Thursday, August 18, 2011

One Year Later

I arrived in Sweden a year ago tonight.

Today, I can say without an ounce (or perhaps I should say gram?) of hesitation that moving to here is the best decision I’ve ever made.

My shortcomings in the Swedish language aside, I’ve established a pretty respectable life here in 12 short months.

I wake up next to my dream girl every morning in the perfect apartment, in an ideal small town with exceptional train service. No member of my outstanding support system lives more than 20 minutes away. It’s taken a lot of effort but I finally feel like I’m starting to be able to call a few friends “close.” I have an amazing job that pays well and is secure until at least next summer.

I’ve grown accustomed to a lot of things I never thought I would, too:

  • Strong coffee, and lots of it
  • Incessant conversations about weather
  • Trying to argue in a culture that avoids even minor confrontations at all costs
  • Lunch replacing dinner as my main meal of the day
  • No shoes indoors
  • Planning everything in advance, whether it’s doing laundry or visiting a friend
  • Complete and total division of work and leisure time, with zero overlap under any circumstances
  • Outrageous food and drink prices
  • Queuing (that’s European for “waiting in line”) for everything
  • Striving to come across as modest and humble in a country where bragging is practically a jailable offense

As far as my Swedish is concerned, it’s obviously going to take greater self-discipline, but I think what it’s really going to take is a commitment to spend more time here this year.

After having lived in Sweden for only a few weeks last fall, I took a solo vacation to Glasgow. We went to Sicily for Amanda’s birthday in November. I visited Germany and Denmark with my brother in January. Then I spent more than 10 weeks over three separate trips in the United States. All told, I spent 85 of my first 365 days as a resident of Sweden, outside of Sweden. That’s less than 77% of my time actually spent in this glorious country. Pretty difficult to focus on learning a language under those circumstances, but that goal now sits alone at the top of my list for the next 12 months.

I’m looking forward to what my second year here has in store.

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