This post was contributed by Kai Fleischman, a Global Ambassador studying at Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan in Stockholm, Sweden. Kai is a computer science major in the College of Natural Sciences. Stay tuned throughout the semester as Kai shares his experiences abroad! Read his first post.
Before heading abroad, I spent several months obsessively consuming articles and streaming videos about life in Sweden. Influenced by the abundance of content, I developed an expectation for my trip. Having this expectation has led me to experience parts of Sweden through the lens of others. Having expectations is not inherently bad, but looking back I would have preferred to come with an unbiased view.
I write this message mostly as a note to my past self, but I hope future study abroad students will also glean something useful. To have the most impactful experience in Sweden and in any new place, limit your expectations and hear as few opinions as possible. The best way to experience Sweden is through your own lens.
Of course, you should still invest in researching the essentials for a safe trip, but leave the rest of your energy and excitement for exploration once you arrive. That being said, in the highest form of irony imaginable, I carry on with the rest of this blog.
Three weeks I’ve been in Sweden and already I feel at home. From the moment I landed in Stockholm – greeted by a gang of KTH students – I was charmed.
A major influence on my decision to study in Sweden was the promise of plentiful opportunities to enjoy the pristine, undisturbed wilderness. This promise Sweden has fulfilled. Situated on fourteen main islands and surrounded by thousands more, Stockholm has limitless opportunities for swimming, kayaking, barbecuing on the beach and enjoying the water transform to gold as the sun sets. On land, life is quite beautiful too, for much of the outer city is seamlessly integrated with the pine and spruce forests. Hundreds of trails crisscross and encompass the city, and you are never more than a five-minute walk from a park. Wildlife wanders freely across the suburbs, and throughout many of my days I pass by brilliant Eurasian Magpies as they gallop around and majestic European Hares as they cautiously watch me, frozen in their posture.
Additionally, fruit such as blueberries and lingonberries grow naturally; I’ve even had a chance to eat an apple from a tree near my accommodation. To top this all, people here are crazy about being outside, and there is always someone to accompany you for hiking, camping or kayaking.
One last note is that the weather has been sublime as well – sunny on most days, highs in the low 70s, ideal humidity. This aspect will change of course, as I anticipate the infamously frigid and dark winters that so many Swedes have warned me about.