by Alex Smith
February 25th marks my two-year anniversary in Sweden and it’s a perfect time for me to reflect on the overall experience!
High: Amazing friendships. Sweden is not the easiest of places to meet locals and the Swedes will be the first to admit that! One of the best parts of Malmö, however, is a thriving international community with people from all over the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some amazing people here and I know these relationships will continue regardless of where we all end up living in the future. The highlight was my birthday this past December when 25 friends joined in throwing me a surprise birthday brunch! Two years back I couldn’t have imagined having such a wonderful group of friends around me today.
Low: Darkness and depression. After spending a few years in Spain before the move to Sweden I was spoiled with sunshine, siestas, and fiestas. Nothing could prepare me for 9:00am sunrises and 3:00pm sunsets with months of cloud cover and uncomfortably damp, cold temperatures. The lowest point was January 2014 when we received 8 hours of sunshine for the entire month…yes, the entire month! I had also given up everything I had created in Spain to accompany my spouse here to Sweden. My dream had always been to move to Spain and stay for the rest of my life. That dream seemed to have died.
Glitter: New book, new language, new dream! The silver lining of having given up my life in Spain is that I made space for new things. I finally had the time and motivation to publish my book, which had been on the back burner for too long. The culture shock I experienced moving to Sweden was a necessary evil, giving me fresh, first-hand insight for the book. I also love learning new languages and have now added Swedish to my repertoire. Lastly, I’ve learned that dreams can change and when you accept what shows up in life instead of resisting or resenting it things just get better and better!
Alex Smith’s semester in Seville, Spain became the motivation for his leaving the comforts of a corporate job in his native United States to rekindle his love affair with Spain. He is the author of Study U Abroad: The 5 Keys to Unlock Your Awesomeness and Transform Your World, a book that empowers students to stretch beyond their comfort zones and seize the opportunity for self-growth while abroad. Alex currently resides in Malmö, Sweden but has lived and worked in Boston, New York City, Atlanta, Barcelona, and Madrid. He draws on his personal and professional life experiences to help students and expats thrive abroad and back home. Connect with Alex at studyuabroad.com.