When I came to Gothenburg to start my master's in Biomedical engineering
, I was still working remotely back in Ecuador. Since I had 7 hours of time difference, I was free in the mornings and busy during afternoons/evenings. I tried to make it to all the activities, but it was challenging due to my busy schedule. I mostly took part of the activities performed during the day and came back home to work during late afternoons and nights. After spending almost a year in this beautiful city, Gothenburg, here are five reasons why I think you shouldn't miss these activities, as I did.
1. Social interaction
You're new here! You probably don't know other people in the city. Human beings are social whether you consider yourself introverts or extroverts; we need at least some social interaction to stay sane. Give yourself the chance to click with your phadder group by participating in all the activities you can. CIRC takes the current pandemic into consideration and have put a lot of effort into making the activities safe for everyone. Most activities were outdoors last year, and the ones that required being indoors were in smaller groups to guarantee social distance. I remember my phadder group got together to hang out after the planned activities. I couldn't establish a fellowship bond with my group since I didn't join them. I'm a very social person, so it was sad to miss their meetings. But it wasn't hard to meet new people once I finished my job since I am an outgoing person. You wouldn't want to be alone in a new city, so join the events from the start. You'll have fun! Your phadders could be international students or local Swedish people. Either way, they have been here at least six months more than you, so listen to them and don't be afraid to ask for advice. My phadders helped me a lot during my first weeks. They were always super kind and ready to answer my questions.
2. Get to know the place
Most of the activities involved walking around in Gothenburg. The first day was all about getting to know Johanneberg and Lindholmen, Chalmers' campuses. We walked a lot and enjoyed the good weather we still had. Later, I remember going to a huge park called Slottsskogen and playing some outdoor games with my phadder group. We played a game called kubb, that I didn't know existed, and I loved it. The next day we had a "race" to discover the city. I don't want to give away any spoilers. I can only tell you that I had such a fantastic time, plus, our phadder group won that race!
Of course, I missed a lot of the other activities, so it took me almost a year to go to the Gothenburg’s archipelago. Those islands are magical, and you can see the perfect landscape as well. It is truly beautiful to go into the water or chill beside a bonfire with your friends. Remember that the weather is still good when you arrive; it will only get colder and darker every day. Don't miss the chance to enjoy it while it's still warm and sunny outside. Chalmers also has access to a place called CS-Sauna for students. Going to the sauna is a popular activity here in Sweden that you don’t want to miss, check this blog
to know why!
3. Get to know other cultures
Days passed by, and we got to know each other a little more. There were people from France, Belgium, India, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and me, from Ecuador. We discussed our interests and backgrounds, and it was so much fun to discover new cultures! It was my first time so far from home, so everything was new for me. I believe studying abroad is more than just going to classes in a different city and language. Studying abroad is also about learning more about cultures different from yours. I'm sure you all have some stereotypes, so this is the chance to leave them behind and open your mind to the world!
4. Explore Swedish traditions
As I mentioned before, your phadders might not be Swedish, but that's not an issue. People who have already lived here for almost a year have experienced Swedish traditions and can tell you all about them. For example, one of the first big "celebrations" I remember was the Kanelbullens dag, a day dedicated to cinnamon rolls! You would love to have friends and celebrate this day by eating a huge kanelbulle and a warm coffee. This brings me to a daily-basis Swedish experience -Fika! And I can sit and write about more of these traditions I've experienced, but I'll leave some of the work for your phadders. Ask them, discover, and enjoy the Swedish experience!
5. Find your new family away from home
I previously wrote a blog about having a family away from home
. I feel so lucky that after arriving in Gothenburg, and despite missing some initial activities, I was able to find a group of people where I belong. We spent Christmas together and New Year’s Eve as well. We go on trips from time to time, and we are here for each other. As they finish their exchange or their programmes, some of those friends already went back to their home countries. But I'm so glad to still be in touch with them and we are already planning when we'll see each other again! You might also spend your holidays away from home, so make sure that you have good company when the time comes.