It is almost a month since I touched down in the land of ABBA, IKEA, and H&M, otherwise known as: Sweden. And, more specifically, Stockholm. Where I’ll be living for the next 5-ish months which I still have to remind myself is an actual happening thing because sometimes it feels very surreal being here. But that’s a post for another day. In my time here so far I’ve learnt that:
- Sweden is much more than its famous exports (whose names are commonly capitalized? I just noticed that.) But, the stereotypes about Sweden/ Swedes are fairly accurate especially since,
- Swedes are just as good looking as they are stereotyped to be. Walking through the city I feel decidedly short, very un-blonde and completely lacking in any sort of fashion sense. But I don’t even mind because they are very nice to look at/ be around.
- When in Stockholm, it’s best to just embrace the fact that wherever you go you will proclaim ‘oh my goodness how STUNNING?!’ because you literally cannot find a bad-looking part of town. I’ve tried. Even in the more ‘hipster’ areas: where other cities are heavy on the grunge and bordering on plain dirty, Stockholm has the balance of ‘cool’ and also ‘nice place to actually spend time in’ juussst right. In fact, many of the metro stations have been designed specifically to be beautiful/ artistic so even when you go underground you’re still impressed with the city.
My time here has so far been spent making friends, setting up my room, exploring the city, and doing very little uni work while simultaneously trying to pass the subject. I sometimes forget that I am technically here to study, but luckily my course is more ‘self-guided’ than compulsory classes. There is quite a lot of reading which I don’t actually mind because I have gotten to know quite a few parks and gardens (of which there are plenty. I probably won’t even get to see them all to!) and set myself up on a blanket with my books and some snacks. (Much like if a tree falls in the woods but no one is around to hear it etc. etc., if you don’t snack while studying, did you even study at all?)
And for a minute I have to be boring and talk about the weather because it has been so incredible. In my defence the weather has been the topic of conversation for everyone because it’s been so good! A Swedish guy who lives down the hall from me told me we are so lucky for it to be this warm at this time of year because usually it goes cold as soon as September starts. But even today it was a warm and sunny 17˚C! (#globalwarming). I’ve been trying to soak up the warmth and the sunlight because when people aren’t talking about the amazing weather, they are talking about how it will soon start getting dark early in the afternoons. When I first arrived I actually kind of scared by just how much everyone talks about it. My attitude is just like guys! Let’s all just enjoy what we have now! The clocks only go back in October! Stop freaking me out!
I’ve been doing an introductory Swedish course for the past couple of weeks (my teacher looks like a Viking!) and I suck at it. In order to do the second part of the course you have to pass the exam next week which I am almost 100% certain I will not. The only Swedish word that I can say with confidence and that I understand/use in everyday life is ‘fika’. Basically it is a tradition which means to have a break with a friend, drink a coffee, and usually involves something sweet. Like a kanelbulle (cinnamon bun). Or the more hipster and equally delicious kardemummabullar (cardamom bun). This tradition of buns + breaks is one that I have really embraced. Although, I have limited myself to having buns only on the weekends since I went slightly overboard during my first couple weeks and decided that my growing habit was not good for either my wallet or my waistline. If you’re in the area and looking for a place to start your bulle addiction, Fabrique is your best bet. (But to be honest I have not yet met a bulle I didn’t think was delicious – even the ones from 7/11 are very decent!)
In other news on embracing the Swedish lifestyle, I even bought myself a BACKPACK which I love. I wonder why I haven’t always had one because I can pretty much fit my entire life into it and set out for the day with everything I need. It’s a Fjällräven because obviously I’m in Sweden now and figured if I can’t be blonde I should at least try to fit in with what almost everyone carries their stuff in (even little children! They have the cutest mini Fjällräven’s and seeing them always makes me smile). Mine is also bright yellow and makes me so happy every time I see/wear it.
This past Saturday I went to Uppsala with a few friends. It’s a tiny little town about forty minutes from Stockholm by train. It was so quaint and quiet and pretty. But I couldn’t help feeling very relieved when we got back to the city, and felt at home among the bright lights, busy streets, and colourful buildings. My first month here has been a dream – here’s to the next five-ish.