25 Jun Absolute Challenge – An Old Friend – By Andrew Peacock
The skyline gleamed of amber, striking each of the many steeples. We stood in a trance gazing across the horizon, the rich glow fulfilling the sky and land. It had been several days since we arrived in the city and we had all grown accustomed to the incredible antiquity of Stockholm, its beauteous greenery and waterways seemingly lining every sidewalk and roadway. Yet, this scene placed us in a state of awe unlike any before. The Sun’s crystallizing light glided across the rooftops with not just beauty, but the grace of sentimentality.
The reverence we initially felt, finally walking Stockholm’s brick roads, was immense. In traversing old stone bridges, lakes by ferry, or stepping through royal gardens into unexpected biking lanes without realizing our imminent danger; in seeing the glorious 16th century Vasa ship which sank twenty minutes after launch, a bounce grew in our steps. The bounce was a longing to experience the world of Stockholm; to feel it. From the Nobel Museum, we wanted to learn what has made humanity glow in past and present lives. We wanted to discover the veneration of the first Viking chiefs of Scandinavia and to kayak the 24,000 islands of Stockholm’s archipelago. It all came to life within us.
As not only travellers, but interns, in this new country and world, we have discovered our marvelous capacity to act when we feel compelled, to seek when we want to explore, and to use our voice on behalf of that and those we care about. Our voice is the tool of expression we hold within us; not as a physical thing, but as an intangible force of determination that we will always hold dearly.
Working in a new country is empowering. Feeling the atmosphere of our individual workplaces, accommodations, in silent walks through the city and landscape, we find beauty in difference. If everyone were similar, how could we discover the marvel of getting fika in a café, the wonder of seeing the royal family, or the intense nature of the Vikings?
We listen to the differences in the caws of the birds, in the sounds of the Swedish language, in the whim of new graduates “partying it up” in massive trucks driving all throughout the city. Through listening, we remain open. No matter where each of us comes from, we all experience this new culture together as one.
We stood on the terrace looking out, feeling the beauty strike us to our cores. The Sun remained on the horizon. This friend who has watched the nobel laureates come and go, who has witnessed the beautiful Vasa sail briefly and sink, and who has been there every time we’ve looked upon it as a child, teenager, and now an intern far from our homes.
This friend reminds us of our home, but inspires us to move into the unknown. While remembering the similarities, we will now always seek differences more than ever before.
Thank you, old friend.