Having spent a longer time in Copenhagen, I didn’t quite know what to expect when I arrived in Stockholm. Driving into the city from the south, I was surprised when the bus stopped outside a building almost perched on a perpendicular rock face. Trees grew all around, and despite the urban nature of the housing surrounding me, I felt right at home in the forest. Below are a few pictures of my experience hanging out in the park near my housing.
After exploring Stockholm more, I’ve realized that nature and green space is extremely well integrated into the entire city’s landscape, with the exception of the tiny island of Gamla Stan. This is Stockholm’s “old town,” and it’s full of winding streets and amazingly old buildings. But alas, no real green space.
Not speaking any Swedish at all, and not wanting to be so reliant on Google Maps, I spent the first week blindly exploring my neighborhood, Årsta. I discovered a park while running one afternoon that took me directly down to the water that has little jetties for sunbathers and swimmers. Since Stockholm has been so hot lately, and there’s no real AC to speak of, it has been delightful to swim almost everyday in such clean and refreshing water.
Though Stockholm certainly has its charming moments, it is still a large city. I occasionally feel frustrated by the hustle and bustle, the packed trains and buses. And, it’s July! Every Swede I’ve met has mentioned that most Stockholmers are on vacation right now. So it’s even more packed at other times of the year!
In many ways, when travelling around the city, I feel illiterate. Very few signs are in English, so I feel as if I’m missing parts of the culture. I can’t read advertisements on public transportation, and I’ve never missed that part of travel before. The city is currently conducting massive renovations on the underground system, meaning that most lines are affected in some manner. The information about those delays and canceled routes is rarely in English, and is not logged by any Maps service on my phone. Luckily that will be over soon, but that has been a tripping point!
If you can, I highly suggest learning a bit of Swedish on an app like Duolingo before arriving, because Sweden is not as English-friendly as Denmark. I started learning after I got here, and it has been helpful to at least get the gist of the most important communications.
Nevertheless, Stockholm is my favorite city in the world. It’s beautiful, accepting, modern, and ambitious. I’ve enjoyed my time here so much that I will be moving here as soon as possible, for an internship, a graduate degree, whatever. Summer has been lovely, so I can’t wait to see how well I’ll survive the icy winters!