I have officially been in Sweden for a month now, and so I thought it was time for a review of how it’s going so far; so, without any further ado:
The official first-month report!
The first week or two were really hard, partly because there was so much to do. It was stressful moving into the flat and having no furniture, and every spare moment was dedicated to getting the flat to the stage where it was livable. We had a few ‘Is it worth it?’ moments and a few flared tempers, but we got through it and things seem a bit better now. It just wasn’t much fun to start off with, particularly as I also had some serious homesickness for Reading, which feels as much like home as Cornwall does now! If i were to do it again I think I would have gone straight from Reading to Sweden if possible, as I think the summer holiday wasn’t much of a help either, as both Emil and I had gotten used to being on our own a lot more, and were finding it a lot harder to cope with each other at first.
Things improved a lot when I’d’ been and done a few things alone. Once I had my Tram-card, I began exploring and I’ve now found a whole wealth of haunts to go and hide in and look at. My current favourite is Eriksberg, mostly because I have to take the ferry to get there. I enjoy being near water, and Eriksberg feels a lot like St Ives in terms of the style of the new flats and the little cafés along the dock. I also like sitting on the decking and reading my Kindle there, as it feels a lot slower and more laid-back than some of the rest of the city.
Doing my volunteering project also helped a great deal: I loved the camp with CISV, and it was great to be thrust in at the deep end with people I had never met before. I’m quite shy in reality (although few would believe it) and it was good for me to be thrust into the midst of a group of people I had never before met as a way of forcing me to see the bigger picture. The people were lovely, and made me feel very welcome, as well as giving me a chance to learn about a few of the differences between Sweden and the UK, as well as our similarities.
Steampunk has also been great. I really enjoyed visiting Alingsas with the steampunks, and it was wonderful to meet so many new people, many of whom I hope to see again soon (and hopefully to stay in contact with on a more regular basis!) Many of them have helped me either practice my Swedish speaking or listening (or both!) and have been very patient with my occasional misunderstandings, as well as being just so very splendid anyway! Organising the Goteborg Steampunk group has kept me very busy all week and has kept a smile on my face as well.
Café Overlock in Utby is another important part of me feeling at home here. The people there have been very friendly and discussions about retro-50s-and-60s-style as well as polka-dots have made me smile so very much. So has their chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is underestimated by most people. As is good tea. Good tea is brilliant. Malika and Rickard are doing a fantastic job with that café and it needs to be recognised for what it is: a total jewel!
Emil’s uncle Martin also deserves a big shout out. As an ex-pat himself he has been a wonderful resource. From questions about where to find decent tea to help with keeping me busy and where to start with my job searches, he has been absolutely fantastic. He also let me take a sneak-peek at his book (and proof-read it, which was fantastic fun!) He’s an advocate of coaching within education, and a lot of what he says makes a lot of sense. We have also had some brilliant conversations about the flaws of the education system as it stands, and it’s very interesting to hear other peoples’ views on something so close to my heart.
To sum up, my first month has had ups and downs. Some days I’ve been five minutes from packing my bags and getting on the next bus to Landvetter. Other days, I wouldn’t leave for the world. I haven’t yet mentioned the obvious person who has done so much for me this last month, and that’s the Emil himself. From explaining the tram system a million times to convincing me to go to volunteering when I felt like I wanted to curl up in a ball and never wake up, he has been wonderful. Even when I’ve been the biggest pain in the arse ever or am crying over something inconsequential, he’s has the patience of a saint, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He might be a pain in the neck sometimes, but I can guarantee I’m much worse most of the time! Thank you!
Oh! and you, readers. I’ve been keeping an eye on the viewing figures, so i know vaguely how many of you there are. Thank you for reading! It’s wonderful as well when I speak to people and they tell me they’ve been keeping an eye on this, because it keeps me writing. Thanks guys for sticking with me! It’s good to hear your voices through the web!
I’ll end this post with a few lists
Top 5 experiences so far (in no particular order):
– Steampunk in Alingsas – realising I understood the conversation we were having
-Hugs as I left the camp for CISV
-Tasting Kladdkaka for the first time at Café Overlock
– Watching the sun go down on the pier at Eriksberg
– Visiting the Blue Whale at the Natural History Museum
5 things I’ve learnt so far that are either awesome or just plain weird
– Swedes put yoghurt on their cereal! (We can have a post on this and other abominations of Swedish foods if you like, but seriously, this confuses me!)
– Swedish coffee is really tasty, but in general, Swedes can’t make tea properly (the hot water is often just kept in a thermos or similar – not boiling.)
– Moose in Sweden get drunk on fermenting apples and get stuck in trees
– The application process for university is a lot simpler here ( no personal statement!)
– Maribou chocolate tastes like easter eggs!
Things I have done worth putting on my internal CV (things I’m pretty darned proud of, in other words, whether job-worthy or not)
– Proofread an entire book on education and the coaching approach
– Volunteered for a peace organisation in their kitchens (and followed recipes written in Swedish without any issues) and also ran my own workshop on international trade
– Learnt how to make proper coffee (We don’t drink real coffee often – ok?)
– Started the Gothenburg Steampunk Group (which has gained 42 members within about 48 hours)
– Worked out the Tram and bus system and navigated it alone without getting lost once ^^
– Applied for several jobs as well as university courses
– Completed several online courses in various different vocational subjects
– Written a couple of new poems
– Designed a whole new Steampunk outfit
– Ran a talk on International Steampunk for the Alingsas Steampunk Convention
– Ordered various things in Swedish without having to resort to English to be understood.
So yes: in conclusion, things are going ok 🙂