Friday 15th July 2011
Oakland Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne
‘I suppose the most important thing now is to make the most of the opportunity. You know, not everybody goes to China every day of the week.’
I’m sat in my room. It’s the end of long, emotional and brilliant day. Mum bursting into tears as we left King’s Hall where the graduation ceremony took place was a particular highlight and being presented a blanket with my name stitched onto it by one of my Scouts was also very touching. To be honest, the most amazing thing about today was my family; no bickering and I know we all had a good time, topped off with a meal at the Fat Hippo. My “big” meal out is tomorrow, at the Valley Indian restaurant, but the Fat Hippo had the whole there, so it’s just as good in that respect.
But I’m definitely in mourning now. 4 years at the same wonderful establishment has ended. Being in Newcastle has changed my life and I’m definitely not the same person I was in September 2007 when I started. Since then love has been lost, but lifetime friendships found. I know which I’d prefer in the long run anyway. The aforementioned thought keeps whirring around in my head. I know it’s the best decision I could make, in a graduate employment market of uncertainty, but of course there is always the tiniest slither of doubt.
‘It’s six months, you can come back to Newcastle after that. It’s shorter than the time you spent in Germany!’
And yes, this thought seems to placate me the most. It is shorter than Germany, which was a particularly good, if difficult time of my life. I know everyone is meant to rant and rave about how good their Year Abroad was, but I have to be honest and say my best year ever was this year, my final year of university. I’ve literally thrown myself at anything and everything, keeping myself busy and having great fun at the same time. What will life be like when I’m not having to juggle so many things? How will I cope if I don’t need a diary any more?!
I remind myself that it’s OK, I still have a semblance of student life left to live. Bitesize Uni Summer School is next week; at least that will let me cling onto student life for as long as possible. But I know goodbyes there will be hard. As will the ones to all the fabulous people of the 82nd Newcastle Scout Group when I have a meal with them next week. But I know I cannot grasp onto one thing forever, I have to pave my way into proper adulthood. And I know Newcastle will always be there, waiting for me to return as soon as it’s physically possible. I just don’t know when that will actually be.
Sunday 15th July 2012
Li Yuan Jun Yue, Zhangzhou, China
I remember the day I left Newcastle vividly. I actually don’t think I’ve ever been so heartbroken. Well, maybe there was that one other time, with an actual person, but I remain adamant that you can be just as heartbroken about leaving places too. I remember looking out of the window of the train as it passed over the River Tyne, affording me my last glimpse of the Tyne Bridge.
‘When will I come back?’
That was the only thought I could muster at that moment in time. I knew China was going to be amazing, but I’d always be leaving a piece of my heart in Newcastle. Pulling out of York, I knew the tears had to stop. I wasn’t going to leave that station crying again. I pulled myself together, and focused my thoughts on China.
From then on, I never looked back.
It’s been over 10 months. I’m still here. in fact, I’m more than just still here; I’ve moved from Ordos to Zhangzhou; I’ve travelled and I’ve even decided to stay for longer. Not forever, just to reassure you all. For longer.
I know I always mention it, but China has been a breeze compared to Germany. I know exactly why. If you’re *that* interested to the reason why, you can ask me.
I’ve enjoyed every minute, although the minutes spent drinking baijiu (the Chinese spirit) have not been very pleasant. I have delved into the student life every now and again, although some Chinese clubs leave a lot to be desired, if I can actually remember them at all.
I’ve picked up some Chinese, without studiously working at it. I can get by with common verbs and hand gestures, although I do plan to work on this a bit more, so by the time I do leave I at least have a better grasp of it. Turns out I’m a dab hand at writing characters on a Chinese computer though, much to the exquisite delight of my colleagues. They cannot believe how “well” I’ve learnt pinyin, but I’d told them it’s just because I’m curious about the world around me. Not a know-it-all, as some may perceive me. Though let them. They’ll always be the ones missing opportunities, missing out on beautiful details that make my time here even more special.
I have truly thrived in this environment. I have thousands of pictures, though only a handful of me thank God. And I will remember them all for years to come.
But what about Newcastle? Have I forgotten that wonderful city?
Not in the slightest. In fact, in a little over a week I will be setting foot in my spiritual home once again, albeit it for the briefest of spells. It will make my heart swell again, enough for it to last however long I spend away from Newcastle this time, as I know, I will always, always be pulled back there.
Thanks to David Nicholls for writing One Day and having the date coincidentally being on the same date as my graduation. It inspired me to write this post and I plan make it a yearly event too.