On December 9th, my time in Sweden came to a close.
The last few weeks have been spent in a whirlwind of packing and Swedish Christmas, filled with Christmas markets, finals, saffranbullar and glögg, ice skating, and five brief hours of daily sunlight. As I approached the end of the semester, I made a lot of attempts at introspection, and at my last dinner with a group of friends, we tried to think about what we would remember most about our time in Sweden. Would it be our hard-of-hearing neighbor who scared away burglars from his balcony? Would it be the innumerable fikas, with cups of coffee and kanelbullar? Would it be all the museums visited and miles traveled? Or would it be the moments like that dinner, sitting with a small handful of friends over burgers and laughing over our small, shared delights?
For me, coming home back to the United States has created a crazy mishmash of feelings. Four and a half months is a long time, but it flew. I have most certainly not done a great job posting blogs (sorry!), but the experiences and friendships I’ve gained have been remarkable. In four months, I’ve learned more about myself than I could have possibly expected; I’ve worked at an international film festival, I’ve learned to speak phrases in an entirely foreign language, and I’ve tried all sorts of variations of pickled herring (I don’t recommend it, but that is entirely your decision). I also managed to write 20,000 words for my new book, wandering from cozy cafe to cozy cafe until I found one of my favorite spots only a few blocks from my school.
When people ask “How was Sweden?”, I always say it was amazing, but amazing doesn’t quite capture it. Sweden was cold, dark, peaceful, and something I’ll always associate with the smells of cinnamon and coffee. It was my first real experience with public transportation, and the view from the bridge between Kristineberg and Alvik, looking over the water and sailboats as the sun set, became one of my favorite parts of the day. Living in a city was something I’d never before experienced, and it was so neat to be able to step out of my apartment at what felt like all hours and know there was so much to experience and see. Sweden, and Stockholm especially, has become familiar and beloved, somewhere I hope to return far sooner than I know is probably possible.
Over the next couple weeks, I am planning on going back through the journal I kept every day and post some fun quips and moments from this wild adventure, but for right now, I just want to thank you all for the incredible support and encouragement. This semester has been an absolutely remarkable experience, and I can’t wait to show you more of it.