Välkommen till Stockholm

There’s something terrifying yet thrilling when you arrive at a destination that is 5500 km away from everything you know, everything you love.

There’s something terrifying yet thrilling about walking through a crowd, where you don’t hear a word of your mother language.

There’s something terrifying yet thrilling when you walk around with your eyes the size of saucers, taking in your new surroundings.

There’s something terrifying yet thrilling about starting a new adventure. But that is exactly why it is an adventure.

Throughout my first week of living in Stockholm, Sweden, I have been noticed one key aspect. Life here is so similar to life in Halifax, yet so very different.

The people in Stockholm are friendly and welcoming, just like in Halifax. The systems in Stockholm are set to help you succeed – in everything from the transportation system to the education system – just like in Halifax. And the weather is pretty much exactly the same.

But there are key differences.

While in Halifax it isn’t uncommon to chat with the person next to you on the bus or on the sidewalk, that doesn’t appear to be as common in Stockholm. Instead of attending six hours of class per day for fourteen weeks as we do in Halifax, in Stockholm you attend four hours of class per week for four weeks, but must to plenty of readings and independent study. And while it is common to work continuously from morning until night in Halifax, all aspects of work grind to a halt in Stockholm for the daily fika (I’ll write more on this beautiful cultural aspect in the future.)

So I have been here for one week. What have I learned?

Perhaps it could best be described in the following story.

When I arrived, one of my first tasks was to set up a phone plan and Internet. However, this proved to be more difficult that imagined. In order to activate my new SIM card, my Canadian telephone provider had to unlock my phone. To do this, I had to access my online account with the provider.

In a completely separate series of unfortunate events, the power adapter for my Canadian plugs blew a fuse. This left my laptop dead. And in order to search for a location to purchase a new power adapter, I had to search it on my phone. Which was not activated.

(Okay looking back I can there were many obvious solutions to this situation, i.e. borrow someone else’s charger. Find one at the local store. Call the service provider from another phone. But when you’re tired, hungry, jet-lagged and in a different continent, this problem seemed colossal.)

When faced with this seemingly complicated problem, I looked at the steps I could take to solve the situation. Okay, my laptop was dead. Let’s change the fuse. I need to contact the Canadian provider. Let’s borrow the phone of a friend who has international calling. One thing after another and the complicated problem was history.

So what was the lesson I had learned?

When faced with an overwhelmingly large problem, sometimes you must take a closer look and discover the necessary steps to solve the situation.

Tills nästa gång, (Until next time)

Ryan

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My New Chapter

For me, one of the most beautiful analogies of life is that of a book. The thought that each and every one of us has this beautiful collection of memories, characters and stories bound in leather that is still in the process of being written has such alluring imagery to it.

In this book, every new experience marks the beginning of a new chapter. For me, this is the beginning of my new chapter.

In anticipation of my five-month exchange to Stockholm, Sweden, I wished to start (yet another) blog to share my observations and the lessons I have learned. And you will find that here.

However, there is more to this chapter.

For the past several weeks, I had the opportunity for reflection. I had the opportunity to identify my passions in life. I had the opportunity to reminisce on what makes me happy – what I thoroughly enjoy. And through this time of reflection, I identified what exactly is my purpose.

My purpose is to stand against that which is wrong. My purpose is to stand with those who fight for what is right. My purpose is to voice my opinion – My Unsolicited Opinion.

Politics has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I have followed elections, leadership conventions, debates, the rise and fall of controversial issues and the rise and fall of leaders with the greatest interest. Every path I have chosen in life has led me back to this passion. So today, I am beginning a new chapter with that passion.

An Unsolicited Opinion will also be my platform to express my opinions on issues that matter to us. From student concerns to LGBTQ+ issues to the underrepresentation of young adults and youth in Nova Scotian and Canadian politics to self-acceptance and self-love. An Unsolicited Opinion will be a place where I can share my thoughts and a community to hear the opinions of others on current events that impact our lives.

In addition, An Unsolicited Opinion will be a place where I share the lessons I have learned through the experiences that lie ahead in this chapter. From my exchange to Sweden to professional and personal development to academics – these all contribute to the classroom of life.

I look forward to the chapter ahead. I look forward to the experiences to come and the lessons to be learned. I look forward to the return of treasured characters and the introduction of new. And above all, I look forward to sharing what this chapter has in store.

-Ryan