Homeward Bound

As my alarm rang this morning, it finally hit me that my time abroad had come to an end.

The weather this morning was fantastic: the warm sun beat down onto my skin and for the first time in a long time, I was able to walk outside with my jacket unzipped.

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Taking one final early morning walk through downtown Stockholm, I said my goodbyes to a city that welcomed me with open arms and truly broadened my horizons.

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With a heavy heart, I boarded my plane around 3:30 PM and prepared myself for a long flight. As the plane climbed higher into the air, I saw the land grow smaller and fade through the clouds, not knowing when or if I could someday return to such a beautiful place. If ever provided the opportunity, I would love to come back to Scandinavia, and say hello once more to the countries that helped me grow as an individual, teaching me so much in such a short time.

I will miss Scandinavia’s beauty, history, architecture, and it’s kind people, but most of all I will miss the feeling of exploration. How incredible of a feeling it was to wake up each day of my trip and experience something new. Studying abroad has ignited a flame within me to continue to step outside of my comfort zone, try new things, and to not be afraid of the unknown. No matter where I am, whether it be in my small town of New Berlin, WI, or in another country, this will always be possible: there is never a time in your life when you stop learning and growing.

Currently, I am wearing my Wisconsin Badgers hoodie, on my flight SK 945, heading to the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. When we land, I will be greeted by the familiar cold weather and snow that I have long grown accustom to while living in the Midwest. I must be pretty homesick, because for possibly the first time ever in my life, I am not dreading being thrown back into the frigid Wisconsin winter.

17357013_991632384270511_77746133_o.jpg(Mount Mary looking stunning in the winter. I am so fortunate to call such a beautiful campus my home.)

Having never left the country before, I had no idea how much I would truly miss home. Although I was only abroad for 12 short days, being so far away, and in such a different environment, really brought to my attention how much of a love I have for Wisconsin. Born and raised in Wisconsin, it took me nearly 20 years of my life, almost two weeks abroad, and 4,000 miles away from home to realize how truly thankful I am for my unique, beautiful, nature-filled, packer-loving, cheese-obsessed state. As the saying goes, there really isn’t no place like home.

17352657_991633570937059_1069776969_n17352951_991633030937113_1959856543_n(Two of my favorite destinations in Wisconsin. Top: Holy Hill, Bottom: Devil’s Lake.)

Back in Wisconsin, I am looking forward to seeing my family, friends, boyfriend, and my dog Zeke, who I’m sure misses me the most (12 days is, like, 30 years in bloodhound time).

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(The fam: mom, dad, and my sister Alyssa.)

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(“God’s Creature…” At just over a year old and at 110 lbs., Zeke certainly is a handful, but my family and I love him so much. He has such a charming, oddball personality and loves his family so much. The photo of him in the hat was taken on his 1 year birthday!)

Tomorrow, I will jump straight back into my college classes at school. Although I will be tired, it will be hard for me to be upset because of how much I love being at Mount Mary, learning, growing, having fun, and seeing the familiar faces of my friends.

17327855_991640474269702_2015455607_n.jpg(My fellow RA’s and mentors; I love spending each day with these incredible people! They make my time at Mount Mary even more spectacular.)

Just about an hour ago on my flight, I saw something that took my breath away. Flying over the southern coast of Greenland, I saw mountains of snow rolling as far as the eye could see and jagged, cracked ice, exposing the waters of the Arctic Ocean. Never before have I seen such a unique landscape, so barren yet so beautiful and ethereal.

img_0358(And I thought it was cold in Wisconsin…)

Currently, I have about four hours remaining in my flight until we land in Chicago. I know that for the next several weeks, and perhaps months, I will still be absorbing and reflecting upon my trip. The twelve days flew by faster than I could fathom and although I am missing home, I still wish I had more time in beautiful Scandinavia.

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Until we meet again Scandinavia. You will always be in my heart,

Ashley

 

Side note: Readers, this is not my last blog post! Keep your eyes peeled for a final reflection post on my trip as a whole. Thank you for reading and following my blog: words cannot express how much your support means to me. I’m so happy I was able to bring you with me on my trip and that we were able to share this experience with one another.

With all my love, Thank you.

-Ash

 

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