Lessons Learned in November

I have two.

On a Saturday in the middle of November, I was headed to a concert in Copenhagen. Before I went to the train, I just needed to get to a printer at one of the school libraries and print the ticket. My friends had done it already at similar printers or at home. I allowed enough time to do this task before we needed to leave.
But I went to one library. It wouldn't print, they didn't have the right program to open the email attachment. The next library, closed. The next library, same printing problem. And the next library, same. And the next. I was biking furiously all over town, sweating, starting to feel a bit of panic. I called some friends...they thought of options and called other friends and I was getting all kinds of texts. While I waited for one friend to arrive back to his apartment to help me, I went to one of the bookstores where I print things sometimes. The computer there wouldn't open it either, then the owner, who I know, got onto his personal computer to help me. And that's when I realized it was an inherent problem with the links in the email. We tried clicking other non-ticket related links from the confirmation email and then the ticket popped up. Printed it. Off I flew on my bike to catch up with my friends on the train. Narrowly escaped epic disappointment.

As I sat down on the train I realized this: I'm settled here. This is home.
I knew the quickest ways between 5 school libraries. I had old and new friends to call to help. I had a friend offer her workplace here in Lund as a place to print the ticket. Every place that someone mentioned I could go to, right before the problem was solved, I knew how to get to, even apartments I hadn't been to before. Maybe it was just a simple situation but it made me realize that lately I was hardly ever dealing with the same frustrations I had been in arriving here; adjusting, feeling out of place, lost, logistically confused, a bit culturally upside down... feelings that I hadn't felt in years. 3rd month in of living in a new country is what it took to feel settled. A November lesson.

I have had a worst fear about living in Sweden playing over and over again in my head this last year. I kept this image going because I wanted to make sure that I kept myself realistic about moving to this foreign country, and to stay away from any idealizing about how fun or easy it would be. It was this: I would be biking to school. In the snow. Freezing and wet. And I would fall off the bike. At a decent speed. My book bag would fly, and the bike and I would go down hard. And people would laugh. I'd imagine them laughing and pointing at me, the amateur snow navigator, and, like I imagined Sweden sometimes (to again, properly dampen any overenthusiasm) they would not offer to help or check on me.

So my worst fear happened the other day. Maybe the second day of snow. I was biking carefully but couldn't see a curb through the ice, and went down like there had been a sniper. It played out exactly as I imagined with the book bag flying and everything. Except for the last part. There weren't many people around but any who were certainly did not laugh, and I had two cars passing by stop and ask if I was okay. And I was.
In fact, as I got back on my bike and pedaled away, I started laughing. I would realize later how bruised I was, but at the moment, I could only laugh. It was funny! I fell! I probably looked stupid! And I laughed also because...

That was my worst fear. And I was already back on the bike. And I was fine. How wonderful is that.


  1. Awww... glad you are okay! At Wheaton I was just WALKING one time, and somehow slipped on the compacted snow/ice and totally wiped out on my butt. It was pretty awesome.


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