Ways in which living in Sweden changed my life (and how it could change yours, too)

I look back on my time in Sweden with great fondness. From the very beginning, I saw KI as an investment in myself: I was going to do my best, study hard and absorb every piece of relevant information I could. I would say I managed to do that and more: on top of the obvious professional/academic gain, I also met and formed friendships with people that I now call some of my dearest friends.

However, what I did not except was for Sweden to change some aspects of my behavior. Here are just a few:

Daiana, the environmental warrior?

From a very early age, I understood the importance of protecting the environment. For the first few years of my life I grew up in the country side, so taking care of the nature that surrounds us was ingrained in me early on, not so much from a political standpoint, but from a pragmatic one. If we didn’t take care of our land, no one would. Later on, in school, I willingly participated in different activities that aimed to remove plastic waste from parks, woods, etc. It’s pretty safe to say that I was aware of the damage we can make. That being said, life in Sweden has showed me that you don’t need to go out every weekend and pick up garbage, in order to make a difference. So, what changed?

  • No more plastic water bottles – tap water was clean, so why not buy a reusable bottle and fill it up whenever needed? I also try to do this at home, either by finding clean water sources to fill up my bottle, or buying larger bottles (5 l) and filling my reusable water bottle as needed.
  • Reusable grocery bags – instead of paying extra SEK/RON/$ on large plastic bags, I try to always have a small cloth bag with me, to use it whenever I go shopping and limit the amount of plastic I have to use.
  • Meal prepping and home cooked meals – home cooked meals will save you money and reduce the amount of plastic you use, but a little meal prepping could also reduce the amount of food you waste, because you will have full control over your portions and the amount of food you need to purchase.

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My reusable bags for groceries.

These are just 3 small changes that I made while living in Stockholm. Luckily, most of these habits are not limited to Sweden, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to continue with them after you leave.

Daiana, the food connoisseuse?

Before my arrival to Sweden, I thought I was a pretty open-minded person in terms of culinary preferences, at least by Romanian standards. Come to find out, it wasn’t really the case. Because of its multicultural population, Stockholm has a very diverse food scene. After my arrival to Sweden I soon realized that I didn’t really know that much about international cuisine, and I was happy to discover more dishes and aromas. The food experience was not limited to restaurants (which, in all fairness, are not the cheapest options). Because of my very diverse class/group of friends, I was able to try out dishes from all over the world. I can even say that I assisted some of my friends in preparing their dishes.

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Tasty Vietnamese and Bengali dishes

Daiana, the research critic?

Pursuing my Master’s of Science changed my perspective on academia in many ways. I felt more challenged than ever before and I was eager to absorb every bit of information available, like a sponge. Truthfully, there was never a shortage of publications to read, so I had plenty of resources at my disposal. What I was not expecting to become is more critical. I have always been critical of my own work, and tried to make the best out of every piece of constructive criticism I got. I was, however, reluctant to criticize another person’s work. That changed as soon as I started my classes at KI (as one of the first assignments I had was to review a former student’s degree project), and continued all throughout the academic year, through the many occasions in which I had to be a peer reviewer.

Post-GH, this has led to me having higher standards both for myself and the publications/documents I read, as well as to me realizing how often we make affirmations that are not backed by any evidence.

Daiana, the tourist at home?

Like most people, I have always enjoyed travelling, seeing new places, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. When I decided to apply at KI and move to Stockholm, I realized that I could combine two things: continuing my studies at a prestigious institute, while discovering a new city. What I did not expect was for this experience to push me to do the same with my home country. After moving back to Bucharest, I slowly but surely started to search and discover the places (parks, museums, restaurants or bars) that I’d never really given a chance to, but that are waiting to be visited.

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