Hej Stockholm! Välkommen till Sverige!

Ok, so I have decided to start a blog. A travel blog, to be more specific. And now that I have moved away from London for the first time in 2 years and will spend the year travelling to different places around Europe, I thought it would be the perfect moment to start this exciting activity. 

Besides, as I am studying to become a journalist, it is about time I start writing on a regular basis!

I am currently in Stockholm, Sweden, my first of three stops which I have planned from now till June 2015. I’ll be moving to the Netherlands in the fall and to Denmark in late January 2015.

Apart from moving for an extended period of time to these three countries, I will be travelling to Iceland in August for two weeks and am planning a trip to Morocco for the end of the year. Though these two places would not be part of my “moving to a new country” experience list. 

Moving here to Sweden, many people have asked me what brought me to leave London and move to places like Stockholm, where apparently the majority of the people are actually doing the opposite of what I did. In fact, I did learn that London is an extremely popular destination for Swedes and Scandinavians.  Not only many of my University friends from London and colleagues are Scandinavian, but many of our Starbucks customers were too. In fact, writing names like “Erik” and “Emma” on coffee cups turned out to be quite common, although probably not as much as “John”, “Maria” and “Cheng”, but still common enough for me to notice it.

But now, I have turned my life around. I am in an entirely new city, with a different culture (slightly different if compared to the English one and massively different if compared to the Italian one), another language (although it’s no barrier as I do speak some swedish, and everyone here speaks english so communicating with others is never, ever an issue) and a new lifestyle. 

It feels like the moment I have moved from Rome to London for the first time in September 2012 – but in the meanwhile I feel like a completely different person in the ways in which I am dealing with the situation and in the process of integrating in society. 

As I see it, the best part of travelling and mostly what I want to get out of this experience in the following months, is to immerse myself in the culture, meeting locals and trying to adopt the best aspects of their everyday lifestyle. I’m quite sure that by the time I’ll leave Stockholm I’ll be having healthy energetic breakfasts, with granola and yoghurt, eggs, toast and cheese; have a very sociable and laid back coffee break with friends every so often (or “fika” as they call it here – completely different meaning of the italian slang “fica”); drink excessive amounts of alcohol on weekends in order to socialise properly and will love hanging out in nature as much as possible during sunny days.
To be honest,I have adopted  a few of these aspects of Swedish/nordic culture already – especially when it comes to the many coffee breaks and the drinking…

I am obviously aware that these are stereotypes and I am sure that these characteristics are not to be found in every single Swede. Though in some research I have done and based on the people I have met so far in my trips to Sweden in the past months, tastes do not vary considerably and the majority of Swedes do share these passions and traits in their own way. 

I have met a few people since I moved to Stockholm. The first one is Rasmus, the couchsurfer which has offered me his studio apartment as a place to stay for the next weeks located in a very quiet and nice residential neighbourhood of north-west Stockholm called Sundbyberg. We met when I arrived here on wednesday morning, although my initial plan was to land on tuesday night. Unfortunately I have missed my flight, for the first time ever, and was stranded at Stansted Airport for about 12 hours till the next Ryanair flight would take me to Stockholm. It has not been a bad experience as it sounds, although I must say that Costa Coffee’s couches are not the ideal sleeping location, as I have met an Italian who was travelling to Milan on my same morning and decided to stay overnight in Stansted Airport as there were no early connections from Cardiff to the Airport.

However – I have met my host as soon as I got to Stockholm and after leaving all my stuff at his place we went kayaking around an Island, close to the centre of the city,called “Långholmen” which literally means “long small island”; it is one of the endless number of islands Stockholm is built on.  It was definitely a great way to kick off the holiday as kayaking is one of my favourite outdoor summer activities – been doing it in Canada the last time I was there in 2012 and missed it ever since! We then spent the evening at home, having pasta and enjoying the super late 10pm nordic sunset. 

I have then been meeting up a few times with Daoud, a friend from Uni in London and also a guy from the Couchsurfing community. We met up this morning in Sergels Torg in central Stockholm for “Fika” with a delicious kanelbulle (swedish cinnamon buns I am ridiculously addicted to) and coffee, on a very nice terrace with a view on the city. 

And eventually, here I am writing my first post sitting in a cafe in the hipsterish neighbourhood of Södermalm (actually my favourite so far as it reminds me of Shoreditch in London where I used to hang out very often), watching at all the blonde people walking down the streets with their H&M bags and sipping coffee, getting ready for their exciting friday night in the city. 

From Stockholm, ha det bra! 

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