The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Year Abroad


Not so long ago I went to see the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show Live and it got me to thinking. I feel a bit like a Hitchhiker at the moment. Like a bit of an Arthur Dent. Fair, my planet hasn’t just been blown up and I’m not currently seeking refuge on either a Vogon ship or a stolen craft powered by an Improbability Drive. But I don’t really feel like anywhere is home.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The worst thing I could do with my last two-and-a-bit months in Blighty is get too comfortable. And this all has an edgy, living in the moment kind of feel to it. I feel like I’m the cool kind of homeless. A cool hobo. But I still get to sleep in a bed* at night and I don’t smell like a cocktail of booze and my own piss.

I’m currently residing (somewhat covertly, I might add) in The Wife’s** flat. Her flatmate (let’s call him Mr. Nice Guy) has graciously allowed me to occupy his room while he’s away for the summer. This is the thing with the whole “part-time-ness” of studentdom. Come July, everyone’s gone. So why didn’t I go “home” to Mordor too? 3 reasons. For one, better job prospects. And that paid off. Two, although I love and miss my family very much when I’m away, I’m not sure how attached I feel to my hometown as a place (but am I ever truly at home here in The Shire either?). Three, to eliminate the risk of getting too bloody comfortable.

This definitely feels like a good plan. The flat’s a nice enough place, but it’s not mine. I can’t get too settled. And this is good.

And just to add to my edgy, hitchhiker-y, temporary new way of life, the place has a lot of quirks. Monday to Friday we have workmen knocking about knocking down walls and tinkering with the very temperamental plumbing. The flat as I know it now is in a very temporary state too. In a state of flux. And this is also good.

Perhaps I’m more of a Ford Prefect. Taking it all in my stride. Although I have no Guide to the Galaxy, no Year Abroad instruction manual, or “How-To: Move Your Life to Another Country”, I’m starting to think I might be alright figuring this one out. Maybe not over-thinking this one is the way to go. Maybe just ending up somewhere without a plan is just fine. Maybe all I need is a towel. And how can you be homesick if you’re not really sure where home is?

The way I see it, there are a few possible outcomes to studying abroad for a year. I’ll prove either to be an Arthur Dent, who sees a lot of new places, but given the chance to go back home and start it all over again, is quite happy to do so. Or I’ll turn out to be a Ford Prefect, who copes with everything and anything, whilst remaining almost unnervingly laid-back. Or it’ll bring out my Paranoid Android. I won’t enjoy it, you know. Of course, there’s always the chance I’ll do a Zaphod Beeblebrox and end up travelling the world in a stolen vehicle, whilst perpetually pissed and talking to my other head.

*It is a somewhat unconventional bed, which is made up of a mattress, a sleeping bag and a blanket.

**I should better introduce The Wife, for she is a somewhat significant character in my life. She is so-called because we are hilariously inseparable. In the first week of university, everyone latches onto everyone. The difference with this one is that I haven’t yet managed to let go. And nor do I want to. The Wife has been a great influence, stellar housemate and a sturdy pillar of support for two years. With her help, I survived The Unfed Freshers’ Fortnight of Not Knowing How to Cook, The Ruptured Achilles’ Tendon of Freshers’ Week I, The Great Life/ Academic Crisis and The Indian Takeaway Incident. And yet when I come home from work to The Wife, she refuses to have my slippers ready and my dinner on the table.

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