So the time has come to depart from the land of beer and chocolate back to the city of whatever Leeds is famous for apart from the indoor market and the Otley Run. A time perhaps for reflection on what it is that I will be sorrowful to leave behind and yet what leaves me yearning to return.
Things that will not make me sombre to leave. No one in Belgium wears denim shorts and crop tops, a staple to the Leedsian wardrobe, wearing these really does get some looks thrown your way, and not in the way you want ladies. In keeping with this, no one in Belgium likes a scruff, so a scraggy high bun and a hole in your tights also gets some looks thrown your way that suggest you are either a prostitute or a crackhead. I will not ever, ever miss the song that goes ‘I got a hangover – woooah’ no matter how much Belgians love it, nor the vast expansion of my waistline from all the waffles and baguettes I have eaten to ease the inevitable hangover (woooah). But what I am most excited about is returning to living with my Leeds family, instead of the strange Belgian man who lives next to me who is either on the phone for 24 hours a day or has split personality disorder because he literally never stops talking to some unknown entity. Ever. Kind of like Gollum.
And yet, aside from the fact that doing an Erasmus year puts off imminent graduation into perhaps the worst market for graduate jobs since (don’t say it) Thatcher was about, it has also been a fantastically enriching experience. Sadly not in the literal sense, for I am now poorer that a pauper, but on the plus side everyone here seems to think that because I say ‘posh’ words that I am somehow related to the Queen. I will miss the fact that no one in Europe shuts their bar until you leave, you never have to go home unless you want to, nights out are limitless. I will miss all the tables that line the streets the second the sun comes out, and never having to queue at a bar because there is table service. I will miss that a 30 gram of tobacco costs €2 80 and a bottle of wine costs €2 – goddammit I’ll even miss that the ‘euro’ has become more commonplace to me than that boring old sterling. But mostly I will miss that talking to those who you do not yet know isn’t considered weird/creepy/keen, and so I have got to meet all manner of folk that come from anywhere and everywhere. Some of these people have turned out to be bloody great, so that has to be worth an empty purse and a years’ worth of Gollum for a roommate.