I had dangerously high expectations for Sweden.
So far it is everything I hoped it would be and more. The three stopovers, 20 hours of flying time and hellion jet-lag were worth it. EVEN the 11 hours where I sat next to an alternative health “guru,” who wanted to spend the entire flight talking about miracle cures and doing yoga in the aisles was worth it! Now that is saying something!
Arriving in the beautiful city of Stockholm, filled with impeccably dressed people, dad’s pushing prams and stunning waterways, made it hard to be disappointed. The city is modern, sophisticated and admittedly slightly intimidating for a Perth girl.
Whilst Stockholm was impressive, the town of Örebro a two hour train ride away, is the perfect fit for me. Quirky, modern art is set against historical buildings and the medieval castle that guards the river.
The centre is thriving and only a ten minute bike ride away from my apartment at the university campus.
As Örebro is the bike riding capital of Sweden I have bought myself a bike! Considering that I haven’t ridden a bike since I was eight this has been an interesting learning experience (the first of many more to come I’m sure).
Luckily, everyone here has been extremely hospitable, so whilst everything is overwhelmingly new at times, help is always close at hand if you ask. The English level is incredible and puts our attitude towards second languages at home to shame. I’m very thankful for this as my Swedish is terrible (something I’m working on). I can’t even pronounce the town name properly and apparently I sound like I am saying ‘Arriba!!’
There are also a lot of other international students, mostly from other parts of Europe, who are in a similar position, and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some awesome and diverse people. It also helps that we’ve been given a great welcome by some of the lovely Swedish students who have kept us busy with orientation fun and helped us settle in.
This terrific first impression in itself is scary, because how on earth can it be maintained? I’m sure there will be setbacks, moments of culture shock and homesickness to come. Whilst there definitely are a lot of uncertainties for the next year, I’m trying not to over-think things or get too apprehensive in advance. For now I will pedal fast on my red bike, enjoying the excitement of getting to know my endearing new home and friends; the reality and momentousness of the move can catch up with me another day!