Well, I’m now finally back home safe, after a rather hectic journey back home (Which is to be expected when only one Eurostar is running per day). But I have now finally returned, and have thus ended what may certainly be a contender for the most hectic and disruptive year abroad that a student may have to endure. Protest in Hong Kong and disease in Europe has meant that mind has been afixed to more pressing concerns, meaning that I perhaps haven’t really had time to meditate on the whole philosophy of studying away from home. It’s somewhat hard to do that when you’ve had to deal with tear gas on one side of the world and contagion on the other.

I will say though, that being at the beck and call of the tide of history has left me feeling somewhat helpless, and just a little be existential as well. It was bad enough to feel that I was out of place amidst the ongoing social upheaval of Hong Kong, and the protests that many of my classmates became involved in. And then even more so when I had to undergo lockdown in Holland, and living in heightened fear of my surroundings. It’s quite to feel like you have any agency as an individual when such things occur, instead you often feel like a bystander to the events going on around you (Made even more apparent by your status as an outsider of sorts, even despite the fact you may be surrounded by people from all across the world).

Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy myself while the ride lasted. I’ve recognized the importance of maintaining international friendships in a time of increasing tribalism and polarisation both back home and abroad. And I’m also seriously considering the possibility of doing a Master’s abroad as a springboard for being a lecturer outside of the UK. As someone who originally comes from a small village, outside of a rather small town, I don’t feel satisfied in limiting myself to living in a post-Brexit United Kingdom. Even if I may just be a small and insignificant part of a tumultuous world, I want to see what the world offers whilst I have the chance. And that I think is the most important thing I could possibly take away from this wild and crazy academic year.

Final Thoughts on Holland and a Year Abroad

James Carrigy

Hello! My name is James Michael Carrigy, I’m a 21 year old History student studying at Southampton, who perhaps somewhat foolishly plans to delay leaving university by fleeing the country for a year, to the tropical climes of Hong Kong. Areas of history that are of particular interest to me are Modern America, the Cold War, and cinematic depictions of history in popular culture. When I’m not delaying and putting off important work that contributes to my degree, I’m an avid cinema fan, an incredibly keen QuizBowl player, a casual swimmer, and a rather middling chess player. Oh, I can also play Acoustic/Electric guitar, as well as the drums, so I’m kind of into music as well? Here’s to a year of making many kinds of memories, mistakes, and mishaps!

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