Coming back to Stockholm feels amazing! I’m happy to be back to the study routine and friends. However, for many of you this year had started in the new environment and I understand that despite the fact that it was your dream for many years, it might be more challenging than you expected.
Therefore, I asked my classmates and summarized our thoughts in few points.
For me Swedish sounds like a lullaby, however, that doesn’t help when you try to navigate yourself looking at Swedish signes. I actually felt pretty dumb when after public announcement all people start to move or act collectively and you are the only one who has no clue. Learn some basic words and apply for course “Swedish for immigrants” if you have personal number. This might help a bit, otherwise, you can always ask strangers on the street. Which leads us to another challenge:
You might have noticed that Swedes enjoy their private space and tend to avoid unnecessary social contacts. Well… Adjust. You might face ignorance as well as true care and help. Here you can’t predict reaction. This is also true for physical space around any individual. Never take wrong side of the escalator, you might get THE LOOK. And you’d better not to stay too close to other people in the queue. By “close” I mean less than 1 meter. In India you would have 3 people trying to squeeze before you but in Sweden personal space is a religion.
In case you are finally involved in the interaction, you might feel awkward. People talk with you very polite and at the same time you don’t really feel involvement in your conversation. It feels like an interview that you cannot pass. You keep talking but you both know the answer. Some people say that it’s impossible to get a swedish friend and I suggest you to accept this challenge 😉
You definitely feel excited and overwhelmed about new country, your dream university and people around. Why would you feel lonely? Too much impressions, too much talking everyday, 50 times a day introducing yourself and meeting another 100 people a day ob=ver first weeks is exhausting. If you are able to deal with it, that’s great! But if you feel empty, take your time. All these people will still be there next week and next month. Make a call to your friends or family, they will remind you about your roots and life you had, that everything that filled your life before still exists and as valuable as it was. Stockholm is a big city and it doesn’t matter where do you come from: small village or megapolis. New life is overwhelming, just take your time and find activities that will fill your internals resources. There’s always another party next week. In case, you need to talk about stress with someone professional, there’s KI student health center where you can book appointment for free and share your difficulties.
Oh, yes. That’s a bit complicated, and I hope you all already figured out how to navigate around. You might have used SL.se or just maps but still it’s not the easiest brain work. For some of us this is first time abroad, some of us took subway for the first time, someone is not used to escalators. I mean, after spending summer in Russia and India, I forgot that you actually need to press 2 buttons in the bus. One to let the driver know that you need to get off at the next stop and another one to actually open the doors! Can you imagine how surprised was I when the bus just passed by my stop? (#ithappens) I just used to stick to someone before I learned the route. Friends is the key to success.
Being back to school is fun and not fun simultaneously. I mean, we all are excited about upcoming studies, however, KI has its own system of studying and grading which can be interesting to adjust for. For example, I’m not used to pass/not pass grading and also I’m impressed by the level of privacy. All exam papers are anonymizes and no one knows each other’s grades. Another stumbling block is stressing about exams and assignments. I remember myself leaving library every day at 10 p.m. because I couldn’t manage to find right information. The solution was to consult with the teacher and share concerns and difficulties. Usually, course leaders and lecturers are very helpful and answer emails right away. There is no shame in finding yourself with lack of knowledge. It’s hard to admit sometimes but that’s why we are here. Taking the very first exam was quite a nervous time. And just so you know, we are allowed to have up to 6 retakes! Talking about my own experience, including all my retakes I had more exams than any of my classmates, I guess 😀 I honestly do not recommend it, since it’s more difficult to concentrate on the new subject, however, nothing bad happens if you didn’t pass examination.
Being an Russian (experienced in winter) didn’t help me last year and, honestly, I hardly could deal with my depressive mood caused by darkness. However, in addition to this tips I will take vitamin D this time 😀 And don’t forget about using few layers of clothing to keep yourself warm!
After all, I am happy to welcome you in the worlds best and most loved university!
I hope you will find it as life changing as it was (and is) for me =)
Feel free to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org