One Week in Stockholm

One week in Stockholm, and I have learned so much already. But let me start by introducing myself.

My name is Ryan. I’m 20 years old, and from the province of Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast. At my home institution of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, I study public relations with minors in french and marketing. For the next five months, I’ll be studying at Södertörn Högskola, taking courses in political science, communication, and Swedish culture.

Why did I choose to do an exchange in Sweden? For two reasons. One, Northern Europe has always fascinated me. Being home to the happiest countries in the world with the best social programs and serving as the international community’s moral voice, I was thrilled at the opportunity to live in such a country for an extended period of time. And two, Europe is incredibly rich in history. As a Canadian, our culture mosaic is made from the fabric of cultures from all around the world. To have the ability to travel to European countries that have created the Canadian history I grow up learning is incredible.

During my first week in Stockholm, one question I have been asked frequently is how Sweden compares to Canada. While there are many similarities, there are also many differences.

Firstly, the weather. It’s safe to say living in Canada for 20 years has prepared me for life in Sweden. The cold, snow, and early sunsets are reminiscent of home. However, as I sit and write this post in the beautiful Södertörn Högskola library, I’m thrilled that the weather from the past couple of days allowed me to wear shed my normal attire of four sweaters, two scarves and a heavy winter jacket.

Secondly, the people. Thus far, I have observed Canadians and Swedes are very, very similar. Just as I was welcomed to Halifax with open arms once I moved away from home to attend school in 2013, I have been welcomed to Stockholm with open arms. Just as I would ask Haligonian for directions to a certain restaurant back home, I feel comfortable asking any Stockholmare the same question. In general, the friendliness reminds me of home.

Thirdly and finally is the care of government for its citizens. Even being in Stockholm for one week, I can see the incredible governmental programs that empower Swedes. From an incredible transportation system to financial aid for education to outstanding health care, many programs are similar to those we see in Canada.

I look forward to sharing my observations and adventures with you in the coming weeks. From aspects of Swedish culture to learning from my friends here on exchange from all around the world to travels around Europe, this will become a continuous learning opportunity.

I’m so excited to see what lies ahead.

All the best,