A pleasant mixture of American and Japanese people
It’s been very difficult to put my thoughts about my first few months in Sweden into words. It’s been exactly what I was expecting, yet so different. I knew that the small culture shocks such as biking everywhere and experiencing the cold and abnormally short day times were coming. That’s something I could mentally prepare for. Sweden is very far from the two places I consider home (the United States and Japan), but the overall tendencies of Swedes are a pleasant mixture of American and Japanese people. So, it was easier for me to get used to the quirks of Swedish culture and people.
What I couldn’t really mentally prepare for is the feeling of independence in a place that is completely unfamiliar. Before coming to Sweden, I thought I had an independent lifestyle. I occasionally made (microwaved) my own food, paid my medical bills and opened a bank account. But what I didn’t realize was how I was doing all of this with the guiding hand of a relative (mostly my mother). When it came to living by myself, cooking my own food and I realized how dependent I was on the people I lived with. Although there have certainly been difficulties and struggles of all shapes and sizes, I am slowly learning how to take care of myself. I have also become incredibly grateful to my mother and grandmother, who took time to make food to feed me every day.
That’s not to say I don’t have my moments. There are times when I am incredibly nostalgic for the greasy foods of my hometown or the bustling streets of Tokyo. My friends here in Uppsala definitely alleviate that pain, but these feelings definitely eat at me sometimes. During those times, it is incredibly reassuring to know that I am just a phone call or a text away from people all around the world who are willing to support me through anything.
I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to experience my first time as a properly independent person in Sweden. It has certainly made it all more meaningful and memorable.