A moment of reflection.
I’ve been home a little over a week now. It’s Christmas Eve, all the cookies have been baked, all my bags have been unpacked, and I’m excited for family to come over tonight to share food and presents. In all the chaos of the last week, I’ve yet to take the time to reflect on my semester in Sweden.
There are so many things about this semester to be thankful for. My amazing new friends, who accompanied me on so many adventures and kept me grounded when homesickness or FOMO for friends at home might have set in.
I’m thankful for my host family, who were so warm and welcoming. Over my semester, I truly became part of the family. I really miss Ballou the cat, who became my buddy in the last month or so. (Don’t tell my puppy Olive, though). We’ve already sent each other Christmas cards, and I know we’ll continue to do so for many years to come.
I’m grateful for this opportunity to be a student blogger for DIS. This blog has encouraged me to practice sharing experiences and writing down my memories, and I intend to continue it into the new semester. Getting to take over the Instagram story during our End-of-Semester Showcase was a new and fun challenge. (Check out the Showcases story on @disstockholm!)
The opportunity to learn (or at least begin to learn) a new language in an immersive experience was like no other. My Swedish is still very rudimentary, but I can now confidently order fika all the way through without switching back into English. I consider that a massive accomplishment.
It’s a little crazy to think what cool places I was able to visit on my travels and what bucket list items I was able to check off during this trip. Before I left, little did I know what amazing and unique experiences awaited me – from seeing Belinda Carlisle (yes, that one) in concert in Dublin, to eating gruyère in the town it originated from in Switzerland, to seeing the actual Aurora Borealis in Northern Sweden.
Most of all, I am amazed at how much I’ve grown personally this semester. Setting out on my own in a completely new country was a daunting prospect initially, and so many issues I didn’t expect arose over the course of the semester. Of course, I had great support from DIS and my host family. But most of all, I’ve been able to find new strength within myself and feel confident in being on my own. More so than travel or cultural competence, I would say that this growth was the single most important impact from this experience.