Guide to Goodbyes

Being an international students undoubtedly means having to come to terms with saying your fair share of goodbyes. But practice doesn’t make perfect, according to Mikaela Sasi. 

As the trees turn green and Botaniska fills with groups of day drinking students, the feeling of relief about handing in the final assignments and checking Ladok for the last time in months is right around the corner. However, sadly, the sensation of freedom tends to come with a bittersweet aftertaste. Goodbyes are an inevitable part of student life, and as an international student I face them more than I would prefer. 

No matter how many times I’ve stood at the train station or airport giving someone the final hug, goodbyes do not seem to get any easier. 

One could assume that by now I have become a professional at goodbyes, but in reality I don’t remember the last time I boarded a plane without bawling my eyes out. I have tried all the strategies: living in denial until the final hour, picking a verbal fight before leaving, hosting a farewell party, writing letters, blocking and embracing my emotions, but no matter what, I always end up sobbing in an airport toilet. 

With one year left of studies, I have begun to wonder how one deals with the inevitable final graduation. Every year, students all over the world get ready to brush off the last bits of their student identity and prepare to fully step into the scary world of corporate cliches, Casual Fridays and annual company Christmas parties. Although I am excited about the next step, for people who study abroad, that day will be filled with saying goodbye to people you might never see again. Is it worth spending three years building a life somewhere just to see it all disappear after you move on? 

From my experience, despite the fact that I’ve dramatically leaned on to a bus window while Jakob Hellman’s Jag kan inte säga hejdå till dig plays on repeat from my airpods one too many times, I would not change my decision to study abroad. Every exit, departure or farewell comes with a new opportunity to grow and develop as a person. While you are saying goodbye, you can get clarity about your feelings and express emotions you would not otherwise show. 

In a twisted way it also feels good to be sad about leaving Lund. I have managed to create a bubble that captures meaningful friendships, go-to fika spots and favourite walking routes. I doubt I will ever crack the code to the perfect goodbye, but as corny as it sounds, I am more than lucky to have people to miss and memories to cherish. So, as I give goodbye hugs to my Swedish friends and Lund in a few days, I will be extra grateful for that bittersweet aftertaste.