I have decided to dedicate this post to my travels during my six months abroad. Travel was one of my driving forces for leaving on this experience and I found each country I visited extremely rewarding!
The main reason I chose Stockholm University was because of its proximity to the rest of Europe. I am lucky enough to have travelled a fair bit of Western Europe before, but Scandinavia was an area completely unexplored to me so I was super excited to see a bit more of what it had to offer.
My first stop was Copenhagen, which was just an easy five-hour train ride from Stockholm. Copenhagen is one of the coolest cities I’ve ever visited. Everything and everyone just seemed 10 times cooler than anywhere else. Incidentally, Copenhagen was my first choice of exchange universities. I really loved the city, but after spending only 48 hours walking the streets, the insanely expensive prices of living there made me realise that Stockholm was a slightly better fit for me!
One of the first trips I made with the friends I met on my exchange was to Bergen, Norway. This was a result of Skyscanners ‘everywhere’ option, which lets you see the cheapest flights to any destination on a given date, which became my best friend while overseas. Bergen is the rainiest city in Europe, which we only figured out after we’d booked our flights and for the most part, it lived up to the title!
There are so many amazing ways to explore Norway’s unique environment. Unfortunately, the weather wouldn’t allow us to do any of the more extensive tracks, but we managed to hike up Mt Ulriken, which was beautiful. Later, the sun miraculously came out just in time for a boat trip around the local Fjords.
This was by far the best trip I made on my entire exchange. Despite visiting many countries around Europe, I felt I hadn’t spent enough time exploring my home turf. Kiruna is a small town up in the Arctic Circle in Sweden, where the sun barely rises, but when it does, the scenes are unparalleled. Ten of us took a one hour flight up to the top of the country and checked ourselves into a small lakeside cabin just outside of the city.
Kiruna was cold like none of us had ever experienced before, getting down to -24 degrees at some points, but this only added to the experience. We had booked a local dogsledding tour, but other than that our days were spent wandering around the area we were staying in. One of the best nights of my entire life was spent watching the northern lights with all the best friends I had made on my exchange. We were so lucky to see them as bright as we did, which locals said was super uncommon for the time.
What surprised me most about my exchange was how rewarding I found just exploring the areas surrounding Stockholm. I intended for my exchange to allow me to travel far and wide in Europe, when really the most gratifying areas of my travel were those around Scandinavia.
I’m so lucky to have been able to experience so much of Scandinavia and beyond.
On my next post, I will (reluctantly) be back in Auckland and reflecting on what an amazing time I’ve had. It’s extremely bittersweet but as you can see, it will be nice to be back into a Kiwi summer!
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