I’m sitting at my dinning room table on a Sunday afternoon thinking about routine. It is something that has struck me a lot lately as we enter the 3rd month of school and everyone is pretty much settled. I always find it incredible to realize what you need to make a place a home, to start a routine, to live in a new place where only a short time before you considered it a strange and new city. What things do you need to make a place a home?
I pondered this a bit before I left, thinking about what to bring with me (with a two-suitcase limit) across this big ocean that would help me partially set up a new place, live, and still keep memories and feelings from home. The important thing to remember is that there are shops here and therefore you don’t need to bring your whole wardrobe or your whole life with you. Especially things that are quite impractical to bring with you, like furnishings, should be kept at home. A lot of apartments in Stockholm are furnished or can be purchased second-hand to keep costs low. And of course there is always IKEA.
But little pieces of home are very welcome during those long days when your old life and family seem so very far away. Things like photos, little sculptures or memories, these things help keep home a bit closer. Of course communication helps too, I write letters when I can and keep a personal blog to let a large number of people what I’m doing from day to day. I also try and schedule skype or facetime chats with family and friends, although the time difference definitely makes for a few late nights for me. There is a also nice feature of an application called Whatsapp where you can send audio notes, almost like a voicemail message and I have found this a wonderful technique both for the treat of hearing my friends’ voices but also to help say a lot without having to type it all, especially when walking around the city centre or on a bus/tunnelbana.
And despite all of these pieces of home you bring with you and keep with you everyday while in a foreign country, you still develop a little routine and I am struck recently by how this routine starts without you realizing it and what it consists of. Of course as a student, you will spend a lot of your time in school and the library completing readings andassignments. But you will also find you have a local favourite grocery store, coffee shop, study place, and of course, because Swedes love their fika so much, you will definitely find a favourite cafe. You will even stumble upon your favourite neighbourhood or area and a favourite way to get from a to b, b to c, etc. You will find you don’t get as lost anymore, that you recognize popular areas and be able to say “meet me at x” and both you and your friend will know where that is and make it there on time! It will be magical 🙂 You will be friends with your classmates and perhaps roommates/dorm-mates, and other random people you meet. It will strike you quite a few times how you have managed, almost unconsciously, to make this new place a home 🙂
I’m at this point now, I live in Stockholm and I have a little routine that I love, I have friends and have created a family and it is just so amazing that this is possible! It was all a dream and a hope a few months ago and yet here I am/we are, doing great things and living well. It makes you realize you should never be worried about the future and new things, they just sort of happen and they are usually quite amazing.
These are my thoughts on a dark Sunday evening in my cozy room, a cup of tea by my side, reminiscing about the time where this didn’t feel like home. Because now it does!
(Despite it being only November, I love Christmas and the lights are already up!!)
And now I will leave you with a quote I love to refer to when things feel weird or overwhelming: