Written by Stephen Ma

Two years ago, during the third year of my four-year Photography Bachelor’s course in England, I had the chance to study abroad in Karlstad, Sweden.

It was the greatest time of my life.

Endless sun, travelling, activities, and meeting so many new faces along the way, whilst getting familiar with the Swedish culture, was like living the dream. It was an experience like no other.

I felt really lucky to have had that opportunity, because it changed my life. After the most miserable final year back in England, completing my dissertation under grey skies and rain, and, of course, endless cups of tea with milk and no sugar, I thought I just had to go back to Sweden … And here I am!! Back again, studying a Master’s in Communication at the University of Gothenburg! Who knew it was possible?

The first few weeks back were as expected. I knew exactly what it was going to be like. The adrenaline rush of organised activities by hard-working second-year students were very well thought out and prepared us to share our past experiences, and, also, share our cultures and backgrounds.

This was a whole new university, but was a very familiar experience. I knew I had missed this feeling so much: the feeling of meeting new people is not for everyone, but, for me, it made me feel like home. I love introducing myself and, also, getting to know people from all over the world is a great way of being cultivated. I can learn so much about a different country by just interacting with others.

Finding accommodation in Gothenburg was not easy. There are, physically, not enough apartments for people to move in to.

I first lived in an Airbnb apartment, when I arrived on the 26th August. It was a really nice way of getting back into the swing of things and get used to the lifestyle with clean air again (completely opposite to London).

It was rather costly for the week stay, but, luckily, I moved into a Swedish guy’s living room for a month!

This also doesn’t sound ideal, but the idea was far from bad at all. It was actually a great time! I really got close to my Swedish roommate and, when the month finished, I moved out into my own private room, in a shared apartment in the ‘Hisingen’ area of Gothenburg.

This was the best decision ever. Now, I’m getting to know the couple I am living with, who are also Swedish, and they are amazing and very welcoming.

I have a whole new network of friends here, from Sweden to Germany, Italy to Spain, America to Brazil, Palestine to Pakistan. Everyone has such a different background and it has always intrigued me to listen to everyone’s stories from their countries. They make me think of home, as I do miss England, but on the other hand, I am in Sweden!

I absolutely love the city of Gothenburg and I really do recommend everyone to please make a visit. Flying from the UK to Sweden is actually quite easy, in comparison to other countries. You will learn rather quickly what a fika is, which is basically a much nicer way of saying ‘Let’s go have a coffee with cinnamon buns!’, as it brings people together, and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a nice cup of coffee?

To go ‘back to school’ is always sad after a long summer break, full of sun and relaxation… well, rain and relaxation in England, if you want to be specific. However, for me going ‘back to Sweden’ it was more exciting. I couldn’t wait!

Packing was always fun and always felt like going on holiday, but, as I’m not the best when it comes to remembering important things, I forgot my MacBook charger. Yes, the most ridiculously important piece of equipment I wish I remembered, is sitting at home, in my room, collecting dust.

So, as a tip, remember to make a list of mandatory things you will need when you move to a different city or country. It is the safest option and you won’t make any mistakes.