09:44, January 14th, I’m sitting in a plane on the tarmac of London Gatwick Airport. I’m flying into Gothenburg, from there I’ll be getting a train to Karlstad Central Station. I can’t believe I’m moving to Sweden.
A taxi, a burger and chips, a night in a hotel and a bus to my student halls has already taught me that life here is going to cost far more than “home”. Walking into the kitchen, I see a hand drawn chart on the whiteboard: “WELCOME NEW STUDENTS” along with the list of nationalities already living there; Swedish, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese and, now, British.
Pathetic fallacy perhaps, the region saw its first snow of the season on the very day that I, alongside the other incoming foreign students, stepped foot in Karlstad University. These last few days of integration have been a hurricane of new faces, new names, new words, new customs, new laws, new everything. I wouldn’t want to use this space to parrot the overload of information, however one sentiment spoken by Maria Nilson, the woman in charge of international co-ordination, stuck out to me:
“Welcome to our winter wonderland”, she said, “remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”.
I thought about this as I ploughed back home through the snow in my cool denim jacket and retro-style running trainers.
At this point I should probably set out how I intend on documenting the duration of my stay here. To combat the trap of presenting a rather boring daily routine (initially faced in covering my time at the Urban Outfitters photography studio in a diaristic fashion) I have instead opted for a three-pronged approach moving forwards:
Firstly, I think my blog posts from here onwards will be published as monthly retrospectives, covering the overarching themes of my stay. These should hopefully, by my leave in June, be able to provide a kind of lean timeline of key events and detailed thoughts on particular aspects of Swedish life.
Secondly, I hope to start a public-facing video diary where I can, weekly, collate my experiences in the form of both documentary film and “vlog style” confessionary.
Despite having a very limited experience with video editing, I am well aware that my first module at Karlstad has an entirely practical component and so I am hoping that this will aid my video-log and, in tandem, the diary will serve as practice for my course. In addition, the visuals of my actual experiences should provide a more fun insight for my friends and family who have already relentlessly questioned me in the week I’ve already lived here.
Now I’ll just need to make sure I don’t lead a boring life for the camera.
Finally, because I’m of naturally very conscious of my “home” discipline of photography (and because telling other students here what I do has been met exclusively with “cool, what’s your Instagram?”), I have every intention of braving the snow, getting out and making some images at some point. Once I’ve built up a decent bank of these I hope to post my images of Karlstad (and wherever else if I get the opportunity to travel) to a new account (I’ll publish the link here on the site once that’s in motion).
Of course, this is all hypothetical right now and could very well change depending on the workload set by KAU, but such is the plan.
Anyway, tomorrow will be Monday the 22nd of January, my first official day at my new university.