Today marks my first two weeks in Sweden! While I’m aware that I’m definitely still in the “honeymoon phase” of study abroad where everything still appears to be new and exciting, I feel that I’m starting to create a daily routine that I really love. For my first week or so here, I tried to live without any inhibitions to really soak in all of the “firsts” that come with moving to a new country. This meant trying not to worry about eating out with friends every other night, going to the gym consistently, or trying to keep in constant contact with my family and friends back home. However, now that classes have begun and I have an idea of what is expected of me throughout the semester, I’ve been able to create a schedule that takes into account both my academics and my hobbies.
My schedule is mostly the same Monday through Friday– my first class begins at 11:40am and my last class ends at 4:10pm (or 16:10– I’m still getting used to 24-hour time, which is widely used here). Because I don’t have to be at the train station until 10:40, I’m able to wake up early in the morning and take time for myself before my day at school begins. I begin by waking up around 8:00am to go to the gym for about an hour, and then make myself breakfast and get some cleaning done before I leave the suburbs for Stockholm. After class ends at 4:10, I commute home, and walk 5 minutes to the grocery store to grab anything I need to make dinner (tip: leftovers are your best friend! cook multiple portions to take to school for lunch or to eat for dinner the next day). Through this process, I’ve learned 2 key lessons that I believe have helped me settle into my life abroad.
I’ve learned that one of the most helpful things in maintaining a routine is planning everything out the night before. This can look different for everyone; for me, I write out the workout I’m planning to do at the gym and pack my bag for class the next day. Planning ahead of time has helped me to be more proactive in different parts of my daily routine. For example, making my lunch in advance rather than buying it at school helps me save money, and packing a book to read in my bag the night before helps make my commute to school something I can look forward to.
Be patient with yourself.
Above all, I’ve learned to have patience with myself as I begin to create my routine and schedule for my time abroad. As a perfectionist, I tend to harp on things when my day doesn’t go according to plan.
I had been working out consistently for a week or so, and decided to run a new trail near my apartment building. I was running through the hills of Sollentuna on a beautiful sunny morning (a rarity, as it’s supposed to snow all of this week), and became distracted watching the ducks waddle around on the frozen lake. Because I wasn’t paying attention to the trail in front of me, I rolled my ankle on the ice-covered gravel, and wasn’t able to put weight on it before the day ended.
At first, I was upset and frustrated that I had experienced this set back right as I had started to settle into a routine. However, this was just a reminder that not everything will go to plan. I just moved to a new country! Being in a completely new environment affects EVERY part of your life, which is why having patience with myself, especially in these first weeks, has been so important. In practice, this means celebrating the little victories, from knowing where to find oat milk in the grocery store to mastering the different train lines we need to take into the city.
Creating a routine has always helped me to establish a sense of stability in my life. Following a daily routine helps me to prioritize the things that are most important to me, like making time to read every day or go to the gym during the week. Especially now that I’m abroad, having a routine that I can stick to has definitely helped me maintain habits and hobbies that I did regularly at Temple, and it has made Sweden feel a lot more like home.