About Dan Johansson

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So far Dan Johansson has created 60 blog entries.

Going down south

I turn over another page. My cup of coffee is as good as empty and I strongly consider getting another one. On my right, an old woman with short grey hair and a raincoat as orange as the morning sun is steadily working her way through hers. She’s reading too. Perhaps I am studying her just a moment too long, for she slightly turns her head towards me and I quickly have to adjust my gaze so it seems like I’m staring out of the window behind her. She smiles, takes a last nip of her drink and leaves not long thereafter. I’m in a coffee place in Nyköping and I just came back from a small trip to the south, comprising the cities of Lund, Malmö and Copenhagen. Like my coffee, my energy-level needs a påfyll too.

The trip itself was – although tightly and last-minute planned – great. As some friends hosted us each for a night or two, we travelled around quite a bit by train. This was by no means an obstacle, even the five hour journey from Stockholm to Lund turned out very comfortable! An added bonus was that I could cross the famous, or – if you’re also a fan of the crime series Bron – infamous Øresundsbridge connecting Denmark and Sweden three times. Some highlights and afterthoughts of the trip:

Lund is a very small, but cosy city with a lot of churches and castles. The Cathedral, including some large medieval clockwork, is definitely a must-see. Apart from that, the university makes up a large part of the scenic city. Oh, and Café Landgren does nice coffee-breakfasts where you can sit down and taste various kinds.

Malmö gives off […]

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

It has been two months since the moment I landed in this beautiful country. New environment, trying to make some new friends and also new challenges everyday, all of these made me feel so uncomfortable and stressful at first, but now when I overcame those challenges and looked back, I learned much more than I expected in this two months. And I think It would be good to write some reflections and feelings about studying abroad, or to be precise studying in Sweden, to end my last blog post.

It is a big decision to study abroad. You need to leave your parents and friends, the place and the language you are familiar with. For me, it is all about courage, whether you have the courage to create some uneasiness to your life and see how it can reshape you to a better person. I always think that if you are too familiar with the environment and people around you, it would be so difficult for you to get inspired to think of something new or think from different perspectives.

Before I came here, I had typical “age crisis” as most of those who just graduated from bachelor or may have been worked for one or two years. I only known I don’t want my life to be like this but I had no idea about what I want to do in the future. However, I am quite sure that if I continued to stay in the place I was so familiar with, I would not be able to come up with anything that can make my life a bit different from previous. “How about leaving Hong Kong, change the environment a bit and see how things go?” […]

Changing directions/exploring new prospects

In many aspects, I seem to stand on a crossroad. The time in Stockholm that lies ahead of me is roughly equal to the time of my stay which has already passed. It is a moment to explore lots of new things and I am very excited about that. I love change and I like things new. It keeps people active and fresh, I think.
When I wrote my latest blogpost about two weeks ago, my friend Lauren from England had just arrived. Not having seen her for five months – she travelled a lot this summer – it was great spending time with her! As both of us are art lovers, I got some new museums in Stockholm to check off my museum-list (which is by the way no actual list, it only exists in my head – and I still manage to lose it every now and then).
We also participated in something which was called The World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment. The project originates in Perth, Australia, with the aim to fight the decrease of human interaction in big cities especially. The concept is really simple: people are challenged to sit down and just share one minute of eye contact with ‘strangers.’ Stockholm also participated and as a result I found myself sharing important, intense and most of all inspiring minutes with a variety of people: Swedes and non-Swedes, children and youngsters, adults and people the age of my grandparents. It was without doubt one of the most rewarding things I have ever done! Some people liked having a little chat after we were done ‘staring’ and one woman even had tears in her eyes! Afterwards, Lauren and I and some other people […]

Catching up

At times, hours seem to crawl forward, second by second, endlessly. At other times, days seem to go by as fast as the speed of light. I could not believe that my latest entry for this blog has for instance been a month ago! Digging in what are already becoming memories, I decided to update you about five things which – if possible at all – sum up my first weeks ‘up north.’ As you will see, these include places I have visited, things which has happened to me, and some general thoughts or particularities.

I fell in a lake. Yes, you read that right. I am starting off with this one as it is probably the most remarkable one. The way it happened is actually as simple as it sounds: I was hiking in nature when I discovered a lake. I got a little bit too close, the surface below me suddenly felt very slippery, and like a small child going down a slide for the first time, I simply slid in. Shoulder-deep in the water, I was obviously soaking wet. Unfortunately, my beloved iPhone did not survive the adventure. Even an intensive five-day rice bag treatment did no good and it had to be put to rest. A new phone and 2 500 SEK later, I am now back in the game. Not recommended though!
I went to Uppsala. Stockholm is by far the most amazing city I have ever visited! However, there is always more to discover ;-). That is why Charlotte and I decided to go up to Uppsala and have a wander around there. It turned out that Sweden’s fourth biggest city is actually quite small! Nonetheless, the Museum of […]

Here I am, Stockholm!!!!

Orientation events, networking with others and partiesssss… these basically sum up what did I do in the first week at Stockholm. No worry, you don’t even have a moment to feel alone or homesick here, as there are always people around to make sure you can get used to the life here as soon as possible.

The most impressive event for me up till now is the Welcome Banquet organized by my school for new master students. Everyone wore Tuxedo and evening gowns to the dinner. During the dinner, we sang a lot of songs. The most interesting part is whenever a song came to an end, we would say “Skål” (a must-learn word in Swedish means Cheer!!) and drink wine together. It is quite a cultural shock for me, since in Hong Kong you are not supposed to drink any alcohol and sing out loud together in such a formal dinner.

Another unexpected surprise I got is, I had never imagined the diversity of nationalities at school. Here we have students from almost all around the world, South Africa, Germany, China, India, you name it. I think it will be a good experience to work with people who have different cultural background and working style. And I have a feeling that I am studying in a global village rather than Stockholm School of Economics.

Beyond all these new experiences, don’t forget there is still one tedious agenda in your to-do list after the arrival. That is to get a personal number from the tax department here. Personal number is a must here for you to do anything related to your identity, you can’t get a bank account or study Swedish in SFI if you don’t get the […]

Take off

Tjena, hejsan, hallå! If you are reading this, I have arrived in Stockholm. Whaaaa! Even when writing this entry and looking back at the past two weeks in the capital of Sweden (and arguably Scandinavia too), excitement is all I can feel right now. To be sure, saying goodbye was not easy and of course I had cold feet when I stepped onto the plane. I was after all moving to a country where I had never been to. All by myself! However, as soon as I set foot on Swedish ground, the welcome has been more than warm.

First of all, the amazing people from Stockholm Academic Forum (STAF) picked me and other arriving exchange students up at the airport. In a huge bus which had ‘JUST ARRIVED: INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS’ printed on the side, we got transported to the city centre. As I study at Södertörns Högskola, which is located in a suburb south of Stockholm, I had to take the underground and train to get there and pick up my keys. Luckily, the people from STAF went along up until the central station, so I only needed to jump on the right train. At university, my personal mentor Vera was waiting for me and together with my unconventionally big luggage, we travelled to my new home: a dorm in Lappis, which is a student campus in Northern Central Stockholm

And all I can say is that I very much like it here! The first week consisted mainly of activities organised by ESN, the Erasmus Student Network of Södertörns. We went to IKEA together, – how typically Swedish :-) – had a welcome dinner, and did a competition annex tour in Stockholm to get to know […]

Packing for Södertälje

Next Tuesday, August 18th, is a day X when I’m moving to Stockholm.

I still have no idea on how it all will work out, as I never moved to anywhere for such a long time.

First I’ve thought to take only the most important, but it seems I’ll end up with extra luggage. Sweden, same as Russia, has 4 seasons (with cold winter) in a year, but it may be expensive to buy winter clothes in Stockholm just before the coldest season. So I thought it might be better to pay 50 EUR for extra luggage than some unexpected, but definitely huger amount for new clothes that I don’t honestly need.

One super useful tip – use vacuum bags! It’s first time I’ve tried them and seems clothes consist of air for minimum 50%.

I’m also taking some of my books, with 4 in Swedish which I have. I speak a bit, and bought them 2 or 3 years ago..

Strange stuff – I’ve been surfing the web for a place I will live in, Södertälje. There was a list of famous citizens and I saw a name I couldn’t remember – Göran Rosenberg. So, it seems now, he is a guy who’s written one of my books, A Brief Stop On The Way From Auschwitz. Such a good neighbor, hehe! By the way, if you are interested in how Holocaust affected Europe, it might be a good choice – better in original, when you speak a bit Swedish. His parents met each other in Warsaw ghetto, survived Auschwitz concentration camp and then moved to Sweden. This is their story from a side of their young son (Göran), who’s never seen it all. Definitely would be great to take a small […]


Since the end of my academic year and the beginning of this ‘blogging era,’ I have shared with you my preparations for moving to Stockholm. You also went on holiday with me and saw what I have been up to in general during summer. In contrast to all this, the past two weeks have been remarkably quiet. Hence, I had some time to think things over a bit. As expertise comes with both experience and reflection, I find myself in the perfect position to preach my, eh, ‘wisdom’ and give you three top tips if you are thinking about moving abroad. Tips which I needed to learn the hard way ;-)
Thou shalt start in time

Despite its seeming simplicity, the first one is already a bit tricky. Like the majority of students (hopefully), my brain tends to function a bit oddly. Especially the way it prioritises certain matters above others is rather deceptive. For one thing, I have been browsing the web far too long for irrelevant things. Watch out, Google Maps and Google Street View are not your friends here. It helped me for instance discover that there should be a beach (!!! See top-image Lappis Beach!) about 500 metres from where I will live. Certainly, this is a good thing to be aware of, but it also distracted me from more important matters such as responding to emails of my bank or the Dutch Government.

Thou shalt plan ahead

Starting in time alone will not automatically result in victory. You should also make plans as to what should when be done. In other words: deadlines! Are you making a three-week long road trip in the months prior to departure? Make sure to get the most necessary things […]

All kinds of preparation

The train made a small, yet clearly noticeable noise. It seemed to follow a certain rhythm when leaving Maastricht behind. Year two of university had ended. As of today the results are published and I feel relieved that I have passed all my courses (!!!) and can start preparing for Sweden as well as enjoying my free time. Similar to a flock of birds, my friends and I spread out again by means of train, car, boat and/or plane in order to get home. Yet, the train I was on did not take me home. Don’t worry; this was not an accident :-). A couple of friends and I decided to usher the weeks of freedom with a trip to Amsterdam. Despite not being planned thoroughly, the trip ended up very cultural: we went to the museum of contemporary art, attended a performance of Keaton Henson in collaboration with the Royal Concert Hall Orchestra (how mesmerising it was!) and had very cultural picnics in the park.

As my own hometown is not too far from Maastricht, I also dropped by to meet some of my friends who were still in town. Being back in Maastricht felt a bit odd – I transported most of my items and clothes back home already so my apartment was quite empty – but simultaneously it was very nice waking up without thinking: ‘When do I have class today?’ or ‘What must I get done?’ So I had for instance lots of lunches and went to the cinema to watch Jurassic World (as one does when one has spare time).

However, realising that a) the main purpose of this blog is to document my preparations for coming to Stockholm and b) writing […]

Final papers and a new start!

Final papers and a new start!

Some people say ‘the last mile is the longest.’ Working on my final papers in a tropically warm library, I couldn’t agree more with that. Summer has undoubtedly come and I want to enjoy it! But let me first, in the midst of piles of papers and empty coffee cups, wander back to last winter. December 2014, right before Christmas, me and my friends received an e-mail we had all been looking forward to: the placements of our semester abroad. Most of my friends were very pleased to see where they got accepted: Canada, Spain, Finland, Macau, the UK …. And I got placed in Sweden! I was over the moon; somehow I have always been interested in Scandinavia and I love the culture, language and people. For these reasons, I started learning Swedish about one and a half year ago. During the first two years of my bachelor’s studies, I met several people who I started a ‘language exchange’ with: they taught me Swedish; in return I taught them Dutch.

That’s right, I am Dutch. Studying in Maastricht, a city located in the southernmost point of the Netherlands and close to both Belgium and Germany, I am both close to home and part of a very international community. Maastricht University offers a lot of programmes in English, making me one of the few Dutch people in my track. Most of my friends, in fact, come from Germany, England, Greece, and many other countries. I study Political Culture, which means that I analyse political theories mostly from a philosophical perspective. Currently I am for instance working on papers about humanitarian intervention and the EU border policy. Apart from being a fulltime […]