So, St. Gallen again, for the first time in five whole years.

Five years ago when I first took the hour-long train from Zurich Flughafen to this little town, it was my very first time in Europe. That summer marked a start to my insatiable wanderlust toward Europe; it’s pretty much of an understatement to say I haven’t looked back since. St. Gallen was a rite of passage of sorts for me and coming back again after so long was very special. Some things have changed but most of it is just as I remembered it. I saw classrooms with long wooden tables we were told to knock on as a form of applause for other students, I saw the school cafe where I nipped off for a hot cross bun every single lunchtime, I saw the long Müller-Friedberg-Strasse that H and I used to walk down to get home from school… I sat in the cathedral which I still consider to be the most beautiful in the whole of Europe, I took many detours into small lanes surrounding Marktplace, I smiled at good old Vadien guarding the centre of town, and of course I could not leave without getting myself an Olma bratwurst.

So some things don’t change; that’s wonderful to know. I think mostly it’s me who’s changed, along with the people I spent that precious summer with. It saddened me for a moment when I was sitting in the abbey: the realisation that years of innocence and youth are permanently and unreachably rooted in the past. But then I think about what I was like when I was 20 and living in St. Gallen, and I am quite sure I don’t want to be that person ever again. I don’t think I ever existed as my own person all the way till I was 23 and there is no way I would resurrect certain destructive relationships, the first telling sign of which actually did surface in St. Gallen. Instead of feeling so sad about precious years being robbed from me and all that wasted time, I really should be grateful that I’ve made it this far, stronger and hopefully, wiser.

So coming back again after so long, I left feeling very happy that things have changed for me, while old haunts remain the same. The memories don’t fade, but they always have a place to be.

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