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 the city better. My team managed to win the competition: one task was to get as many patches on the cheek and we scored an impressive 41 kisses! The chocolate medal is still waiting for me.
After the introduction days, the other exchange students and I explored the city further by ourselves. We went for instance to Skinnarviksberget, one of the highest points of Stockholm, and had lunch there with a wonderful view over the skyline. We also swam in a natural lake and saw many Swedish artists performing at a festival in Kungsträdgården. Furthermore, we organised a barbecue at Lappis and mingled with the Swedish students at Södertörns at a beach-themed opening party.
I also met up with Charlotte, my Swedish friend in Stockholm, a couple of times already and it is really nice to live in the same city as her again. She showed me around at Hagaparken and we had fika, which is a typically Swedish ‘coffee moment,’ usually accompanied by some sweets. I like practicing Swedish with her and the other Swedish people I have met so far. As the Swedes may seem a bit reserved at first, I noticed that they open up after a little while, and speaking their language definitely helps.
Oh, I almost forgot to talk about the courses I am taking! I have come here to study after all ;-). I am currently enrolled in a course called ‘Media Production: Visual Narratives,’ and in contrast to the political courses I take in the Netherlands, this one is extremely creative. We had a lecture on truth in photography as well as several seminars on how to use Photoshop. By the end of this week, I should have taken a photograph expressing a selection of the words soft, autumn, electric, strong, and edge. Our task is to design two completely different book covers by using the same photograph.
Like the assignment, I feel Stockholm as a city is very inspiring. The biggest city I have lived in before moving here had 120 000 inhabitants. Stockholm, a metropolis comprising about a million, is on the other hand overwhelming. Stockholm is like a whelm and I am ready to dive in.