It was almost 8 months ago now since I took that brave step onto the plane. COVID-19 would not be declared a pandemic for a while yet, so the only nerves around were if I was going to ‘fit in’ or enjoy myself. I had put a lot of work into getting this far that had exhausted me mentally and physically, so a lot of expectation obviously built in regards to wanting a fabulous lifetime experience. The thought of this filled me with excitement and nerves all at the same time for my months studying abroad in Sweden. I was there much longer than planned but I have been back in the UK for almost a week now and I wanted to update you with what is happening for me.
I am now self-isolating in my university accommodation because of travellers quarantine. It has been a strange week from having a fantastic summer filled with freedom in Sweden to being ‘locked inside’ for two weeks. I suppose it is not ideal but I guess that is the price I paid for not returning before stricter travel rules were applied. To be even more honest though and what may appear strange to many is, that I am pretty much fine with this isolation period.
YES! You must think I am extremely peculiar. But after such a busy and tiring yet enjoyable summer, even the best of us need a little time to recharge. This is just natural and healthy. I was flying from Denmark but of course, the majority of my time was spent in Sweden so that is the reason why I have to isolate. I had the most wonderful and unforgettable experience, but, now it is time to get back to and readjust to my life back home in England.
As you probably know already, I was living in Sweden to study abroad since I am a university student. I believe this is generally something that is offered in the second year of your studies, so now I have a busy third and final year ahead of me. I do not think studying in the middle of a pandemic is ideal. I am worried about readjusting to a greater workload and probably a lot more face-to-face interaction than I had in the spring. We are in a period of uncertainty and it seems like I continue to face struggles, but I am determined to persevere in the face of adversity and finish my degree.
I am into the last two weeks now of my adventure to Sweden. The place I have called home for the past 7 months will soon become countless memories. This upsets me enough as it is as I have grown so comfortable being here and I am enjoying the many sights, cities and towns I have visited. Summer is ending though (evidently so with the changing colours of the leaves) and soon it will be time to return and continue my studies back in England.
An issue I am really struggling to come to term with is a 14-day quarantine that is mandatory for returning to England from Sweden. The reckless approach to the Covid-19 pandemic from my host country has cost me this freedom. I suppose this can be rich to say, considering I have had a lot of freedom these past few months because of no lockdown… But my feelings still exist. It is difficult to go from living the time of my life, to being practically locked in my room for two weeks.
I am an ‘outdoorsy’ person, especially in the summer and warmer months. I want to experience what I have been missing back home and to see friends and family. These are people I have not seen in the flesh for over 7 months now. To go that long is difficult enough but to be so close to them and to have to wait two weeks to see them is straining. I genuinely do not know how I will survive inside for so long without going a little crazy. I know for sure I have plenty I could be getting on with, but knowing there is no freedom and I am basically forced to do that is upsetting.
I think the most frustrating thing is reading about all this rule-breaking and bending back home. All of the mass gatherings happening and politicians breaking rules. I guess just about anything that has happened that does not respect the government guidelines. Even things like thousands going to beaches, or people going to the pubs. There are no doubt thousands and thousands of people who are not scared of or are taking the virus seriously in England (amongst other countries probably). Whereas I am someone who is not thinking of pub visits or visiting hotspot areas. I am simply a student wanting to see his friends & family and catch some easily socially distanced semi-professional football games.
But no, I am just a person coming from ‘high risk’ country. Why is there no exemption for a student returning from his studies, who needs to be back for his next year of study? I am just being classed in the same group as holidaymakers, who are brave or stupid enough to go on holiday during a pandemic. Is this fair? Who even knows. I guess I had my chance back in June… June 8th I think was the deadline for no quarantine when returning to England. That was a long time ago though and I thought the situation would get better. I hate the thought of quarantine but I will never regret my decision to stay and experience Swedish summer. A truly unforgettable experience.
To those reading this: Have you had to experience quarantine, whether you were a returning traveller or because of a lockdown period in your country or area. Please share me with your thoughts and how you managed to survive.
Six months ago yesterday I took only my second ever journey outside of the UK. I had flown to Copenhagen, for my semester abroad in Malmö, Sweden. My semester has long finished but surprisingly I am still there. My summer is not how I envisioned it, but that does not have to be a bad thing. Different is sometimes good. But what have I been doing?
January – I arrived halfway into January thankfully so I think I missed the worst part of the dark Swedish winter. I was greeted with a blue sky and sun for the first few days, which was apparently a shock. During this time I was filled with excitement for my classes and meeting new people. The time I think I felt an unexpected culture shock, but I would like to think I adapted quickly enough.
February – The month of sightseeing in my case. It was cold but that does not stop Swedes from being outside. I visited many parks and football games. I kind of regret this time slightly due to the pandemic. I was exploring my own city whilst I was still getting to know my surroundings. I wish I had explored more as the upcoming two months or so meant I had not much to do. Around the time the pandemic really started to kick in was when I was planning to start travelling. I did manage to catch Malmö vs Wolfsburg in the Europa League though. That was cool. Despite the 3 nil loss for Malmö.
March – The month everything changed so drastically. I was petrified of the skiing trip but I ended up loving it. It became an important part of my semester abroad, especially as it was a turning point. It finished a day early due to corona kicking in. It was a tiring week, but by the end of it and for many weeks after, I simply did not want it to end. An unforgettable experience in Tänndalen.
April – The new beginning? My new course of ‘Outdoor Pedagogy’ had begun and despite the pandemic, thanks to our small class size we were able to still hold a few outdoor classes. I was able to spend time in parks I had been before, but also experience new places such as Skrylle near Dalby. These lessons were valuable to my sanity at the time, as I was not getting out much. I have never been so grateful to have a class in my life, and I do not think I ever will.
May – Not too dissimilar to April really. The odd class here or there and lots of cold/tolerable days at the beach. The sights were beautiful when the days were blue and sunny. I was focused on finishing my studies with work due early June.
June – Officially the start of my summer holidays. In the picture to the left is Dalby Stenbrott (Quarry) where I had my first proper swim in Swedish waters. It was cloudy and FREEZING, with no saunas insight. But it was beautiful and I was glad I finally did it. Since I have swum in much warmer conditions at various beaches in and around Helsingborg. Lots of adventures had in Skåne this month, most notably relaxing at beaches.
July (So far…) – The adventures are only just beginning. I recently bought this summer card that gives free entry to certain places and discounts to others. It has already paid for itself in two visits to some lovely Botanical gardens. There is so much nature in which I intend to explore more.
I hope I have many more fascinating stories to tell you and I hope even more that you will continue this journey in reading along with me.
Hey everyone. It has been too long since my last blog entry as I have been so consumed with various things but mainly University. I now feel like it is a perfect time to give a little update on what else I’ve been up to and what is next for me this summer.
In the last few days I have finished the final assignment of my study abroad experience and consequently my second year of University. To put it bluntly, my semester abroad has not gone the way I had hoped and I have not seen anywhere near of Sweden as I would have hoped. But still, I am lucky and grateful to be here when many have gone back home months ago. Now I must make the most of the short time that I have left here and build more happy memories.
I feel incredibly relieved that summer is here, as I think I can speak for a lot of students here by saying that studying in a pandemic is incredibly hard. It is one thing adapting to online classes but another in finding the motivation to complete your assignments and studies. With so few classes and with most of them being in front of a computer, I could just not engage that well. It felt like the studying element was dragging on as there little interaction to be had online. With completion of this work it is like a great weight has been lifted on my shoulder and I can finally relax, whilst looking to spend time on things I have been neglecting recently.
Some of these things can be so simple but yet so easy to neglect when you have a lot going on, whether that is depression or if you’re incredible busy. Sometimes I am guilty of prioritizing the wrong things as I want to have good grades. But now I can finally get on with my time without stressing, at least for a little anyway. I feel very relieved.
So now I have a maximum of around two months left here in Sweden with a lot of spare time. There are hardly any restrictions here and some may like that, so they can go out and about. But for me, I am taking a much more cautious approach than most Swedes. I hope I can continue to travel to nearby places safely, as there is still a lot to do and see. I want to go to more nature reserves, parks and beaches. Sweden is a beautiful country and it is quite easy I feel to travel around. Thankfully there has been a lot to keep me busy these last few months.
For now I can just hope that the situation eases up to allow me to travel safely and that opportunities to social distance are possible. I feel that not many people respect the social distancing and that can make it terrifying to be outside – especially on public transport or small and narrow shops. I hope that the sun stays out and I can spread out in parks and nature, etc. There is a world out there to explore and there is a ticking clock in which to do it. I try not to think of regrets. For now I live in hope more than anything.