Next week, I will be heading off to study in Stockholm for six months. I’ve had my last shift at work. I’ve fare-welled friends. I’ve not quite started packing because I’m fairly sure it’s a requirement of travel to leave it until the absolute last minute.
In the midst of my excitement for life in Sweden, I hadn’t given much thought to what I will be leaving behind in Canberra. I grew up in Johannesburg, and when my family and I arrived here seven years ago, I remember that it immediately felt like home. In the last seven years, Canberra has changed a lot. I’ve loved seeing how it’s grown into what it is today, without losing its small-town feel.
As my departure date draws closer, I’ve begun to realise that there’s lots of things I’ll miss about Canberra. I’ll miss driving over Commonwealth Avenue Bridge on a sunny morning, looking out the window at the green trees and sparkling lake. I’ll miss spring, its cotton that collects like snow on bushes, which sends students into a panic about impending exams. I’ll miss the way the city comes out of hibernation as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer. I’ll miss the view from the top of Mount Ainsley, especially at night when the lights spread out across the city. I thought I might even miss the cyclists, who I typically think are the worst, but I hear Stockholm is a really bike-friendly city, so no such luck. Mostly, I’ll miss the familiarity of the place I’ve grown to know and love, and the thought of finding my way on my own in a city I’ve never been to is a little daunting.
In saying this, I’m looking forward to exploring new places. Jane Austen writes, “If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” While I’m sure there’s plenty of adventures left in the ‘berra for me yet, I’m putting them on hold for a little while. Europe is a thrilling place to explore. I’m sure I’ll fall in love with other cities, and probably want to stay there forever. But at the end of it all, I know that none of them will be home.