FIKA! FIKA! FIKA!
If I’m not mistaken, I’m pretty sure this was the first Swedish word I learned upon arrival and, I’ve come to learn that it’s one of my favorite things about Sweden so far.
After the long flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Stockholm, Sweden, I was relieved to get off the plane and began to anticipate all the great adventures that lay ahead of me. Shortly after getting tested for covid and checking in with the DIS program, I was introduced to my host mom. I had seen a picture of her and chatted via text, but this was different. Although I was excited, a part of me became very anxious because I was finally coming to terms with the fact that I was in another country living with strangers. The ride home wasn’t long and, we chatted the whole way, so this made things a lot easier. When I arrived at the house, I was given a tour and told that this was my space; however, I struggled to accept this reality.
“Would you like to have fika?” asked my host mom. I didn’t quite know what this was, but I was determined to lead this journey abroad with an open mind, so I answered, “sure!”
I quickly found that fika was a Swedish tradition where people share tea/coffee and a pastry/cake. I’m not a huge fan of coffee, so I had some tea while my host mom and 14-year-old sister had some coffee as we shared this moment with a table full of baked goods. This was the moment I felt at home and welcomed into this new environment. The fika break allowed me to connect with my host family at a deeper level, and it reassured me that I was in good hands.
Fika is one of those things that is extremely common and any/ everyone can have a fika. Traditionally, a fika break is had during the mid-day (between breakfast and lunch), but fika can happen at other times.
Due to my preference to live in a homestay rather than student residential areas, I found it a bit difficult to make friends. I was usually at home with my host family or sometimes in the room alone if nobody was home. Maybe this is on me for not being extremely outgoing but, I felt like everyone in the program knew each other, and I was the outsider. For my last event in orientation, I saw an individual standing on their own, and I inferred that they were probably in a similar situation as I was. I decided to walk up and say hi to Zach, and to my surprise, he didn’t bite. Zach was quite nice, and I instantly felt a bit better. As we were walking, we met Yunshan on the way to grab our books for class, and although she was extremely tired from her flight, I could tell that we were all glad we stumbled upon each other. As expected, the next day after our first day of classes, we had a fika break together. Zach and Yunshan quickly became great friends that I knew I could always approach them. The fika break was not only tasty but, also meaningful because the whole experience brought us together.
My time in Stockholm, Sweden has been great, and things are starting to feel a lot more normal as I take the journey day by day. Fika has been a fun way to meet new people and relax through a long day. This is a great tradition, and I can’t wait to invite my friends and family for a fika when I return to the United States! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog; I hope you enjoyed it and will maybe have your version of a fika wherever you are in the world. Until next time; cheers!