Few pieces ago, I talked about the equality and the dignity concerning disabled people in Sweden. You might want to know more about, if you have not read it before… so there we go, you can find it here.
Anyway, let’s narrow the focus a little bit and let me tell you about how lucky I was few days ago. I’m going to tell you about a person whom I had the great pleasure to meet and to talk to; let me introduce her to you: Victoria!
She comes from Germany and she’s an Erasmus student here in Gothenburg. Because of a muscular disease she is using an electric wheelchair and has assistants with her 24 hours per day who help her to do everything she cannot do herself, like housework or dressing herself.
“You know, I chose Sweden and I decided to come here and try a completely new experience for me. My parents helped me a lot, too, even though they were very sceptical if this could work for me. Honestly, it was the same for me at the beginning. I’ve previously been in Gothenburg last year, for a short vacation. I really liked it, so I wanted to come back and therefore I did everything I could to make this happen. Now, I’m an Erasmus student. I’ve been here since August and I’m planning to come back as soon as possible, perhaps in two years. My aim is getting a Master’s degree at Gothenburg´s University.”
“What do you study, Victoria?”
“I’m currently studying Cultural Studies and I’m thinking about doing a Master Programme in ‘Kultur och demokrati’. “Will the classes be given in Swedish?”. “Exactly!”.
Victoria started studying basic Swedish in her country, and now she’s doing her Erasmus attending classes in Swedish, too. (PS: I’ve been in Gothenburg for almost three months, but don’t tell anybody that I know barely ten words in Swedish).
“In Germany, services for people with disabilities are quite good. However, there’s something that I unfortunately have to admit: people’s mindset about disabled persons is not so good. I mean, it seems like they help you because they have to, not because they really want or care. And this, I think, is the great difference with Sweden. I feel like here people actually care about you. Really. Moreover, the political establishment in Germany is making things quite difficult for us, trying to cut money for assistants and so on, so people like me can not have an autonomous life any longer, and if you add it to the overall outlook and behaviour of people… well, I feel I’m happy here. Almost everything is easier for me. The only thing that could work better for me…”
“You know, I found an apartment thanks to SGS (N.d.R: Student Housing – Studentbostäder) and I live in a very very big building, with hundreds of students. It’s not so easy to socialize there, plus I live on the other side of the river (Lindholmen) while my faculty is basically in the city centre. I wish I could socialize more. I have friends in my class, yes, but it would be nice to know more people, I think.”
“Hmm… I know what you feel, I can imagine.”
“But, I can’t complain actually. Services here are very, very good. And as I said before, people really care about you. Tram drivers can get off and help you get in voluntarily, people really go the extra mile to help you”.
“What are your interests? What do you like to do in your spare time?”
“My free time is much easier here, too. I can just go to the cinema or a museum without thinking about barriers which might cross my way! I really like watching movies and going to museums. And reading and writing, of course.”
“Yes… but I’m a bit sad because I’m going to go back to Germany. My Erasmus will end soon, and I’ve to write my bachelor’s thesis as well. I really don’t want to leave Gothenburg, but my goal is to come back again. And of course I´m also happy to see my family and friends again.”
“And I’m sure it will happen!” “Hope so! By the way… I’m going back home now… I’ve to study!”
Sure! Thanks so much, Victoria… I’m very glad to have met you. And see you soon!
Victoria is a blogger, too. You can find out more about her stories by visiting her Facebook blog page ‘Vicis wilde Welt‘.