Coming back from Umeå, I realized the trip was a fantastic idea. I met very interesting people, got some inspiration and shared experiences. And I learned a little bit about the Sámi, something that awoke my interest recently. I furthermore learned what people in the North say about the South where I currently stay. You have to go out, look over your own nose and get a different perspective to find out more about yourself and the place you think you know so well.
Have no expectations.
This trip was so successful because I did not have any expectations. In fact, even on the train, on the way up north, I did not know yet what was going to happen or what I was supposed to do. But taking it easy, not worrying about anything and having no expectations whatsoever made the trip disappointment-proof.
I did not read about Umeå before. I went with the flow. That is how I ended up at the official press reception. I was taken there by my hosts who showed me their part of town.
Decide rarely but quickly.
I made few decisions but I made them quickly and clearly and without regrets. For the journey back, for example, there was only one train that was not tremendously expensive. That meant to sacrifice a university lesson, but to gain one more full day in the Capital of Culture. Click click, pay, print. Now make the most of it. No checking other options later. No wondering about the class I missed. If you start regretting, your experience will turn sour.
I had to recap. The blog series helped a lot with that, but also putting the events of the day in my diary made the many experiences to sink down and my brain to digest them. In that way all the overwhelming things (like trying to communicate to a man in an ice cube, seeing myself reflected a million times in a mirror room, the view over the white frozen river and even the lentil soup with my host) form a positive feeling that will rise up inside me whenever I hear the word Umeå from now on.
Bring very little luggage.
Traveling with as little luggage as possible made the journey less complicated and flexible. My backpack was small, so it fit under the seat in the train. Walking around was much easier for me than for the people whose trolley cases got stuck in the grit. Apart from the Umeå2014 bag, my volunteer badge taped into my diary, a handful of little torches and three papers about the Sámi exhibition, I did not carry anything home. At least nothing that can jam my little room. My mind, however, is full of pleasant memories.
Keep up habits.
This post is a part of the habit that I took on in January: writing 500 words a day. It is important to try and keep up with those habits as much as possible, even while traveling. However, if you keep your expectations low concerning that, you cannot be disappointed. But as you travel and forget about your habits, it will take much more effort to get back on track and take on the habit again after a pause. So even if on a journey, try as much as you can to keep it up.