January 11, 2016
Dear New Student,
Hooray! You made it to Växjö! That will be the hardest part of your whole journey. It can be confusing navigating a new country, especially when you are exhausted from your flight. Life is pretty laid back in Sweden, so you can relax now.
The first thing you will notice are the other people on this floor. I made some great friends, and I am really sad to be leaving them. Emma and Sebastian will be continuing in the spring semester. They are super nice, so go ask them questions. They can explain how to walk to the school. Bus 3 goes to the school from the train station. Get on the bus that says “Universitet” otherwise you will go the wrong direction.
The green bedding in the closet was mine. It is washed and ready for you to use. You should invest in a nice pot and frying pan. The ones in the kitchen are pretty old and worn out.
If you continue walking down Vallgatan in the opposite direction as the train station, you will find the grocery store, Coop Nara. It’s good if you only need a few things or if it’s snowing, but Willy’s is the cheapest grocery store in town. There are two of them on the Bus 3 route.
Växjö is dreary and cold now, but you will love it in the spring. It was absolutely beautiful in the fall and summer. Go explore the lakes as often as you can. I regret letting schoolwork keep me locked indoors. Go play in the park at night and make sure to visit all of Växjö’s wonderful parks. My favorite thing I did in Växjö was visit the Teleborg Water Tower. There is an empty water tower on the Bus 5 route. When you make noise under it, it echoes in the coolest way. The tourist review sites say it is fun for children and kind of boring for adults. They were wrong! It was so fun to speak and throw rocks against the ground and hear the echo. It is also on a beautiful nature reserve. The History of Psychiatry Museum is a really cool, hidden wonder of Växjö. Even my Friend Family did not know about it. It was super interesting. Make sure to plan a visit. It is free entrance, but it is only open on Wednesday.
Speaking of Friend Family, if you have not signed up for that program, do so immediately. It is the best way to meet Swedes and learn about Swedish culture. They can help you adjust to Sweden and can really make your stay special. Swedes are very shy. It can be difficult to meet Swedes, so take advantage of this opportunity.
Be careful to not fall behind in your studies, but also take advantage of this time to travel. It is easy to take the train to Copenhagen and fly anywhere in Europe, but make sure you explore Sweden too. Visit the big cities and explore the museums in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö, and explore at least one small town in Sweden. It feels more authentic when you are in the countryside. If you are taking a Swedish history course, go to Kalmar. The castle and surrounding city are full of historical information. It feels like you are walking through a history textbook. You can see the places where historical events took place. I never made it to Gothenburg, Oland, or Gotland, but my friends went to those places. They said those places were awesome. My favorite place I visited in Sweden was Helsingborg. It was a beautiful city, full of history, and the Sofiero Palace garden was incredible. From Helsingborg, I went to Landskronna and Ven, which is a beautiful island and home of the awesome Tycho Brahe museum.
You should also take advantage of cheap flights in Europe. Ryan Air and Wizz Air have super cheap flights, but be warned: they have many rules, baggage size retrictions, and hidden fees. Most of the time they only fly to small airports that are an hour outside of the city you are trying to visit. As long as you follow the rules, they can offer you a great deal. Gdansk, Poland was my favorite place I visited in Europe. It is so beautiful and really affordable. There is a lot to see and do in the Gdansk tri-city area. If you are there on a Saturday or Sunday, go to the Oliwa Cathedral free concert. It was the most beautiful music I have ever heard. The Gothic style church has an open interior that lets the music reverberate off of the walls. The organ is two stories tall. It was as loud as a rock concert. Prague is beautiful as well. The architecture is incredible. It is also super affordable.
The most important advice I can give you is make as many friends as possible and spend as much time with them as you can. When you meet somebody abroad, you never know when you will see them again. Value the time you have with Swedes and other international students you meet. Have adventures together. Play in the park at night. Go to the lake and watch the sunset. You can make this study abroad experience into anything you want. It all depends on your attitude.
At times, the homesickness will be terrible, especially around the holidays. You can overcome this by finding value in your time in Sweden. Do something you would never do at home. Do something you can only do in Sweden. Have an adventure you will never forget.
At the start of your stay, five months can seem really long. You will wonder what you will do with all that time in this small town in Sweden. The time passes really quickly, so make sure you live in the moment.
The last person to stay in room 713