The End – Kyran Penny

Flash back to a year ago. Second year was over, and all I had to look forward to was a short summer and a year in a country that I knew very little about. I’d never lived abroad before and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Of course I was looking forward to it, to a new adventure and a new challenge, but there was an underlying sense of dread about going through with these drastic changes to my life. Staying in the UK would have been the easy option, with familiar surroundings, the same friends and a routine that I was so used to- but there’s a wide world out there to be explored, and for me, staying in the same spot is, and will never be on the agenda. By the time this post has been published, I will have returned home, leaving behind everything that I became used to; the surroundings, friends and the routine, all of which have left lasting imprints on my life.

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Since returning to the UK a couple of weeks ago, I find myself trying to remember every detail of every day during the year. I’ve been desperately trying to relive those memories, trying to channel the emotions that I felt in moments that cannot be sufficiently described. Whether it was the excitement and nervousness of the first few weeks, the amazement of sailing through the Norwegian fjords or around the sun-baked islands of Malta, the thrills of witnessing the first snowfall of the year, the contentment of knowing you’ve made brand new friends and even the moments of loneliness when all you want to do is to return to normalcy at home. I have had this idea of a mental snapshot to recreate a single moment during my time in Sweden, but there are always issues that surround it. Where would it be set? Who would be in it? What emotions do we have plastered on our faces? What would we be doing? You see, this year abroad has been filled with so many different places, people, memories and events that it is very hard to find a single thing that characterises it. Nevertheless, it is a picture that will become clearer as time goes on and as parts of my memory begins to fade and selective memory kicks into gear.

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I could spend so long writing about the end of my year and what I’ve learned, but I’ll leave that for another post in the future, when everything has calmed down. In all honesty, this post has been the hardest to write, as there is so much I could ramble on about- but I don’t want to eulogise my year abroad just yet, as Ferris Bueller has taught us, life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it. I’ll be back to write more posts where I stop to look around at my year in Sweden, because I certainly don’t want to miss anything.

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To end, I will eulogise a touch and just say a big thank you to everyone who made this year amazing, to Uppsala for being a wonderful place to call home and to Queen Mary for giving me this opportunity and this platform for me to explore myself and the world around me. As a good friend of mine says: never stop exploring.

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