Have you ever heard the song “Never Bother with a Bee?”
No? If you ever had Mrs. Perkins, yes, yes you have.
If you weren’t one of the lucky LakeBluffians, I’ll help you.
Never bother with a bee,
He has got a stingery
(While looking up the rest of the lyrics, I discovered the song is ACTUALLY “never argue with a bee” but I like bother better and it makes more sense for the purposes of what I’m about to say)
SO. Never bother with a bee. This is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of students in the same point in their semester abroad as I am. There are weeks left. WEEKS left, not months, not quarters or semesters. WEEKS. There are weeks left until the adventure comes to a screaming halt. We’re all buzzing around, trying to do last minute mini adventures, trying to get out school work together, trying to cram in friend time, trying to cram in family time (if you have a host family), trying to gather up the strength to say goodbye to your foreign romances, whatever, you name it, it’s happening to someone you know probably at this very second. And it sucks. Let me tell you. You think moving to a new place with all new people and a new language and culture it hard… try moving away from it after you’ve wholeheartedly embraced it. It’s truly heartbreaking. And I haven’t even left yet. I’m heartbroken thinking about leaving Denmark.
So the song. Don’t try to ask a student abroad how they’re thinking or how they’re feeling. Not just yet. Most students are, at this point, trying not to think about the end. They are buzzing around, as I said earlier, pretty much trying to keep it together. Don’t mess with their flying rhythm. You will be stung.
This obviously is not the case with every study abroad student. But I can point out a few who are torn up inside about going home.
Now I need to clarify, especially for my friends and family reading. It’s not that you go abroad and then you never want to go home. It’s not that you suddenly hate your life back home or the people in your life. No. I miss you all terribly and to be honest, I can’t wait to see you and I will probably cry when I see one or two of you… (Shea, if you’re reading, you should bring a camera when I see your kids for the first time because there wont be tears, there will be a flood.)
But here is the thing. While all of you are living your lives without your study abroad student, they too are living their lives without you. Some are barely surviving without you, and some are thriving. Most go through ups and downs where they don’t think they’ll make it through the semester one day and they say they never want to go home another. Whatever they’re feeling, the excitement, the stress, or whatever, they are living their lives and doing things that you could never imagine. Your study abroad student is seeing the world through a new perspective. They are learning about another culture’s values and norms and somewhere inside of them, their values and norms are evolving. They are starting to view the world as bigger than just what they do in their day to day life. They are starting to wonder what they can do to learn more. What they can do to understand and gain more knowledge of the world. Their thinking begins to change. And this mixed with time, distance, and experiences changes them.
“Changes”… I know what you’re thinking. “Aaryn Kealty you have been the same person for 21 years, no way you changed drastically in 4 months.”
I’m sure you’re right. I’m sure you wont see a change. I still have dark brown hair and eyes that are sometimes blue and sometimes green. I still have a super annoying laugh and talk way way way too much.
But something is different. Or at least something feels different.
I thought I’d have so much to say before I left to go abroad. I thought maybe I’d blog and blog and blog and journal and journal until I ran out of words and phrases and until every single experience was in ink. But I didn’t. I’m realizing, less than 3 weeks from my flight home, that I didn’t document all of the things that I wanted to. Why?
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the Moomin cartoons. My host mom Mette loves them. Saying she loves them is an understatement. When I come up with a better way to explain it, I’ll get back to you. Anyways. The moomin craze is a real thing in our household. My roommate Allison and I just went to London and Stockholm (which I feel should be its own blog post, so I’ll spare you details) and the entire time we were there we were on the hunt for Moomin treasures that we knew we couldn’t get in Denmark.
(Some Moomin characters, in case you’re curious:/ )
In London, we went into the Notting Hill Bookstore (not gonna lie, I haven’t seen the movie so I wasn’t nearly as excited as Allison about being in there) and in the bookstore there was almost an entire shelf devoted to Moomin books. It was great. For the first time (other than looking online) I could read the stories that had left such an impression on my host mom and I could read them in ENGLISH. It was great. I bought two chapter books and a picture book. (Allison and I both bought picture books for our future children, because we’re that special.)
Anyways. I’m sitting in a hostel in Stockholm, flipping through one of my Moomin books, and I get to a chapter about my favorite Moomin, Stufkin. And, as usual, he says something absolutely revolutionary. He is talking about his adventures that he’s taken on his own, where he’s reflected and learned and grown and what have you. And he starts thinking about what he’s going to tell his friends about his adventures when he gets home. And he decides he isn’t going to go into great detail. Why? The idea is that once you tell a story about an experience, you remember the story and the way you told it and the words you used and the memory of the story replaces parts of the memory of the actual experience. PRETTY DEEP for a children’s book. I know what most of you are thinking, Aaryn that’s not a real thing. Maybe it isn’t for you…. but as a life long storyteller, I have to say, I think there is some truth to that idea.
There are different things that I “remember” and I’m realizing now that I don’t remember the actual thing occurring so much as I remember the first and second times I recounted what happened.
Why am I telling you this and why does it matter? In all honesty, I’m not sure why I’m telling you or what it matters that Snufkin said this. I’m really just sitting here before a class in the media lab clanking away at the keyboard in the dark, drinking coffee like it’s water. I could be telling you about the Lemur that jumped on a little kids head and made him cry in Skansen in Stockholm. But that would change the mood of this post entirely.
I started out with never bother with a bee…
Never bother with a bee… Let the bee come to you.
Wait, don’t pester. Let the bee settle and come to you with memories of their time abroad.
Especially in these last few weeks, as adventures are finding their ends, leave the bees.