The End

One thing I've learnt over the years is how TERRIBLE I am at finishing things. This goes for all areas of my life, including this moment right now where I am sitting on a mattress in the middle of my old room, with a half packed suitcase, a half finished translation and crap strewn all over the floor. Naturally, instead of completing a task I'm distracting myself and writing a blog. One day I will get the hang of it. The last couple of weeks of my year abroad have left me with very little brain power. I definitely underestimated the mental strain this year was going to entail, especially with all my moving around, language swapping, home swapping, job swapping, decision making, friendship making and having to chase Bristol up with admin stuff that they had forgotten about, miscalculated and got completely wrong. Ergo I haven't been able to think straight since the beginning of August. All my energy is going into getting through the last few hours, making sure I've packed everything and getting myself to the airport without exploding into a teary, stressed-out mess. 

The end is always a difficult time. You want to control it  so that everything sums up nicely. You want to say goodbye to everyone perfectly, take the perfect pictures, have the perfect meal, wear the perfect outfit and say the perfect things. You want to wake up serene, calmly pick up your bag, walk out the door and leave, looking a little bit like movie star at the end of the film. And it never really works out how you want it to. My last few hours in Bristol were spent frantically peeling bluetack off my walls, drinking mug after mug of coffee and feeling slightly queasy at the thought of telling my Mum that I'd somehow acquired an extra bicycle and a piano, that would somehow have to fit in the car. My last day in Düsseldorf was also spent in a manic frenzy of packing, being locked into my apartment, realising that I had no food left, feeling faint with hunger, meeting my friends later than I wanted to and getting the wrong bus home. My last night in Florence was spent alone with a bottle of sparkling wine and Gilmore Girls, before yet another frenzy of packing and tying my duvet to my suitcase with a piece of string. Parma was a mess of tears, cleaning, sleeplessness, packing, texting my Landlady and then phoning my boss on the train to the airport telling him I was leaving. The past year has been full of rather unsatisfactory endings. Yet what I remember is all the things before the end, all the times I went to the cinema with Franzi, had cups of tea in the office with Sarah, my boss and I dressing up as mexicans, my friend Kate and her beautiful birthday concert, International food evenings at church, ice-cream with Brynne, cooking with Tessa, Florence at sunset, adventures with Hodges, the perfect sips of coffee, the lone wanderings, the performances than left an imprint, the strangers than made me bolder. I never look back on a time and remember those horrible last moments, where I had to untangle myself and move on. I only recall them when I find myself having to do it all over again. 

Today is my last day in Berlin and rather than expecting a day full of last minute japes around the city, I am quietly accepting that it will be stressful, that my highest priority is to keep myself together and not leave anything behind. Right now I can't even tell you what the last few months have meant for me, because all I can think about is that Lufthansa flight at 18:00 tomorrow afternoon where I will finally flop on a seat and feel the relief seep out of my pores. There is always a lot of processing that needs to be done, your mind, body and soul need to click back into a place of rest before any conclusions can be made. 

Travel doesn't consolidate it unravels. It makes you feel like a solid core, that fluctuates between a mess of ideas, thoughts, opinions and memories. In many ways you know yourself better, in others you seem unrecognisable. This constant oscillation is beautiful, but exhausting. If you travel too long and too far, without putting down a few roots here and there, you start to lose yourself; things start to lose their clarity and you find yourself wanting to sleep longer and do less. I got to that point on Saturday and whilst I still had a lot of fun, the only thing keeping me human was the thought that in 3 days time I'll be sat at home in Bracknell having a cup of tea, in a Cath Kidston mug with my family. In many ways I have finished this season well, I have persevered, had fun, kept positive and in others I am too exhausted to care. Even if the next 24 hours becomes another anecdote for my terrible finishes, all that will matter is that I got home in one piece. 


  1. I found the end to my year abroad very stressful. I cried a lot and was wondering how on earth I was meant to get it all done and get home the next day. Life and endings are so very unsatisfactory because it never turns out how we want it to be and it's all very unceremonious.

    Take some time out when you get home, enjoy those cups of tea with your family and just relax. I couldn't process my year abroad until a few weeks had past and now it doesn't feel like it ever happened. Get home safely

  2. One day you will get the hang of it :) And until then, please continue to write all about not having the hang of it because it makes me feel more human to read what you write. Makes me feel like not having the hang of it is ok, is the catalyst of change.

  3. I found your blog looking for info on the flea market in Maastricht, just wanted to say that it's really beautiful, especially the photos :)