This is officially the sixth day since I’ve been back in Chicago. Being in self quarantine, I look back to the time I’ve spent in Sweden and it honestly feels like a dream and that it never really happened. No one could’ve imagined the escalation of the corona virus and I certainly didn’t think I would be coming home this early.
Last Thursday, I woke up at 6 a.m. and normally I would have just rolled back to sleep. However, that morning I decided to check the time on my phone, only to find a bombardment of texts and messages that all European countries were now level 3 and Trump had placed a travel ban on the U.S. A million thoughts started racing into my mind. “How am I supposed to get home?” “Am I stuck in Sweden FOREVER?”
As I was panicking, I opened my email to find that the DIS Stockholm and Copenhagen program was canceled and we all needed to leave for the U.S. right away. Our last official day to leave was Thursday, March 19th, and after that our housing could no longer support us. That very day, so many people left back home or rushed to find a new flight. Some flights even costed up to $12,000. I debated even staying until Thursday, but with how fast things were escalating, I realized my best bet was to leave on Tuesday.
The next couple of days, my friends and I tried to spend as much time as we could exploring as much of Sweden as we could. We went to Stockholm City Hall to see the beautiful view of the city by the water. We rushed to the ABBA museum to learn about the iconic singers and their journey to stardom. We also spent a rainy day in Galma Stan to explore the old town and go souvenir shopping!
When arriving at the airport on Tuesday morning, it was shocking to me to see just how empty the airport was. There was probably only 6 TSA agents in my terminal and my plane to London was so empty. My biggest fear of going to Chicago was seeing images of the crazy lines in O’Hare airport, but especially the possibility to of being more susceptible to catching the virus in the airports. However, O’Hare was quite empty and I made it home safe and sound.
I can’t lie and say that I’m not extremely sad that I had to leave so early. I came to Sweden without any expectations really. I didn’t know much about the country and didn’t really know why I chose to study there, but once I was there, I honestly fell in love with the country and the lifestyle.
I’m honestly going to miss fika with my friends at Espresso House, eating semla buns, taking the tunnelbana (Stockholm metro) to class every day while seeing the amazing art underneath, and eating those amazing meals at Octav for lunch. I’m going to miss heading to ICA to buy groceries, going to SATS with my friends to work out, seeing the sun set over the bridge when taking the bus home to Bosön. I’m going to miss walking up and down that large hill to get home and dying every time, but especially being surrounded by nature and feeling more at peace than I’ve ever felt in my whole life.
Leaving Sweden was definitely bittersweet. I feel as though I have grown and learned so much. I learned to travel by myself, to stop and smell the roses every once in a while. I learned to take breaks and savor the little moments in the day during fika. I learned how wonderful being around nature is. But the most important thing I learned was that what I was there to study was my passion and that I shouldn’t be too worried about the future. Although, time got cut short, I am so grateful for my time in Sweden and I know that it definitely isn’t good bye.
Until next time.