A lot’s changed since I last asked you what you wanted to know. I’ve done a lot, learned a lot, and grown a lot in the last few months. So for whatever new questions you had, I had a new and improved answer.
Q: What’s your favorite tourist site you’ve seen?
It’s hard to pick a favorite because tourist attractions in Sweden are so seasonal, and because the tourist sites are really only a small part of the overall experience of living here. A few do stand out to me though: in Stockholm, the Christmas markets at Gamla Stan and Skansen (which are both pretty nice tourist sites in their own right) are a must this time of year. And when the weather is better, taking a boat out to the archipelago is absolutely beautiful.
Q: What was the biggest surprise about life in Sweden or culture shock you experienced?
Not much has caught me completely off guard, since I had prepared well for most cultural differences…including the language, which actually did come with a surprising quirk. I had been studying Swedish on my own and learned quite a bit before I came, and now that I’ve gotten more used to actually using it here, I’ve found that I’ll occasionally mess up in English because I’m thinking of the way to say something in Swedish. I was genuinely confused the first time I accidentally said ”for a long time ago”, because I could never have expected that I would start messing up in my first language.
Q: What do you wish you had more time to do while there?
More than anything, make friends and strengthen the relationships with the ones I have. The Swedish social life is hard to come into, and forming friendships with locals can take a long time. Besides, I’ve already made some great friends, both from DIS and outside, and I wish I had more time to spend with them.
Q: If you could bring one tradition, custom, way of life, etc. from Sweden back to the US, what would it be?
The whole concept of mys, that kind of coziness that makes your life a little brighter, is something I could definitely use, even though I don’t have as much of the gloomy weather that makes it necessary back home.
Q: Which travel destination did you enjoy the most?
There were great things about all of them, but I’d probably have to go with Tromsø, Norway, since it was so unlike anything I ever experienced or expected. The northern lights were magical, the Arctic nature was gorgeous, and I had amazing company. I don’t have a solid bucket list but I’m sure I checked something off there.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to say in Swedish?
One of my favorite words is actually really simple: “jaha” is the filler word that can mean almost anything, from “oh really?” to “suddenly it all makes sense” to “oh. I see. totally not judging, absolutely not”. Though this has to be one of those questions I don’t have a solid answer for, because I really just like the language in general.
Q: What comforts of home/the US are you most looking forward to getting back to?
Obvious answer: I miss my friends and family. I have plenty of things I want to bring back for my family for Christmas, and I’m excited to see what they think. After winter break, I’m looking forward to getting back to school and celebrating my college’s spring-semester traditions with my friends. (I guess you could fill a well-known landmark in Stockholm with snow, or celebrate at the end of a huge project, but it just wouldn’t be the same without the bagpipe music.)
Q: What will you miss the most when you leave?
All the possibilities. Meeting new people, traveling fairly easily, exploring the city, and so on. There’s been so much to do that it’s been hard to decide how to make the most of the time I have, so I sometimes wish I just had a little more of it.