One year ago, I became a Student Ambassador of the University of Gothenburg and a blogger for the international blog Letters from Gothenburg. One year ago, I started a great adventure, sharing with the former, current and future international students advices, insights and “crushes” about my life in Sweden.
But after one year – and 45 articles in various subjects going from baking (and eating) Swedish pastries to the presentation of the Welcome Programme of the University and activities of the Student Unions, going through hiking, activities to do in the city, museum to see, special events… – it is time for me to turn this page as I am currently doing my Master thesis.
But I couldn’t leave this blog without saying “See you soon !” and for that I decided to write a last article about everything Sweden and Göteborg have offered me…
I first came in Göteborg, the 24th of August 2013. I was an Erasmus student, just here for a year. I was coming from France, speaking quite bad English but counting on this exchange to progress. I remember I was not expecting any particular thing about Sweden and I was just open to everything I could discover.
But yet, when I first arrived in Landvetter airport and was welcomed by the Student Buddies, I was very far of thinking that I’d live such incredible adventures, that I’d fall in love with this city and this country and would decide, to come back in 2015 for my Master, that I’d become, two years after, one of the Student Buddy myself and just welcome new students the way I was welcomed in this place I now call “hemma”.
Living in Sweden is discovering a new culture and a new way of life
I live now in Göteborg for two years and six months, and even if I am ashamed of it, my Swedish is still really bad. But that does not mean that living in Sweden had no influence on me. And there is a lot of little things that sometimes makes me feel Swedish.
I remember that a fomer blogger and friend Mercè use to write the “Jaha bulletin” about all the little things that makes her feel she was becoming Swedish. And it does not need to be a big change… just little details…
For example, the way I became addicted to tea… and pastries! I was eating mainly salty food but now I cannot live without my daily kanelbullar and cannot imagine a world without cinnamon. Fika became such part of my life that when I am in France I am always trying to convince my friend to meet in cafés instead of bar and have Fika instead of “Apero”.
And of course, the fact that it’s now 4 years my family eats home made kanelbullar and lussekatter at Christmas.
There is also the way I adapted to the seasons. How in winter I am looking for the tiny bit of sun and just got used of living in the dark from 3pm. The way I just do BBQs everywhere all the time in summer and swim in lake (while before I could only swim in the warm mediterranean sea). The way the crazy weather and the fact it can rain and be super sunny is not suprising me anymore.
And the way I don’t mind aymore of going outside even if it’s raining or snowing and I know I’ll be completely wet. And I don’t even have an umbrella anymore.
The way walking everywhere and hiking became a routine. The way Swedish landcapes became familiar but still surprising.
The way my behavior changed, the way I became more calm, less into conflicts. The way I am more listening to other people, feel more “lagom“. The way the Swedish University system made meappreciate to talk, exchange and debate with teacher and other students when I was never raising my hand in class before.
The fact, that when I enter in a bus I only sit on two empty seats…
The way I cry when I remember supermarket are closed on Sunday in France and that I forgot again to do shopping…
Of course, I remain a French person, with huge mediterranean influences. And I know I’ll never bring things at a party “just for myself” and will continue to share it. As much as I know I’ll never ever get use to have dinner at 6pm…
Living in Sweden in living in 197 countries
But living in Sweden, specially in Göteborg, is not only about getting in contact with Swedish culture. Because Göteborg is such an international city, you litterally meet people from all over the world every day. And their culture influence you as much as the Swedish one.
Because during my life here, I certainly learned how to bake Swedish pastries but also how to cook Lithuanian zeppelin, German spatzles, Mexican chocolate chicken and so many different Japanese dishes. Because through all the international dinners I participated or organised I tasted amazing dishes from everywhere.
Because litteraly yesterday I ate Dragonfruit from Thailand, brough by my best friend coming back in Sweden.
Because by moving in Sweden, I meet people from countries I could not locate on a world map (I am really bad in geography). Because by moving here I got exposed to so many languages and I now know words, in Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Finnish, Norwegian, Deutch, German, Vietnamese… And because this feeling is just magical !
Because it is not only about food and languages. Because it is also about all the stories, all the traditions and anecdotes I heard about. The way to celebrate Christmas, Halloween, New year, Lunar New year… All the games I learned. All the songs I discovered. The movies ! All the differences and the common points you can find with people that are born on the other side of the planet…
Because now I litterally have friends all over the world. Friends I have already been seing and visiting outside of Sweden.
Because Sweden make you feel that the world is not that big, but still giant in terms of things to discover.
Because here, my life did not only become Swedish, it became international.
Leaving Sweden, is letting a part of you there
But, you come to Sweden as “exchange” student. And as it suggests, it is all about sharing, and trust me you won’t only “take”, during your stay in Sweden, you’ll also “give”.
And I did it. Duting two years and 6 months, I share my story, my culture or my cultures. By simply talking to people, teaching them fun words in my language. By sharing dinners with them, by making them taste French specialities and doing so many “Cheese Party”. But telling them about traditions and anecdotes, and comparing with theirs. By making them listening songs and watching movies.
Not because I wanted to “colonise”. Just because this is how life is. Curious. About giving and taking. About sharing.
In two years and six months, I have seen numerous of friends leaving. Some just in a neighbouring country I could visit them easily . Other in another continent, I know I’ll go one day.
Yes lot of them left. But I know that they all took with them, a little piece of me. The same way, I left behind a piece of me when I left Sweden in 2014…
Because this is the whole message of this article. Life in Sweden is gonna change you. And it is something amazing I wish all of you to live. Because you’ll go back to your country with a little piece of every person you have met here.
And because you will leave a part of you in Sweden,
See you soon !