This day completes my one year stay in this country. Is it really a whole year now? Wow, how time flies! It feels like it wasn’t so long ago. The memory of my arrival is still fresh and vivid in my mind. I can still feel the icy coldness and see the eerie darkness that greeted me that morning when I set foot on this land so far away from home. I found myself in the thick of a frosty weather that would usher in the coming winter, the first that I would ever experience. The trees were bare, but not the evergreens. The dead leaves that I trod on were crisp with the frosts that glazed them. The gloom, the cold and the unknown silence seemed ready to swallow me up, but without success because my excitement and fascination acted like a protective shield for me.
My first day here may not sound like a good beginning. But in another perspective, it was a good one. Those days of cold and darkness kept my anticipation of good things to come burning in my heart. My eagerness to discover new things in a world that is quite different from the one I’ve lived all my life intensified each passing day. I knew there would be wonderful things that lay ahead of me and countless surprises that would amaze me. And yes, as the days passed, then months, then a year, an array of pleasant, novel things paraded one after another.
The marching seasons are the main spectacles that I had been so enthusiastic to watch out for. The absence of four seasons in my country of origin had made me long to actually see what I had only seen vicariously.
First came winter with its all-white glory and sparkling glitters that earned its epithet Winter Wonderland.
Spring followed with the popping up of flowers that I’d only enjoyed watching in my daydreams, flowers that I wrote about without actually seeing them. My dream trees too came alive when their young leaves started to shoot up.
More wonderful flowers bloomed when summer took over, filling the air with different scents that invigorated the senses, and painting the days with a rainbow of colors. Different wildflowers softly carpeted the summer landscapes. The trees also turned into marvels of beauty as their leaves matured and their shapes came out.
Then came autumn with its dazzling tapestry of vibrant colors that captivated the hearts of nature-lovers and inspired photographers and writers.
Now, I’ve seen the complete cycle of the seasons in all their splendor. The sensation of actually seeing them and being a part of them is completely different from just reading about them and looking at them through photos and movies, which I was contented to do before I came here. It’s far more blissful and magical to be personally immersed in such seasonal changes. I can’t pick which one I love best, because each season has its distinctive loveliness and enchantment that evoke inspiration.
Not surprisingly, throughout the year, I have taken thousands of pictures of diverse things that the seasons have presented. And I usually felt like I couldn't get enough photos despite the multiple shots in different angles that I had taken.
Within this year too, I have travelled fairly enough, though not so far and wide yet. Just around here in the north. I’m sure there are more wonderful places to visit throughout the country, but it may take more years to reach them considering its geographical size, its length about 3 times that of the Philippines. Factors also include travel budget and the brevity of ideal travel seasons, like summer, which is so short, not enough to go to all the places one wants to visit. So far, I’m satisfied with my first batch of travels.
One of the most enjoyable activities that I had was berry-picking, which I could never do in my homeland. I finally tried picking blue berries, raspberries, gooseberries, lingon berries, red and black currants, and cloudberries. So exciting!
I tried to eat some of the traditional foods here, like the northern Swedish dish called surströmming , or soured or fermented (Baltic) herring.
I had a regular taste of the lingon berry jam, which is usually present in every meal, the mashed Swedish turnip, the kroppkakor or potato dumplings, the Swedish meatballs, etc.
In another angle, I feel a sense of self-satisfaction that comes from being able to keep a simple life despite the material affluence that is prevalent around here, and for this, I have maintained the joy that has always been in my heart. I also have the confidence that I haven’t lived my life in vain as I keep on serving my Creator as best I could.
One remarkable leap, too, is that my hubby has been healed dramatically from the sickly and depression-stricken person that he used to be in the Philippines to a happy and energetic one that he is now. I also gained some new friends in replacement to those that I’ve lost back where I came from, though not as close and familiar as the ones I had back home, not yet. It also contributed to my peace of mind to know that my family that I’ve left had fared well and had survived another year of the usual crises that afflict most Filipinos.
So now I can say that my first year in this country has been a blessed one. This became the first chapter of my life in another country, which I call my other galaxy. I will make each year a chapter, and tomorrow will be a new one. And I will do my best to fill it with more interesting and inspiring scenes.