Sunday, March 27, 2016

The move back

In December I made plans to move back to the UK. After some searching I decided to settle in Manchester and found a nice place with plenty of space. Apparently it's not normal in my field to find somewhere to live before moving, and the ULB found it unusual that I had somewhere to move into before I arrived. That says quite a lot about the mentality of the field, and the fact that the idea that someone would want to move with more than a couple of bags of possessions is perverse is a little worrying. In any case, it matched up nicely with the Trinity friends' Christmas dinner, and they were very happy to help me.

Behind the wheel.

The move back presented a bit of a problem, and I love a good problem. It meant driving a huge white van from the UK to Brussels and back, via the Channel Tunnel. None of that was cheap or easy or quick. Even the packing was hard work and exercise in space manangement that spanned a couple of weeks. The logistics were tricky too, partly because I had a friend helping me out, so that meant planning double hotel rooms, breaks at the right times, finding decent food, and translating French to English.

One of the reasons I did all of this was because I knew it would be hard, and that transitioning to life in the UK would also be hard and logistically challenging. I wanted to look back on this as a time when I took on something physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding, and dealt with it head on, without giving in to fear or lethargy. It would have been easier to hire someone else to move my possessions and just fly to Manchester, but I went for the option that was cheaper, more labour intensive, and that called on the support of my friends at both ends.

Since then, the moving process has continued, and I'd forgotten quite how long it takes to organise all the boring things like Council Tax, GP registration, and changing bank accounts. (I'm still using my Belgian bank account for most things, despite being back for over two months.) I still look back on the move fondly, as an adventure from Brussels, through France and the Channel Tunnel, around London and Birmingham. It was a lot of fun and I'm glad I still have it within me to take on something so daunting without a second thought. That's the attitude I'm going to need in the next year or so, and I've got yet another achivement under my belt that should keep me going when things get tough.


  1. I think what you say about the field's attitudes to moving is very true. I think it's also spreading to academia in general as long-term employment becomes a thing of the past :-(