On January 16th 2016, I left Sydney to pursue a five-month exchange in Stockholm, Sweden, followed by two months of independent travel around Europe. Prior to this trip, the longest I had been away from home was when I spent 2 months in France on a student exchange when I was 15 years old. While the 7 months ahead seemed slightly daunting, I was overwhelmed with excitement. I was heading the Sweden, the land of IKEA, meatballs and tall blondes!
My first memory of the country upon arrival was wondering how I was going to survive the winter. Once I stepped outside of the airport, I was hit with a windy minus 15 degrees. Luckily, I met some people at the arrival service that Stockholm University provides, and huddled with them to catch a bus into the city. Little did I know that they were to become my best friends on this exchange.
My highlights while studying in Stockholm:
1. It was easy to travel to Lapland (above the Arctic Circle). In Lapland, I did husky sledding, saw the Northern Lights, snow mobiled, jumped from a 70 degree sauna into minus four degree ice water and back, petted reindeer, saw Game of Thrones-esque views, and learnt about the indigenous Swedish people, the Sami people.
2. Snow! Endless, endless snow. Skating on frozen lakes and snowball fights became part of my weekly routine.
3. In April/May when Spring creeps in, there are streets with cherry blossoms on both sides. Everything is pink!
4. Eurovision was held in Stockholm in 2016. Australia came 2nd!
5. Everyone can speak English perfectly in Sweden, which makes getting around incredibly easy.
6. The university is incredible. The teachers are extremely intelligent and helpful. The campus is gorgeous. There is a restaurant called Lantis which costs around $10 for a full meal and includes a salad buffet, and bread buffet and unlimited coffee and tea. Given Scandinavian prices, this is a deal not to miss.
7. You take breaks multiple times a day between classes to have fika (essentially a coffee and cake break).
8. Stockholm has the longest artwork in the world – every metro station is a piece of the artwork.
9. Stockholm is an archipelago as it’s a city made up of twelve islands. My friends and I often go kayaking and ferrying around the islands. The views are unbeatable.
10. Studying in Europe means that I can take extremely cheap weekend trips to surrounding countries (by boat, by train or by plane). So far, I’ve been to London, Lapland, Tallin, Copenhagen, Uppsala [Valborg is a must do], Helsinki, Amsterdam, Budapest, Prague and Berlin.
11. IKEA is the best!
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about Stockholm. It truly has won over my heart, and I will be devastated to leave! Thank you to UTS Global Exchange who have given me the opportunity to learn so much about the world and experience a love like this!
Vanessa Jiang, 11420371, Law