After two weeks back at uni, things are starting to settle back to normal again. Although, I have to be honest, it has not been easy. The past month has been loads of travel back and forth between several European capitals. I unfortunately did not stick to my essay plan and settling into the transition back to campus. However, I had a great time visiting friends and family on my break and I was lucky enough to see both my home city Stockholm and wonderful Amsterdam, then finish off with a day in London.
My Family Christmas
I celebrated the Christmas celebration with my extended family. Including parents, step parents, grandparents, step grandparents, siblings and step siblings… Just my ’close’ family made up of 18 people. The Christmas celebration plays a special role in my family. We come together despite the past and really enjoys our time together very much! This is certainly not the most conventional way to celebrate Christmas, not in the world nor in Sweden. However, as people divorce more frequently and family constellations change, it is probably just a matter of time until more families celebrate in the same way we do. I could say that our Christmas celebration is a version of the American Thanksgiving. With its turkey replaced with traditionally Swedish dishes like pickled herring.
“I unfortunately did not stick to my essay plan”
I arrived in Sweden in the middle of December, but I had to wait for the Christmas indulgence to begin. The reason was my procrastination had left my essay plan in tatters, with deadlines worth of 9000 words to produce in one week. Before all of them were in, I couldn’t even let myself listen to that one Christmas record that sets the holiday mood. That’s the funny thing about traditions, most of us need certain things to be in a particular way for us to come into the festive mood. So before that record could be played, I had to put my mind to finishing these deadlines.
Different universities handle assignments differently. What I have noticed as a huge difference between Sweden and the UK is the distribution of examinations along the year. I was surprised to find only two essay deadlines before December. Then I had three deadlines coincide in the last week before the holidays. Then everybody talks about the final big exams at the end of the last term. Back home, students have a mix of essays and exams along the whole year, regardless of their chosen degree (there are undoubtedly differences among departments but generally speaking this is the case).
Although my essay plan did not quite work out. When they were handed in and I had celebrated the festive holiday with my family. I took off to Amsterdam to spend some time with my boyfriend. Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities, with its beautiful canals and the crooked streets paved with cozy cafes. The city offers an interesting history as well as cool things to explore. I stayed for a whole week and we celebrated New Years on his colleague’s house boat near the central station. We did the tourist tour of visiting both Rijksmuseum and then Mauritshuis in den Haag, biking to different places and meeting friends. If you would like to get away from the tourist attractions for a bit. I would highly recommend taking the free ferry over to the northern industrial part of the city.
“Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities”
Back to University
I arrived back in London a week into the new year. The city made me smile with all its rushing business people and tourists taking photos of everything moving. I wandered the city with a cram-full backpack. The illusion that I would have less stuff to carry on my way back from home vanished when I entered the London subway during rush hour. I was just about to catch the train back to Essex when my friend asked me to grab a beer at her sister’s work and I ended up staying a night in London as well. It was certainly exhausting to go back and forth between cities but it gave the city girl her fair share of hectic city life from three big cities and enough energy to start the new term!!
Feel free to contact me for more info about my story or share your own enthusiasm. Other questions or your own tips for a Fresher like me in the comments below