Ten things I will miss most about Sweden

10.04 Fredag, 24 Maj, 2013

Well, tomorrow, my stay in Sweden will be officially over.  I’ll be back to visit for a few days in June, but at that time, I will just be a visitor, sleeping on friends’ floors!  I suppose, then, that now is a good time to list some things that I like about living and studying in Sweden – or rather, what I’m going to miss when I go home.  So, here is that list, in no particular order, but numbered backwards anyway, for dramatic effect!

10.  Pressbyrån & 7-Eleven

Why would I miss a convenience store, you ask?  Because of fika, that’s why!  The convenience stores here have some of the best kanelbullar, and the coffee is delicious!  I will probably have withdrawals without it.  Maybe I should even sign up for kanelbulle-therapy.  In case you were wondering, American 7-Elevens aren’t the same – if they were, Starbucks probably would have gone out of business!  Also, Swedish candy is amazing.  Maybe it’s good that I won’t have access to such good lösgodis in Texas, but I will still be sad.

9.  Hej!  Tack!

It’s so much fun to speak Swedish!  I didn’t really find much time to use it since I was mostly surrounded by other exchange students, but I did go to the language café most weeks, and I’m pretty good at this conversation with ‘Lasse from 7-Eleven’*:

Lasse from 7-Eleven: ‘Hej!’

Me: ‘Hej! En kaffe och en kanelbulle, tack.’

Lasse from 7-Eleven: ‘Tjugofem. Varsågod!’

Me: ‘Tack!’

Even if I didn’t speak so much, though, it was really fun being able to read things!  A foreign language makes even boring things, such as advertisements in the metro, seem exciting.  This means that whenever I got bored, I could entertain myself by reading something that most people wouldn’t even look twice at!  Also, being able to understand what people around me are saying makes things more interesting.  Understanding the language makes things simpler in general and lets you avoid awkward moments such as when you hear an announcement and then wait for a translation that never comes…

8.  Årstiderna

Seasons actually do exist!  We don’t have them in Texas, but it’s good to know that somewhere in the world, you can actually look out your window and watch winter turn to spring.  In Sweden, you don’t actually get to see much of winter because the sun forgets about Sweden most days, but now, it’s bright until well after 22:00!  The long winter also means that Swedes get really excited when the sun finally comes back – the number of outdoor events increases exponentially, starting in April with Valborg and culminating in June with Midsummer, the biggest holiday in Sweden.  I enjoyed both seasons, even though spring didn’t come until May and all of the Swedish people were complaining about how it’s been winter since October.  At least they have seasons to keep things interesting!

7.  Crazy course-scheduling (seriously)

Remember the post I wrote about how strange the course scheduling at KTH is because I have class at random times and at different times every week?  Well, it turns out that this was a pretty nice way to do it, because it meant that I wasn’t trapped by my schedule into never being able to do something.  For example, if I wanted to do go somewhere on a Friday, even though I may have a course on one Friday, I may have the next Friday completely free!  With the fixed schedule that I normally have at UT, if there is something that I want to do that meets at a certain time every week, and I have a class at that time, then I can’t do that activity at all for the entire semester.  So, because my schedule changed every week this semester, I could do different things every week, which meant more opportunities to have fun!  Also, I liked the fact that the courses had fewer, but longer, lectures – I usually only had one or two lectures per day, which meant that I didn’t have to go back and forth to KTH several times per day.

6.  AB Storstockholms Lokaltrafik

Of course, I will really miss SL, the public transportation system in Stockholm.  It’s so convenient and easy to use, and you can get practically anywhere in the entire county with the public transportation.  To make it even better, the public transportation is almost always running right on schedule, meaning that if you want to go somewhere in Stockholm, you can actually plan your trip beforehand (there’s an app for that!), and you will most likely arrive at your destination within a minute of the scheduled time!  Plus, riding on a train is automatically more exciting than riding in a car!

5.  Travelling

Part of the reason I came here was because I love to travel (obviously).  It’s pretty easy to tell from my previous posts that I’ve been travelling at least twice a month this semester – when I go home, I will have to get used to not having a vacation every other weekend! :/  However, it has been an amazing experience being able to travel throughout Europe and visit places that I have always wanted to visit (and places I knew nothing about until I got here!).  But, there’s still so much more to see, so I have plenty of reason to come back here!

4.  Living in a real city

Because other cities are fake.  Well not really, but I love the fact that in Europe, you can actually live in the city!  Sure, I live in downtown Austin when I’m at UT, but Austin isn’t as nice of a city as Stockholm, and it’s really only the university students who live there – all the normal people live outside the city, in the suburbs.  In Stockholm, the city center really is the city center – people actually go there, because people actually live there!  Of course, there are plenty of suburbs where people also live, but they still pass through the central station on their way to work or school, and downtown Stockholm has plenty of things to do – I’ve even seen people wade-fishing near Gamla Stan!

3.  Living in a national park

Isn’t it amazing that I live in a capital city of two million people, just ten minutes from the city center, and I am surrounded by a national park?!  The Kungliga Nationalstadspark was actually the first ‘national city park’ in the world, and it consists of forests, fields, and lakes, covering a surprisingly huge area right through the center of the city.  Stockholm is about one third buildings, one third water, and one third nature, which makes it a very unique place!  In fact, because Sweden is one of the least densely populated countries in Europe, there is plenty of nature for everyone, and it’s really nice to have such easy access to nature – all I have to do is step outside, and there’s a beach just a five minute walk away!

2.  The exchange student life

While I may not have met as many Swedish people as I would have liked, I also had a great time meeting other exchange students.  It’s really quite a bit different than what I expected, because I was expecting to be surrounded more by locals.  Instead, I was living in a corridor with other exchange students, and there were so many activities arranged by/for exchange students, so there were plenty of opportunities to meet and talk to other people, which was very fun and interesting.  We had events such as parties, fikas, and picnics, and the we even cooperated to make travelling cheaper!  I’ve travelled with people I hadn’t even met before and it was a great experience and a fun way to meet new people!

1.  Alla mina nya vänner!

Of course, I will miss all of my new friends!  I’ve probably made more friends during one semester in Sweden than I have in five semesters at UT.  Unfortunately, I may not get to see a lot of them again, but I had a great time this semester meeting people from all over the world!  So, the next time I’m in their countries, I’ll let them know, and I’m sure they’ll do the same when the visit the US!  At least we have Facebook to keep in touch in the meantime!


* My Swedish teacher always told us to practice by talking to ‘Lasse from 7-Eleven.’  Lasse doesn’t actually work at 7-Eleven, it’s just a very typical Swedish name, and 7-Eleven is a very common store in Sweden!

About Aaron

Hej – I'm Aaron! When I'm not working my regular job, I love to travel, study languages (svenska anyone?), and learn about history and culture. I'm also a "pandemic cook" attempting to learn the secrets of Indian cuisine from my apartment in Texas!
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