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After the rain – my first month in Sweden

A few days before class on my way home, I step off the train to discover a deluge. I have over a kilometre to walk, I’m wearing shorts and a light windbreakder, and the water gods are having a ball. The cold, unrelenting pelts are all I can hear and feel and I try not to panic. My housemate kindly saves me with his car.

Two days later, I invest in a raincoat and I find half-price gumboots the next morning. The waterproofing symbolises my attempts to tame the overwhelming chaos of moving continents.

***

In class, we’re asking what defines journalism. In a chaotic world of content overload, disinformation and never enough time, how should we find, verify and package our stories?

Out of class, I’m asking what defines living fulfillingly, for me. In my quest to dig temporary roots in a new city, how should I stay healthy and connected, optimise my learning and contribute to communities?

I came here because I wanted to follow trails that begin with that first question, what is journalism. Specifically, what qualifies reporting as “investigative” and how can I do that investigative thing well. I’ve found no shortage of reading on the topic, and am beyond relieved that this is 2019 and my books of choice are proving refreshingly easy to access online.

But I’ve spent at least as much time determining what lies at the core of stability and fulfillment half way around the world. On the days when I’m warn down reassuring extremely concerned passers-by that I’m capable of getting wherever I’m going, or where I misjudge and miss the half-hourly train, or when I learn the hard way I need to own a raincoat and carry it always, I have to focus. I have to remind myself not just about the IJ course I excitedly discovered on google, but also of my priorities.

So far, I’ve gotten the hang of a new kitchen, learned the routes to the supermarket/train station/class and gotten through the start-of-year quick-news-assignment blitz. I’ve found an Irish music session, signed up to the model UN group, and have a Social Sciences Environmental Student association (try that five times fast) meeting on Tuesday.

I'm standing on the small swedish island of vrångö with two friends. You can see a boat dock and fields in the background.

On a miraculously and unseasonably sunny afternoon, I even picnicked and explored with classmates on nearby island Vrångö.

***

With a new friend, I walk over the hilly cobblestones from Språkcafé to the nearest tram stop. That café is a magical spot where you can find others wanting to speak/practice the same language as you by noting the flags indicating as much above each table. On thursdays, my day of choice, the selection is French, Spanish, Catalan and swedish. I haven’t spoken French or Spanish much all year and I relish the mental workout despite the rust.

On the train home, I hear the torrent begin as we pass Partille, one of the stations before mine. I put my raincoat, scarf and gloves on and brace myself. At home, I change and attack my liberally dripping hair with a towel (more use of my hearing won out over a hood or umbrella).

I’m hot by now and it’s after ten but I head to the freezer anyway. I free a scoop of strawberry ice cream from its cardboard box and tuck in. It’s been a month since I arrived in Sweden. There will always be the time and need for more questions, but for now, I’m content knowing that I’m getting better at finding the literal and metaphorical ice cream after the rain.

By ainekc

Blind freelance writer/journalist and campaigner from aotearoa NZ.

2 replies on “After the rain – my first month in Sweden”

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