Written by Swati
April 4th 2023
3 months, 9 countries, a lifetime of memories. Enough titles from bookstores to last me the next few years. Can we believe how quickly the semester has gone by? I’m trying to grasp on to the ends of every moment, but find them slipping through my fingers. This semester feels like sand on the weekends, shattered glass during the weeks. It’s difficult to recuperate from travel and the unwelcoming arms of classes on Mondays wrap around us like steel arms. The seconds pass like ice melts in the winter, my fingers creak over laptop keys.
This month was growing pains. This month was hitting the wall, running my fingers over concrete, slipping over lakeside rocks, pulling myself out of knee-deep water with a laugh. Sometimes the world laughs at you, sometimes you laugh at yourself alongside it. I’ve learned it’s best not to take yourself too seriously in moments of distress. Somehow we find a way. Somehow we will find a way. This month was train rides, observing strangers from toe to head, blinking away stray tears. This month was girls’ night in tiny kitchenettes, tender chicken cutlets over sauteed broccoli, giggling to the Mamma Mia soundtrack. This month was tears of affection, tears of exhaustion, tears of confusion, tears of uncontrollable joy. This month was fighting with the world, finding out that it won’t always fight back. This month was throwing my arms around strangers turned to sisters, chasing after stars at dusk.
In Portugal I learned to admire. Literary landmarks, detailed porcelain tiles, the sun’s gentle caress. Life is sweet where the weather is nice. Or where people make the weather feel nice. And maybe that’s the secret to it all. In Belgium, I learned of the sweetness of simplicity. Chocolate shops, bookstores, and walks along canals. In Ireland I learned to love big. Throw my arms around the world and feel what it’s like to have it wrap me in its warmth and chaos. I learned to ask small questions, await big answers. I learned to do the things I thought I would hate just to give it a chance, sometimes hectic pays off. And in Switzerland I learned to never control my awe of things big and small. The relief of reunion, a newly bloomed spring tree, a groomed dog’s soft coat, a father gently guiding his toddler by the Swiss riverside, a necklace for my best friend. Ducks swimming forward, looking you right in the eye, telling you a secret. This month I learned to skip through empty streets and spin around my room at midnight. Falling is another way to learn how to fly. I learned how to lean on the people around me and found comfort in the similarity of our experiences. I took off the rose colored glasses and realized the petals were beneath my feet the whole time. Everything comes back, but youth never does, not in quite the same form at least. If I could do anything, I’d stop time. I’d freeze it now, as I write this and look back on memorabilia that already means the world to me. I’d freeze it every second of this semester. I’d make these past few months everlasting. But the fact that they are fleeting makes them all the more precious.