Roy Lochhead- Student ID- 11655014 DAB
I arrived in Stockholm early January… and it was cold as shit.
The next day I caught a 4-hour bus to the domicile which would be my home-away-from-home for the next 6 months- Jönköping.
With a tourist-like excitement, I trudged my way through the snow toward my apartment and on the way I was greeted by a group of young hooligans with a snowball to the face. If this happened in Australia (which would mean the snowball was a sandy football and the thrower was a 16 year old with a plaited rats tail and a southern cross tattoo) revenge would be a no-brainer. However, I decided to adopt a different approach and embrace this foreign lifestyle and whatever (snowy) curveball may be thrown my way (literally). And so, with a deep breath I suppressed my feelings of a rage and immense anger and continued walking.
I was expecting to cruise through the exchange like a sharp ski in fresh powder. However, the first few weeks of exchange life were chaotic and intense.
Before I even had the chance to feel lonely and outcast, I was thrown into a series of events organised by the Student Union where students meet other exchange students and local Swedes.
I met some friendly Swedish people out one night at the student pub and it turns out they were going up north for a ski trip the following week and they had a spare ticket. When I woke up I found that I had drunkenly accepted the “spare ticket”. Three days later I was in in Åre, snowboarding on Swedish sweet slopes with 100 other Swedish students from my university.
Pretty good start to the exchange I reckon.
On our days off uni, we would try and explore Scandinavia and close by destinations. Public transport is very good in all Scandinavian countries, which is something that should be utilized whenever possible.
One of my favourite things about Jönköping is the student culture. The town itself is made up of 10% students and 10% of the students are internationals. This creates a very relaxed, social, welcoming atmosphere, which was ideal for someone in my position. As a result there are many organised trips to a wide range of pretty amazing places which you really should take advantage of.
One trip that I went on was to Russia, and it has so far been the highlight of my exchange. St Petersburg ranks as the #1 destination in my books. The scenery is so picturesque, there is historic architecture as far as you could see and everything is cheap as chips. We were living like kings. The Student Union organised a 7-day trip including Estonia, Russia and Finland by ferry (and for a pretty good price).
For Easter, a group of about 10 of us hired a cabin in the Swedish wilderness for 5 nights and it was an experience I will never forget. We had bikes, fire places, saunas and a butload of good times. We went hiking, we canoed, we cycled,we played cards around the fire and cooked a BBQ most nights. The cabin was on a property in the middle of nowhere and it took us 4 hours and 3 bus connections to get there…but it was definitely worth it.
Now it is May and spring has sprung. The sun is out, life is blossoming all around and I can’t complain.