Minus twenty

Minus twenty

How far north can one go?

December is here and with it come many festivities. Unfortunately I cannot tell you how many days are left till Christmas – I honestly do not count them – but nonetheless, the last month of 2015 has been grand! My aunt and uncle came over for a visit a couple of weeks ago. It was lovely to show them around and let them catch a glimpse of the life I have been living here for almost four months now. However, it also felt quite strange talking in my mother tongue all day again (which is Dutch, but here I am referring to the dialect spoken in the south-eastern region of the Netherlands).

They also brought some presents along, because it was my birthday on December 2nd! Surprisingly I did manage to keep the envelopes and wrappings closed until my actual birthday :-). My 21st birthday was also the first one which I did not celebrate with my family or ‘at home.’ My Norwegian friend Hedda came over and I invited her and some other friends to my apartment to have a nice evening together. The days after my birthday consisted mainly of cleaning, spending time with Hedda, and… packing.

Yes, I know. Packing. I could not help but travel again. In fact, this journey is the one I had been looking forward to since the beginning of the semester. Once more organised by ESN, we drove all the way up through Finland to arrive in Lapland! Finland’s northernmost – and least populated – region was like how you would Scandinavia imagine to be: a winter wonderland. During the trip we learned a lot about the culture of the Sami, the indigenous people living in the Arctic. We stayed in wooden cottages and the most memorable activities included a visit to a reindeer farm and sledging with huskies. We sleighed down Europe’s longest slope and even the Northern lights blinked at us.

Silence, snow, and six husky dogs

Silence, snow, and six husky dogs. This was amazing.

True Siberian Husky love

In the cold, even true love emerged!

One day, we drove to a fishing village in Norway to take a dive in the Arctic Ocean – after a warm sauna of course. All of these things were so impressing that I will probably never forget about them. Magical! This felt like the real North, where the sun didn’t even rise (luckily there was still 2-3 hours of daylight) and temperatures dropped as far as -20°C.

Team Lappis did it! A dive in the Arctic Ocean

Team Lappis did it! A dive in the Arctic Ocean

Finally… the Northern Lights (photo by Piotr Dzida)

Finally… the Northern Lights (photo by Piotr Dzida)

Back in Stockholm, realisation struck me that there was only one week of classes left before the Christmas break! It genuinely feels like yesterday that I moved here. Time is a weird thing, I have learnt. As I have also been feeling a bit stressed lately, I liked flipping through ‘old’ photos of my time in Stockholm. Unbelievable when I see pictures of everyone wearing shorts and T-shirts :-). Another ‘memory’ which I don’t think I have shared with you yet was that time when me and two friends decided to check out another side of Stockholm: its underground. Being known for its amazing art, we travelled around and got out at some stations we would normally not come. Definitely a recommendation, even for Stockholmers!

Duvbo station (photo by Anna Schliesselberger)

Duvbo station (photo by Anna Schliesselberger)

The rainbow at Stadion subway station

The rainbow at Stadion station

I will be flying to the Netherlands to celebrate the holidays at home, and it feels good. In the new year, I will return to Sweden for a couple of weeks to round off my courses, so it is no time for goodbyes just yet ;-). Have a very merry Christmas and a good new year!