My last week in Sweden was actually rather uneventful. Days were strung with packing, a sweat-filled room void of AC, accompanied only by the occasional breeze. I think that all this moving has made me become numb to it. Even though I know in my head that I will see this city and this country for the last time, uncertain of when I would ever return, as I watched the scenery pass by on the train, I couldn’t appreciate it anymore. It was just itineraries and lists, and a method to get to my next location. Where would I go? Where would I stay? How much time do I have left in this place? Each day counts down like a crossed off item on a to-do list, and it is gone before I know it.
Time management is not easy while studying abroad, especially for shorter summer programs like this one. Maybe to others it comes more naturally, but I get lost the actions of daily mundane life—cooking, cleaning, organizing, showering, sleeping. The time it takes from one place to another drags like a stick in mud, and carefully-crafted schedules slide and shift and change. Eventually I became tired of chasing after opportunities and events. The biggest thing I wanted to do was not to regret anything, and it’s hard to say I don’t regret some of the ways I lost my time there. I’m still proud of myself for doing most the things I wanted to do and seeing the places I wanted to see, but I still wish I could go back and do it better.
Packing, especially, takes a long time. I think I never want to see a suitcase again—at least, not for another year or so. Subtracting—a concept we learned in class—is a skill that I wish to hone. It is easy to think that we need anything and everything to live, or to ease into comfort for our daily life. It is hard for me to predict what I actually need, which is why I ended up having so many things, which went into a deeper vacuum of wasted time. It is the weight one bares when traveling, quite literally so. Many things can only be learned from experience, however, and I learned many things abroad.
When I hugged my aunt for the last time at the bus station to go to the airport, I didn’t feel sad. Surely I did feel the loneliness of parting, but I had already accepted the reality in my heart. Maybe it’s because we stayed too long or too little, but the fact of the experience didn’t change. I am older now, and better at recording the memories and moments, strung along dairies and texts and photo albums. Decorated in the pieces of souvenirs, magnets on my fridge, and gifted clothing with tags still on them. Maybe I lost some time here and there, but they were left like breadcrumbs along a path, and anytime I want, I can go back and follow them, retracing my steps to find my way back.