This day one year ago, I carried my huge pink suitcase and came to the UK for the second time with serious homesick after my week trip to Benelux. I was still blaming myself for my reckless decision of leaving behind my comfy life and coming all the way here before I stepped upon the train to Brighton. However, once I seated myself on the train, I felt calmed instantly and that I was going home.
Then, one year has passed, and Brighton is now literally my home!
So much had happened for the past year that I felt I had been living here for 2~3 years; even my friends in Taiwan thought I had been living here for over an year long time ago. My life had shifted dramatically since I came to Brighton.
I was like a newborn baby breathing the air in this new world eagerly the first few months I stayed here. I would hop on a bus randomly after class and visit around till the sky turned dark. I was like an on-site journalist reporting what I had seen and experienced to everybody in Taiwan everyday; I felt like Alice in the wonderland, having new surprise and wonder each day. The beautiful summer died down with the end of my language course and my long trip to London.
然後天氣慢慢入秋，隨著語言課程結束，我生活的重心也不知該擺向何處，每天窩在家做手工藝、擔心找不到工作，卻又不想與外界失去聯繫，於是開始積極參與當地活動，例如幫City Council當義工、與朋友合辦擴療慶典、學串珠等，但鬥志卻越來越低落。為了幫自己打氣，安排了一場聖誕市集之旅，回來後豁然開朗，決定好好享受生活，不管找不找得到工作，就一直 “玩"到隔年4月(當初給自己訂的期限)再毫無遺憾的回家吧!
With the autumn coming, my life was also like a fallen leaf without a focal point. I stayed in all day making handicrafts and didn’t get any good news on my job hunting; I didn’t want to lock myself in, so I tried to get engaged to different activities, e.g. volunteering for Brighton and Hove City Council, hosting a MH celebration with my friend, taking beading class, etc. However, I became more and more depressed at the same time. To cheer myself up, I arranged a Christmas Markets Trip for myself. Miraculously, the silver lining did reveal itself after the trip, and I decided to just enjoy the life till my return date in April, with or without a job.
過著每天跟英日混血小女孩玩耍的日子，工作仍然沒有著落，眼看4月即將來到，春天卻一點來的跡象也沒有。那是個冬春交接的時期，到義大利玩了一趟，跟去年一些回憶say goodbye (順便也跟陪了我半年的相機say goodbye T_T)。過去半年認識的台灣朋友多半早已沒連絡，反倒是跟原本不熟的Devin開始有話聊，同時也認識的我的波蘭朋友Kasia，托她能量的影響，接下來的愛爾蘭之行我一直碰到波蘭人，社交圈也開始從台灣轉向歐洲。
The life hanging our with the little girls of my host family continued, and I was still jobless. April was approaching, but I didn’t see any sign of spring coming. The season was shifting; my life as well. I went to Italy and said goodbye to some memories last year (also said goodbye to my beloved camera T_T). On the other hand, I had lost contact with most Taiwanese friends I had made last year except for Devin, whom I once considered only acquaintance. At the same time, I met my Polish friend, Kasia, whose energy in turn brought me more Polish encounters in my trip to Ireland. Since then, my social circle started to shift from Taiwanese to European.
雖然很喜歡這邊，但已經沒有留下來的理由；好希望在回台灣前再到另一個國家住一陣子，於是因緣際會下到法國鄉間朋友家住了一個多月，開始愛上簡單、安定生活的感覺。回英國後，打算再找最後一次工作，同時借住在我另一個法國朋友家；生活型態變的好居家，每天與朋友跟她的朋友聊天、參加不同活動，開始有種 “真實"生活的感覺。已經迫不急待回到台灣的我，卻在買機票的前夕拿到了BLC的暑期工作，得在這邊度過夏天；於是這兩個月，我重新變為上班族，真正的在Brighton過著當地居民的生活。老實說，活了30年，我第一次有這種踏實生活的感覺；每天為自己準備食物，不時與周邊的朋友見面聊天，同時充當Brighton的導覽引薦新人；我想在 “另一個國家’生活'"的願望終於在一年後真正達成了!
Although I loved the life here, I had no reason to stay anymore. Nevertheless, I longed to live in another country again before going back to Taiwan, so I went to France and stayed at my friend’s place for a month, and fell in love with the feeling of simple and stable life. Then, I came back to the UK again, intending having one last shot in job hunting. I couchsurfed at my another French friend’s place, and joined her life, which made me feel I was living a normal life rather than a life of a visitor. Unexpectedly, I got a 3-month contract from Brighton Language College on the eve of buying the flight ticket back home, and hence I had to stay here for another summer. For the past two months, I’ve been working 9 to 5, living a ordinary local life. To be honest, this is the first time in my life that I feel I’m living a day-to-day life for real; preparing meals for myself everyday, meeting friends from time to time, and introducing Brighton to new Taiwanese comers. My wish of “making a life in another country" has finally been fulfilled!
在異國生活一年後的感想是什麼呢?我發現，住在世界哪個角落都沒差，給我足夠的時間，我都能建立起類似的生活模式。我來這邊的目的不只是 “體驗異國生活"，而是 “生活"，我想要用已經在這邊住了十年的當地居民角度看Brighton，而非以外來暫居者的身分活著，也因此，當我活的越來越滲透，越來越覺得我的生活好台灣…或說覺得那種 “異國"的感覺不再，我不過就是這邊另一個尋常百姓，每天擠公車上班、隨便跟誰都可以聊天氣聊上個幾句(英國人是出了名的愛聊天氣…而這是事實阿!!)、柴米油鹽醬醋茶；這已經不是 “我的異國生活"，而是 “我的生活"。
So what’s my thought after living in another country for one year? I realized that it doesn’t matter which part of the world I live; I can build up my own life providing sufficient time span given. My objective coming here was not only “experiencing the life in another country", but also “actually LIVING in another country"; I wanted to live like a resident who has stayed here for 10 years rather than a(n) visitor/foreign student/outsider. Therefore, I felt my life here was more and more “Taiwanese", or say not so “exotic", when I got involved in this city more and more. I’m nothing more than another mundane local resident here; squeezing myself into the bus to go to work everyday, talking about the weather as an ice-breaking topic (it’s true that the British people love to talk about the weather!!), and shopping for daily necessities after work. This is “my life IN ANOTHER COUNTRY" no more, but “my life" merely.
Till now, I have already fulfilled all my dreams in this UK working holiday; living in another country, travelling to more European countries, having exotic romances, making foreign friends, working in a foreign country…I couldn’t ask for anything more!
My summer job will end in mid-August, and I still plan to go back to Taiwan after that; however, who could tell where the wind will blow tomorrow? Maybe the universe will arrange another new adventure and experience for me. Anyway, I will open my arms and embrace all the possibilities!