Although my time in this wonderfully weird and colourful city is not over, the journey through the bright lanes and quirky streets of Brighton is coming to an end for many of my housemates and friends. As cheesy as it sounds, it really does feel like yesterday when I moved into my new home in this extraordinary place where kindness is aplenty, alley ways are filled with colour and streets are full of memories. Although the start of my year away was not exactly the fairytale that I had imagined, this past 7 months in particular have been incomparable to any other experience throughout my life. This is largely owed to the wonderful people that I met and was fortunate enough to live with, but is also owed to the wonderful city that I have grown to call home. I have never in my life been to, or lived in a city with quite as much character as this one; where everyone is accepted, loudness is encouraged and individuality is celebrated. How can I possibly explain this place; perhaps I could say that living in Brighton is like entering a party where everyone knows and loves you, or maybe I could say that Brighton is a like a restaurant with all your favourite food, or perhaps I could describe Brighton as the feeling you get when you’re reunited with your family or friends. These analogies do not do this city justice, however they do describe the feeling I get every time I get off the train in Brighton and wander through the graffitied streets home.
Unlike my other blog posts, I will not be venting about social media, or encouraging more face-to-face contact, but rather I will simply be expressing a huge amount of gratitude to the city that has made me flourish. When I chose Brighton for my year abroad, many of my English friends told me that I had chosen a city that was the closest thing to Melbourne (a place that I love with my whole heart). With the exception of Melbourne Coffee, which is second to none, I do feel as though they truly hit the nail on the head. Brighton is like every single one of my favourite places in Melbourne within walking distance of each other. For me, it really doesn’t get much better than that. Although the ‘British stiff upper lip,’ is a well known stereotype, Brightonians break the mould and instead are some of the warmest, friendliest and most open people I have ever met. The city is full of side alleys and underground clubs, warm pubs and funky cafes; it is inhabited by a mix of environmentalists, progressives and students and, in my eyes, celebrates a great deal of openness and expression.
I think the level of acceptance and celebration of individuality in Brighton deserves its own paragraph, as I have never been to a place where the every day norms are that ‘THERE ARE NO NORMS.’ By this I mean, in Brighton you dress how you like, be as loud as you like, dance or walk how you like, and not one person will take a second look. Although this can largely be argued for many places in the world, in Brighton seeing a person walking down the street with nothing but nipple tassels and a pair of knickers is nothing to write home about. A friend of mine recently told me that my style had really developed here, and for a self-labelled, ‘hand-me-down hippy,’ I took this as quite the compliment. I scrolled through my photos from the past 2 years, and wow was she right. My move across the ocean brought with it a lot of colourful clothing, and funky shoes and my goodness do I love it! Bright colours are the rule, not the exception. Be bold, be bright, be Brighton. The Naked Bike Ride is another example of this incredibly progressive and accepting attitude held by many locals. After turning up with nipple tassels, colourful tights and knickers on, my housemate, Lu, and I quickly learnt that we looked incredibly conservative compared to the other cyclists who were riding to promote environmentally friendly commuting options, self love and female empowerment; many with absolutely nothing on. What a liberating and freeing way to promote such important issues!
So what this post has really been about is saying thank you; Thank you Brighton for encouraging me to be myself, thank you for promoting environmentally friendly options, and thank you Brightonians for actually using them. Thank you for cheering as Lu and I ran down the streets singing our hearts out, thank you for reminding me that people do care about the world, that people do care about feminism and equality and thank you for bringing colour into our lives no matter how freezing it was outside. Thank you for teaching us all to love life and for reminding us to love one another. And lastly thank you for helping me to grow into the person that I am. To this city, to the people of this city, and to my wonderful Brighton family, thank you from the bottom of my heart.