These last few days have been pretty surreal for me. I finished my exam at around 1100 on Thursday, since then I have been to the welcome fair for new exchange students, went to two “farewell parties” and had a couple of final fikas.
I am now sat on the SJ “Snabbtåg” to Stockholm on my way home. As the train started to pull away from the station, I found myself suddenly extremely emotional about leaving. Now, as the train glides effortlessly through Sweden’s beautiful white landscape with snow being whipped up past my window, I find myself feeling as though I am watching this happening to someone else. I appear to have detached myself from the journey, and I think that this is probably for the best.
The Welcome Fair
I was asked to come along in my exchange student overall to show it off to the new students and give them an idea of what to look forward to.
Seeing the new faces all with expressions of excitement, tiredness and apprehension all rolled into one takes me back to the days I had at the beginning of my exchange. I remember meeting my friends in those first few days, learning Swedish with them on a daily basis and really cementing those friendships over the course of 6 months.
The best thing about going to the welcome fair was going to the Fredagspuben in Kårallen afterwards with the ESN board. Sitting there listening to the conversation flitting from English to Swedish and then back again was really nice. These people, I thought, they are one of the main reasons I will look back on my time here so fondly, because they made it easier for me to call Sweden my home. For that, I will always be grateful.
Exchange students don’t need much of an excuse to party, so it’s no surprise that there has been a farewell-type party almost every day over the last week.
At the last one, I said goodbye to those who I would not see again before I left for home. I was glad that I wasn’t one of the students who were staying for a whole year. I think that that would be really tough: watching your friends return to their home countries while you are left with your friendship group whittled down to those who are in the same position as you.
It was less emotional than I thought it would be, though this is mainly due to the majority of those I was saying goodbye to responding by refusing to accept that I might not be going to the party the following night!
I will miss everyone who I met here and I said to as many of them as I could that they would always be welcome to stay with me in the UK. I hope that some will take me up on the offer!
After my exam on Thursday I headed straight to Zodiaken, the Te och Nudelbar. There, I had a Latte och Kanelbulle, something that isn’t that cheap and was rather a treat. I sat, savoured the flavour and reflected on the fact that the only language I had used and that I could hear within that building was Swedish. That is one of the things I will miss most about my exchange: listening to Swedish from a native speaker.
Saturday saw a final fika with a couple of the best friends I’ve made here: a Swede and a German. I say fika, it was more like breakfast for myself and the German, who were recovering from the party the night before. I don’t like saying goodbye to those who have made such an impact on my time here. It was nice, then, to relax, chat and pass the time with them.
I can’t really express the mixture of emotions that that Saturday contained. Though there was a lot of sadness and a smattering of pensiveness, the main feeling I had was one of calmness. I’m much happier with my lot than I was only a few days ago. All of the stress of exams and bureaucracy has simply evaporated and left behind a feeling of completion.
A final thank you
To finish this, my final post from Sweden, I feel I should say thank you to those who deserve it.
To my family: Thank you for helping me when I needed it, and thank you for always being so supportive of my first proper step into the big wide world.
To my girlfriend: Thank you for being so patient and thank you for riding the highs and lows with me.
To the ESN: It wouldn’t have been so easy to call Sweden my home, nor would it be so hard to leave if it weren’t for you guys. Thank you for the work that you do to make the Erasmus exchange such a fun, educational and worthwhile endeavour for your fellow students.
To the friends I made: You guys are the reasons that I stayed in those first couple of months and kept me sane for the rest. I never dreamed that I’d find friends like you guys when I left the UK. Thank you for making this an unforgettable experience. If you ever need a place to stay in Britain, you will always be welcome.
Finally, to the universities and the Erasmus exchange program: I firmly believe that an exchange, whether it’s 1 or 2 semesters, is one of the most important opportunities that a University can offer its students. So a big thank you to the University of Southampton and Linköpings Universitet for giving me the opportunity to have such an interesting and life-changing experience and I would urge those who are reading this and have the chance to go abroad with their studies to do so without hesitation.
Hej då, Sverige. Hej då, Linköping. Och hej då till vännerna som jag träffade där. Det var bra!
Tusen tack, Linköping. Jag hade en bra tid på universitetet med roliga personer. Jag lärde mig mycket om Sverige, om världen och om mig. Nu måste jag åka tillbaka England och börja mitt liv där igen. I framtiden, kommer jag tänka på min tid här i Sverige och minnas att den var rolig, dålig men alltid givande.
Tack till Linköpings Universitet. Det var bra och svårt också, men jag älskade tiden här och tack för allt. Det gick för snabbt men det var gott!