Living in Sweden. Yep, this isn’t just me frantically telling everyone about my 2018 vision board (THIS HAS BEEN ON IT!). Remember how I told you it’s going to happen this year? Well, let me tell you – a little bit of law of attraction blended with visualisation and a good-old, last-minute letter of motivation can go a long way honey.
Buckle in for a thing or two about what your girl learnt and loved about this kick-ass experience (because unforgettable is not strong enough, and a lil’ basic) *pretends she ain’t basic*.
◦ Swedish Hospitality ◦
Right at the front step. OK maybe even before that. While I frantically looked for my AirBnB flat (I got a little stressed, I know, so unlike me), a passer-by was kind enough to take a little walk just to ensure I get to where I have to be on time. It’s adorable that even the elders know English so perfectly, something so uncommon where I’m from. Once I got in, layed on my bed and expressed my gratitude for finally making it (after a sleepless night), I made my way to the kitchen, which was filled with Midsummer flower crowns (I literally cried about that… so sweet…). I then noticed the lil’ sign on the zip lock bag. It read… home-made… VEGAN CRACKERS? I could have screamed. It’s the little things :’).
Throughout my stay there were more reasons why Swedes should take pride in their hospitality. For example: the way the Student Hosts of LiU ensured we’ve got everything we need, whenever we need; how the locals speak English knowing there’s only one English guest among them, or how they always think about a veggie or vegan option at parties. Maybe a norm to some, but in my world, all these little things add up to something big, which in turn makes me want to spend more time around the Swedes!
◦ Swimming ritual ◦
Swedes appreciate a good swim and chill session… you can’t pass on the peaceful moments in nature. I thought about it a little, and I think the connection to nature is one of the strong factors that determine Swedes’ rationality and harmony within. I mean, there are only like what – 97,500 lakes in Sweden? But who knows. However it is still fascinating to me, how little time British people (as I’ve only observed life in the UK the past few years) spend in nature, in comparison… It’s not a norm to go on mindful walks, and nature sometimes feels so hard to reach – or is just not sought after by many – or so it feels…
Fun fact – my American friends were intrigued by the fact kids are free to roam around nude – to me that’s very normal… let them feel the freedom before the society tells them it’s ‘wrong’ huh. Is it really that ‘weird’?
◦ UK vs Swedish Uni ◦
WELL – The main reason behind my presence in Linkoping was in fact an Entrepreneurship and Innovation course I was undertaking at the LiU. How did that go? Adequately. There were a few things that surprised me here.
(Controversial I KNOW, as I’ve got a strong opinion and once indeed wrote a very opinionated essay on this exact topic – mainly concluding against the purpose of academic, entrepreneurship courses. But hear me out!)
One: to me, the course was heavier than I wanted it to be. *whisper* But in all honestly, my priority wasn’t the course entirely (obviously). I thought it was heavy because I tend to be hedonistic when it comes to such experiences, and would prefer spending an hour extra with friends than in the books (I thought we’re all wired this way for a while).
If you read one of my uni essays you’d know I have a strong opinion of whether Entrepreneurship can indeed be taught (short story: some aspects, including business models etc can, however other requirements for success e.g. traits like decision making, cannot). Nonetheless, I didn’t waste my time and although (OF COURSE) I haven’t read through all recommended readings, I brought back a little chunk of knowledge with me.
Two: group work. GIRL. A lot of group work for such an individualistic country(!). I was SHOOK. My introvert was going a lil crazy. I was a student of a British uni, ‘spoiled’ with lecture halls and a lot of time to unwind during those – i.e. limited human interaction, which I appreciated. But, a girl had to push through. It was an interesting shift, and maybe even a little exhausting, but valuable indeed. It taught me something in itself – I thought I was more patient. Well, I THOUGHT, it’s undeniable someone has to do a little work in this field.
Three: The Swedes like their breaks, and I’m not complaining. They know we all be losing our focus after twelve minutes, so they make sure our lives are better with two breaks for FIKA and chill within a 2 hour period. How considerate ❤ (awwwww…).
◦ Always keep a smile ◦
One thing that I wasn’t COMPLETELY surprised by was the fact Swedes aren’t necessarily confrontational. In crucial situations (such as the Football World Cup) the Swedes don’t turn to the British and aggressively yell “It’s coming home” every time the Swedish team scores. In fact, they celebrate among each other, don’t turn nasty at slight taste of a win, and keep their cool. When they lose, after expressing sadness for just a minute, they celebrate the other nation’s victories. Model cheerleaders, if you ask me.
◦ a thing about trust… ◦
For quite some time, I considered myself to be someone who trusts easily, EVEN when it came to my fridge at university (mostly because nobody wanted to eat my vegan stuff though 😉 not everyone is this lucky). But, it is one thing to think we trust – yet another to practice it. Did you know, that about 85% of Swedes claimed to trust their neighbour, as opposed to 45% of people in Britain? Not only is that interesting, but kind of worrying, actually. Do I live in a place where I shouldn’t trust people? If so, why is that? (A topic for another day…).
I trusted people enough to hitchhike. I know, I know. My dad also asked me how I wasn’t scared. Then I tell him – if I can’t trust in people, then how do I expect them to trust me? Okay, I officially admit this post is getting a LITTLE deep. Anyhow, I was pushed for time – it was either a) hitchhike and trust in people’s goodness to give me a lift to Vimmerby’s bus station – OR b) be stubborn, keep to the ‘I’m an independent woman’ value (which indeed yes can be broken and you will still be a superwoman), walk uphill for about 4km and STILL not make it for the last bus.
My miracle consisted of a Swedish-Finnish elderly couple alongside a Nissan Micra, and two generous hearts. Their wish was not money, but my favour for another person (the domino effect) or a donation to the Red Cross. My heart is melting just WRITING this. I hope they’re having a good day right now ❤
◦ if you’re Vegan… ◦
…then you’re in for a treat. One in ten people in Sweden is vegetarian or vegan (let that sink in…) – you’ll even find a vegan burger option in McDonald’s, so your dietary requirements won’t be hard to fulfill. My only wish is for the cinnamon rolls to be veganized everywhere… one day!
◦ Bullerbyn ◦
If you told an eight-year-old Karolina that she’d once visit the village her childhood practically revolved around, she would think you’ve gone mad. Really? When? How??? The Universe had definitely an input in where I ended up, as it just so happens that Linkoping is ‘just around the corner’ from Bullerbyn, or 104km, precisely.
I remember I told my dad years ago, I want to visit Bullerbyn with my husband and children when I’m 30 years old or so. Who would have thought it would happen at the prime age of 22… [!] But it did :’). These little dreams girl, don’t ever stop believing.
Living in Sweden, especially the rural part is still something that remains on my bucket list, and this experience has surely strengthened that desire further. Although, it has certainly changed my view on moving there anytime soon, as I discovered I’d rather do so a little later, maybe in 10 years or so (which is interesting! If you know me you know how obsessive I was about moving there ASAP only a few months ago).
What I got from Sweden are the most precious memories and people who I will cherish for a really long time, maybe even forever. Are you thinking of going for an exchange, no matter if long or short? Girl, stop thinking, get onto writing that application huni. Life has a crazy ability to surprise you when you least expect it…
Keep thriving for more