Greetings from Sweden

Michelle Zhang

It has been more than a month since I came to Sweden. It is hard to summarize my impressions of the country thus far, but if I had to describe Sweden in a few words, they would be: clean, modern, natural, and of course, cold.

I live in Karlstad, a small city of about 80,000 people west of Stockholm. One of the first things I noticed when I came was that here nature and city are very much integrated. Karlstad is a friendly college town; it is small by number of residents yet large by area. There are forests and lakes, and a river runs through the city. Nowadays, everything is covered with inches of snow. A friend who studied here last year told me that it will probably snow into April and May. Even though snow covers a large part of the city, it’s not hard to see its natural beauty. I just cannot wait for spring and summer to come; it’s going to be more beautiful and pleasant when all the snow melts away.

Life here is very slow-paced, which has been a big change from last year at Wesleyan and last semester in Bulgaria. I often have to find things to do to fill up the day. I have just finished my first course, “Aspects of Sweden.” This week I started my second class, “Globalization.” Unlike the academic programs I was used to before, here students usually take just one class at a time. I have found this system quite enjoyable. I have lots of free time to learn the culture, to travel and to enjoy life. The only thing that disappointed me a bit was there are almost no student organizations/clubs to join. It is hard to fill up time and get involved from that aspect.

But that gave me an excuse to travel more. Last week I got back from a trip to Norway and France, next week I’m going to Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia. I am really thankful for this opportunity to see the world. It has always been a dream of mine to travel around the world since I was little. I guess now is the chance to take the first steps and backpack through Europe.

I often wish life could be like this, like right now forever, without too much work and stress. I realize that this period now is probably one of the best, most memorable times of my college life. Years from now, when I look back, this time abroad will certainly be one of my most enjoyable experiences and I will cherish every moment of it. The time I spent last year in Bulgaria has already become one of my favorite memories. I am only afraid that this relaxed lifestyle will make my adjustment back to Wesleyan’s life next year very difficult.

I hope all is going well back home. I’m sure your life is much busier than mine, but don’t forget to stop and take a break once a while. After all, life is not all about working. :)

-Enjoy the rest of the week,