Writing this final post as I sit on the train from Copenhagen to Stockholm,
I am struck by the overwhelming feelings of nostalgia as I watch the snow-covered landscapes pass by underneath the pink and orange hues of the 3:18 pm sunset. I knew that study abroad would be a great quarter, but I wasn’t expecting it to have such a deep impact on my personal and academic self. Most of all, I certainly did not anticipate to feel as if I was going home after my few weeks in Denmark. No, not home to America – but to the cozy, happy, perfect home in Täby where my host family resides. Although sad to leave my newfound friends and classmates from all over America, as I boarded the train I felt such relief and content — the feeling you get when you know you are almost home after a long time of being away.
4 months may sound like a long time, but in reality it flies by like the remaining daylight in Stockholm (haha…). Coming into the program, I was excited but anxious to live with a host family. I knew it would be a good experience and one that would shape my semester abroad, but I could not even fathom how close I would become with my host family, who now truly feels like a part of my family. I remember during one of my first few weeks in Sweden talking to my host mom over dinner about her time abroad when she was about my age, when she lived in Seattle. She told me about the close bonds she made with the family she lived with in America, and how she has stayed extremely close over the years, even going to her host sister’s wedding and visiting the family in Seattle. I remember smiling and thinking how cute that was, but not quite picturing how such a short stay could lead to that type of experience. Well, I was wrong.
Maybe it’s a stereotype that Swedes can be quiet and reserved, making it a bit harder to break the ice and form close relationships. I have found that in my experience, it was essentially the polar opposite of this. From the second I met my family, I was welcomed in as if I had been a part of the family forever. And for this, I am eternally grateful. Not only did I luck out with a great host situation, but I got more — two amazing siblings and a second mom. Not only did we exchange culture, language, stories, and day-to-day life, but I got more: advice in my painful internship search, getting to learn about my mom’s work and exciting changes in her life, and having someone there who completely understood when I was having a bad day or not feeling great, no questions asked.
Of course, I’m not saying that every day of this semester was the best of my life — while I have had loads and loads of amazing memories and experiences, some days have been incredibly tough. Through schoolwork, traveling, experiencing Stockholm, and the seemingly never-ending summer job hunt, days could become overwhelming, leaving me wishing for my friends and routine back home. Reflecting back on my semester, I am feeling lucky to have had all of these experiences, the good, the great, and the tough. Although every day wasn’t perfect, I do love the Swedish phrase “bara bra” to remember this semester — “only good.”
This semester, I visited 8 countries, countless cities, began to consider changing my major, and met amazing friends both Scandinavian and from the American universities that comprise DIS. I learned from some inspirational and accomplished faculty, bonded with some amazing DIS staff/interns (shoutout to Alison, Katie and Emma <3), and of course, my family. These are the memories I will carry with me through the rest of this year, and I am so excited to have a whole new network of people to connect with and of course will be keeping in touch with.
If you have been reading my blogs, you know that there have been too many awesome memories to even begin to describe. So I just wanted to dedicate this final post to Katja, Ida, Noah, Peter, Zoey, and Mimmi —thank you for being my home base and the best part of my time abroad. I can’t wait to come back to Sweden soon and for many years to come!