Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring Break Reunion

There isn't a day that goes by where I don't think about my year in Sweden. When I say that I created a new life that was my very own there, I mean it with every fiber in my being. I have an endless supply of stories, whether they be happy stories, fun stories, sad stories, and even a life lesson or two (or ten).

The sign reads "What is your next step?"
And that's honestly a pretty valid question.
Coming back to the United States was really hard for me, but I was comforted by the fact that I had made lifelong friends and, when (not if) I began to travel the world again, I had a place to stay on practically every continent. But it turns out it's not that easy. Within a month or two of returning from Sweden, I lost contact with a lot of people I thought I'd be lifelong friends with. Now that I've been back around nine months, the number of people I've lost contact with has grown even more. Sometimes when Facebook reminds me what I was up to a year ago today, I feel a bit of resentment. I was happy and free when I was Sweden, and now I feel trapped.

Obviously, it's really hard to return to life as usual after studying abroad, but I think it might be even harder for an American that studied abroad in Europe. Almost all of the friends I made are European. Travel is quick and cheap in Europe, so they're able to have reunions practically whenever they want, and I'm stuck in Tennessee feeling incredibly sad and jealous while I watch these reunions occur through Facebook posts and Snapchat stories. I studied abroad with a few Americans, but we're
scattered across a nation that's larger than Europe itself, so it's not as easy for us. Every time I've made a plan to meet up with someone I studied abroad with, the plans ended up falling through for some reason or another.

But finally.... FINALLY I got to have a study abroad reunion of my own. My best friend in the entire world, Ida, came to Tennessee for spring break. I was ecstatic. For those who don't remember, Ida is from Finland, and I went to her high school graduation last year. She arrived late Friday night and quickly passed out, but the next day, I gave her a brief tour of Maryville (brief because there's not much to see), we took my dog for a walk, then had dinner with my boyfriend and his friends. And on Sunday, we headed out to Nashville!

Spring break in Nashville!

When we arrived, I parked in LP Field Nissan Stadium. If you've been here, you know that it's a great place to catch the Nashville skyline. Nissan Stadium and downtown Nashville are separated by
Cumberland River, with a pedestrian bridge going over the river to connect the two. We stood by the river as Ida took in the skyline. After a few minutes of silence, I asked her how she felt about it. There was another long moment of silence before she replied, "Honestly... This is the happiest I've felt in a really long time."

Five minutes into spring break, and my mission has already been accomplished.

Found this tourist in downtown Nashville.
Anyone recognise her?
We spent the week doing whatever Ida wanted. I gave suggestions, but at the end of the day, I let her do the deciding (usually) because she'd come from such a long way away that I figured it was only fair to let her call the shots. We went shopping and to hockey games. We meandered around downtown for no particular reason. We walked miles upon miles to check out murals and the state capitol. I introduced her to southern cuisine, Tex-Mex food I'd grown up on, and even gave her her first experience with every college kid's favourite place, Cookout. Before we went to sleep at night, we joked around and reminded each other of fun and embarrassing stories from my days in Sweden. I didn't care what we did, I was just happy to finally have my best friend by my side again.
Can't wait to see this dime
and all my other friends again.

Spring break is long gone now, and Ida is back in Finland. But I won't forget the amazing reunion we had together in Nashville. It not only reminded me why Ida is my absolute best friend in the entire world but also ignited a spark in me to start travelling again, once it's financially feasible to do so. Which I suppose will require me getting a job... :p Even though I feel stuck, I realised it doesn't have to be that way forever. I'm young, only 22, with my whole life ahead of me. I have friends across the world that I love and will do anything to see again, all thanks to the fact that I studied abroad in the first place. So I will travel again someday. There's too much of the world left to be seen for me to give up now.

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