Moving from a big city to a small student town like Borås or in my case, to the countryside, can be daunting at first. The thought of not having 24/7 supermarkets and shopping districts to satisfy my need for retail therapy (every once in a while) can be rather tormenting. I was so used to round-the-clock convenience, the bustling night life and late night window shopping.
So much to lose? But wait, there’s much more to gain.
Living in a city, I did’t know what silence was like. Even when I thought it was silent, I could still hear the traffic despite living on the tenth floor with all my windows shut. When I first arrived in Borås last summer before the start of the semester, I wandered about in the city on an ordinary afternoon. I thought everyone was out of town and went for some ‘big events’ in Gothenburg as I hardly see anyone. I went to goggle for such ‘big events’ and found nothing. Well, that’s just how it is in smaller towns, not to mention less traffic. Calm and peaceful, in Swedish it’s called ‘lugnt‘.
2. Small but happening
Small as it may seem, Borås can be very happening. Endless student activities & parties for example. Fashion shows. No Limit street art. International exhibitions and showcases at the Textile Museum, I can go on…
3. All within walking distance
Take your pick – shops, cafes, gyms, supermarkets, cinema, theaters, parks, recreational facilities and of course, University of Borås – right in the heart of Borås. You can find all the major brands like H&M, Gina Tricot, Lindex, Kappahl, Åhlens, Stadium and so forth. There’s also a shopping center nearby so there’s no need to travel to the big cities unless you want to look for some exclusive brands. Even if you have to, it is less than an hour from Borås to Gothenburg. #NotTooFarAway.
4. Time and Space
By far the most precious. Less shops = less distraction. Oh yes, beat the queue. No need to stand in line for the dressing rooms when there’s no queue to begin with. I was in Gothenburg two weeks before Christmas and it was so packed. I could hardly shop without scrunching myself like a squashed Spongebob and being stuck in the queue for the dressing room and cashier but the minute I was back in Borås, it was like entering another dimension, crowd-less. Here in Borås, you can be like Patrick Star – raise your hands, fill the air and take up all the space.
5. Save money
Its true! Adding to #4, less shops = less distractions = shop less = spend less. Most of my favorite retailers are in Gotheburg. Thanks to a pack timetable, I don’t travel to Gothenburg so often. I do enjoy dining once in a while when I’m out with my friends. Although there are many nice shops and good restaurants in town, you can’t compare to the scale, diversity and variety in the big cities, so all the more reason to cook at home and satisfy your cravings. As a bonus, you get to save and level up on the cooking skills. Who knows you may be the next master-chef in Sweden, ‘Sveriges mästerkock‘. Swedish word for chef is ‘kock’.
It’s much calmer in smaller towns with less crowd, less traffic and hence, less stress. This perhaps also allows the staff to engage more with the customers. I’m sure at some point you experience vehicles zooming right past by you when you are crossing or about to cross the zebra-crossing. My foreign classmate told me “All the cars here actually STOP for the pedestrians. Amazing! They don’t do that at all in …(you can figure out the rest)”. There is a traffic sign called Gångfartsområde, ‘gång‘ meaning walk, ‘fart‘ means speed (I spell it right) and ‘område‘ means area which is designed in the interests of pedestrians where vehicles should reduce the speed and give them priority.
This morning on my way to school, I was a little confuse as there were many vehicles waiting in line at the zebra crossing, giving way to the pedestrians. Since I’m quite far behind, I deliberately slowed down so that the cars could pass. Instead, both cars in opposite direction waited while I still have a distance to go before I reached the crossing. It made feel obligated to walk at full speed or in Swedish, full fart!
7. Air is much FRESHER
From concrete jungle to trees and fresh air. I actually enjoy breathing! Not too long ago, I was still battling to squeeze in the train every morning, walking past tons of fancy skyscrapers with never-ending construction, along with air and noise pollution. The constant humidity did not help. As the hot wind blew, dust got in my eyes and my face was actually covered in a thin layer of dirt (or dust), whatever it is – a little price to pay for pretty skyscrapers. That’s how I used to kick start my day, #NotFresh.
8. Apart from small towns, what about countryside?
It’s as nice as the small towns without much presence of shops, embrace by nature. There is one small supermarket which is 25 minutes walk from my place. Greyhound racing is big here for some reason. Since the public transport are less frequent, I have to plan my journey wisely. With nature all around, I’m surrounded by the woods and a beautiful lake full of ducks and white swans. The only sound I hear is the hustling winds or the birds. That’s how I kick start my day now. When the lake becomes frozen, I would like to try some ice-skating and ice fishing. Tranquility is what you get.
Nothing beats having a nice cup of hot chocolate in this freezing weather during hiking. Ok, at least two cups for me #coffeebreak #fikapaus
I hope you see the good side of living in small student towns like Borås and Lund. The Swedish word for good is ‘bra‘. Thank you for reading till the end of this long post. Swedish word for end is ‘slut‘. In case you are wondering, it sounded more like sloot (not to be confused with English pronunciation). Hope you find some of these Swedish words useful.
Image of Borås city from Wikipedia