Horns meet World. World meet Anton Ermakov. Anton is a eastern European and Russian Studies major here at UT and went abroad to Sweden to really invest in the culture and ended up discovering something new. Here is what he had to say about his trip.
I thought I knew exactly what to expect when I came to Sweden for my semester broad. This was not my first visit and I had many fond memories of gorgeous architecture, great outdoors, and the Swedes’ legendary politeness. Coming to an old university town just outside of Stockholm seemed to offer more of the same but soon enough I discovered the difference between visiting a place as a tourist and actually living there. I saw a new side of Sweden, a side that was more diverse and more reflective of the real Swedish society.
Uppsala offered great nature and the older university buildings were as imposing as anything I’ve seen in Stockholm. But there was also Gottsunda, a place full of apartment-blocks populated by people who did not look like your stereotypical blonde blue-eyed. Swede. In that place Middle Eastern men congregated in malls and fast food joints served kebab along with burgers and fries. Incidentally, that was also the place where I lived, a neighborhood with a large population of immigrants and refugees. I have heard of Sweden’s acceptance of immigrants before but living in an immigrant community allowed me to experience it firsthand. Even as I went about regular chores like buying groceries I was reminded of Sweden’s diversity by the sight of Swedish meatballs sharing the freezer with halal meat and that quintessentially Swedish invention, the kebab pizza.
I came to Sweden to learn the language, enjoy the nature, and find out what it’s really like to attend one of the oldest universities in Europe. In the end, I managed to do all that, but I also found a wonderfully complex side of Swedish society hidden in plain sight and learned to leave my assumptions at home whenever I travel.
If you enjoyed reading about Anton’s trip, check out the program he went on here. Come check out our blog next week to see where else in the world our Horns pop up!