Reflection on my Time in Sweden

Well, it has been quite some time since I have been able to sit down and write. I hadn’t realized just how busy I would be after returning home from Sweden. From the moment I arrived back in Canada, I was unpacking, celebrating the holidays, re-packing, moving back into my apartment, then I was right into my winter semester. Luckily, I wrote an entry in my journal about my travels home, so I can share with you the final leg of my journey.

Image from Unsplash | Edited on Canva

Image from Unsplash | Edited on Canva

The night before I left my residence in Sweden, I had to say goodbye to the amazing friends I made. It was really tough saying goodbye, as I have no clue the next time I will get to see them! Fortunately for me, my friend Zach offered to help me to the train station with all of my luggage and we even had time for one final fika before the long trip home. I was really grateful for his help that morning, as it would have been much more sad (and difficult) heading to the station all alone so early in the morning. After saying my final goodbye, I was on the 2.5 hour train ride to Copenhagen for my afternoon flight.

The first flight into London was a rough ride with high winds and a slightly rough landing. Following this, I had a 10 hour flight from London to Chicago, which I actually ended up sleeping for most of, aside from the time I spent eating. We even got an awesome “midnight” snack run consisting of pizza, a chocolate pastry and ice-cream, so no complaints from me. Oh, and no screaming babies on this flight (unlike my flight in August), so it was smooth sailing. When I got to Chicago, I had an overnight layover which I intended on spending in the airport terminal, but luckily my parents got me a room in a hotel. That way I didn’t have to spend 17 hours in a terminal with all of my luggage in tow.

The next day I was sitting on a bench with several other travellers when I heard a guy speaking about his travels to the city I live in. It was interesting to hear an outsider’s perspective on it, especially because he kept saying how kind and welcoming Canadians were. I could see this, considering many of us Canadians say sorry even when something isn’t our fault, and it made me happy to hear that view of us.

Anyways, I was soon on my final flight (after about 4 gate changes) and was so close to home! After I landed, passed through customs and grabbed my luggage I was bombarded by my mom, who had of course told some other people all about my travels. So, I wasn’t too surprised when a random couple said “welcome back home” to me. The first thing my mom and I did when we got home (after a Tim Horton's run of course) was go out for dinner at my favourite Thai restaurant, which was a much different cuisine from my previous four months in Sweden. I will be posting on the food in Sweden, as it was actually a question that many people asked me about when I returned.

Tim Horton's | Tall Girl Meets World
Fireplace | Tall Girl Meets World

While the journey home was an adventure in itself, I thought I would finally share the impact studying abroad had on me. It was definitely difficult coming back because many people would ask how my time away was, and I would say “It was great, thanks.” It is hard to convey how much living in another country for four months while making new relationships with people truly is. I also felt that I was bothering people if I spoke too much about my time away. This post is a way for me to really show you how much studying abroad can impact a person, and I will go beyond my condensed version of the fact it was a great time.

For the first week, I was trying to adjust to a six hour time difference, remember all the new names of the people I’d just met, and trying to figure out how to get to campus. That was the easy part. Studying abroad led me to a huge emotional roller-coaster. I’m not one to cry over much, but I’m pretty sure I shed more tears in four months in Sweden that my entire undergraduate time in Canada! Tears of frustration and tears when saying goodbye. However, adjusting to a completely new lifestyle is not an easy transition, and I don’t think it’s a weakness to be upset every once in a while.

On the other hand, I spent majority of my time laughing and smiling. I enjoyed every moment I spent alongside the incredible people I met on my journey. I was able to enjoy experiences I wouldn’t have been introduced to if I hadn’t taken the leap to study abroad. I was introduced to a variety of other cultures, learned some new words in other languages, tried new foods (some good, while others were not my cup of tea), and learned to appreciate the diverse nature of humans. It is hard to say goodbye at the end because the people you live with, study with, and spend all of your time with become more like family. 

As we always said, it's not goodbye, it's see you later. It is obviously difficult to remain in contact with everyone you meet abroad, but I have discovered the people I am closest to, and have been able to keep in contact with them. The nice thing about meeting all these wonderful people though is that if you bump into any of them across the world in a few years, you'll have the memory of your abroad times, and will have something to connect over. I even have plans to see a few of them soon, which I’m very excited about! Without further adieu, here are some of the amazing people I met abroad (apologies for the photo quality, as many were quick snaps on cellphones before/during events!).

Friends from Residence | Tall Girl Meets World
Girls Night | Tall Girl Meets World
Black & White Night | Tall GIrl Meets World
Shopping Date | Tall Girl Meets World
Stockholm Castle & Friends | Tall Girl Meets World
Gothenburg Wine Bar | Tall Girl Meets World

I was lucky to have these friends by my side while we all experienced this transformation and adapted to a new lifestyle, got used to the Swedish schooling system, and found our way around new cities and countries. I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to travel and experience a new culture during my undergraduate studies.

I had actually decided on a whim to apply to study abroad, only a week before the deadline. I gathered my recommendation letters, chose my top three school options, filled out the application and handed it in before I could decide differently. I am very happy I made the last minute decision to spend four months of my life in a new country, learning new subjects and experiencing a new culture. As someone who is used to having a very organized life, I was pushed outside my comfort zone during my time in Sweden. I wasn’t able to plan out exactly what my days would consist of, and I wasn’t able to predict any delays that would occur when traveling.

This has made me a more adaptable person, and it allowed me to continue my semester at home with a more open mind. I was able to spend more time with friends and family, rather than spending so much time focused on school. I had a short period of time before school started again, so I spent as much time with family while I was home, then I was right into the semester and into graduate school interviews. I was lucky enough to nab a spot at my top choice at Humber College for Public Relations, and I’m looking forward to that new journey this autumn. However, for the summer I am going to try to spend as much time with my friends here before we all go separate ways in the fall.

I must admit that one of the main reasons it took me so long to get this reflection post up is because I wasn’t really sure how to get my feelings of studying abroad out. It’s hard to describe exactly what the experience is like, but I hope this gives more of a sense than saying it was a great time. Thanks for taking the time to read this rather long post, and I hope it gave you some insight on my time abroad.

Until next time,

Kaitlyn xo