Heard: In an airport lounge area, soon after the post-arrival check-in with DIS, while waiting for my host family to arrive. Myself and one (wonderfully friendly) DIS peer began a conversation with a sweet Canadian college student who was preparing to go to her own, different Swedish abroad program for the semester. She said “tack” was the only Swedish word she knows – and that it means “thank you.”
Today was arrival day in Stockholm, and I don’t feel like I expected I would. I thought at this point—after traveling for 14 hours and trying zealously not to succumb to jet-lag-induced mid-day sleepiness—I would feel overwhelmed, a bit uncomfortable in my new home, semi-homesick, and, if nothing else, exhausted.
But my host parents and their two young daughters gave me the warmest welcome I could have asked for, and at the moment we turned to leave the airport, I already began to feel like a member of the family. We spent the rest of the morning and evening at home, getting acclimated and telling stories and asking questions and just being together, getting to know one another — a nice, relaxing, perfect first day, and now, in bed, I feel comfortable enough in my new home to rest easy get some actual sleep for the first time in 30 hours (!).
I could go on and on about how lovely my host family is, and about how immensely thankful I am for their hospitality, generosity, kindness, humor, inclusion, conversation, etc., etc. I couldn’t have asked for a better match — I couldn’t be more excited to start this semester in the place I feel welcome enough to already call home.
I am not the homesick, jet-lagged, anxious mess I expected myself to be at this moment — rather, I feel an overwhelming sense of thankfulness, of gratitude, of warmth and comfort and joy. This is a frightening threshold to be standing in, but I feel secure — I have a family to help me through my time here, emotionally and Sweden-ly, and with solid ground beneath me I feel ready to take the next step through that door —
and I couldn’t be more thankful.