The Speed of Slow Travel

My final blog at my fingertips. Before I get into my true closing reflection, I’ll note some quick ones:

I tend to go into things as blindly as possible, so I can’t say I had any crazy surprises in terms of what Copenhagen and Stockholm had to offer. Looking inward though, I was extremely surprised that I decided to try to embrace the moment… financially. My goal for spending is usually to get the most for the least, so I didn’t plan on spending much more than what I did to go abroad. But I did let go of some cash and was fortunate enough to receive unforgettable memories in return. Do not fear to do the same! Of course, don’t ever go into or near debt, but if you’re able to find some money to enhance your trip, do it! This is a once in a lifetime experience! 

At this stage in the game, I’m rather set in my plan of study, professional, and personal goals. While I wasn’t inspired to make changes, I did find my time abroad extremely enriching in each of the aforementioned areas. My residence is Oakland is beyond enjoyable, but I don’t think it gives the big city experience the way downtown Pittsburgh or Copenhagen does. I definitely don’t venture into the city enough, and seeing as I enjoyed it so much abroad, I plan to explore the city I call home much more. 

I’ll also have to echo what you’ve heard a million times: the culture abroad enhanced my global understanding. I won’t bore you with the details, but essentially seeing how another culture lives and where they excel, inspires one to try to implement those successes back home. 

Alrighty, enjoy this finale!

The ending destination was Berlin. We would arrive by 22:30 (10:30pm) on Sunday, June 18. We were sitting in Stockholm Central Station as the clock read 7:50 (7:50am) on Saturday, June 17. 

What a waste of time. Flying would take a mere fraction of the time and significantly less stress, yet here we sit, waiting for the first of many trains. And little did we know, a workers strike would throw our seating arrangements into shambles. 

So let’s get this straight: 

  1. Our journey will take longer 
  2. Bunch of stressful connections 
  3. Some of us might not have seats 
  4. Significantly more complex process; missing a train or stop could be disastrous 
  5. And don’t forget: We barely know each other…

So, why, especially if I’m shelling out so much cash for this study abroad, should I be settling for such a hassle? Well, on paper, it’s better for the environment. Flying is undoubtedly essential to modern life and I don’t believe it should be abolished or anything drastic, though I do think it should be avoided where possible. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always passionately in support environmental efforts, I’d argue the true value lies in the perspective it yields, both in terms of privilege and human advancement. 

When taking a plane, I can get from New York to Copenhagen in 8 hours. 3,843 miles in a workday. A plane does not allow you to begin to even fathom how far that is. From another angle, you can never appreciate how crazy the journey is, nor can you appreciate the world you’re passing over. On train though, you’re immersed in the local landscapes and begin to realize how absolutely insane that 8 hours of plane travel is. 

To and fro via train, we were traveling for somewhere around 35 hours, but the relationships fostered by the very slow travel make it feel like nothing. If you recall the age old adage, time flies when you’re having fun, you begin to view that awful, boring, waste-of-time slow travel train ride as an opportunity to bond with those who will make your experience one of the most special of your life.  

As another age old adage goes, dreams don’t work unless you do. Don’t let yourself be a recluse! I’m especially guilty of this since I love flying solo. For some, the early stages of the socialization process can be a hassle. The trick simply boils down to a balancing act of social and solo time. Allowing yourself to overindulge in either can put you in a rather undesirable space, so embrace others if you usually embrace yourself and embrace yourself if you usually embrace others! 

There was a wise man that once gifted me a book at my graduation about a train and a station. The former never reaches the latter. 

Being an in-the-moment high school graduate, I didn’t think much of it. I was more worried about what the squad was doing later than reading a little picture book (Don’t get it wrong, I genuine appreciated the gift). 

I still remember first reading it. I began to realize how difficult it would be to cherish my last few days of high school. For myself and many others, I was in the tail end of the good old days. But, the beauty of that realization is that, if you’re able to embrace it, you realize you’re always in the good old days. If you truly commit to your own happiness, I believe there will always come a day when you look fondly back on your darkest days. 

The theme of that little book was not about a failure or frustration in not reaching the station, but instead a reminder to enjoy the journey. For every station you reach—graduating college, maybe—another one will arise—starting a family. If you only enjoy being at the stations, you’ll spend the other 99% of your life hating it. The station is not where your happiness should lie—that place is where you already are. 

Enjoy the journey and travel slow,


Also have to pop in some thank you’s:

  1. DIS, for a sweet study abroad program
  2. All my abroad friends, for the fun
  3. Leslie Smedley, for the invaluable help and guidance
  4. My parents, for financial support and allowing me to chase whoever I want to be

Here I am when I learn you can take iPhone pictures by pressing the volume button:

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