I leave Kalmar tomorrow morning with the direction towards Copenhagen.
I’ll be staying in Denmark for a night with a friend as a last hurrah before coming back home to San Francisco on the 14th of June, around 7PM / 19:00 PST.
In the beginning of the fall semester abroad, I had trouble grappling with the fact that I was going to be in Kalmar for a whole year. I couldn’t really think about this country and let alone this city as my home. I questioned what I wanted to do in my overall placement on this planet.
What the fuck was I doing in Kalmar? What the fuck was I doing in a city that at times smelled like cow manure? (What is this, UC Davis?)
I got thrown into a random Scandinavian city with nobody but myself. I had nobody but me. So you learn to love yourself, and along the way, others will come to love who you are.
The first semester softly ended. Before I could really call this place a home, folks actually left and went back home. So then I went backpacking for six weeks.
After those six impactful weeks of hostels, walking, and eating; I appreciated Kalmar more. And so when I came back to this Swedish city for the spring semester, I was ready to do it. I was ready to put myself out there and do everything I didn’t do last semester.
I think I managed to accomplish that. Every day this semester, I woke up excited and happy for whatever the day had to offer. Each night, I went to sleep feeling full, and it wasn’t just from the weekly buffets I patronized with my friends.
It was a combination of fikas, basketball, eating out, turning up, late night shit talks and the enjoyment of the rare yet intense Swedish sun.
This entire study abroad experience has made me so happy. I’m extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to wake up with the independence of being able to turn the key to my own door and to do what I wanted to do.
Now, I look forward to the future. I feel like I can do anything. I did this! The world is my oyster, and I’m about to add some lemon and cocktail sauce. As I look forward, I just want to find that one hole in the world in the shape of me so I can fill it up, just like Hannah Horvath from Girls.
And like the scenes from the HBO comedy drama by Lena Dunham, the moments I’ve had in Sweden have been surreal.
You know, I started to call Kalmar “The City of Dreams” sort of as an ironic joke. It’s such bullshit though because at the same time this is a dream. Studying abroad and every exchange student here is living a dream— The dream.
When you study abroad, you just worry about experiencing everything the country has to offer day-by-day. I don’t worry about updating my resume or going to the dentist. That's adult stuff and I'm still trying to be a young adult.
Coming home, I'll have to do some adulting. I'll have to look for internships and try to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’ll admit that I’m scared. I've spent a year in Sweden trying to grow into a fully formed human, so what the hell is going to happen back in San Francisco?
What if nothing is the same when I’m back? Actually, what if everything is just the same? Would that be worse?
I really thought reverse culture shock was a load of bullcaca, but looks like those Thought Catalog posts were right. But as the time-space continuum continues to evolve, I just hope that I’ll continue moving despite all these fears and worries.
There’s really no end to studying abroad, so this is not an ending.
All the relationships and connections I’ve made here in the backdrop of Kalmar will stay with me for the rest of my life here in on this earth; as memories unbothered by the progression of time. I’m so grateful, appreciative and privileged to have been able to experience all of this.
To my friends, family, advisors across the Atlantic ocean.
Thank you —
To those who were and are still in Falkenbergsvägen 25, Smålandsgatan 4A, Nygatan 29 and Funkabovägen.
To everyone I met in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, and Berlin.
Thank you all so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’ll see you all soon.