It is hard to explain what exactly makes studying in Visby so special. Is it normal to feel this happy for such a long time, even if you are away from home? I went for a late-night walk through the old city, strolling through winding streets, feeling the cold air on my face, yet internal warmt has I looked through the lit windows of the small, cozy homes.
As I walked by the old houses that have stood the test of time for centuries, with each one having a different charm than the one before, I’m warmly greeted by the smell of firewood dancing in the air. My thoughts were flowing as smoothly as the sea was that day. I began to think of the many friends I’ve made here,and I’ve realized it is not just me that feels how special it is to study in Visby. My friends are international students, coming from different cities and countries around the world, and somehow, we are each captivated by this small, medieval town.
I’m from a very busy city, where silence is a rare sound. I’m used to the sound of cars honking, people chatting loudly, music playing from random areas on the street, while being surrounded by people all day. I’ve learned to mute out the sound of noise, in order to create my own mental silence. I had this idea that it would be too quiet to be living on an island, in a city that’s smaller than the size of my neighbourhood in Toronto. That I would miss the noise of people around me and the energy that came with that noise.
Yet, this extremely old, small, quiet city has bewitched me through its charm. I hear a different noise since moving to Visby, the sound of the sea hitting the shore, kids laughing in the nearby playground, or a friendly stray cat running up to me for a pat. I love the quietness of this city, where you can truly think without interruption, the open space between streets where you can walk freely, and the sound of the old church bells ringing every hour. In all honesty, I feel at peace and present.
I always thought that artists over exaggerated the colours of the sky when they presented their paintings, that it could never be as vibrant and beautiful in real life, but I was wrong. Every evening, I look forward to seeing what the sky will draw on its blank canvas, what combination of pink, orange, purple and blue will be wrapping the sky.
I knew that Visby held a special place in the Swedes hearts and now I feel that for myself as well. I’ve only been here for three months, but it is hard to imagine ever leaving this place now that it feels like my new home.