I’m finally back in the United States, but part of me still remains in Scandinavia. I feel sad and can’t help but miss my life there and the friends I made, but part of me feels incredibly happy and grateful that it all happened!
I feel like a new person. The old me didn’t have so many new additions in my life that this experience has given. The Priyam who landed in Copenhagen over two months ago had never swam in the Mediterranean or the Adriatic, hadn’t ran through the streets of Stockholm or the trails in Copenhagen, hadn’t learned the marketing secrets of Tivoli, hadn’t explored Croatia with a renowned Travel Writer, hadn’t reflected on happiness in the French Riviera, but most importantly hadn’t met so many wonderful people, some of whom will be my friends forever.
My Travel Writing professor, Lola told us a story about how she came to feel at home in Greenland when she went there for a short visit. In her article, she represented the feeling of homeliness with different cities as being red dots, the brighter the dot, the more she felt at home in that place. Following in her light, in my map, there will now always be two bright red spots for Copenhagen and Stockholm. I hope my experiences there will guide me in the future, and provide a sense of comfort, confidence and happy nostalgia.
In my Philosophy of Happiness class, we spoke about how happiness can often be fleeting. Even when we have a lot of problems in life but somehow find a moment of joy, we know that happiness is temporary and our problems are still there, but we feel happy nonetheless. In a similar vein, even though the people I met here knew we might never see each other again, we chose to be best friends while we were here for a temporary and fleetingly short amount of time.
I will always enjoy seeing pictures and videos from my long adventure, and hopefully it’ll mentally transport me to that place whenever I want to. A check-in text from a study abroad friend, or listening to a song by My Chemical Romance or from Mamma Mia (these played a big part in my Scandinavian playlist) will also surely do the trick.
Part of the reason I wanted to go to Scandinavia was to know what its like to be in the happiest countries, and get to know how the people live. I didn’t discover the secret to happiness, but I do know that life, just like my experience here, has its ups and downs. The key often is to be patient with sadness and well, embrace the happiness! I remember how I went to the HC Anderson experience in Copenhagen, and after listening to countless classic fairytales, I encountered the message at the exit, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale”!
I would encourage anyone considering studying abroad to go for it! It can be scary and intimidating, and while it may not go perfect for everyone, the experiences it provides can change the way you see the world and give you a renewed sense of passion! My main advice would be to actively immerse yourself in the culture as much as you can, whether it be through a club, learning the language spoken, or just taking opportunities to speak with the locals you encounter daily! I loved getting to know how people in different places had their own traditions, quirks and lifestyle choices I would have never considered before. I would also recommend having a blog or a way to document your experiences (it could even be just clicking lots of pictures) so you can always come back to it and never forget the joy felt or lessons learnt while studying abroad!
From experiencing Hygge to going for a Fika with friends, I will miss the Scandinavian way of living as I adjust to life back at my home university. I’m glad that even though my time there is over, the memories in my mind will be there forever. I hope to retain all the positive qualities that my study abroad experience has enriched me with, and I hope to keep trying everything like I did there even though I knew I could fail.
I feel sad that all good things must come to an end. However, I want to remember my experiences in a happy light. Whenever I think of my friends, I hope to get transported back to the fairy tale land (Denmark) or the place that felt like home (Stockholm) and get a little taste of that fleeting happiness all over again.
I am so grateful to be able to share my experiences through the DIS Summer Writer blog.
DIS Summer ’22