My journey through Poland comes to an end. Four months in Warsaw (and a bunch of countries around that I was able to travel to with my new friends). As a student in the field of interculturality, I may have to admit that Poland was kinder to me than the researchers would have imagined. Let's add to the equation the fact that this is not my first experience abroad. But the classic image of lack of smiles will definitely not be what I remember about this place.
I will remember the view from my apartment to the Palace of Culture and Science, which despite being a controversial symbol among Poles, for me every day was a reminder that I woke up in the place I dreamed of being.
I will remember the spring day, when I waited for the sunset from the top of the Old Town tower, the photos I took from strangers, the tourists going up and down the stairs, the sun going down and the moon going up, and the slow turning on of the lights.
I will remember my first orange autumn, the first time I witnessed the color transition and the falling leaves. And the layers of clothing that I progressively had to learn to choose, take off and put on, in a dance that I admit I am still learning its rhythm.
I will remember my Polish buddy and her postcard of a sea turtle from Taiwan, and on the back a message of encouragement and a cute drawing of pierogis. I will remember a Bolivian volunteer guy at the migrant support NGO who reminded me that I can still speak Spanish for hours and hours. I will remember a smiling Polish volunteer, a young woman from the same NGO, who introduced me to all the activities, shared her failures and successes, and her desire to just work with something meaningful.
I will remember the breakfast we made together at this foundation, the Polish linguistics professor who chopped olives for the tapenade with me, the Syrian sir who brought plates and plates of hummus from home and delicately decorated them with mint leaves and spices, the Indian guy who likes savory pancakes, the Ukrainian woman who, since arriving, has discovered that she loves cooking.
I will remember the bath salts workshop we did among migrant women, and that talking about the pain is just as important as talking about the passion that remains right here. I will remember that that same night, in a white rhyme, was my first time seeing snow. I will remember how I screamed, smiled and cried alone in the middle of the street when I realized the thick rain falling in slow motion was actually ice. And that on the day of my departure to Krakow for a class trip, it was my first morning waking up to the white landscape.
I hope I still remember the girl smiling on the first snowy night. And the lady at the bus stop playing with the young boy's dog. And the couple hugging in the rain. I will remember a city that taught me about war what books failed to convey, the memory that lasts, the reconstructed ruin, the hope for a better future.
I will remember that once again, I was able to take care of myself, the house and the studies. Of building and tearing down a room. That I managed to make space for more people to come into my life. That I was not a complete disaster in the kitchen. That I did not get lost (so much) on public transport. That I managed to keep going. That much of what remains was never on the calendar or in the academic program or in the tourist guides. That I already miss those who will not follow the same destination.
The intercultural training curriculum and the survival guide chapter will always crash into the limit of the unexpected in life. And how great it is to still be able to be surprised by it.
See you soon, Oslo!