By Nada Maswouf
As the countdown began, I was supposed to be thrilled, ecstatic even, to come back to Egypt.
But that was not the case for me. Leaving Aarhus was, by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
Of course, I was excited to see my family and friends again, but there was this ache in my heart for leaving such a perfect chapter in my life.
Having to say goodbye to people who have become so close to me, and to a city that has given me all the freedom to be as independent as I could and yet still feel safe, was very painful.
After I packed and cleaned the room, I made my way to Aahrus Central Bus Station an hour early – on purpose. I wanted a chance to properly take it all in, and reflect on the time. It was 5 am, and the weather was perfect for that self-quality time.
I slowly started going back to the first day I arrived to Aarhus.
In fact, I went even further back, as I was preparing to leave Egypt. That was one of the challenges I had to face, because I had no idea what to expect – even though I had sat with students who had been there before me.
It was that fear of the unknown accompanied with excitement that made me feel extremely anxious. The first day in my dorm was the first breakdown, as I felt clueless as to how I will do this.
I remembered the first party I went to, and how shocked I was when I was the only sober person there – which, sooner than I thought, became pretty fun. I remembered the days I had no energy to socialize, and no energy to talk, and felt alone.
But that feeling would never last for long because I was surrounded by friends who took care of that.
There were days where we’d spend the entire day editing, and it would quite frustrating, but it will all be worth it when we get to share our videos with our families and friends back home.
But that was it. There wasn’t a time when I felt that any challenge was far from getting over, nor have I felt that I regretted going – on the contrary.
The personal and academic accomplishments during my time in Aarhus were far more than the hardships. I’ve developed a new passion for video journalism, and was able to produce videos, not just for class, but for a client in Aarhus as well.
I’ve made friends in more than 20 countries. Friends who made me read a poem of mine in the street when the poetry recital event I was so excited to go to got cancelled. I’ve learned how to take care of myself, and enjoy my own company.
I’ve been on a road trip across Switzerland with my friends, as we produced our final project (which I’m extremely proud of). I’ve packed light when travelling to Prague, Berlin and Milan (which I used to think was impossible.) I’ve made friends with a lot of Danes, even though I knew that they’re pretty conservative and it’s not easy for them to open up.
As I still sat on that bench waiting for my bus to arrive, I remembered the one accomplishment that still makes my eyes shine.
I remembered when my friend told me, “you’ve broken all the stereotypes I had,” and this, for me, was the greatest accomplishment I’ve done without even realizing.
It was 6:30 am, which meant that I had to say goodbye to Aarhus. Up until that moment, I hadn’t said goodbye yet.
Not just because it’s too hard for me still, but because I still don’t want to believe it’s over. Maybe I’m not physically in Aarhus now, but mentally, it’s all I think about now.
I still talk to my international friends regularly; of course, some drifted away a bit, but others are still as close as ever.
If you ever get the chance to go, don’t hesitate. Go, and make memories that you will remember ten years from now and say, “those were the best times,” because I’m sure I will be saying that.
Nada is a Multimedia Journalism Junior who travelled to the Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX) in Aarhus, Denmark for a semester abroad last Fall.