I meant to write an entry upon rising to my third year, so this is now three months overdue - which is a long
time. Even so, I remain incapable of appreciating the fact that this is my third and final year of studying and living in England. Being here for two years has completely changed my perspective on life. I used to think that my impressionable teenage years shaped me as a person, but I think perhaps what shapes a person isn't a certain point in his life, but the places he has been to and the people he has met.
I used to enjoy those pockets of time when life slows down - I enjoyed listening to music, reading books and staring beyond my room window into whatever the sky happen to hold that night. My mind wandered wherever it pleased. I didn't realise it at the time, but soon I had no time to listen to music or read a book, and at night once my head hit the pillow, I was deep in sleep before I could help myself. Occasionally I realised in fleeting thoughts that I had changed, but these reminders disappeared as soon as they entered my consciousness.
I flew to England carrying a sense of detachment from Home. This detachment came in all forms - physical and emotional being the two most painful ones to bear - but thankfully, one was being detached from the fast-paced Singaporean lifestyle. Over here, I re-learned how to take things slower. I like to think that it's an inherent trait all children naturally possess - but eventually lose as an adult in the concrete jungle. What I didn't know was that it doesn't have to be lost forever; it can be picked up again, and I'm thankful that I could learn how to take things slower again by immersing myself into the pace of life here.
Numerous theories exist about how people would feel during their first few months of being away from home. A popular theory is that it starts off with a honeymoon phase where the foreign land and experiences are romanticised and treated with excitement and fascination. This is quickly followed by a frustration phase where people start feeling homesick, lonely and alien. The adjustment phase eventually sets in, but I'm not quite sure if people actually leave their frustration and honeymoon phases completely, because I feel like I could have been in several phases at one time. Being away from home gave me this freedom I never had before. This freedom could have broken me if I chose to stay in the frustration phase, but I like to think that I used the freedom to work on myself instead; that it was not a bad thing to be alone; and that I didn't have to feel lonely. Happiness is a state of mind; it doesn't depend on what I possess or what's going on in my life. I chose to focus on the good (learning how to take things slower) instead of the bad (feeling lonely), and I didn't need anyone to make this choice.
Living here has also brought me back to church, which is something I'm constantly thankful for because it's so precious. Here, I understood the true meaning of church and what it means to love Jesus. I drew closer to God, and it ignited within me a passion to want to know Him more. Most of my friends back home are not Christians, and it was difficult whenever they discussed Christianity. Being here gave me the chance to break free from their opinions and take that leap of faith. Here, I met someone whose faith continues to inspire me everyday. Meeting him reminds me that I am blessed and I am eternally grateful that God has placed him in my life.
I used to think that not doing anything was better than doing something wrong and getting embarrassed, so I played a really passive role in life. In foreign land, I learnt not to care about what others think of me and in this way, being away from home has taught me to cherish my parents and friends more. Truly, the people who mind don't matter and the people who matter don't mind. I'm glad that I found people who love me unconditionally and who will forgive me no matter how many mistakes I made or how severe those mistakes are.
Sometimes - casually, in the middle of a sentence - I refer to Leeds as 'home'. I have grown loyal to this place whose reputation I protect. These streets have grown familiar. I like the life here. It makes me sad to think about leaving this place. Sure, I can return for a holiday, but it simply won't be the same. Truly, home is not just a place; it's a place and a time
. But this this doesn't mar the beauty of the time I have spent here because the intensity of a fond memory is not affected by how short-lived that happiness was. These three years will always be remembered in split seconds of pure euphoria.