This post was contributed by Lynn Chen.
Let me set the scene: it was summertime when I arrived in Jönköping for my study abroad, the trees and grass were still green, and the lake Vättern was an idyllic blue reflecting off the clear sky. It was “kick-off” week, which is when university students celebrate the first week of the university semester – i.e. party and get drunk until the early hours of the morning. I was excited and starry-eyed for this new chapter of my life.
I’m often in my own world and routine. Sometimes, I have to remember to be open to opportunities that pass me by. Before I left the hustle and bustle of Sydney to the quiet town of Jönköping in Sweden, I had forgotten how fun life could and is supposed to be.
Now, that sounds super melodramatic. But, as a law student, my weeks were spent catching up on readings, attending classes, trying to understand what the hell happened in class, working at my part-time job and repeating all of that. No social life and no purpose in my life but ticking off the boxes off my to-do list. Thankfully for my own sake, that all changed.
Most summer days were a brisk 20°C in my university town (or 68°F for ya’ll Americans) and I could spend all day and night outside on the cobblestone streets. During kick-off, I was grouped with other newcomers for a week of fun and games. We paraded down the main street of the town in our “ovves”, which were overalls worn as part of the student party tradition. I swallowed my embarrassment and entered into countless dance battles and had an inflatable boat race on the lake. As the day came to an end, I sat with my newfound friends in the park, watching the sky turn pink and bobbing our heads to the hum of popular Swedish hits played on loudspeaker. It was something out of my 2012 indie tumblr dreams.
I had dreamed about moving abroad, even just for six months, ever since I started university. A part of me knew that it would rearrange my life. Secretly, I was ready for everything that I believed to be proved wrong. Do I need to define my worth by the vague and ever-changing standards of society? No. Do I need to make important life-decisions purely based on others’ approval? Hell no.
Instead of spending my weekends overworking myself, I was tasting all the Swedish cinnamon buns by day and shaking my booty (well, trying to) at the messy student club by night. All jokes aside, what really struck me was how much I learnt about myself when I was having fun. I’m not endorsing everyone to never work an hour in their lives again, but to try make choices for the sake of your own happiness.
So, have I learnt to live for myself? After making life-long friendships, going through heartbreak, and just enjoying the moment, I’d say I’m more or less heading in that direction.
Meet Lynn: Lynn is a not-so-average, twenty-year old Aussie. Although she’s currently living in Sydney to study creative writing, she dreams of moving abroad to a country with cold, moody weather. Keep up with her on IG.