A New Adventure
To be honest, in the weeks leading up to my departure to Sweden, I never felt like I was actually leaving. Through all the paperwork, packing, saying goodbyes, the idea of me studying in Stockholm for half a year still felt like something intangible. Far away. Something I read a book about, not would actually experience myself.
Before I’ll continue I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Laura Veerman, and I’m from the Netherlands. I’m 20 years old. I’m an exchange student at Stockholm University, at the department of Political Science, for almost 6 months. I like swimming, reading, gaming, and painting my nails. And friends, of course: I’m very exited about all the people I will meet this coming semester.
It was funny, in the weeks before my departure, that sometimes I spoke to friends and told them that I was getting some things done for Stockholm, and they asked me: Stockholm? What do you mean? Because for some reason when you do something this big sometimes you just… Forget to tell people. Just assume that everyone knows, because for you it’s already common knowledge.
I wasn’t sure how I felt when I boarded the plane to Sweden. My parents accompanied me for the first two days, and as we arrived on Saturday and could only pick up the keys to my shared apartment on Sunday, it felt more like a short holiday than me moving to another country. But now, a few days later, my parents back home and me and my roommate mostly settled in, it feels pretty natural. Or either the change hasn’t really kicked in yet: we’ll see about that in the coming weeks!
When my parents and I arrived in Stockholm, we spend the first day just walking around the city, getting to know how the busses work, what kind of stores are near my room, and what the city feels like. We had an amazing day! The atmosphere was busy, but friendly, and I already felt pretty comfortable. There were a lot of Swedish people just jogging, and most Swedes looked really stylish. There are a lot of Swedish man with beards, and a lot of helpful people.
The Swedes are not loud, and calm, but open. The city itself is clean, with – as we expected – lots of green and lots of space. (They have really broad sidewalks which is really nice, especially when walling with suitcases!) There are many busses and metros which depart frequently. And many, many stores, seemingly in random order: cafes, shops for clothes, food, and household items are all in the same street. But that’s okay, and I think I’ll know what’s where in time.
After a long day of walking, looking around, and eating good food, we went back to the hotel exhausted. We rose early next morning, because we wanted to get the room key early to prevent long waiting lines. So we took a bus to the main campus. I really liked the campus – its so different than the university back home! A large, really large area, with shops and a sports centre and school library and many many buildings for different departments. Unfortunately my own department didn’t have a very fancy building, but it was clean and easy to reach so it wasn’t bad. And most of the campus was so nice I didn’t mind.
We then took the room key and visited my shared room. My roommate, Kathi, wouldn’t arrive until the evening. Only when we entered the room it was one big mess… Like, we didn’t expect everything to be sparkly clean, but this was just bad. Clothes and (dried, thankfully) food everywhere and the bathroom drain was clogged. I was so thankful my parents were with me! Us three spent almost 3 hours cleaning the place. After that it was a pretty nice room, if a little small. The upside is the bathroom, when clean is a nice bathroom, and the kitchenette and electric cooking equipment. The downside is the bunk bed, which really makes me and my roommate feel like 8-year olds and leaves little privacy. But ah well, we’ll manage. We knew this beforehand.
After cleaning the place we went into town and brought a few things for the room, like coat hangers and some glasses. Then we went out to eat in a really nice Italian place near my room. I was feeling spoiled, to be honest. After that, my parents went back to the hotel and I went to my room to meet my roommate Kathi and get to know each other. She’s such a nice and happy girl, and I’m glad she’s my roommate. Together we’ll manage just fine! I stayed at my room for a few hours, just talking, and then went to sleep. Everything went really fast and I was very tired.
Then it was Monday. My parents flew home, so after I ate lunch with them we said our goodbyes. Then I went back to the campus to explore the place and to get some things done, like activating my account and becoming a member of the Student Union. It took some time but it was nice, not being in a hurry and just becoming familiar with how everything works in this university. I was starting to feel like a real student.
That evening Kathi and I went out to dinner in some Thai place where the lights above us, which shone on our food, changed color all the time which made your food seem different when the color changed – a pretty confusing thing. But hey, nice food. In the evening we went out for a drink with a few orher exchange students Kathi had met on the airport when she arrived. We went to a really nice and cozy place at the river with a really nice view (and expensive drinks). It was a wonderful evening just getting to know the other students. I’m looking toward spending more time with not only them but also all the other students this coming semester.
When Kathi and I went to sleep that evening, we just stayed up a while and talked a bit. The most strange thing about becoming an exchange student, we both agreed, is how you just suddenly have so much free time. Back home I organized things, was an active member of my Student Union, had school, did sports, and of course my friends and boyfriend who take up a lot of time. And now suddenly we only have school left! No other places we have to be or people we have to meet. We have so much freedom and we can choose whatever we want to do for the coming semester! Its such a weird and exiting idea. We can choose whatever club, sports, or activities we want to do. Studying on campus or studying in general will also be different in a good way, I think.
Though I think there are so many awesome things to do that my free time will dissapear on its own – and I’ll be happy about it. Because now I’m here, I want to do all sorts of activities with friends or the university or whatever I fancy: I’ll choose it all myself and I couldn’t be more exited about it. As I see it, wouldn’t quite call the coming months a holiday, but I would call it just having a different life for almost 6 months. Even though I will really really miss my boyfriend, and also my family and friends, I think this exchange period will be like one big adventure. And I’m more than ready to start exploring!