Two days ago I was walking through the IKEA store in my hometown and I got homesick! Big time! You may ask yourself why. The reason is simple. I miss Sweden, a lot, and although I left it over a year ago I still think about living over there at least once a day.
Is it even possible to feel homesick for a place that only was your home for 5 months? It sounds a bit crazy to me, but it is how I feel. In the following I’m trying to express why I miss it so much and what living in Sweden meant to me.
I spent one semester abroad at Linneaus University in Växjö. I moved there in August 2010 and stayed until the following January. Växjö is located in the heart of Småland in the south of Sweden and has about 60.000 inhabitants. For those of you, not too familiar with swedish landmarks, you’re maybe more familiar with Astrid Lindgren’s work. A lot of her children’s books were set in Småland such as “Emil of Lönneberga”.
I fell in love with the country and I cannot even say why. It’s just that I felt really happy, safe and free there. The best thing for me was a walk around the lake conveniently located next to campus. We also hat a little castle on campus, very cool.
During my stay there, I lived in a dorm and it was a great experience for me because at home I live with my Mom. Also, we don’t have a campus university here, my home university is spread around town, located on the several hills of my hometown, making getting around from one building to another not that easy or fun. But in Växjö everything was in one place, even the student housing. I met some great people there and am still in contact with my corridor mates. Most of them were ERASMUS students as well or free movers obtaining their Bachelor or Master degrees there. I really, really miss them!!
In my experience it’s quite hard to get in contact with swedish people or students for that matter. They are a quiet people and like to keep amongst themselves (of course there are exceptions from this rule!!!). But I got lucky! Linneaus University offers great support for foreign students and so I was paired up with a swedish family through the Friend Family Project. Björn and Lotta were great, they showed me around the area, let me tag along to gatherings with friends or theatre rehearsals. Unfortunately my Swedish is still not really good and I also have forgotten most of it since I left there.
Of course I did not spend all my time in Växjö, I wanted to see as much of the country I was staying in as possible, so I went on trips with my corridor mates. We went to Copenhagen, Lund, Karlskrona, Gothenburg, Stockholm and many other places.
Unfortunately it was still January and the weather was not at its best when I visited Stockholm which was also the last part of my semester abroad since I flew back home from Arlanda Airport. But one thing, I know for sure, Stockholm is my kind of city and I desperately want to go back there this year when it’s not cold and snowy.
Even though Stockholm is Sweden’s capital it doesn’t appear to be big which makes it typically swedish because what most people think of as big does not apply to Sweden. Växjö for example, with its 60.000 inhabitants, is the biggest city in that particular region and getting to the next town may encounter a 80-100 km drive.
As you can see in the picture on the left, I was fortunate enough to encounter a real swedish winter and let me remind you, I was in the south. It first started snowing on October 21st but it didn’t last. A month later though it snowed again and everything stayed white and cold until I left in January. I really enjoy snow, it makes the world look more peaceful and quiet. Now, I am also a fan of -10°C during the day. One of my best memories is seeing the humidity freeze during a sunny but cold winter day. The sky is clear blue and when you look up there are thousands upon thousands of little snowflakes reflecting the sunlight like little diamonds. It looks as if it’s snowing but it’s not really because there are no clouds. It’s just so beautiful.
What makes me miss Sweden so badly that I can’t even walk through IKEA? I guess it is this feeling of being on my own, not having to let anyone know where I’m going. You may answer that I can have that everywhere and you’re right. But the freedom on top of the always polite Swedes and the beautiful landscape really got to me. I want a lake outside my house, damn it! How could I live so long without it? How can I live without it again?
For me, life in Sweden is peaceful and quite, it’s not as hectic as it is here. I remember coming home for Christmas and I was so shocked at the people around me. Buying groceries suddenly was extremely stressfluss, something I hadn’t experienced in a while.
I really hope that I will manage to squeeze in a visit to Stockholm in May or June this year, so I can hear Swedes talking again and just being in the country I feel more at home in than my home country.