In the past couple of weeks, change has been blowin’ in the wind. By that I mean the wind is no longer blisteringly cold, and has become somewhat pleasant. As winter moves into spring, the Swedish population has begun to appear from their homes after many months in what seemed like hibernation. Having never experienced a winter in Scandinavia before, it is safe to say that it is something that truly wears you down.
From around late November, when the snow began to fall and the days became increasingly shorter, there was some sense of excitement among most students who are studying abroad. The memories of snow days in the UK, where you had a few days of disruption (usually resulting in time off school or work) and great fun in the snow, convinced us that the Swedish winter would be as free-spirited as those days. Despite some early enthusiasm towards the cold, it quickly wore off. Having to wrap up warm just to undertake menial tasks such as buying a few provisions or going to the gym, gradually wore away at you. No matter how fashionable you try to be, you find yourself wearing the exact same clothes for weeks on end because it’s the warmest stuff you own! Just walking the streets ran the risk of slipping on the seemingly endless sheets of ice that covered the paths. Sunsets at 2:30pm meant that your body clock was sometimes all over the place (occasionally I found myself wanting to make dinner as early as 4pm). And then there was the gloom that seemed to spread across the population. I was warned in the first few weeks that Swedes become very introverted during the winters, and although it is completely understandable, especially if you’ve spent your whole life in that climate, it somehow translates over to others as well.
In first semester, when it was warm and bright, we would go out as much as possible. Taking advantage of sun by sitting in the many parks which are dotted all over the city, or having a beer in a pub garden basically sums up the first few weeks in Sweden. We would make more of an effort to go out clubbing, as queues were never that bad when it isn’t -15°C and the outdoor areas made the clubs twice as big. As the warmer climate is returning, I can’t help but look back at the winter in amazement. Despite what I’ve been saying about how hard and grim it was, when I reminisce about all those days, they were great fun, mostly because it was such a surreal experience. Extreme weather is something that we just don’t have in the UK, and to be given the opportunity to experience it fully is simply overwhelming.
As the seasons change and the days go by, the time that I have left in Sweden begins to dwindle. I’m nearing my final month here, and although there is still plenty of time left, I know that I will look back on it with great fondness. I’ve experienced so much here, but there are still many paths left to tread- only now, I’ll be able to walk along them in the warmth.