a friend from the states to get the bus back to my house – for the last time, sob!! A couple of hours later 6 of us piled into the car and headed to Skybar for my leaving party with my friends – I love Skybar for its views, the nachos and the wine. I was so overwhelmed by the amount of people who came, it was amazing. Thank you everyone who came and said goodbye, it really meant so much and I had a great night. I got to see everyone I love, have a last dance with Miguel and drank my last salva vidas. Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone 🙂 

The next day I headed to Valle de Angeles with Julia, Noel and a couple of others and we had a really lovely day. I bought all the souvenirs I could have wanted and we had my most favourite food in all of Honduras (except maybe baleadas…); anafre. No one should ever go to Honduras without trying Anafre, it’s delish! It was really nice to see Noel who I definitely didn’t spend enough time with this year and also Julia, who was away over Christmas and New Year. Thank you both for a really fun day.

That evening I also had my farewell meal with my host family – I had already been upset before we got to the restaurant and I was trying to hold it all back because I knew I would cry a lot otherwise. They surprised me by going to the same restaurant I had my first meal with them at – a really typical restaurant with amazing steaks. My host mum did a beautiful prayer before we ate saying lots of lovely things about my time with them and asking for good things for me in the future. I managed to keep the emotions in until my host dad asked me my favourite thing about Honduras (the people) and my favourite place (Copan)… and then I just broke down. I just love Honduras and my host family so ridiculously much. I tell everyone how much I love them, but I don’t think anyone realises just how much! They really have become my second family and I’m just crazy about them. Their home is so welcoming and always full of people and it’s been amazing to be a part of that. They have made me feel really cared for and loved, thank you family 😀 they also gave me some AWESOME gifts – some Honduras style coasters, a cd of punta songs (amazing), a beauuuutiful ring (thank you Rae for choosing it) and a Honduras flag with their signatures on. They are really perfect gifts and I will treasure them. 

My last day in Honduras was amazingly simple – I went to church with my family in the morning and then we just stayed home for the rest of the day. I had a perfect last breakfast of baleadas and a beer, what more could I want?? 

I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my last weekend in Honduras – everything was perfect and I managed to say goodbye to everyone who made my time in their country so amazing. I miss Honduras so much every day and I am already planning my return as soon as possible. But I am so lucky to have so many ways to stay connected – thank you facebook, whatsapp and skype!! In the end my year in Honduras was the best thing I have ever done and I don’t regret any of it. I’m so, sooo glad I went there and I know that the country and its people will always be in my heart. Soppy I know, but true. Thank you Honduras 

Last night in Honduras…

It’s 12.30am on my last night in Honduras… my suitcase is packed and I will be in Toncontin airport in 12 hours waiting to board my flight back to England. I haven’t had chance to write anything over the last few days but it has been an amazing last weekend. There have already been a lot of goodbyes and tears – so many people have said lovely things to me and even given me beautiful gifts to remember them and their country by. I will do a proper ‘thank you’ post when I get the chance but for now, thank you everyone who has made this year so special.

I am planning to try and write down how I’m feeling at the moment while I am waiting in Miami airport so hopefully there will be another post soon. All I can say for now is that I am so sad to leave this country… it has really become home to me and I love it so much. Thank you Honduras. 

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An English girl returning to England…

So I haven’t set foot on English soil for 12 months. I’ve had the occasional bag of treats from home (thanks everyone!) – with chocolates, magazines and even some royal baby goodies (you are the best Laura!!). But, of course, there are so many things I could only daydream about (yorkshire puddings) or watch from afar (everyone posting their summer pics on Facebook). I’ve missed being a part of the country during Thatcher’s death, the birth of Prince George, Andy Murray doing good at Wimbledon, and a lot of crazy weather. It has been really strange reading about all of these things and talking to friends about them… so I can imagine I’m there but at the same time feel so, so far away. I kinda liked Thatcher so I tried to tell people here about her when she died… but why would anyone else care much about a British ex-Prime Minister dying? I had Laura to talk about these things with for a while – but often we shared different opinions and then she left :( So I’m sorry UK for missing some pretty important things in 2013, but hopefully you’ll give me some things to be proud of in 2014. 

When I left London on the 15th of January last year on a flight to Honduras, I could not wait to leave! I didn’t shed one tear as I left or said my goodbyes and I didn’t feel homesick until well into my year abroad. I was just really ready to leave – I was seriously bored of living in the UK and I was sick of hearing about the benefits row, the racism and many other problems we have. I arrived in Honduras ready to tell people I didn’t like my own country and I wanted to get out – poor Laura tried hard to stick up for the UK while I was pointing out all of its issues. But something happened this year that I didn’t expect – as well as falling in love with Honduras, I’ve also rediscovered the wonderfulness of my own country too. You don’t realise what you’ve got until it’s gone I guess. There are so many things I have missed about the UK and I have learnt a lot about myself just from noticing differences between my culture and the culture in Honduras. I have realised that a lot of things I do/think, aren’t actually me at all – they are traits of my nationality that are just a part of me without me even noticing. Here are a few examples of how, over the past year, I’ve realised how British I am…

1. Talking about the weather. I mention more than anyone else I know how hot it is – probably because I’m the one struggling most but I probably seem obsessed to everyone else. And whenever there has been heatwave or a storm in the UK, I used to go around my project telling everyone about it! I guess I missed going into work and having EVERYONE talking about it…

2. I love to queue. Honduras, much as I love them, they often just don’t know how to queue. I’ve seen young men shove old ladies out of the way to get to the bus first. And even in very good queues at the bank, a man push in to the front and the security guard, who has a gun (!), just do nothing about it! Well I’m always outraged at these things and I have always been far too shy to push and shove like others so I’ve often been in danger of missing the bus, waiting hours to be served etc. Luckily, one thing I do have going for me here is the white skin… people here love to let a gringa go first! I guess I will have to forget that privilege next week…

3. Being unable to complain. I never realised just how scared we are in the UK to complain and make others feel bad! I’ve been overcharged for hotel bills, had the wrong food given to me, and all sorts… but I can never complain. The idea of getting someone in trouble or putting them out just terrifies me! Hondurans are amazingly up front about these things and, often, manage to fix issues by talking to the other person like they have been friends for years. But I just can’t do it…

4. Being over-polite. I use the public buses to get to my project, ad everywhere else nearly, and it is the same transport used by people who can’t afford cars, taxis etc. A very small percentage of these people are kind of weird to be honest, or smell bad, or are a little scary. When a Honduran person sits next to one of these people, and then realises they have sat down next to someone a bit weird, or smelly, or scary, they just stand right back up and move. No problem. Again, I just can’t do it! I’m so worried that I will offend the weird, smelly or scary person so I stay put for the entire journey… just in case I offend a complete stranger. Makes not sense right?!

5. Political shyness. When the build up for the elections began I was amazed at how much Hondurans spoke about them and that people would declare proudly who they supported and who they hated. That would just never happen in the UK; it’s a big hush hush on who you like and we will go to any lengths not to offend someone else’s opinion. We’re a strange bunch really. 

So that is what I’ve learnt about myself over the past year that I thought was just me being me, but actually is all down to me being British. And I’m proud of those things – so what if I have to wait 5 more minutes in a queue, eat something different or sit on next to a smelly person on a bus. And I’ve also become more defensive about my Britishness thanks to Americans, surprisingly. People here are constantly assuming that because I am white and kinda blonde, I must be American. Or maybe Canadian. Well I’m not – I’m British and proud of it. I tell people straight away who ask that no, I’m not American but English. And I often tell them, because many don’t realise here, that the English language came from England. And our accent is seriously better. So thanks Americans for encouraging me to defend my nationality and language 😉 

I never thought I would be so excited to get back home to England. But, ohhhh gosh, I am!! I’m ridiculously excited – I can’t wait just to fly into a grey, rainy sky. I can’t wait to drive up the familiar M1. I can’t wait to drive through my town and just see that nothing has changed. I really, really can’t wait for the food – fish and chips, curries, roast dinners, the puddings – people say we have rubbish food but they don’t know what they’re talking about! There are so many places I can’t wait to visit again – from the wood in my village where I walk the dog to going down to London and being a tourist, I can’t wait to rediscover all my favourite places. And this time I will really appreciate them. 

Of course there are some things I’m not looking forward to – paying a ridiculous amount of car insurance, watching parties like BNP breed ignorant people, and, of course, the awful weather. But now i know these problems are just part and parcel of my country and you’ve gotta get the bad to get the good. 

I can’t wait to say ‘Hello England’.