Hope 2013 will be a good year!

Last year was not exactly one of my best years, on some levels it was good but on others it was perhaps the worst one I’ve had. 2012 was a rough year for me but I’m starting to get back up and look forward to what this new year will bring!

I have never really seen myself as a high achiever or to be a type A personality but after discussing my situation with the health support section of my university I’ve come to realize that I fit into that category. I’ve probably always been like this and perhaps it’s been getting worse the older I’ve become. I kept adding more and more things to do since it worked and there’s never been a problem before, in fact I’ve enjoyed it and saw it as a good thing. But somewhere it has to stop and for me it was in the spring of last year.

I had felt somewhat stressed during the previous autumn and winter but it was nothing I didn’t feel I could handle. During that time I was in my second term in my masters program and also took some additional courses on the side. In total I was studying 150%, which was nothing new for me, I had been taking extra courses almost during my whole time as a student. I was also working extra sometimes, just to get some money, it was not a regular thing, more when I got the chance to do it. When I had some time over I also loved to go climbing or go to the gym. At home in the evenings I was teaching B Swedish or trying to study Nepali on my own if he was not at home.  On top of that I decided that it would be a great idea to help with a two-week program that my university arranged for a group of Indian students.

I enjoyed doing all of those things (well perhaps not that work so much..) and thought it was great that I was able to do so many things at once and I must say I felt a bit proud about it. Little did I know that I had passed my limit of what I could handle stress wise. I started to get pain in the chest that couldn’t be explained. It was not the first time I had those (had it since I was little) but this time it was much worse and more frequent. One night I even woke up from the pain and couldn’t move. I remember laying there hoping it would go away like it usually did but the seconds turned to minutes and after almost an hour I decided to wake B since the pain wouldn’t go away. We had to call an ambulance that took me to the hospital and the pain didn’t go away until they gave me a low dose of morphine. They did many different tests but still couldn’t figure out what the cause was.

It took me a long time to connect what had happened that day and during the spring time to stress. I guess I did suspect that I was doing too many things and took it a little more easy but I didn’t slow down enough. It was when I read up on stress and the symptoms of burnout that I started to realize what was going on. To be honest it took me several more months after that to really accept that it had happened to me and that I really really had to revise my plans, especially for my studies.

I had never realized that I could be type A personality that was at risk of a burnout or getting sick from stress. To me that kind of people were the top of the top, the kind of people they put on the cover of magazines, but that was obviously wrong. Perhaps I didn’t realize what category I could be placed in because I’ve always been surrounded by this kind of people. My family is also like this so it’s been the normal state when I grew up. They’ve work extremely hard to create a better situation for themselves and their children. Most of my friends are also like this, especially my best friend who always have a lot of things going on. Lastly my lovely B also fits into this category, with work and studies at the same time and barely a moment of time off. Now that I’ve been through this, or more correctly I’m still going through it, I’m starting to worry more for those close to me. I worry because it really sneaks up on you and if you don’t pay attention to your body and slow down in time it can get really bad, and I would never want what I’ve been going through now to happen to anyone, especially those dear to me.

 I belive that I’ve finally been able to accept that I have to take it easy for a while to find my way back. After all health is the most important thing. I can finish my studies any time, there’s plenty of time, a deadline is just a recommended deadline for a course. I know I will get back there, I will complete my program, just not exactly this moment. For now the focus have to be on feeling good, staying healthy and find my motivation again.

So the most important promise to myself for this year is to not take on too many things at once! I have to learn to listen to my body more and to prioritize, not try to do everything perfectly all the time. Although I have to strive to be a more balanced person I’m not giving up having dreams or goals that I want to achieve! So here’s some of the things I hope for, but don’t push for, this year:

– Finding my motivation for studying again and finish my last courses
– Start writing my master thesis
– Buying a car so B can take a driving licence here in Sweden
– Starting up a business
– Learn to (and have confidence to) have a simple conversation in Nepali
– Travel at least one time

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How did I go intercultural??

I have been thinking about how I could end up in an intercultural relationship. When I was young I had no idea this is where I would be today, of course, who can know such things? What I mean is that there was not many clues to suggest this outcome when I was young, but that the signs started to show as I grew up.

My whole family is 100% Swedish and in the extended family there’s only one cousin that has married interculturally, we are not really close though. I grew up in a small town where there was mostly Swedish people living, we had a few kids with other backgrounds in my class at school but in the society as a whole the non-Swedes were not many. So as a child I didn’t really get to experience a lot of other cultures, except on shorter travels. There were very few things at that time to suggest I would have an intercultural relationship in the future.

I’ve always had a fascination for nature, animals and also other cultures, though it started out mostly with an interest in ancient and historical cultures. I dreamed a lot about travelling to every corner of the world to see all the beautiful nature, cool animals and visit the interesting cultures that was shown on the tv-programmes. On a sidenote I kept having this dream of travelling and eventually did end up travelling quite a lot for my age.

Perhaps it was the growing interest to get to know people from other cultures that was the reason for me to start chatting on the internet, or perhaps just the general interest in this new amazing machine (computer). Either way I quickly found my way out to international chat forums and penpal-sites where I found friends from many different parts of the world, even exchanged irl-letters with a few people.

Of course, as a young girl chatting on the internet there were a lot of guys who wanted to chat, some nice ones and some indecent ones. But as you other girls out there might be able to agree with, you quickly start to be able to identify this kind of people with the type of behavior that you don’t appreciate or want. The problem is that the contacts you don’t want outnumber the one’s you would appreciate and like to be friends with.

As I’ve grown up I still enjoy meeting friends from other cultures and countries, and still like to do it the online-way. I have only become more picky about the people I choose to get to know now a days. Good thing I continued doing this since, if you have read our story, this is how B and I met. Anyway, back to the topic!

After I finished my gymnasium (year 10-12 in school life, high school?) I went out into the world and had adventures. I visited different countries, mostly in south east Asia, and did some of the things I had been dreaming about. For example diving with sharks, manta rays and whaleshark, seeing dolphins and whales, and doing things on land like elephant riding or go trekking for days and sleeping in the djungle. One time I was even chased around the jungle by an aggressive orangutang. I really liked to experience new things and I felt like a second home in Asia.

Even if I didn’t get that deep insights about those cultures since I only visited for a couple of months in each country and didn’t I’ve there, I still felt very much at home. Perhaps liking adventures and always being prepared to change plans is a good starting point for being able to develop a successful intercultural relationship. Or maybe an intercultural relationship can be seen as a lifelong never ending adventure; there’s always new things to discover and learn about.

There’s also some more personal stuff that has led me to where I am today, but I’m not going to share that publicly here and it’s not really relevant to this story any way. The point I want to make is that however unlikely it seemed from the beginning that this is where I would be today, all the experiences I’ve had during my lifetime so far have brought be to this point. Therefore I would never even want to start to regret anything I have done that I perhaps at first thought wasn’t happy that I had been through or done.

To me it feels like all those experiences before was so that I would end up just here, at the right time and place, to meet B so we could start our life together.

To become part of a new country

I have often wondered about what makes a person feel like they belong in and is a part of a certain country and culture. When I read an article in DN that was about this topic I felt that I wanted to write about this subject too. In this article the author says that many people who move to Sweden doesn’t feel like a swede, that process might take several generations. He put that in relation to people who move to the US that feel more at home in their new country.

Reading about this makes me sad and many questions come to mind. What can explain this difference? Can it be that people come to the country for different reasons? That people go to the US for the American dream and many people come to Sweden to escape from war? Of course that’s a generalisation that doesn’t explain anything. So what have we done wrong so that people don’t feel welcome in our country? And what is it that makes people feel at home in a new country?

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