I haven’t visited you for several years, but I think a lot about you. Do you remember? I landed in Landvetter Airport for the first time on 18th August 2004. We met on a sunny summer day… ten years ago. Time flies.
I have to tell you, you changed my life. I was born and grow up in Barcelona, but I matured in Sweden. Before coming, I had always lived with my parents. So I changed home, city and country all at once, with a consequent change of language, university, culture, friends, and more. But it wasn’t difficult, because you welcomed me warmly, embraced me as an adoptive mother, and made everything possible to make me feel I had found a second home.
The first days were busy but not hard. With a short visit at the university I got a room in a shared apartment. It took less than half an hour to open a bank account, and less than five minutes to get a Swedish mobile phone number in a kiosk. Making new friends took less than a day, meeting fifty new people less than a week. Those days were busy but thrilling, as were the two years that followed. I have so many good memories, you cannot imagine.
Without doubt, the best part were the friends I made and all the interesting people I met. At the beginning I met a lot of erasmus* like me, but later on I made Swedish friends and met other foreigners from all over the world. I learnt a lot, and became even more curious about the other countries and cultures.
It is not possible to think about you and do not think about the weather! I remember the cold and darkness of winter, but also the long summer evenings and its wonderful colors on the sky. June became my favorite month of the year.
And, of course, I remember the snow! I had seen snow before, in the mountains, and also one brief afternoon in Barcelona, but I had never lived with snow. I had never used snow shoes to go parting in the night, never done a snowman, never seen people riding a bike over the snow, never fallen on the ice after a hard exam, never done a snow battle in the night, never done ice skating under the stars.
I liked you at first sight. You are calm, have broad streets and avenues, large parks… and most important, you have a channel, a river, and you are located near the sea. Spring and summer were specially wonderful, because we could eat outside at midday, make picnics and barbecues on the weekends, and go to the parks and the islands. After a long cold winter, I enjoyed the warm days in open air much more than I had done before.
Moreover, I always felt secure, even alone at night. I never heard of anyone who had been stolen or robbed. I remember that a friend lost his mobile phone in the tramway… and got it back. At the cafeteria of the university, sometimes there was no one at the counter, and there was a small plate to leave the money if we wished to buy something. People paid, and nobody took that money (nor the unattended chocolates!).
I spent a lot of time at the university. Really, you must remember, I worked a lot there, probably even more than I had in Barcelona. In Chalmers we had less hours of lectures but much more assignments, and exams came more often since we had 4 quarters instead of 2 semesters. But all the same I enjoyed a lot the experience.
Best of it were some of the professors I met: they were passionate about their work and cared a lot about teaching and about their students. I once heard one of them stating that ‘if a lot of people failed the exam, it would mean that I did not teach well the course’. I was impressed.
and other random details
- the community washing machines available in my (and most) apartment buildings, which I had to book one week in advance
- the queues in front of the cash machines (always!)
- the smell of hot dog next to the tramway in the city center
- the queues in front of system boulaget** on Friday evenings
- the ice skating match I saw in the stadium
- the lights of Lyseberg, the amusement park, in winter
- the Cortège, the spring parade
- the meatballs with potato puree and lingonberry jelly, the salmon, the kannelbulla (cinnamon buns)
- not being able to enter a night club because… we were under 23 (or 25, depending on the club), or we were not well dressed, or there was a private party that day, or we were too many (?)
- the trips around Scandinavia
I have so many good memories… I miss you.
* erasmus = scholarship to study in another European university
** system boulaget = the only store allowed to sell alcohol, owned by the government