Choisir c’est renoncer: already nine months spent on the ”Kannelbulle territory”

08:15 Växjö, Sweden. The morning begins with a strong (yummy) smell of coffee, the (lovely) morning light reflecting on my bedroom curtain, the hurry of footsteps of people living in my shared house all taking different paths for a day. They will meet in the evening to share a meal, an anecdote, a story, or just a moment to cook together in the midst of an international music mix. Between two grilled toasts, I notice two (robust and impressive) rabbits running fastly in my garden, as every day.

As every day since September, I wake up in a foreign country, I use a foreign language, which is now no longer foreign to me.

As every day since the beginning of my volunteering experience, I am amazed by everything. I wondered if this wonderment would disappear at some point. I wondered if humans ever get used to the beauty of the world. As if discovery goes out of the fashion with time. As if the chance to go abroad and explore EU territories and cultures as a young European citizen became a given. 

Eight months after my arrival in Sweden, I am still fascinated by the little things of daily life. They are specific sounds, smells, tastes, faces, laughs, music, or emotions that I am now really attached to and that I will remember. It is the amazing and intense red of the walls of the central church, this loud hubbub in coffees during the Fika time, the kindness of Swedish people in any circumstances (winter and summer, spring doesn’t exist in Sweden). It is the feeling given by a hot chocolate and a Kanelbulle during the dark and cold period (often), the sun’s rays on my cheeks during a walk when the sun appears (sometimes), the long discussions between volunteers to build and rebuild the world around a last cup of tea. It is personal, intimate memories that photos and videos can capture, only in part.

I know since October that every morning, two rabbits will cross the garden. However, I will continue to watch this surprising and captivating scene with child eyes.

Eight months already done as a volunteer, and I asked myself the following question: Do I really want to come back home?

It is often said that after a long experience abroad, the notion of ‘home’ is blurred. It is as if a part of you is going to stay there. 

Choisir, c’est renoncer. Leaving means going away from landscapes, people, codes anchored in my daily life.  

However, I decided for the future to come back to my native country, France. Partir maintenant, pour mieux revenir plus tard. This decision is based on a (long) personal reflection. 

Dear Sweden, I thank you so much for your welcome during those months. Don’t worry, this experience is not finished. I will enjoy the Summer, because as Swedish always say, during this period the country is reborn. 

In the same way that I claim the beauty of my region of Brittany in France, when someone will ask me what I thought of my trip, I will reply that Sweden is a country that must be visited. That the Swedes, despite not being Latin, have nothing to envy and deserve to be known. 

– Marie Vincent