It comes as no surprise to hear that the pandemic has caused myself, as well as so many others in the world, to slow down. One day I was a busy university student pursuing her passions in the city until the arrival of an email overnight which said to ‘move home if possible’ grinded that double life to a sudden halt.
The days to follow consisted of packing boxes, saying goodbyes to newly made friends and so long to the first home away from home that I had ever had. It was sad, undoubtedly, but of course it was for the best.
I remember looking out of the car window at the buildings of the university housing, locking my eyes on their exteriors for as long as possible until they shrunk out of sight. Those walls, in the brief months that I had been a student, already housed an assortment of memories. They were the walls that kept me safe and the ones that sheltered me throughout the occasional bout of stress induced tears; the ones where I laughed with people and tried coffee for the first (yes, really) time; the ones that I called home but at the same time never entirely knew whether to call home.
When I arrived back at the small village I come from I felt deflated and somewhat devastated. It was as if the life I was living, the second more “exciting” one, had been brutally ripped away from me which, in a sense, it has been.
Before moving away to the city in September I remember feeling a consistent wave of resentment for the way life was before and how it had been over the years. The village is extremely quiet and holds practically no opportunities for young people, it has no shops or restaurants or transport or places to go aside from a park and the church, and none of my friends are here. Thinking through these things would leave me feeling stuck and isolated with abilities that I wanted to develop but with no means or way to do so.
The night prior to moving away was a bit nerve wracking, however for the most part, admittedly, I was just glad to be going somewhere with a pulse. Upon arrival I vowed to work hard and do everything that I could to advance in the areas that I wanted to, and that’s a word which I exceeded in keeping for myself.
Minus the two months of living away cut off due to the pandemic, I have now completed my first year of living away for study. It’s only an hour and a half of a drive in distance, but that’s still “away” nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong, I loved working hard and taking part in various extracurriculars, but come the end of even the first semester I was beginning to feel the strain of working, and the shift between city life and my other set in more prominently. There were days when I missed the peace of my village where I could just stay reading quietly to myself, and there were times when I missed my family even though I had made a little university family of my own.
Slowing down and having no choice but to come back here, in many ways, has been a blessing in disguise. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time, and a large factor I place that down to is the ways in which this peaceful village life is grounding. It’s caused me to reflect a lot and has reminded me of the countless things that were here to be grateful for all along, buried among my desire for hustle: the beautiful sunsets, the lovely scenery for walks that goes undisrupted by noise pollution, and the step away from “life” in itself that at times it seems to provide.
I miss the city, and I know that when I go back there I will miss this village too. Each one of these places has taught me so many things this year and for that I will always be grateful. I have learned that I can be ambitious yet still love living somewhere rather isolated, and I’ve realised that there can be immense beauty within the power of slowing down.
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