I have thought long and hard about my next post and how I could express myself in such a way that it would matter. So, I decided to write you this open letter. Words have been an outlet for me and I earnestly hope that as you read this, it helps you as much as it has helped me.
Coming to Sweden for me was somewhat like coming to America for Eddie Murphy. I set out with a huge grin on my face… I didn’t roll in in a limousine but my flight was pretty neat. So, I wasn’t complaining. Ready to take on Europe in grand style. I had a vision and I was running with it and I was pretty excited about this new phase.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t jet lagged like I had been told I would be…I guess just having an hour in the time difference helped. I was ready to take on this new adventure. New city, New age (30 is the new 30), New thing! Boy was I ready to find love, build friendships that will withstand enormous iceberg hits (Ah! forget new discoveries that the titanic was actually sunk not by the iceberg but by the fire on board; either ways, no matter how dramatic the stumble…I was going to build eternal friendships)!
It’s been a little over two months since I landed this Nordic beauty, actually it has been 2 months, 10 days and 12 hours…but who is counting. I never would have imagined that I was capable of experiencing a million and one emotions in just two months. An exponential increase in what I have experienced my whole life prior to coming to Sweden. An emotional rollercoaster!
I have cried (crying seems so put together, I mean I have sobbed…sloppy sobs) and laughed (hysterical meets genuine meets funny laughs), literally at the same time. I have felt shame and grace, content and lack, rage, anger, sorrow, doubt, uncertainty, I felt alone even in the midst of a crowd … Leaving home has been a harsh reality. I did not understand why I questioned my rational move to further my education or be a better lawyer every second. But I did!
Then I felt despair. It was mixed with a feeling of being lost. Don’t be alarmed! The strongest of these emotions was hope. Hope trumps all others… it wasn’t as bright or colourful as the northern lights but it was a simmer …just enough to pull me through the melancholy, the dark hole. Most of which started with me comparing my history to my now. Rewind back to how I got to this point… I had flash pictures of how different life was in Nigeria. There were deep disturbing thoughts thrown in the mix as well. You might have similar experiences to mine. Feelings of giving up mixed with a sense of losing oneself and a pinch of clarity. It was all too confusing. Don’t mean to rain on your parade but the first few days, scratch that months are tough. Hold up! Is that to say that I am not meant to be where I am or you shouldn’t take the chance?
Now my letter is going to take an unbelievable twist into one of the columns in your favourite pop-culture magazine. The ‘How to’ segment. I can’t say I speak for all international students who have left home and country to be here. I can only speak for myself and how I got myself out of this funk. You can caption it…drum rolls…How to get out of the funk…So cliché, more like cheesy, if you ask me. But hey, who is asking?
1. Making friends
Remember how you felt on your first day of any school you ever attended? Well, you will feel that way everyday till you meet your Monica or your Willard or your Casper or your Sadia or your Presita or your person (Christina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy). The best way to get out of the funk is to make friends. For me, I am so loyal…I probably have the same friends from when I was younger till date and because of this you might, like me feel you have friends, why add more or more honestly, why put myself through the stress of making an impression or making new friends… Guess what? You don’t have to go through a whole lot of stress Your course mates form your first friend pool… It’s their first day too and they feel the exact same way you do… Don’t be shy…exchange numbers…go to the student nations to get burgers and chips or invite them on a walk through the city…You get to discover both Uppsala and your new friend. It better to be a pest than assume no one wants to be bothered and end up having a city filled with loners and clicks.
Just an observation! Do things you did back home. It helps! For me, going for symposiums and law events back in Nigeria was a thing. Moving to a new city can be daunting and feeling homesick can steer up those million and one emotions that can screw up your psyche. For me, I found volunteering at the ITech Law Conference 2017 at Stockholm helped me in more ways than I could possibly imagine. I got to volunteer 3 days out of 5 and it was an amazing experience. The elements agreed with me…the sun was out…I found myself strutting through the streets of Stockholm. When you join the Uppsala University community, you will be privileged to be informed of events such as these. Being affiliated with the university affords you opportunities to volunteer and be a part of conferences, competitions of such an international scale. I had a glimpse of the life I could have as a practicing international lawyer that despair didn’t mean a thing when purpose was re-ignited. I met amazing students like me…Shout out to Cee from Azerbaijan, turns out we were like minds. I also got to interact with top lawyers from all over the world. How cool is that. When push comes to shove and you weigh the pros and the cons…the pros far outweigh the cons…
3. TAKE A TRIP
When I think of Europe, I think of the functional internal market…Nah! Just kidding, I think of the free movement in the EU…oh yeah baby! Your residence permit (RP) card permits you to go to other European countries…think Oslo…think Helsinki…think Tullin…think Prague…think Amsterdam…people, Europe is your oyster and your RP is your oyster card. You came a thousand miles not just to read and get good grades but to live…to explore…to travel…to see the world. Just do it!
So take a trip with your new friend or friends. This week I am finally going to go to Estonia…and I am not alone… it always seems lonely in the beginning till you take stock and realize it is not and life is beautiful
4. HAVE LOADS OF CASH
I said it! Money does make the world go around. Have a budget for everything…from your monthly bus card to groceries to taking the ferry to neighbouring cities to shopping in Ahlens…have wads of cash…lol I hate it when people say students are poor…we shouldn’t be…so as you plan to come here as an international student, come with a lot of cash…like really!!! Haggle that aunt or that uncle…save enough from your job in your home country…sell clothes just to make the extra income before coming…You will thank me later, believe me!
5. Work at a student nation
Work, work, work, work, work!!! Laying it all at the table…working at one or all of the student nations helps…not so much for the money but it helps to meet people and learn about the Swedish culture… So, you need to apply for personal number at the tax office to get your four magic numbers **** if your course is 12 months and above or if less, like mine, a coordination number is just as effective. it allows you to work. Get this and you are good to go!!! It’s honest work and trust me you will be happy you did. Oh yeah, there’s free food and soda…lol
6. Mind over matter
Need I say more! Willpower overcomes any physical huddle you may face. For me, I also had the G-man on my side. This ship ain’t sinking…not by a long shot! Have the will to excel, where many others see failure. Remember so many have come and conquered…you can be among the number.
Have a little faith! Faith never killed nobody…it just two-months. What’s to say the next 8 months won’t be amazingly great? As I wake up each morning, I will be grateful for my many blessings…Now faith is the substance of things that I have hoped for and the evidence of thongs yet seen…
These 7 things gave me hope… They seem so little but it’s the little things that matter most to me. See you soon! x.o.x.o