Very British Year Abroad Problems

While on a year abroad in Geneva, Switzerland and Forlì, Italy, Emily Maybanks found herself feeling very British and it inspired her to write a list of ‘Very British Year Abroad Problems’.

  1. Saying the weather/temperature of your destination every time someone mentions bad weather for a month leading up to your departure.

As soon as I found out that I was going to Forlì in Italy and Geneva in Switzerland back in April of my second year, I added them both to my weather apps on my phone. Then I’d bore my family senseless every day of the summer by saying ‘ooh, it’s warmer in Italy’.

2. The horror of holding onto the headrest in front of you as you sit down and accidentally stroking the hair of the seat’s occupant.

On my first flight to Italy in September last year because I wasn’t at all keen on flying, when the plane started zooming down the runway to take off, I inadvertently in a bit of a panic grabbed the headrest in front of me, and a handful of hair. Awkward.

3. Worrying you’re going to be arrested as you present your perfectly valid passport at border control.

I decided to grow my hair while I was on my year abroad and my passport picture was renewed shortly before I left for my year abroad. I was honestly more concerned that they wouldn’t let me back into the UK. Interestingly though, on my way back through Heathrow Airport when I came home for good, I had to use a passport reader machine and it didn’t work properly and I stood there and almost cried!

4. Being over excited to see a can of baked beans ‘just like home’.

Maybe not baked beans, but after eight weeks of living off pasta and pizza in Italy, I found a shop that sold Digestive biscuits, and a version of Super Noodles. I remember that my friend (also from the UK) and I were far too excited about finding Mcvitie’s Digestive Biscuits and made a weekly trip to that shop!

5. Spending the next year with a euro in your wallet which you’ll keep thinking is a pound when you desperately need one.

When I went into Tesco on my first day back in the UK over Christmas and getting frustrated that the self-service machine wasn’t accepting my £10 and then realising it was a €10 note…

6. Unpacking your suitcase over a period of six weeks.

I essentially lived out of my suitcase for most of my year abroad, and then it took me the entire summer to unpack my suitcase when I got home.

7. ‘Oh you’re from the UK, so you live in London?’

No, I don’t live in London. I might live near London but I don’t live in London.

8. Coming back to the UK and having to remember how to speak English.

The amount of times I walked into Wilkinsons or Tesco’s and said ‘ciao’ or ‘bonjour’ really politely is amusing really. And then at the checkout enthusiastically saying ‘grazie’ or ‘merci’ and getting some odd looks from people…

9. Famous last words: ‘why on Earth would I need sun cream? It’s snowing!’

When Mum came to visit me in Geneva in April and we went to Chamonix in France and we went up a mountain. I didn’t have sunglasses or sun cream but I didn’t think anything of it until I got up the mountain and nearly got blinded by the reflection on the snow, and then very sunburnt.

10. Being amazed that you can pay by card while thirty thousand feet in the sky, yet the machines in your local pub only work when the barman stands on a ladder in the far corner.

Just because it’s hilarious and true…


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