Remembering 2016

Tomorrow this year will be over. It has been a fantastic year in so many ways and, if I am to be completely honest, I believe that it has been the best year of my life. Maybe those words don’t carry so much weight when you’re only twenty, but to me they still mean a lot. This was the year when I followed my long-term dream and went to Africa to work with wildlife.

I spent close to a month at N/a’an ku sê in Namibia, a foundation not only running the wildlife sanctuary where I worked, but also three research stations, a school and a clinic for the San children and bushmen. The decision to for a week go south to the research station Kanaan, bordering the Namib-Naukluft Park, was one of the best things I have done. Being out there: surrounded by nothing but hot sand, clear skies, and vast wilderness for miles around; truly in the middle of nowhere… it made me feel so free, free in a way I’ve never felt before.

During my time at N/a’an ku sê I met some truly extraordinary people. People –staff and volunteers alike – who give their time and dedicate parts of their lives to help those in need, to be the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves, and contribute to a better tomorrow for numerous animals. This I got to be a part of, and I returned home with memories and friends for life.

My African adventure wasn’t quite over however, and after uniting with my family I travelled across the border to Botswana, to explore the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta. Two weeks of stunning nature and wildlife encounters later, our journey ended by the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Back at home I continued my university studies, now at Uppsala University, before the summer arrived. This summer came to be a bit different from my last ones: not only didn’t I go a single music festival or concert, but I spent my entire summer at our summer house bordering Tiveden National Park, working at Stenkällegården Camping. Away from busy city life, with nature just around the corner… it was truly a great summer. Autumn came and with it an approval of my Bachelor’s Degree program application. Fulltime biology studies from now on, which is really what I know I’ve wanted all along (even though I enjoyed the environmental sciences course I took previous year as well).

The last couple of months have passed by really quickly, yet Namibia still feels like half a lifetime ago some days. I think I knew already then, as I was sitting in the car leaving Kanaan with tears rolling down my cheeks, that one day I would have to return. I believe I fell in love down there, and a part of me never left. What was only a dream back then is now reality, because next year I will be going back. And next year is coming on really fast…

I am not the same as I was when this year started. I have learnt so much and met so many amazing people, some who will keep inspiring me for a long time to come. This year has taught me a lot about myself: who I am, who I want to be, and where I want to be a couple of years from now. I feel like I have a better understanding of the world around me and my place in it.

Tomorrow this year will be over. It has been a fantastic year in so many ways and, if I am to be completely honest, I believe it has been the best year of my life.

May 2017 be just as good!