Wow, what an interesting day and a half this has been! There was really no way to prepare emotionally for how I’d handle the start of this trip, but now that it has begun I wanted to put my thoughts to paper while they are fresh, because who knows how I’ll feel a week from now.
If I’m being honest, and now that I’m here I feel like I can be, I lost a lot of my excitement for this trip once I stopped working. I was home, spending time with family, getting quality Kayla time, taking morning walks with mom and Wilma (dog), enjoying home cooked meals, etc. To go from a place of such extreme comfort to one of complete unknown doesn’t exactly appeal to me. That’s a tough mindset to be in right before undertaking a trip like this but I tried to at least appear calm.
I wouldn’t call it a rocky start but I will say it’s been a bit of a roller coaster. Ok maybe I’d call it a rocky start…I won’t take you through my every move but I wanted to share some feelings from day (and night) one:
- I was full of adrenaline upon arrival. The country is beautiful from the plane, tons of greenery and water, I figured out the train to downtown quickly, and had no problem making it to my hostel, which is on an absolutely beautiful island called Gamla Stan (old town).
- But then came my first night. I managed to stay up until about 8:30 pm before I lost the jet lag battle. Unfortunately I was up again at 10:30 pm when some dormmates came in. Even though they were very respectful and quiet, the damage was done, I had woken up in a foreign place and I was wired. Around 1:00 am, still awake, in roll the last two dormmates (3 bunks, so 6 people in total). I could immediately smell the alcohol, and the two just could not stop giggling. The male eventually makes his way up to the top of my bunk and within 5 minutes is snoring. But snoring is an understatement. It’s a snore on the inhale and exhale, and it’s so loud I can feel it in my bones. Earplugs are no match, nor is music. I finally fell asleep around 4:00 am with a sound app blasting a combo of white noise and heavy rain into my eardrums.
- But 10:30 pm to 4:00 am is a lot of time. Especially for someone who just quit her job, said goodbye to her family and friends, flew half way around the world, is jet lagged, and is listening to obnoxiously loud snoring from a drunk Spaniard sleeping above her. So, I broke down a few times, had a couple of panic attacks, and concluded I probably wouldn’t make it very long on this trip.
But tomorrow (or a few hours from 4:00 am) is always a new day. I was up at 7:00 am, went to a cafe, sat at a window, and had an amazing cinnamon pastry and coffee while watching Swedish parents walk their beautiful blond Swedish children to school. I read some of my book (Outlander book 5), and then headed to a free walking tour to learn some things about Stockholm.
Here are some things I learned and other first impressions of the city:
- Stockholm is beautiful. It’s on the water, the architecture is gorgeous, it’s clean, Swedish people are all generally tall, blond, in shape, and attractive; in a day and a half of walking around I really am impressed.
- H&M was founded in Sweden. It’s world headquarters are in Stockholm on an intersection with an H&M on all four corners, and 3 more within a block in different directions.
- The city’s slogan is “Stockholm, the capital of Scandinavia”, which implies it’s the biggest city in Scandinavia, which is made up of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. It’s not though, Copenhagen is. Supposedly the Swedes did this to piss off the Danes, something they try to do a lot.
- Which brings me to IKEA, also founded in Sweden. Next time you’re at one, take note that things like desks and chairs are named after Swedish things, while rugs and doormats are named after Danish things, this way Sweden is always on top.
- Swedish people aren’t outright friendly but are very helpful. In other words, ask a question and they’ll answer you, but don’t expect them to volunteer their help.
- Everyone can speak English but nothing is written or spoken in English. And Swedish is so weird.
- I’ve quickly noticed that, aside from the friendly Australian in my dorm (yes, it took less than 3 hours to meet an Australian), I haven’t spoken much. I found myself excited at the walking tour today because someone was talking to me for 90 minutes. This is already forcing me out of my shell!
- Small world story: within the first 30 minutes of walking this city I saw someone I knew. An old college friend’s freshmen year roommate. We aren’t friends, and I didn’t stop him to say hi, but how weird right?
I don’t doubt I’ll have many more nights like last night (the snorer doesn’t check out until tomorrow, but you know what I mean). But it’s good to know that I can turn it around quickly, or at least that it’s nothing a good pastry can’t fix! Today was a great day and I’m feeling much more optimistic about the trip in general and excited about the days to come.
Side note: writing this blog while sitting in Norrmalmstorg (a square) in front of the building where the term “Stockholm syndrome” was coined. It’s an interesting story, you can read all about it here.