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Published: February 16th 2014
"You Moved Here From Hawaii!?! Haahaha" - Dentist Nils Andersson (January, 2013 - 35° F & Rainy)
Yes, its true. As most, if not all of you know, Adina and I indeed moved to Sweden from Hawaii one and half years ago in our return to academics. And yes, the words above were truly uttered by my Swedish dentist on a particularly cold, gray and rainy day last year. A nice guy, but his laugh was Dr. Evil-ish in this instance. Especially during the short days of the winter months, this has been a common response when this has come up in conversation. But yes, its true, and Sweden is treating us well.
Indeed I've been lazy in updating you all of our on-goings over the past year and a half and the adventures and challenges of living abroad and being an immigrant. Forgive me and know I've been thinking about you all, from those in Hawaii to those in New Jersey and in between. I thought now was an appropriate time to check in as I have just completed a milestone with my studies, and Adina and I both have some exciting adventures awaiting us shortly.
I won't recount all the events of the past year and half, a quick summary is in order. First of all, school has been great. We are both enjoying our programs thoroughly. Adina is more than half way through her studies for a Bachelor's Degree in Occupational Therapy, and I have recently completed all the courses for my programs in Economics and Finance and now entered the thesis period for my first degree in economics. We both attend the same school, Göteborgs Universitet (the University of Gothenburg) which is conveniently in the city center of Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city which is located on the west coast a few hours from the Norwegian border. We both ride the spårvagn (the city tram system) about 15 minutes to get to school. Adina's hometown of Halmstad is about an hour south from here and we often head that way for relaxing weekends home which usually entail, to some extent, time spent in the expansive Swedish forest which abuts her parents' home and walking the coastline of beaches and rocky landscapes that are just a short drive away.
We've also tried to break up our studies with short weekend trips, one of
the beautiful opportunities that is presented in living in Europe. Thus far, this has included trips to Stockholm, Brussels, Copenhagen, Fredrikshavn (Denmark), Florence, Rugen (Germany), Paris, Iceland, Tromso (Norway) and Hoddevik (Norway). I'm not going to sum up each of these travels, but I will say that we greatly enjoyed them all very much, particularly Paris, where we celebrated my 30th birthday, and the trips to Norway, where the beauty is relentlessly breathtaking on the Kauai scale.
Of course, a lot more has transpired but in summary, that's been the past year and a half - intense school, for which the winter weather makes it easier to study, and the occasional weekend exploration around Europe.
This brings us to the imminent exciting adventure and that which has sparked the motivation to resume the blog and hopefully keep it going over the next two months in order to share some photos and stories with you all. My thesis partner (a fellow American named Phil) and I have been awarded a research grant in order to travel to Botswana and investigate some matters pertinent to our economics thesis which will have a focus on the rough diamond market. Since we
will already be in Southern Africa, after our work period in Botswana we have decided to backpack through the region and neighboring countries (hopefully progressing on our thesis all the while). While we don't yet know our precise path, it will certainly take us through South Africa and Botswana, probably Zambia, and culminate in Mozambique where two other classmates of ours, Gustav and Daniel, will be stationed for their thesis work. From Moz, Daniel, Phil and I will fly to Ethiopia where the three of us will spend a week with Daniel's parents who live in Addis Ababa. Finally, from Ethiopia, I will part ways with my classmates and fly directly to India. I'll have a few days on my own, but I will quickly catch up with Adina who will be in India for 5 weeks doing an OT internship at a hospital in Southern India. I'll catch Adina at the tail end of her internship so we'll have a week of traveling together before we head back to Sweden. In all it will be 9 weeks, so I expect to have some nice photos to share at the least, but if you don't hear from me I'm going
to blame my thesis up front, here and now. I'll try not to let that get in the way of the occasional travel blog though. I leave tomorrow and I must say I'm quite ready to cut this winter short, put on flip flops and sunglasses and require a shower from getting sweaty by simply being outside in shorts and a tee shirt for a little while.
Before I let you get on with your day, a few brief insights into Sweden and life here. Sweden is the most first world country I've ever experienced. Society seems to function very efficiently in general. Hardly any recyclables make it into the landfills. There is infrastructure and systems in place throughout the country to collect all organic waste which is then converted into renewable electricity. Everybody has great health care with a maximum $150 out of pocket annual deductible. Everybody is bilingual fluent. Higher education is tuition free. People generally trust the government and Sweden has one of the lowest perceived corruption ratings in the world. It's not without its problems (for example, the weather!), but its way way way ahead of the curve.
One last update. I've spent the
past month since class has ended in "Swedish For Immigrants" language school and at last I can say a few sentences of Swedish. This is great since it means Phil and I can have secret conversations while we're in Africa; unfortunately, this conversation will entail me repeatedly saying "My name is Eric. I come from USA. What is your name?
" (Nej, skojar bara. Jag kan faktiskt säga lite mer än just detta.)
I've uploaded a bunch of photos of our weekend getaways and some local Sweden shots as well... enjoy and catch ya next time from Botswana.
Hopefully we come back as enthusiastic about about our trip as this guy was: .
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