On Exchange: Making Connections in Sweden

It’s hard to believe that almost 2 months ago I flew halfway across the world to study in Scandinavia for nearly half a year. This is probably the scariest, yet most exciting thing that I’ve ever done.

My impressions from the first month are as follows:

–       Ikea, yes it is even better and cheaper cheaper here

–       Swedish meatballs are real, usually served with mashed potatoes

–       Swedes are much friendlier than the stereotype lead me to believe. I have not yet encountered a rude Swede.

–       Snow. Lots and lots of it.

However, after yet another month here the only thing that’s really changed has been the snow. It’s surprisingly warm here — which makes the bike to school much easier.

My semester in Sweden has not been near what I anticipated, but better in nearly every aspect. My daily schedule is filled with lectures, labs, group meetings and commuting. Even though I’m enrolled in only 4 classes (compared to 7 at home), I’ve probably spent more time at school this semester than I have at Ryerson for nearly 3 years. I live in Linköping and commute to Norrköping for class every day. The commute is just over an hour. Even though commuting is new to me I can’t complain because I know many Ryerson students have a much longer commute for 4 years instead of 1 semester.

I was fortunate to make some amazing Canadian friends in the airport and although our group has greatly expanded, they’re still some of my closest friends here. It’s comforting knowing that when I fly back over the Atlantic I won’t be leaving all my memories and new friends behind. My closest friend here is Kajsa, who came to Ryerson last semester and studied in second year GCM classes. Unfortunately, we only found out about each other towards the end of the semester giving us only enough time to meet up twice. But having a resource here has been the best thing for not only academic’s but also socializing and helping me settle in – after all, not everyone here speaks English.

The Swedes have not lived up to the stereotypes often associated with them. Okay well yes, the majority is beautiful, blonde and tall. But for the most part, they are much friendlier than I had anticipated. Being invited by some locals to a few parties within my first week was something I never thought would have happened. During school everyone seems to stay more to their cliques, although they would never admit that they are clique-y. But it’s pretty cool to see that nearly everyone parties together on the weekends.

This week ends my first semester of school here. It was super busy with 4 full time classes and trying to keep up with the daily life here. I can’t believe that next semester I’m only enrolled into two classes so I will finally have some time to explore more of this amazing country. I already have some trips planned to Ireland, Norway, London, and throughout both central and southern Europe make it pretty hard to complain about the little things. I’ve seen, experienced, and learnt so much in two short months I can’t wait to see what the next four have in store for me.