I thought that the first few weeks would hit me the hardest, like withdrawal from a drug or waking up from the perfect dream. Instead, I felt absolutely great being back home in California. It's bright and sunny every day, my university campus is stunningly beautiful, and I quickly fell back into the rhythm of school life and extracurricular activities. I think in keeping busy, it kept my mind off thoughts about my life in Europe. I didn't long for the road - I was content being home.
Then, it slowly creeped into my everyday thoughts. A flash of memory here, whiff of familiar scent there. Dancing through throbs of people on the streets of Bairro Alto in Lisbon, where the streets become the party. Stepping off the plane in Copenhagen and seeing a white wonderland for the first time. And the people I knew - I can still picture their faces in my mind even though faces are the hardest to remember. The way he'd crinkle his face after taking a shot of tequila. The way she'd smile and shake her head at my crazy dancing. Just brief moments of unexpected flashbacks.
It was not immediately obvious to me that I would miss Sweden and my time abroad. It almost seems like a distant memory compared to the immediacy of the here and now. People post oversaturated photos with captions like "I left my heart in ____," and I laughed at the corniness of those quotes. But the truth is, part of me still lives in my memories of Sweden and Europe and will never quite escape into the present day. It's nostalgia, it's the saudade my Portuguese tour guide so aptly described - a deep and profound longing for someone or something which can never be regained.