Fletcher’s voice flows through my headphones humming along to Undrunk for the third time today, I shift my gaze out the subway window. Despite the uncomfortably close proximity to countless strangers and the lingering smell of stale air I can’t help but smile. Maybe it’s the feeling of independence, or my strange love for public transport, even though the number of times I’ve gotten on the wrong train or missed it completely hints that the feeling isn’t mutual. The recent events reel out in front of me like an old movie.
Coming to Stockholm I wasn’t sure what to expect. I only had this vague picture. One full of subway cars, light night adventures, and of course an overly stamped passport. I’ve only been in Stockholm a short time and already the picture is becoming clearer. So much has happened I wish I could share it all, but let’s be honest, that’s not going to happen. So, I guess I’ll just skim over the good parts.
Hmm, how to explain, how to share it all? I guess if this was a movie it’d start with a brief introduction of the main characters. There’s me, well there’s a whole blog dedicated to that; my roommate, Tianna, a brunette from Canada whose sass-level and love for labs somehow match mine; my coworkers: we’re a small but close-knit team of 7, from 3 different continents, and whoever else decides to join throughout the journey!
Rubbing my eyes, I tried desperately to focus on the PowerPoint my program director was presenting. Filled with excitement, Tianna and I had spent a good portion of the night talking. I looked over to see Tianna yawn indicating that she was also struggling. Ten minutes left and we’d have two hours to grab a bite to eat before rushing off to the Stockholm boat tour we had booked. A few excited whispers later and we were dismissed to explore the city. We rushed to the room grabbing our bags, following a staircase more confusing than Hogwarts swiveling staircase to the elevator. We had just rounded the corner when we spotted a familiar group of interns.
“You coming with us to lunch?” the brunette from Texas asked.
“Uhh,” Tianna and I locked eyes, neither one wanting to answer for the other.
“Sure,” she shrugged.
Twenty minutes later we were eating nachos in an Irish pub with six other interns. You might point out the irony of an American eating Mexican food in an Irish restaurant in Sweden, especially when she’s vegan meaning that the nachos really just equate to tortilla chips. The conversation flowed about as average as a conversation with strangers does, switching from program expectations to schools to sports. Shifting my gaze from our skimmed over nachos to the clock, I whispered to Tianna that we should “get going.” Promising to meet up with them later, we headed off into the rain to catch our tour…
well miss our tour, but we didn’t know that at the time. Turns out we didn’t properly account for our journey. I mean who knew it would take walking to the train station, arriving soaking wet only to realize we had no idea how to catch the train, deciding to catch an overpriced cap, and then frantically running through the middle of a marathon when the cab driver announced that the road was blocked so he couldn’t take us all the way to the dock. Thankfully, after explaining our journey to the tour guide, he let us switch to join a later tour.
We placed the bulky headphones on our ears, bringing me back to middle school computer class, the thick British accent of our audio guide flowing through. The tour took us around Stockholm, pointing out different castles, bridges, and the amusement park. Our flirtatious guide mentioned the benefits of seeing shirtless Swedish guys a little too many times. Cruising through what would be our home for the next six weeks we laughed and excitedly planned all the places we would scratch off our map this summer.
The boat docked again, and it was time to meet back up with the other interns. We headed into the bar, making our way to a small table in the corner. I scanned the room taking in the guys huddled around the flat screen, gripping their beers anxiously waiting for their team to score a goal. My eyes grazed across the poker table where a stout man with silver hair threw down another handful of chips. A familiar melody shrieked through the loudspeakers. My gaze shifted to two Swedes on the front stage. Arms linked, they spun in a circle, choking out the chorus of Cotton-eyed Joe through breathless laughter. My lips stretched into a smirk before the catchy lyrics escaped my lips.
The night past in a haze of catchy karaoke songs, laughter and an interesting encounter with a Swedish man; apparently Lion King 1 1/2 isn’t an appropriate answer to what my favorite animated film is. Before I knew it the sun was rising and I was settling into bed.
I wiped my palms on my pants again, my heart desperately trying to lunge out of my ribcage.
“Hey, Philip,” my new boss introduced himself. I stood up holding my hand out but instead was wrapped in a hug.
“Fika?” he asked, my lips curling into a smile at my new favorite Swedish tradition. After all, who doesn’t love a culture where meeting up with friends for coffee and baked goods is an everyday norm?
Sipping on some tea my eyes wandered around our communal working space as he explained how after traveling the world he wanted to create something meaningful: hence Relate, an amazing dating app that encourages authentic connections. I smiled, excitement bubbling up within me. Not only was I going to work in an adorable office, some of my favorite YouTubers had made it a goal of mine to work in a communal office, especially one where free tea was a given and dogs were always welcomed, but I was going to be doing stuff that I love: Instagram branding, video editing, and graphic design. After meeting the team, it was time to get to work on the graphic profile, my internet tabs quickly filling up with different color palettes and fonts. My heart racing as it slowly began to come together.
And just like that my first day as an adult was over. The subway doors open, I stepped inside, putting my headphones on, the first chords of Fletcher’s Undrunk dancing through my mind.