I went to the pub the other day with a few friends of mine, two of whom are spending the year out here in Sweden like me, and one who unfortunately is not. Jack, Joe and I spent a good chunk of our evening discussing how strange it will be returning here in January with a new batch of foreign faces alongside a few familiar ones, whilst Isaac sat there watching us despair over this already-known, yet suddenly relevant dilemma. All of us agreed however, that now is too early to be ripped away from this experience. We have all established friend groups, people we can rely on in times of need, where to go to get food and the best places to go out; gotten used to the climate, the teaching, the customs. Although I may have the rest of the academic year to spend in this strange northern realm, many whom I call friends do not, and the period of long goodbyes is near.
There are many different types of goodbyes. To people, to places or to things. Long, short or forever. It is hard to gauge which farewells are the most emotional, as there are so many dependants in play at the same time, but one thing is certain: it is never easy to say goodbye. Being a rather emotional human being, especially in times of sadness, this next week or so is going to be tough.
Back in September, when we had no idea about what this semester would bring, I never once considered the moment I would have to say goodbye to my new friends and acquaintances. Nor did I ever think that I would spend the majority of my time in Sweden travelling around Northern Europe, consolidating friendships in places that I would never have considered visiting before. The amount of inside jokes, phrases and colloquialisms that we made up between ourselves, the amount of nights we spent drinking at the student bars or at corridor parties, the amount of memories which have been made during the short stay here will leave a lasting legacy on me and to those who I have met. In a sense, it could be sadder to say goodbye to those whom I haven’t hung out with as much, because there is a good chance that I will never see them again. They may drift completely from my memory as time goes on, reduced to usernames on Instagram or profiles on Facebook. Nevertheless, I know that those who I am particularly close with will stay in my life forever. International friendships are hard to sustain, but after spending four months with these incredible people, it is clear that some bonds are too strong to break, no matter how far these connections may spread.
This time next month, I will have said goodbye to everyone, some for a few weeks, some for a few years and some forever. I will have spent Christmas and New Years at home, catching up with family and friends. I will have returned to Sweden, only to recognise a few faces. I will have met a bunch of new people from all over the world, all looking to make new friendships in this unusual land. Admittedly this does open up new opportunities and allows me to create new international connections, but there will still be a number of voids which will remain empty. I suppose I will have to find my pre-Erasmus enthusiasm again, not as a means to replace anyone, but more as a way to add to an already extensive list of amazing people in my life.