October 14, 2013
From familiarity to strangeness. From a regular routine, to adaptation. From your comfort zone, to outside of it. From full confidence in social situations, to awkwardness at its finest. No matter where in the world (literally) you end up, this is what will happen when you engage in a year abroad. So many indescribable changes happen within you. My year thus far in Sweden, has me thoroughly convinced that no matter who you are and where you are, an exchange for one year will benefit you in enormous ways.
I have been in Sweden for two and a half months now. Meaning I am well adjusted to the culture, and much better at the language than I ever could’ve been when I first got here. So differences between Sweden and Florida? It’s cold here. The summer weather in Sweden, is “winter” for Florida, so I have yet to see the winter here. Right now it’s fall, and the first time I have ever experienced real season changes. There are so many colors happening right now, the leaves are giving their last before they all fall down.
The people. Generally, most Swedes are kept to themselves. Meaning unless they know you, they won’t talk to you. But once you get to know Swedes, they have lots to share with you, they are very open with differences among them and foreigners and are always curious to learn about you if you’re foreign. Although they are reserved most of the time, when I first arrived they were more open and saluting being that this year they had a great summer. Now not so much; their moods change with the seasons.
One thing I absolutely love here, is fika. Swedes are famous for doing it all the time. They do it after breakfast, lunch and dinner. They do it in between. They do it for fun, and take it as an essential part of life. It’s a coffee break. That’s really all it is, but you have a pastry almost always, and socialize with others. It’s where the important decisions are made. It’s when you get to know Swedes the most. It’s what you look forward to after school or after work or during the breaks at the job or at school. Fika. I will surely miss that when I go back home.
Speaking about home, I don’t even know what that actually is now at this point. It seems strange to call the US my home. I’ve really immersed myself in this country, so much that it seems strange to think, that there is only one home. The quote, “Home is where the heart is.”, just might be true, so true. I’ve met so many amazing people, and many relationships have developed here that I truly appreciate, so much that it’s hard to call one specific place my “home”. It’s almost as if the whole world is my home now, and now my thirst for travel has grown exponentially in these past weeks.
Knowing that this exchange will not last a lifetime, I am more aware than ever to make sure every moment lived here, is taken in and appreciated every step of the way. My experience here has been life changing so far, and I am lucky enough to be able to say that I still have 10 more months to go.