Today I time-travelled. I was back at Loxdale Centre in Portslade, the place where I studied English for three months when I first arrived in Brighton back in 2001.
I was invited to do a talk/lecture that I called "Life after Loxdale". I talked about my "6 different lives" in Brighton. I've left Brighton 5 times and this is the 6th time I'm back ... I never left Brighton because I was unhappy here. There were other reasons: doing a writing course in Stockholm, having a novel published in Sweden, doing book promotion etc. and going travelling to Thailand & New Zealand.
A lot of the students (all Swedish) asked if I'm going to stay in England forever. I don't have an answer to that, but all I know is that Brighton feels like my home. It would be wiser to move back to Sweden as it would be better for my writing career (already being established and having a publisher that is asking for a second book), but at the moment I'm trying to move that writing career to the UK ...
(A writer should be able to live anywhere in the world, but nowadays being a writer includes doing a lot of public apperances and going to meetings and connect with other writers, so the best thing is to actually live in the country where your work is published.)
One thing I forgot to mention is that after 9 years on and of in the UK I still wake up every morning and feel a bit excited being here. It's not like travelling anymore, but there's still this sense of living in a different country where they eat different food and have different money etc. Every day is still a challenge. I still learn new words. I make sure to look up words I come across that I don't understand. Every day people still ask me where I'm from. I haven't worked on getting rid of my accent, because my intention is not to "become English". It opens up for a lot of interesting meetings being from another country and people are in general very impressed that I live and work and write and exist in a country and a language that is not mine.
And I'll never get used to some cultural things. The cheek kissing for example. When I first arrived I thought that if someone kissed my cheek it meant they really loved me! (In Sweden people barely hug, hand-shaking is the most popular way of greeting people.) Also I still find it weird if you go for dinner round somebody's house and they just give you a plate of food expecting you to be happy with the size of the meal. (In Sweden the pots are put on the table and everybody helps themselves.)
Lastly ... if you have two choices always go for the most difficult one. That's how you learn and develop yourself. It would be easier for me to live in Sweden, but I'd be bored ...
Hopefully I inspired some of the students to stay in England after their course is finished ... I would be very happy to this talk about how I ended up staying in England (and share tips on how to find a place to live and a job) at other language schools, so please contact me if you know any other schools that might be interested.
This was the second time I was back at Loxdale. To read about my first visit, please click here.