Home of the Northern Lights

July 1, 2021

After many adventures abroad in which I discovered the most beautiful places and uncovered vastly different cultures and sceneries through photography, I decided to move to Sweden to study at a local university in the South. I moved to an area called Kronoberg to a city named Växjö, where I would spend the next two years studying, travelling and experiencing Swedish culture. After having lived there for two years, I want to share my experiences and what I picked up on Swedish culture.

A New, Green Home

I studied at Linnaeus University, one of the larger universities in Sweden. Mainly the widespread forests and nature along with the educational system made it appealing to move to Sweden. Växjö is one of the cities that is emerged in nature. It is the greenest city of Europe and that goes to show. Two lakes split the city while far-stretching woods crawl up on every border of the city. Green initiatives and mindset are heritage to this city, which was also visible at the university. I met many people studying green sciences, along with many other interesting programmes. That’s how I met my friends, with which I am still in touch.

The country furthermore has a lot to offer, which for a large part has to do with it’s size, which encouraged me to uncover as much of Sweden as I could. I mostly tried to do this through photography, as Sweden offers a wide variety of sceneries. I soon learne dSweden is massive and that it’s size if flipped from top to bottom covers the distance from Copenhagen to Sicily, Italy. That meant that, from North to South, there are many different sceneries to discover in Sweden. It became my mission for the next two years to see and capture these areas and, as I went through my education, I tried to visit as many places as possible, despite the rushing pandemic during these times. Sweden’s approach to the pandemic stil lallowed us to travel, since restrictions were rather loose. This approach was effective in smaller cities, which Sweden has many of, yet was less effective in larger cities like Stockholm and Göteborg.

Discovering Sweden

At first my friends and I arranged trips to smaller cities, like Kalmar. I had friend from my hometown visiting too, with which I also visited Oslo right before it closed it’s borders. After a while my friends in Växjö were also looking for a bigger experience, so we decided to chase the Norther Lights! We set off for a long train ride of 18 hours to reach Kiruna, in the far North of Sweden; Lapland. The whole experience was incredible; snowmobile rides to the base camp, a range of activities to do while staying in the wild area, traditional food, and at night a shot at spotting the Northern lights! Especially with a diverse group like we had, the dynamics in the trip were incredibly fun! And as a big plus, we could spot the Northern Lights!

The Norther Lights at their peak that night - Late January

Emerging in Swedish Culture

After the trip, I was preparing for a big change. I would be moving to a new apartment inthe centre of Växjö. I met a small and very welcoming family which was renting outa nice apartment in the back yard. I would say that at this moment my best experiences in Sweden started. I learned more about Swedish traditions and life through the family and I was warm welcomed into any Swedish celebrations with the family. I experienced so many unique celebrations and I could always stop by and spend a late night for which I will always be thankful. I visited many idyllic villages and places with them and also improved my Swedish majorly!

I was able to collect so many nice memories and experiences for the one and a half years I had left and I attended Swedish Christmas, Easter and Midsummer with new fiends and family! Sweden truly offered me countless opportunities to witness and uncover it’s beauties. I embraced this opportunity with open arms and took my camera in my hand to capture Sweden's beauty on many occasions. Though I couldn’t travel very far a long time of my stay, the city was nice and pleasant and the environment had enough to offer with the large lakes just a 10 minute bike ride away. I could get out into nature to visit the forests and lakes and do photography with my camera or drone and moreover I could meet up with friends while studying from home.

Helgasjön (the largest lake nearby) near Sansbro - Växjö

After along and fruitful stay, I completed my master and celebrate summer in Sweden as the Swedes would. The long summer nights are an incredible sight. Imagine seeing the sun set at 11:30pm and getting home from a celebration, seeing the sun rise again at 2:30AM after only 4 of night. There are so many elements that draw me to Sweden and it has definitely become a second home to me, like China when I studied there. The calmness, serenity, idyllic & beautiful sceneries, and friendliness of people are unmatched and unique! Even after my stay I couldn’t get enough of Sweden and I decided to do a roadtrip through Sweden to see the country from South to North. We wrote more about this trip HERE.

I would definitely recommend a visit to Sweden, as it is well-worth the effort to visitthe stretching forests, large lakes and untamed North. I would go back in the blink of an eye, and I left some part of my life there to soon return to.

Julian van der Zwet

Hi There! My name is Julian and I am a passionate photographer and student. On this site I keep track of my trips, advantures and most beautiful photo's. While doing so, I love to inform you about these trips and advantures in my Blog as well. Check out my posts and portfolio and indulge on some beautiful shots and stories!

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