It’s the final countdown of my study year abroad. University ends next week, the last events at my nation are currently taking place, and in early June half of Uppsala will leave.
It feels surreal.
However, although I am coming to terms with leaving, the year is not quite over yet.
And what a glorious time spring has been in Sweden.
Swedish seasons have been a roller coaster of challenges. In November, I was struggling a lot with the overwhelming darkness of sunrises at 9 am and sunsets at 3 pm. It had a bigger impact on my mental health than expected, and I had to take active measures to combat its effects.
Now, the tides have turned. One month away from midsommar–the longest day of the year–we have daylight and a lot of sunshine that lasts from 4 am to 10 pm. It is an entirely different life: There is always something going on, the city seemingly never sleeps, and everybody is in a great mood. More than once have I laid awake at 2 am listening to birds chirping outside my window while my body is struggling to understand that it does need sleep.
Having lived through the dark coziness of Swedish winter, Swedish spring feels like a well-earned dream.
The official beginning of Swedish spring took place during Valborg. In the end of April, around 50.000 people gather in Uppsala to celebrate Walpurgis night aka April 30. This involves a four-day festival with countless nation activities, slack public alcohol laws, self-built boats, bonfires, wagging of student hats, and 25.000 students crammed into the park right in front of my dorm.
One constant through all of it is Skumpa, sparkling wine. Students start drinking it at 10 am, douse each other with it, and complain about it the next morning. Although I don’t particularly like Skumpa, my Valborg was very fun! We danced a lot, hung out, and just enjoyed the exceptional circumstances that this holiday brings about.
And now it’s officially spring!
One big highlight of this month was when I hosted my last visitor, Flora, who I had visited in Istanbul before. She is currently doing her exchange there. Apart from all the laughs and wonderful moments (including snow in early May), her stay also showed me how much I have gradually learnt throughout this year without noticing.
I could tell her funny stories from Swedish history, discuss the welfare system and its disadvantages with her, and teach her easy Swedish phrases. When we did a free walking tour through Stockholm, I had to contain myself to not blurt out all the answers to the guide’s questions.
It hasn’t felt that way, but I have grown so much this year.
I have spent a lot of time this month reflecting on my year and the progress I have made. Going abroad is strange, because after the initial period of excitement, life starts to feel normal until you realize that it is all temporary: the time and your self, which is constantly evolving without you noticing.
There were several instances this past month that made me realize this evolution. Two weeks ago, I had a fifteen-minute conversation in Swedish with my roommate and read Harry Potter in Swedish the next day. It felt like a big milestone, although especially my language skills have undergone such a gradual process.
During Valborg, I met a visiting exchange student friend from last semester and realized that I am in such a different place than I was at the time she left. Uppsala isn’t a dark place with unapproachable Swedish people anymore; it is a home with many friends.
And lastly, I booked my much anticipated trip to Norway in mid-June as well as started planning Lovisa’s visit to Switzerland in August. It helped me realize that although I have had a wonderful year, it is time to move on.
What is left for me this year is an exciting month. Next week is the last week of university for most students, exams are the week after. Before all of my friends leave for home, I hope to see as many as possible once more. Other than that, I’ll be working a lot in my student nation to make a little money for my trip to Norway in mid-June. After Norway, I am spending Midsommar at Lovisa’s family’s summer house.
And then it’s time to go home. How strange.
Leaving Uppsala will be incredibly sad, but I am determined to make the most out of this time I have left. But then I am ready to return to my one true loves: Swiss chocolate and cheese.