Reflections from Sweden: Aurora, fika, and diversity

Reflections from Sweden: Aurora, fika, and diversity
Photo: Raushan Sharma
‘The most memorable moments in life are the moments you never planned.'

A year ago, if you were to ask me whether I could see myself studying and living in Sweden, I would have probably laughed it off. And yet, it was a year ago, that a simple Google search that led me to discover Dalarna University (DU). From never imagining myself in Sweden to having lived here for almost eight months, I’ve certainly come a long way.

If I were to reflect on these eight months, what strikes me most is the global environment.

The experience of learning at DU has been very diverse; from my classmates to my professors and the courses taught. We have had lecturers from Germany, Sweden and India – each with their unique style of teaching but all with a  high level of knowledge and expertise.

My biggest takeaway from this academic year, however, has been studying and learning with classmates representing over twenty nationalities. I have had classmates invite me for a Syrian meal, I celebrated my first Thanksgiving with friends from the United States and Canada, I went camping with an Italian, I learnt a little Swedish from my only Swede classmate, I represented my country in an International Food Festival, I got invited to eat some Zambian grilled fish and sampled Ghanaian chocolate.

Our classroom diversity wasn’t purely geographical.  We had graduates as well as professionals in class, coming from varying backgrounds such as electrical or mechanical engineering, physics or even chemistry. It helped me immensely to mix with people all over the world – to understand how they learn, how they work.

Since setting foot here, I have been surprised every day by Sweden, with new memories waiting to be made each day – whether it was a camping trip to Fulufjället National Park to see the Northern Lights, skiing for the first time in my life, barbequeing with friends, going through the treacherous grind of getting a Swedish driving license and of course – the inevitable fika. The list could go on and on.

I am often asked by friends back home what it was that convinced me to take the leap and move to Sweden, where life can be expensive and the weather strange – especially for an Indian. Amongst many other reasons, I would say it was the support provided by the Swedish Institute in terms of a scholarship, and the prompt and open communication with the International Admissions Office at Dalarna University (thank you Michael!). When you move to a new country as a student, it always helps to know that there are systems and scholarships in place to make this journey as smooth for you as can be.

They say time flies and how it does ! I have met wonderful people, made wonderful memories and it’s been quite a ride in this new, beautiful, eccentric and unassuming country. Here’s to whatever Sweden brings me next!