After returning to Lund for the second year of her Master’s program, columnist Katherina Riesner sees last year’s self through the new students and reflects on the inevitable changes of life.
It’s a Friday. It’s eleven o’clock and we are in Sparta. I just come from a quiet, fun night with a bunch of my friends – we played board games, ate candy and drank juice. Some floors above us an entirely different start to the night was going on but I only notice this when I leave to go home and run into a group of international students, who are on their way out of the building and into the night.
While unlocking my bike, I overhear a conversation: “Where are we going? Does anyone know where the place is? – Yes, follow the others. They know. You have a bike? – Man, you’re lucky!” I listen and smile to myself because I recognize the subjects, questions, worries. Don’t get lost in a new city. Stick to the people you know. Walk with the ones who do not own a bike yet. All of this is wonderfully familiar but has very little to do with what my life in Lund looks like now.
Much has changed in the past twelve months but since the development was gradual, I do not notice it without a platform I can project it onto. The newly arrived students become my mirror, my looking glass for seeing how far I have come in this small student town; how much I have changed. As big as your fears are towards the beginning, they fade faster than you may think.
Once you have found your people, in your classes, your mentor groups, or nations, other facets of life will dominate your everyday again. I have long reached the stage where your problems reach farther into the future than planning the next night out. Instead, figuring out potential thesis topics and the time after graduation have become the central worries of my days.
It is therefore with longing and nostalgia that I bend over my bike and smile to myself because I remember vividly how these new students feel: an excitement every day, new people and great experiences everywhere – it is thrilling. At the same time, there is no reason to be envious because “everything is beautiful in its own time” (Ecc 3:11). Instead of being jealous, I remember how draining these first few weeks were and I think of my friends, the way I just saw them, sitting around the living room table, playing games, joking with each other, often laughing until we have tears in our eyes.
This is when I realize I have already found what many of the new students are looking for, my people, a sense of belonging, a new life.