22 December 2011

on saying goodbye

The following is my final blog post for my Off-Campus Study blog. I'm kind of using it as a coping mechanism for now, at least until I can figure out how else to express myself. Being home is so weird.

The task of writing this final post has been looming over me for the past week, but the guilt that I have generated from not doing it has far surpassed my unwillingness to begin, so here I am. At 2 in the morning.

The thing is, it still doesn’t feel real. And by it, I mean both my experience in Stockholm and attempting to resume my life at home. I still can’t fully process just how lucky I am to have lived in such an incredible city. However trite it may sound, Stockholm will forever hold a little piece of my heart. Cheesy and simple, I know, but the truth isn’t always groundbreaking and dramatic. It can be found in the little things, like walking through Gamla Stan’s Julmarknad on Sankta Lucia, glögg in gloved hand. Or laughing as the Swedish children on the Tunnelbana demand that their mothers pay attention as they pull faces and struggle to stay standing. Or even sitting in a Swedish apartment, reading by candlelight.

It’s funny to look back at the beginning of last semester and think about where I stood. Coming in, I was reminded of former experiences I had had as a child, going to sleepaway camp or something similar. I thought that I would be forever changed upon coming home, unable to readjust to my former life. But I always did.

So I lost hope in becoming forever changed, and accepted the fact that, while certain events have an impact on my life, there is no singular event that could completely shake up my perspective. As a result, I became cynical, jaded. I didn’t think it was possible to make lifelong friends in such a temporary situation, nor did I ever want to refer to something like this as the best time of my life. It just wasn’t realistic to think that one small period in my life, riddled with dramatic events, could fundamentally change me as a person.

In a way, I was right.

Yes, the major events are the ones that are the most documented. But the minutiae of daily life in Sweden are the ones that I am going to miss the most. The change has been gradual, barely perceptible. Friendships were formed organically and developed over time. I warmed up to my surroundings and took the time to appreciate them.

The ways I’ve changed are more sustainable. They didn’t have the explosive intensity that comes with immediately establishing a best friend, the way we all did as kids. I just hope that the half-life of these changes is longer than they have been previously.

As I write this, fueled by jetlag and nostalgia, I urge you to remember the little things, the things that happened so often that they would be weird to photograph (and no, smartphones don’t make it any less awkward). I am beyond grateful that I was given this chance to change. Maybe the change won’t last forever, but I’m okay with that.

Tack, Stockholm. Jag älskar så mycket dig, och jag ska längta efter dig.


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