Almost a year ago, I started looking abroad to do my masters, although finding the best degree was a top priority, I also wanted to know what it would be like to live in a new country. I was 21 having lived in England my whole life but as soon as I was old enough to holiday without my parents, I had immediately caught the travel bug. A bug that can only be caught once you begin to travel and once it’s in you, there’s no going back. It’s a feeling that you will live the rest of your life always wanting more, needing adventure and wondering ‘where next?’ On diagnosis of ‘wanderlust’, the next best thing is to try living in a new country. This is something that needs to be experienced in order to appreciate life for what it’s worth and you’ll not return as the same person, I promise you.
- You’ll meet an entirely new group of people and you will bond over weird things, but utterly personal to you and your group (my friends bond over a love of sloths, goats and giant teacups). You’re all in the same boat here; all sharing this scary but amazing experience and these people will almost become a family to you. Treasure the times you have with these people because these are the times you’ll look back on as you get older and you’ll wish you could live it all over again.
- You’re not at home anymore so get used to it. That’s not to sound mean but it’s true, you can’t get mad at the world when things don’t go the way they used to at home. You’re the foreigner now so respect the differences your new home now offers you. Food will be weird, people will act different and you’ll find yourself binging on chocolate way more than what’s acceptable. It’s ok, you’re allowed to complain, moan away to your hearts content, as soon as that’s out of the way, you’ll realise how beautiful your new country is and how much more awesome you’re about to become.
- It’s ok to miss home! You miss your family and friends and the food tastes funny. You’re apprehensive about leaving the house out of fear of getting lost in a foreign country and you barely speak the language. Everyone has doubts but these will soon pass once you become comfortable with where you are. It gets easier I can promise you that.
- It’s ok to not miss home! You’re having the time of your life, why feel guilty? If you don’t make the most of your time here, then you’ll live in constant regret.
- Oh, get a bicycle. It’s virtually impossible to get around without one. Actually, that’s not true because the buses are pretty good also but if you want true freedom without having to rely on buses, then please get a bike, Uppsala is known as the bicycle city and you’ll understand when you visit. You’ll notice your waistline decreasing too!
- Its coffee and cake and it’ll become part of your life like you won’t believe. Sugar is love, sugar is life.
- The Swedish are very reserved but please don’t take this as rudeness! Often I have friends mention that although they’d love to integrate with Swedish people, many are often very reluctant to do so. Once you get to know more swedes, you’ll realise they’re an incredibly witty and hilariously sarcastic bunch of people!
- Stockholm is stunning. It’s a shopper’s paradise with a stunning backdrop and it looks even better at Christmas!
- University education is free for all Europeans! Yep… F.R.E.E
- You have no excuse to be bored; every nation have clubs ranging from singing, dancing and photography to almost every type of sport.
- Housing is often a hot topic. Your mate may have an en-suite bathroom, modern kitchen and adorable housemates to go with it whereas you’re left with an ant infestation in an old tower block and rather unsociable co-inhabitants who steal your apple juice. It’s all about luck when it comes to where you live so be smart in the house hunt.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When times seemed tough, I spoke to my course co-ordinator who was absolutely lovely. These people wholly understand that you’re here on your own in a new country and want you to feel at home. Although you’re an adult, living abroad can make anyone miss home like they’re 5 years old again. Embrace it and move forward.
- Winter’s cold (like you didn’t already know) but you need to be prepared. The sun will rise at 9am set at 2.30pm so it’s going to be dark a lot. There’s something snuggly about dark days especially when all the Christmas lights begin to pop up all over the city.
You won’t regret moving to Sweden to study. Think of it like a constructive gap year, you’re essentially seeing the world but also having an excuse to travel. There are no tuition fees and you’re living in an incredible city close to the capital. What more could you want?
GIF’s from Giphy.com
Cover photo by Inge Johnsson, original image
Check out his amazing work here: http://ingejohnsson.photoshelter.com/