Volunteering in Sweden: what going abroad alone taught me
My name is Malou, I’m 18 and I come from France. I just finished high school and now I am a short term volunteer at Globala Kronoberg in a city called Växjö in Sweden.
So, I think that I am going to start by saying that I am 18 but I never really did a lot of things by myself. Usually my parents were helping me with everything. Yeah, were. Because I did all this little journey by myself, and I am proud of it! I took the plane for the first time and went to another country… alone. So I discovered what it is like to do things by myself. Well, it is really cool. I live in a flat (shared with another volunteer) so I have to buy food, do the dishes and laundry by myself. It is super easy to be honest (even if I know that I eat too much pasta…oops). I also have developed my resourcefulness.
So, I live now in a country that has these kind of letters in their keyboard å ö ä. Frankly, I only have learned how to say potato (potatis) (don’t ask me why) and enough not to panic at the checkout and even pretend I’m Swedish : Hej (hi)/tack (thank you)/nej (no, usually for saying “no receipt”). With that I go incognito.
I also learned other Swedish things, like taking your rain coat AND your sunglasses whenever you go out, because here it can be very sunny one moment and suddenly it´s pouring for 10 minutes, and then it´s sunny again. I also discovered the food here. Well, mostly the pastries like “kanelbulle” (cinnamon roll) and the best place to eat : “Nop Notch”.
Apart from that, I got the chance to go out out my comfort zone and do different things for the first time like going in a bar or dancing in a “club”, or getting to know new people from different countries.
And the best part was that I had to use English to communicate. I LOVE English so I was thrilled to finally be able to use it. And in one or two weeks, I was fluent. Although I already knew a lot of English before, the pronunciation and the ability to talk naturally came in this amount of time. So, that, combined with the fact that a friend of mine did a little weekend trip by herself, I realised that maybe I could do one myself. So I looked at the cities and I chose 2 : Göteborg and Stockholm. I booked the places to sleep and the trains ticket for a 3 days stay. So I did my first trip-to-discover-a- new-city by myself! And honestly, it is so different but super cool to travel alone. I will do Stockholm in less than a week and I am really exited! By doing all this, I discovered that I really want to travel more, and that helped me find out what I want to do the next year.
During all this experience, I developed my love for photography. Now, whenever I see something that can be beautiful on a picture, I capture it!
To finish this post, I wanted to tell you some things that I didn’t know where to mention them. Here we go:
I went from “I will die if I ride a bike” to “if I want to go somewhere, I will go by bike”/ In Sweden, it can take you a long time to find a pedestrian crossing/ be ready to see “k” everywhere/ I am able to manage responsibilities, and to manage adults (from 19 to 30 y.o)/ I like to live in a country where I don’t understand what is being said around me/ I like being able to speak French outside and know that no one will understand me/ The nights are really short here/ If the trains are 1 min late, it will be displayed/ you may not always have enough space to put your bike in the city centre (too many bikes !)/ Once completely in the lake, the water is much less cold / Tap water here is EXCELLENT !
Thank you for reading this far,