The First Letter

Of course I'm here in Lund now, but before I get into the last few days... the neverending Scandinavian summer sunsets, the naps by the sea, the swirl of a language all around me that I've been hearing and studying for awhile now and learn more of every day, city streets alongside the water, new friends from across the globe, and grocery store adventures...

I want to write of the journey and the arrival.

The plan to be here, sitting at my desk in my apartment looking out to a Swedish sky, classes soon to start, has been in the works for a long time. It took a year of planning, researching, writing, stressing... emails not returned, tons of google translating from websites, scholarship preparation and interviews, finding a way around the fact that FedEx didn't like the address for where my applications were to be sent. All that sort of thing. I prepared for other options, told people not to assume that this would work out, all while I acted as if it would, but just to myself.

It's amazing how time slips by, and the things you anticipate and have a hard time imagining will really ever come, eventually, come.

And there I was on the plane from San Francisco to Stockholm. All my things for one year, packed and stowed. I'd made it through a week in which I wrapped up a fantastic life in Santa Barbara, said goodbye to my dearest friends, celebrated the biggest several day party of the year in my town, finished work, and moved out of my darling house. Sitting down in my seat on that United flight was surreal, I couldn't really grasp it.

But the moment that I had hoped would feel real, that I would really be able to soak up, happened exactly as I wished. The plane flew low over the most beautiful airport space I'd ever seen, a place surrounded by trees that didn't seem to be near a major world city. I had my favorite music coming through my headphones, the wheels touched down, and then I was in Sweden. Not surreal at all, but quite real and exciting. Within a few minutes I had one of my favorite Swedes rushing towards me with that blue and yellow flag, there to pick me up. Just three days before, we had hugged goodbye as I dropped her off at the airport shuttle, as she ended her year studying abroad in my city. Now we were greeting hello, because I was about to study abroad for a year in her city. Fantastic.

After a couple hours I was sitting on the deck of a house on an island, looking over the water. Salmon rolls and champagne and celebratory toasts all around. It was as lovely as I'd always heard and imagined. And that was only the first day.

I was seventeen when I first left home for college, confident and excited, and I knew then that I was going to exactly the best place for me. Ten years later, I feel the same way again. But when I miss home, my amazing friend Meg made this video for me, so watch it if you ever want to see the place and the people that I love...

*The photo above is one I took up in LuleƄ, in the far north of Sweden. Letters from Scandinavia might be a more apt description for this page, but of course it didn't sound as good ;)

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