I recently saw an article online about a Dutch girl who managed to convince her friends and family she spent her summer travelling in South East Asia. It seems she in fact spent something like 40 days cooped up in her boyfriend’s flat playing with photoshop and using social media to make it look like she was on the trip of a lifetime. My initial reaction to this was she must be completely mad. I mean fair play for the level of commitment, but how on earth could you bear being stuck in a flat doing a project about social media when you could have spent that time actually lying on tropical beaches and going to full moon parties?! Priorities I suppose!
But both this and some comments I’ve had recently have made me think about what my year abroad so far must look like to you guys, my avid readers ;). Through the mediums of Facebook, Twitter (occasionally, never actually understood that site), this blog and now a shiny new Instagram account (katieuniacke if you’re on it), I have been shamelessly showing off and, let’s face it, trying to make you all incredibly jealous. Have I managed it?
Looking back over my posts, I’ve been trying to convince you all that life is one long string of nights out with caipirinhas on tap interspersed with various trips to waterfalls and crystal clear fish crammed rivers, with not a lot else in between. This is only partly true. Don’t get me wrong, there are an awful lot of nights out with some of the amazing friends I have made here. People are so inclusive and welcoming and I can now walk into the local bar on basically any night of the week and be pretty sure I will know someone there! We have brilliant fun and I often go out promising myself it’ll be an early one only to end up going home past 2 (or 4 at the weekends) even when I know I’m up at 6.45. I have also been on a few amazing day trips and have tried and probably failed to communicate in these blogs just how damn beautiful it all is.
So this isn’t a complaint, far from it, just a reminder that no one gives the whole story on social media.
What my Facebook feed won’t tell you is that I am GOING MAD. Fun as it is, I have literally spent every Friday and Saturday night for the last three months in Sera O Benedito. Drinking the same drink. I will be impressed if I ever want to see a caipirinha again by the time I leave. I know Bury St Edmunds is hardly a metropolis but at least we have more than one decent bar! Let’s just say the cabin fever is starting to set in slightly.
I’m very lucky with my accommodation as it couldn’t be more central, but it does just consist of a bed, a bedside table, a makeshift wardrobe and a very economically-sized bathroom that often decides not to work. This very hostel-style set up teamed with living out of a back pack (12kg for 1 year WHAT WAS I THINKING) makes me feel like I’m travelling, when I’d normally stay in one place for one or two months tops. Three months in I am feeling the need to get out again, with 6 months to go.
Barring small town syndrome and itchy feet, I also have days when the Brazilian approach to life, my job and various people leave me torn between anger and exasperation. When I’m not busy I, of course, get seriously homesick and dream of a pint of cider in a cosy pub in Suffolk and a good folk gig, rather than a caipirinha and ‘sertenejo’. I also would like just once to not eat rice and beans every day twice a day!
However I also find that on these down days, a bit of casual boasting about life in Bonito makes me feel a lot better! So chances are if someone else is shamelessly showing off, it might be because they are feeling a bit down too but there is no way in the world they will admit it because that, my friend, seems to equate to failure. Stiff upper lip and all that.
Basically I have no intention of stopping with the attempts at turning you all green with envy. This is of course mixed with a genuine desire to let you all know I’m happy and healthy and making the most of my time here, but really if I wasn’t conditioned by society to need to show off, I would be enjoying the amazing year abroad I’ve found myself living without feeling the need to gain other people’s approval for it. Ho hum.
So this post isn’t to say I’m abandoning social media (in fact with my new found instragram addiction you’ll being seeing more of me, sorry), but just to remind you all not to take what you see at face value, especially those of you on your year abroad yourself who are having a down day and convincing yourself that everyone else is having a far better time than you. Screw other people’s year abroad. This is all about you and it cannot be compared to anyone else’s experience! Whatever happens this year we are all going to come back having learnt an awful lot of life lessons and with brilliant stories to exchange. Hell we might even come back adults! Could happen!