Culture shock hit me like a ton of bricks as I transitioned into life in Stockholm. The culture, the people, and the atmosphere are drastically different than my island lifestyle in Jamaica and the fast-paced city life I got accustomed to in New York. Nevertheless, once I adjusted to this new environment, developed friendships, and found pockets of peace, Stockholm felt as much like home as Jamaica and New York.
Stockholm has given me an insight into what city life could be through the tradition of Fika. Fika teaches you to take a break, even if that means sipping coffee and nibbling on a chocolate croissant at a café, sitting on the outskirts of the Old Town overlooking the water. I am not used to a city embracing moments of peace as Stockholm does. In New York, the only break you get is the train ride home after a long day, which is far from peaceful. However, Stockholm has taught me that I must take those moments out of my day to practice Fika, for a small coffee and snack break can transform my approach for the rest of the day. So, New York, prepare to meet the new and improved Fika me.
Other than the calming coffee breaks, I found comfort in nature. When I think of a city, trees and forestry does not normally come to mind. However, as you can see, Stockholm lives by its own rules. The late-night nature walks where the sky is still bright as the clock approaches midnight, lake swims where an otter may float past you while ducklings roam the shoreline, and the rabbits and deer that pop up at the most unexpected times, that is what nature looks like in the city of Stockholm. As I said, this is not the city life I am used to, so it did come as a shock to me, but it is in those moments, at those places, I basked in peace, calmed my anxiety, and overcame my culture shock.
The calming atmosphere makes Stockholm an easy city to fall in love with and an even easier city to settle in. My advice to those interested in studying with DIS Stockholm, do not settle. Two weeks into living in Stockholm, I did. Due to the tranquility, I did not feel like a tourist but a local who, unfortunately, did not speak Swedish—most of my days included attending class and then going home to cook dinner, with a few fika here and there. I felt like I had lived in Stockholm for years, not weeks, and did not push to explore. That was a big mistake on my part, huge.
It did not dawn on me until week six when that notification from SAS Airlines popped up on my phone. I pushed to make that last week my best yet; I definitely did. I went out for dinner most nights, explored the archipelago, made friends with the locals, and even saw Lizzo perform live. However, there were several things I set out to do when I prepared to come to Stockholm, but I did not because I settled. I needed a reminder that though I was studying for the summer, I was still a tourist and should have done what tourists do best, explore. I implore you to embrace the peace, but never settle.
Recounting my last six weeks with the lady at the passport center examining the stamps I acquired while studying abroad reminded me that this would not be possible without DIS. I am grateful to them, for being in Stockholm was a dream they helped me fulfill.
To my beloved Stockholm, my place of peace, I bid you farewell until next time.