This was a huge week of change, both physically and emotionally; it was the week I came back to England for Christmas!
I was quickly brought back down to earth from the high of skiing by the discovery on Monday morning that my bike was considerably more mangled than I had thought, which meant I missed my seminar excursion that day to take it to the repair shop, where they told me that it would cost more than the bike’s worth to get it repaired. Good. Not one to be deterred, I got the bus into town, met up with Iris for a wander around the Christmas market, then headed to unipark to do some work on my presentation with Alice. Thoroughly fed up, I then headed to the gym for a bit, before having a quiet evening at home.
Tuesday was billed as a pretty hefty day and it didn’t disappoint. After a lacklustre early morning lecture (the lecturer shows up later and later each week….relateable), Adele and I went for brunch at a small Thai soup place, before doing a bit of Christmas shopping in the Altstadt. I then made a detour to the gym, before heading back to unipark for my literature seminar. Then, it was a beautiful sunset bus ride home to make some brownies ready for Toni’s last evening in Salzburg. We all met at her place (with a couple of her friends from Bochum) and ate, drank and chatted until the time came for an emotional group hug goodbye. All of a sudden, it hit home that I was actually going home for Christmas and leaving everything I’ve got here (albeit temporarily).
On Wednesday, I carried on my gym streak (got to get it in before Christmas!), then headed to my history lecture. That evening, Julia had come to Salzburg and Valentina, her and I had a little Christmas soiree at the flat. Valentina cooked beef, Knoedel and Sauerkraut and we all bought each other small gifts to exchange as we chatted and ate. As well as being a lovely christmassy occasion, it was a great chance to speak a lot of German, as we also watched the Grinch in German that evening!
Thursday was my last full day in Salzburg before Christmas and, predictably, I had a lot to get done. After squeezing in my last gym session of the year, I headed to the Christkindlmarkt with Bo to do a last bit of Christmas shopping and to drink one final Gluehwein. Then, Bo had a lecture, so I headed home, via the Augustiner Brauerei shop, to shower, before heading off out again to meet with Bo and Adele for dinner at a new Mexican restaurant in town. After getting our fill of tacos, we headed back to Adele’s to watch a suitably christmassy film and drink some wine. Inevitably however, the time came to say goodbye, and the three of us went our separate ways for the holidays. It seems so strange that I’ve seen these girls pretty much every day, and now we’re going to be apart for a few weeks. On the plus side, I’m so grateful that I’ve made friends like these this year; it has undoubtedly been the best part of my time abroad so far, and I wouldn’t have done half of the things I have done without them being with me.
On Friday, the inevitable came and, at 11.30am, I dragged my suitcase to the tiny Salzburg airport to fly home. My flight was pretty much dominated by an obnoxious school trip, but the novelty of flying on my own trumped any inconvenience this reminder of Britain gave me. At 2.30pm GMT, I landed back in the UK, met my mum, and drove back home. It was strange being back in England, still is, as I’ve grown so much, experienced so much and been through so much, yet it’s all the same here. Alsager means little to me these days and, if it wasn’t for the people, I’d see no reason to ever come back. But come back I have, and I’m determined to make the most of seeing my family and friends again.
Christmas Eve was, understandably, a fairly slow day, consisting mainly of films, TV and mince pies. In the evening, I went round to the pub to meet with Abbie, Carina and Georgia for a few drinks and a catch up. It felt truly strange to be surrounded by people speaking English for once!
Christmas Day went as it has done for most of the past few years. We all woke up late, unwrapped presents and slouched around for a while. The parents and I then went out on a bike ride for a couple of hours, before heading home for Christmas dinner and an evening in front of the TV. As strange as it is being back in England, it’s always nice to see my family again and it’s reassuring to know that I’ll be back having adventures in Austria in just over a week. Everyone I’ve seen since I’ve been back has commented on how much I’ve changed and how jealous they are of my experiences, and I can’t wait to have even more to tell them.