As my time in Sweden nears its end, I want to reflect on all that this experience has been. Traveling to another country to live and work is a big decision, investment, and commitment. Yet nowhere along the way did I have a bad feeling about my decision or even a second thought. Every step of the way felt “right,” and things fell seamlessly into place.
When I arrived, I felt immediately at home. Silly as it may be, I found instant comfort and contentment in knowing that Jess and Daniel owned a black lab. I have a black lab back at home, so meeting their dog Bella filled me with tender feelings of warmth and familiarity. (Black labs have such a soft spot in my heart!) Similarly, the pastoral landscape of Sweden matched the countryside I had grown to know so well back in Michigan. I knew from the moment I got here that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.
My experience here in Sweden has been everything that I had ever hoped for and more. It has been the perfect opportunity for me to develop as both a person and a professional, and I have learned so much about myself in the process.
I go 100 miles an hour. By nature, I am both a busybody and a forward thinker. I like my days planned, packed, and productive. Stepping outside of this realm and out of my “normal” life, I have forced myself to truly slow down. For once in my life, I can’t possibly busy my agenda with a million things. When the sheep are the closest thing I have to neighbors, I can’t make social plans . . . and that’s okay. Fortunately I knew what I was getting myself into, so I had the time to mentally prepare myself for this shift in lifestyle.
I have had alone time, which is certainly something I never have or allot enough of back at home. And while I wanted my time here to be worthwhile and productive to an extent, I also realized how unique and valuable this down time was. In fact, I didn’t have to do much of anything. (I actually banned myself from making checklists for a few weeks . . . unless, of course, it was work-related).
I instead chose to focus on just a few aspects of personal development rather than trying to tackle every possible one full on. I started with my body. Since college began, I’ve been yearning to get back into the same shape I was in when in high school. (It sounds cliche, I know). But for me, it meant a lot more than a nice physique. For me, it was about getting back into running shape. I recently discovered a quote that really resonated with me. “I’m not me when I’m not running,” it read. I couldn’t identify more! When I’m running regularly, I feel more confident in who I am. As I said before, it’s not that I experience a major drop in weight or anything, but it’s that I feel more sound in mind and body as a whole. Running is an aspect of my identity and thanks to the last couple of months, an aspect that I feel I have regained. The surrounding roads and trails have been remarkable and rejuvenating in every possible way. I actually just signed up for a half-marathon in September!
During my time here, I also made it a goal to get back into reading. Back home, reading is something that I always feel guilty for not doing enough of. Even when I do have free time, I find it easy to fill it with everything but reading. If I sit down to read, I’m too easily distracted and find it hard to actually complete novels. But here, blessed with the gift of free time and an inability to drive stick shift, reading has become a prefered pastime. After I made it through the books I had packed, I picked up a book of Jess’. I breezed through it and asked if she had any others.
The next morning, I walked into the kitchen to find a stack of books with my name on it. I have really enjoyed reading in this manner because it has enabled me to learn from genres I may not have self-selected otherwise. As a result, I’ve read a fair number of books on entrepreneurs.
In the latest one, I learned of a concept known as intrapreneurship. Essentially, it’s like using the same creativity and innovation that entrepreneurs do but inside an organization instead. This is precisely when I had an “aha” moment. That was it! I had been debating about whether or not I wanted to minor in entrepreneurship because I wasn’t positive that I wanted to build my own business someday, but this notion of intrapreneurship really struck a chord. I could combine my creativity, aptitude for innovation and the learned skills and toolkit that comes with the entrepreneurship minor to foster the platform for becoming an intrapreneur in my future roles.
Yikes, this is getting long, so I’ll transition briefly to my role as an intern. I have become adept at using Canva. This week, I worked a lot with graphic design and even briefly with video. The recipe e-book is officially complete! You can see a couple of its pages below:
I also tied up loose ends last week. I created product e-blasts that can be sent out in the future, finished up a newsletter, planned out images and captions for Instagram, and set up IGTV. I’ll touch on more next week!