Last September, for my third year of studies, I got into the International Business class of the Toulouse School of Management. One of condition to get in was to go 6 months abroad. I had to choose 5 Universities and pray to get into one of them. My choices were Budapest, Copenhagen, Athens, Linköping in Sweden and Reykjavik. I really wanted Budapest but I got into Linköping University in Sweden. So what is it like ? Let’s see…
What was I afraid of ?
Honestly, the closer the deadline came, the more I was afraid. To begin with I didn’t want to go to Sweden. It wasn’t my first choice and I never thought I would end up there. At all. I pictured myself lonely in a small bedroom, with two hours of sun per day and a snow avalanche. I even did a list of all the things I have always wanted to do but never did (books, movies, etc.). Yes, I was pretty desperate.
More than the destination, I was afraid of the distance. I was sad to leave my family – even if I have my own place, I love to come back home on week-ends but one of the reasons was also my boyfriend. We spent a lot of time together in Toulouse and I am significantly attached to him. The idea of leaving him was breaking my heart. I spent my time counting the days we had left.
Even if it has always been my dream to leave France, work globally and leave abroad when it became real I started doubting.
Finally, how is Sweden?
As soon as I arrived, I got caught in a flow of new people and activities. Erasmus life is very “lively” : you quickly meet many new faces, you have a new house and you discover many new things. It’s awesome meeting people from different cultures because it teaches you to be open minded and to adapt yourself. It allows you to be more tolerant. I think that everyone should apply for Erasmus, it would allow a lot of people to understand how it feels to be a stranger in a foreign country.
Finally, even if the temperature is very low, you get used to it :at the beginning you wear many layers but than you start taking some of them off. The only thing you never take of are your gloves. Speaking of the darkness, it is not as bad as I thought it would be.
This is cool in Sweden :
- I assume you have to be a foreigner to think that, but the snow creates absolutely beautiful landscapes. It’s magical.
- Everyone rides bikes which is a very peaceful way of commuting.
- Swedes feel close to and are conscious about the nature. They sort the waste and separate the recyclables way more than in France. Indeed, they city busses are powered by eco-carburant. How great!
- They are the cosy kings, every place is cosy and confortable.
- Swedes are very classy and conscious about fashion (if we forget about H&M), they have a lot of conscious fashion brands.
- Everyone is speaking English and is nice to strangers.
- University and teaching methods are way better than the french ones. It’s almost incomparable. They are very organised and teachers are trying hard to find the best teaching methods.
- There are many places to visit around !
This is weird and surprising :
- Houses and flats have huge windows without any curtains. You can literaly see people living in their place. This is very weird from a french point of view because we hate being seen from the outside in our home.
- Weirds products in the supermarket : fruit soup, lactose free milk, marmelade in plastic packaging, etc.
- Swedes are queuing EVERYWHERE for everything. As an example, they start queuing at 1 am to get tickets to go to a party. The ticket sell starts at 6am.
- Alcohol is sold in state shops. They close at 3pm on Saturdays and the age is 20.
You have to get use to :
- The food is not the best and is quite expensive.
- Students bring their lunchbox to the university, there isn’t any university self. If you hate cooking as much as I do, it sucks.
- Swedes are in their bubble : no hello or goodbye in shops, no one is holding any door for anyone, you have to keep you distance from them.
- The distance form the people you were used to have by your side everyday.
To be continued for a few months…