Savour Your Firsts and Bask in Your Lasts

Foto: Lina SvenskTaisa Morsky is an international exchange student from Canada studying Political Science at Uppsala University this semester. This is her first column in Ergo.

Being an exchange student involves a lot of ‘firsts’. Coming to Sweden, I thought I would be generally safe from the big unknowns. This was my “first” mistake – a lesson I learned rather quickly. Contrary to what I expected, people actually do speak Swedish here. Also, directions, packaging, and signs are all in Swedish. While I have yet to figure out why I assumed everything would be in English, I did feel better learning that I shared these (unrealistic) assumptions with many others.
Fortunately for me, moving on from this discovery led me down a road of more ‘firsts’, and although sometimes a frustrating process, these experiences are what make exchange the absolutely thrilling adventure it is.

There are the confusing firsts, such as stepping off the plane and being hoarded into an area with twenty other jetlagged and dazed students all trying to figure out just exactly how to get to Uppsala, and then even further to get to the “nation” to retrieve your keys.
Next, if you’re as lucky as I, you’ll have the equally confusing first of arriving at Flogsta and wondering if you’re living in a forest and how you could have possibly thought picking what is seemingly the Siberia of Uppsala as your best choice. You might find yourself in the ICA, attempting to google translate each word, until you give up and settle for pasta and sauce, though the safest bet.
But beyond this, confusing firsts are nevertheless the most exciting! Your first time adventuring to IKEA – usually with a new friend you met in your building that you have become attached to because both of you are navigating the unknown waters of Telia and Studentportalen. And your first Flogsta party (prior to which you hopefully participated and snapchatted for all your friends back home to witness themselves, the infamous Flogsta scream). Your first ‘Snerikes Tuesday’ or Gasque in which you quickly find yourself laughing as you climb upon your chair mumbling embarrassingly poor attempts at Swedish songs.

For what it’s worth though, it’s the combination of all these first experiences that make up the beginning of what will be the most incredible semester of your life. So enjoy them! Laugh at the confusion and take it all in. Because before you know it the firsts will turn into lasts – and you will be off on your next adventure with a new set of confusing firsts. 

Taisa Morsky

P.S. A first to avoid – your first time looking at your credit card bill and realizing that the prices in Sweden are much higher than your home country and you should really improve at dividing everything by sevsn (if you’re Canadian, that is).