Opinion: Leaving Edinburgh sucks, even temporarily for the university holidays

If you’re struggling right now, you’re not alone

If I’m being honest, I’m struggling to write this article because every time I open up my laptop I’m confronted with this feeling of guilt. I have a wonderful life at home, a loving family, and beautiful friendships; but the more I open up about this to others around me at uni, the more I realise I am not alone. Change is daunting to deal with, and the uni/home dynamic is no exception.

A week before the end of term, all I could think about was the idea of being home for the holidays. Now, I’m here sitting in my childhood bedroom and the concept of home has never felt more foreign. The tea towels no longer hang in the cupboard under the sink, and the sweet shop around the corner has turned into a real estate firm. It’s a given that life moves on even when you’re not there to witness it, but no one ever talks about how hard it is to cope with that fact.

Edinburgh or London? It’s hard to tell

When I first came to university I was pretty certain I knew myself well. The type of people I would gel with, my idea of a perfect evening, my passions and interests – all of these things I thought defined me but within one term I was second-guessing who I was as a person.

It’s not uncommon to grow at university, you’re in a new environment, under new circumstances with a level of freedom that you’ll probably never experience again. Put this way it sounds rewarding, and it is, you get to become the unfiltered, unconstrained version of yourself – but what happens when that personal growth makes you feel like you’ve outgrown your life at home?

For me, it started with the little things. At university, I was in complete control of my decisions – if I wanted to go to Hive for the fifth night in a row, you know I was going to Hive for the fifth night in a row. But the moment I was at home and my mum told me I needed to take the bins out before I met my friends, I felt all the agency and freedom being sucked out of my body. Sure, it seems (and it is) like a first-world problem, but I hated being told what to do. Not in a stroppy teenager way, but rather, it felt like the proud, independent version of myself I had curated, had been squashed back into indecisive, spotty, 14-year-old me.

Taking your uni friends home feels like a simulation

And then came the bigger, more complex emotions and feelings. I was watching everything and everyone around me change. The friends who once said they could read me with just a single glance were now saying phrases that I couldn’t quite understand. Something they’d picked up at uni. As we sat in the same park we’d hang in after school, I began to understand that we would never share sandwiches, secrets or silences the same way we did back then.

My parents were getting older. Not by a huge amount, but when you’re not around for a while, all change is big change. My dad now has more grey hairs than blacks and my mum wears more layers in the winter because “the cold gets to me quicker these days”. Slowly, I started to realise that home was not a place where time stood still, I couldn’t come back and hit the resume button as if though nothing was different. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself home was safe from it, I had to accept that nothing could escape the clutches of change.

If I think about this too much I’ll cry

And that included me. As much as I can sit here and give my friends crap for saying foreign phrases, I know for a fact, I do it too. I come home and everyone says I sound ‘posher’ (cheers Edi for that), I babble on and on about things I have done with my uni friends, and I throw around words like ‘Big Cheese’ or ‘Pollock wankers’ (sorry not sorry) under the pretense that everyone knows what they are. I am not the same person who left this house at 18 and neither are the people who supported me in making that move.