My Swedish Adventure Begins

I am in Sweden… For about four months.

Love at first sight, however cheesy

I arrived just outside of Stockholm about a week and a half ago. Now, on a windy Wednesday, I find that though I have done absolutely nothing but make tea, watch tv, and write all morning, I am exhausted. The many subtle adjustments that one’s body and mind have to make when entering a new place, especially one in which you will be staying for an extended period of time, do add up. I am learning how to live in a city, and operate with public transport. My ears are drinking in the language all around me, but my head understands very little of it. My desk is covered with lists of museums I want to go to and things I want to buy or see. My journal sits on my desk with one measly entry, and my sketchbook is still in the back I packed it in.

And now, I don’t have class until 3 in the afternoon, and all I want to do is sit around my new home, maybe watch some Netflix, but mostly drink tea and cuddle up with a book. And do homework. Can you believe that I am in one of the most beautiful and richly historical places in Europe, the place much of my family has called home for hundreds of years, and all I want to do is finish all my homework.

I suppose maybe I am more of a hermit than I’d previously thought, but I know really that it is just culture shock. Culture shock doesn’t need to be obvious. It often isn’t. We think the United States and Sweden aren’t all that different, and that’s true if you think of other countries that would contrast more with the two… But again, all the changes, the shifts in vibes and everyday-ness, it adds up.

The road to my home in Täby

I feel safe and comfortable in this house, the home of my wonderful host family who could not be more lovely, relaxed, eager, and loving. It is a blustery day on the top of this hill in the suburbs. The birch trees with long willow-like branches have been swaying this whole time, and gusts of wind sound like trains going by outside the windows. I need to give myself a break. There is no reason I shouldn’t be content to stay here while my mind and heart catches up with the new place and people and adventures.

Writing this all down here is important. Though my moleskin may feel abandoned, here I can pair words with my photographs, and with videos I hope to take as soon as my new camera makes it through customs… And I hope that some of you will get an idea about what it’s like to be in Sweden – to study there, live there, and explore as much as possible while still finding roots in the mossy frozen ground.

I find myself forgetting that this isn’t just a city filled with crowds and too much cigarette smoke – it is so unique and ancient and beautiful and surrounded but such life, especially the sea. It is an island city, and that to me means freedom and clarity. I am so excited to embrace it all.

Exploring the parks in a walking tour with my study abroad program

One thought on “The Sweet Sting of Culture Shock

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