The difference a year makes


Hannah Brownlow  is readjusting to being back in the Bubble

My laptop has just broken. One minute it was fine and the next the screen was blue, with a funny humming sound, and in amongst all the computer gibberish there is an ominous countdown: ‘PHYSICAL MEMORY DUMP IN 20… IN 19… IN 18…’ I began to ponder the nature of a physical memory dump. Is the computer sifting through the good times of late and putting them in a pile akin to dirty socks? Can it just not handle the amount of fun it’s had, so must instead stack everything to one side to prevent all hard drives overheating from the excitement? While I was calmly thinking these things, the countdown reached zero and my computer decided this time it would not turn back on, and my casual musings were themselves put to one side while I underwent a spot of apocalyptic horror. 

Much shouting and many cups of green tea later, my thoughts turned back to the physical memory dump, and I realised I was in desperate need of one. You see it is not long since I returned from my year abroad in Italy and my head was still swimming with fifteen months of ‘la dolce vita’. I was finding readjusting a little tricky. From getting confused by traffic to getting into spats in Asda due to my queuing etiquette, I was in need of something drastic before my return to the north and re-entry into the bubble. I spent much of my last year listing the things that annoyed me about the Italians and their country, and I strongly suspect that I will spend this year putting them on a list of things I miss. 

Instead, therefore, of boring everyone senseless with nonsense about my time away, all the memories are going to have to go in a box and into storage: the time my housemate spilt olive oil in the lift and the angry lady with the parrot came after us; the time that Michael Buble signed my hand; the time I did a commando roll outside Gucci; and even the time my friends and I re-enacted the entirety of the original Star Wars using nothing but bin bags, a roasting tin, and two colanders.

That said it’s not as if St Andrews hasn’t provided entertainment enough over the years, and Verona didn’t even have one beach, let alone three. Buble may have signed my hand, but I did see Hugh Grant on the eighteenth. Barbecues in thirty degree heat are, it must be said, pleasant, but so are barbecues where it gets too cold and must be finished off under a late Fife Park grill. And come on, Verona never got a mention on the weather for extraordinary gusts of wind.

The trouble comes when you start to compare the two, hence the need for the metaphorical box of memories. It’s like saying what do you prefer – pizza or fish and chips, the answer being I like them both but some days I’m in the mood more for one than the other.

Some days I’ll be feeling Italian, like when there is a large queue at Tesco’s self-checkout. Some days I’ll feel distinctly English and will brew tea in a vat and invite all my friends to share it with me and then complain about people who don’t queue correctly at Tesco’s self-checkout. Some days I will even merge the two turning up horrendously late, being severely apologetic, and bringing my espresso in a handy travel cup. That way it’s definitely the best of both worlds.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young once said that you must ‘love the one you’re with’ and I only have one year left in St Andrews. It would be a travesty to waste it saying ‘if only’ (or even ‘magari’). Starbucks may still be serving a selection of coffee-flavoured frothed milks to the masses, and it may not be the same as paying 80 cents for an espresso in a break between lectures, but that’s just something I’m going to have to get used to.


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