Change of seasons, change of mindset

For many students, seeing graduation approaching causes happiness and celebration. For others it means facing an uncertain future. Could embracing change in life be the key, asks Catalina Ordonez.

I have lost track of the number of times I have had to explain to people that not all regions of the world have seasons. For many, it has been a strange concept to try to imagine their lives without seasons, and they look at me in bewilderment when I say that our cities have the same average temperature all year round.

I understand that those who have lived all their lives with stationary conditions take them for granted, and don’t even understand how a life can exist without the continuous changes that the seasons bring. They are used to completely changing their wardrobes every couple of months. They change their activities, adjusting to the possibilities of being outdoors or the need to stay at home. They even change the menu, and the recipes are adapted from the ingredients that can be grown at each period of the year. Change is a normal part of life.

But for me, it has been a completely new experience. I used to live in an eternal autumn, in which my outfit only changed because I wanted to, not because the weather demanded it. Changing for me was always a conscious decision, not something that happened outside of my control and to which I had to adapt. Therefore, much of my life was stable, static, unchanging.

Perhaps that is why I have enjoyed every change in the seasons so much here in Sweden. Because these changes give me the feeling that I am moving forward, that there is a possibility for new beginnings. That just as trees lose their leaves to flourish again, life offers us possibilities to lose ourselves to thrive again. I like to play with the idea that every couple of months, I can sprout again and new beginnings can be created.

I like to take photos of the same place at different times of the year to compare them. These mosaics help me see that life is not static, and that each stage has its charm. Thus, when I review old photos of myself, I discover how much I have changed, and that evolution is now a constant in my life. Now I know I’m not the same and, even if I lose my leaves, I will be able to bloom again.

Perhaps because of this, I am less afraid of my uncertain future. Like most international students, I’m facing the pressure of finishing my thesis and getting a job within a couple of months. For over two years I’ve been working to meet my fate in this exceptional Scandinavian land, but I might have to go back or keep wandering through the world. Whichever may be the outcome, I’ll have to adjust and thrive with it. Maybe for most people, the start of summer will just mean a change of outfit. For many others–with a residence permit about to expire–it will mean the end of a stage and a new beginning… Hopefully a positive one.