Sweden. If i asked you your first thoughts about this country, what would you say? IKEA, Aboslut, ABBA, blonde blue eyed folk, Vikings and Volvos? Before arriving here I knew little more than this. But having lived in Stockholm now for two months, I can heartedly say there is much more to this place. My time here so far has been a most amazing experience of meeting new people, understanding a different culture and visiting new places.
Stockholm is a city very different to Sydney. It is built upon an archipelago and therefore varies between islands. To the south of the CBD is Gamla Stan where the castle of the royal family sits. Further south is Sodermalm, the Surry Hills equivalent. To the east is Djurgarden, an island with a garden as large as any suburb. The city is full of activities to keep you busy, be it the museums, stores, sights, nature or much else.
It is true that the winter is what one may expect from Game of Thrones, with 5 hours of light daily during January and temperatures at freezing for much of it. Though this is quickly acclimatised to, it is in fact comforting in ways. Swedes consume about 5 cups of coffee per person daily, and the weather is a good excuse to spend time in cafes, out or at home with friends. This is also the perfect time to visit northern Sweden, where one can observe the Northern Lights.
Studying Law at Stockholm University has been an experience different to that I am used to. Students generally take only one subject at a time for about 2 months, having a more block-mode like approach to the topic. Having taken EU Competition Law as my first topic, I had lectures by guest lecturers from all about Europe, including judges, lawyers, professors and members of the European Commission. The class was a mix of exchange and local students, and was perfect for making friends from Sweden and elsewhere. Meeting Swedes may seem a challenge at first, but once they are comfortable like you, they are as good as any friend. It just takes a little initiative on your end to strike up a conversation with them.
Travelling about is quite simpler and cheaper than in Australia. I have taken trips about Sweden itself and to Amsterdam so far, and shall be soon heading to the Baltic States. Since these places are so close, you can easily go away for the weekend and see somewhere new each time.
Having had such an incredible time so far and looking forward to doing much more, I recommend Stockholm to anyone interested in partaking in exchange.