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a Birka goodbye

As I come upon the last days of my time here at DIS, I thought I was prepared to go home. I’m ready for a new adventure with new people, in a new city to call home, and maybe that’s just the Sagittarius in me. But today, as I looked out over the island of Birka in the Stockholm archipelago, in the sunshine with my friends, imagining myself among the rocks and the trees in the Swedish summer, my inner tune changed. 

a pensive moment by the wake

At the beginning of this last week I went to my very last class meetings at DIS Stockholm that I will ever have. It’s a bittersweet thing as it always is, to have the semester end, but even more difficult to process because I may never return to this place and these hallways again. Of course, I’d like to in the future, but at least with Whitman I know I’m coming back, and I’ll always wander around because it’s where my home is, and it’s where I grew up. But with DIS, I’ve poured so much of my energy into this place and may never be able to feel that energy again in the same way, walking into KMH with my card in hand, freezing cold, desperately searching for the nearest cup of coffee, late to class. It’s something I think I’ll miss in a different way than I’ve missed something before. Also, caught my final museum visit!

these dala horses especially intrigued me

The week continued with a final DIScovery trip out into the Swedish outdoors, and the trip I happened to go on took us to the Klarälven, a river a couple hours away from Stockholm, where I and some of my good friends built a timber raft and floated down the water at the mercy of the current. Interestingly enough, my dad’s side of the family comes from a long line of loggers, so something about riding a structure of floating logs down a Swedish river struck a chord with me. Maybe it was the wrong chord, because my lovely iPhone also disappeared beneath the waves in the middle of our journey. I will be blaming the lateness of this blog post on that event. 

DIS has been able to offer us so many cool and unique opportunities this semester because of our group size, and this is definitely one of them. I would have never signed up for a timber rafting trip of my own accord, so for DIS to be able to offer this was an amazing occurrence. I suppose I have covid to thank for that, in a strange way.

raft check!

I returned from this trip on Sunday night to wake up the next morning to my host dad’s birthday, my final experience of the Swedish sweets-in-bed birthday presentation. It’s also bittersweet, because in a way it felt normal. Like of course I would wake up early to be a part of the celebration, because it’s what the family does. And I’m part of the family. I’ve inserted myself into the lives of these wonderful people who have sheltered me, fed me, taken me places, loved me, and all these other things. And now I have to leave? I don’t think I’m only leaving a part of my heart behind, but maybe also like I’m taking some other hearts with me. 

I performed my final concert at the DIS student showcase yesterday as well. I always leave my heart on stage after performing a little bit, but after not performing live for about a year, the emotion and nerves of being on stage again hit me in a different way. I showed pieces of my music that I truly don’t show to most people, and somehow being in this liminal space with my friends supporting me made me feel at home again. A lot of finalities there, maybe too many.

these folks!

But it doesn’t end there, of course. Today, we took our final DIS trip, all as a group, to Birka (incidentally one of the sights I named as a must-see in my pre-departure instagram takeover for those day 1 fans), where we viewed our last viking sight and had a big outdoor lunch put together by the island restaurant. It’s one thing to ride out into the archipelago any old day, but it’s another thing entirely when for at least some of us, this may be our last time to be on a Swedish boat, hearing about the history of the vikings, as we hear the birds chirping on the first real day of summer sunshine. I have the sunburns to prove it. The hugs at the end of the journey and the “see you back home”-s are almost a dissonance for me. We can’t be leaving, this is our life now. What does it even mean to leave Stockholm? Is that even possible?

Like I’ve said before, there’s a rush and a feeling of needing to get everything done here before this emotion disappears again forever. But truly, I find myself just going places while I still have them, and chasing the feeling of being normal here, just one last little bit. 

Not sure how much I have left to say about everything still. I’ve poured out my thoughts on this blog more than is probably necessary, and I think that now that my time writing here is coming to a close, I’ll miss it. Even as I sit here writing this at the moment that I literally should be asleep, I’ll miss it. Thank you all for sticking around all this long. We’ll see if I do another update when I get home. I might just be all fresh out of notes by then.

But until then, treasure these moments.

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