Nostalgic Belongings: visits home make it difficult to return again

International student Pragya reflects on her experience returning home to India after time at UoN

This past year has been a process of adjustment and re-adjustment for me. Leaving my hometown in India in September was not marked by emotional good-byes until I realized the absence of spices from my life. Well, I would be lying if I declared that adjusting to authentic British food was a smooth ride, but I adapted and dramatically transformed my eating schedule and diet.

Eventually Christmas was around the corner and I was happily hopping back home with the notion that nothing would have changed: the sight of Indian curry would still entice me and the craving for a mouthful of spices would yet be there. Suddenly bodily reactions differed from my expectations: my digestive system refused to cooperate with the ingredients that I was seeking for the longest time of my life.

Maybe nothing changed, but as a poor mathematician I failed to account the primary variable-myself-within this fabric of equation. There were instances where my desire to fly back to Nottingham peaked, especially when there was a hindrance of my personal space. Living alone is a combination of highs and lows, but all you recall at the end is the ultimate freedom and independence that encompasses the experience. At home I have ten people helping me with simple chores and errands, which is a pampering experience; although I would, a few days, prefer being my own boss.

Arushi Gupta who studies Economics and Finance in Hong Kong University shared similar feelings of alienation and disconnection to a place that was her reality a few months back. She voiced out her opinions by stating “I wanted to be at home only for two weeks and then fly to HKU, but I wanted to run back as soon as I left.”

“They knew that settling there and coming back wouldn’t be a tranquil walk”

Moving away from home was a mutual decision of my parents and I based on the foundations of enhanced exposure, better job opportunities and an internationally acclaimed degree. They knew that settling there and coming back wouldn’t be a tranquil walk; now I reckon myself in a mishmash of languages, habits, ideologies and dreams.

“Sometimes reverse diaspora and reverse cultural shock slip beyond our imagination”

Cultural shock is well talked and discussed about, but sometimes reverse diaspora and reverse cultural shock slip beyond our imagination due to the norm that coming back home is always easy. It is indeed thrilling and exciting, yet simultaneously filled with conflicting emotions concerning our roots. Three years in the UK cannot snatch my identity, although it is impossible to not culturally assimilate to their traditions and practices.

It is not simply a binary of diaspora and reverse diaspora. Pursuing an undergraduate degree from a foreign land rather often materializes a confusing middle ground that dissects the personality of the majority of international students.

I was subtly reminded of the fact that eighteen years at home cannot be substituted by one year of college adventure. People view it as an absolute contrast between 18 years and 1 year. In this constant tug of war, I do not aim to outweigh the other side by inheriting some traits that I do not naturally possess or retaining those that I cannot carry anymore. The problem itself is that I am the pivotal that contains this tug of war, which is sufficed and advanced by the back and forth travelling from the UK to India.

“I have learnt to readjust quickly in diverging atmospheres with ease”

My personality can be viewed as an uncoordinated outfit or an awkward mix of accents. But on a positive side, I have learnt to readjust quickly in diverging atmospheres with ease. Now, for me, identity does not dwell in extremes as it rather runs on a spectrum.

Pragya Gupta 

Featured image courtesy of John Jones via Flickr. Image license found here.  

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