So a new year has begun and it is therefore time for my annual personal post, one that is not so much about food or photos (although of course there is some of both) but it is mostly about me. I always appreciate to find out a more personal side of my favourite bloggers, so I think it’s legit I also open up to my readers in a more personal way from time to time. Don’t know how many people actually read all my posts apart from my mom and Gennarina (and they already know all my personal stuff anyway), but in case I have more readers than I reckon, here’s a little bit about my life over the past year.
Why am I even beginning with work? Well in 2017 my professional life brought a radical change. I had to endure the end of a job I had really really loved. My contract ended and could not be renewed, simple as that. That didn’t make it any less painful. I know I had been hired as a substitute teacher and I knew this day would eventually come, but you never want to think of the end when you’re having a good time, right? So my nearly two years as a Home Ec teacher came to an end in June. I think I never cried as much as I did on the last day of school. It felt like I was graduating myself and experiencing the sudden feeling of separation that hits when you realize you’re not coming back after the summer.
But life always brings along good things, sometimes you just need to wait for the right moment to come. After the summer I found a new exciting opportunity, a change of career I really wanted to try. The new job would have started only in the winter, so I filled the gap in between jobs enrolling in a Swedish language course. At first I thought I’d only take the lower intermediate level, but after a month and a half I was bumped to the next level, thus managing to complete two modules in one term. Studying has always been my favourite activity and I’m proud to see that my dedication never faded with time.
I have many beautiful memories from my time as a teacher, but the greatest reward in that profession came one of the latest weeks of school. On two designated days every teacher offered activities in their favourite area and I hosted a cake workshop. The best thing was that the students freely enrolled in whatever activity they fancied the most. I spent those two days teaching my students how to design and bake from scratch beautiful cakes, and how to decorate them. And their cakes went beyond my expectations. If the greatest task a teacher has is to inspire the next generation, then I ended my teaching career knowing that I did inspire a few of them. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Travel is an important part of my life. As a person who chose to live abroad, travel is essential to reunite with my family and friends. Since family and friends are spread over two different countries, it’s obvious that I need to travel a lot. I’m glad that this year I managed to visit both Italy and Poland, and had enough time to enjoy the company of friends I get to see only once a year. I was also happy to host friends and family who came over. I’m always super excited to have people over, sharing the life I’ve chosen with them makes me really happy. As every odd year, I paid my regular visit to Norway. This year marked the 10th year since my first time in my favourite country. I chose to visit Trondheim with my dad, who was supposed to travel there 30 years before but never made it. I finally took him there.
I have also travelled for fun and not for family purposes. In April we went on an epic trip to Iceland, which was also an excuse to reunite with two friends who met us there. Iceland was beautiful but it took me a few days to fully accept it, as at the beginning I found it to be the strangest country I had ever visited. Then at the end of September we travelled to Ireland, just my boyfriend and I, to celebrate our 5th anniversary. I finally got to explore more than just Dublin, which is what I had seen on my previous trip there. This time I also made it to Northern Ireland and finally got to see the Giant’s Causeway, and that was a dream come true.
The biggest event in my life this year was that I got engaged! It wasn’t unexpected, as we had talked about it for quite some time. I like to say this was the fifth time he asked (and the fifth time I said yes, by the way), but this time there was a ring involved so this made it all more official and implied we could start talking about actually having a wedding! It happened in Krakow, the city where we met and lived through the first year and a half of our relationship, where we had our chinchilla and where we planned our escape to Sweden. We were in Krakow for the wedding of a couple of friends so incidentally the first people we shared the news with were the guests we were sitting at the table with at the wedding reception. So random, and so very much us!
We announced our wedding to family and closest friends through a website so we also needed a nice photo for it. The trip to Ireland proved a great occasion to find a nice backdrop for our engagement photo. So we paid for checked luggage on our trip to Ireland in order to take along a nice change of clothes and my solid massive tripod. Success! We actually shot this photo below on the very first day of the trip, right outside Ballygally Castle in Northern Ireland.
In August we celebrated our third year in Sweden, so right now we are in our fourth. After Italy, Sweden is now the second country I stayed in the longest. My six months in Norway and three months in Canada seem such a short time in comparison, now. We are feeling like this is it, where we want to live. Used as we are to moving, we will always keep our minds open if life will happen to take us elsewhere. But we like it here and we like to think this is where we ultimately want to stick around.
As I said before, this year my knowledge of the language has even reached its highest point so far: advanced intermediate. I reached that level where I understand 80% of what I hear, but for some reason can only utter 60%. I’m always surprised of the amount of words that I know when I hear them, only to later realise that the same words don’t pop up in my mind when it’s my turn to use them. So it’s more like I recognise them but I still don’t fully master them. Maybe I should just stop analysing my skills and being so scientifically critical, but I’m a linguist and I like to study myself as I learn a new language.
Slowly, I feel like we are integrating. It’s not just a matter of preferring the Swedish way of making coffee to espresso. Or accepting to eat horse meat even if as a kid I didn’t want to, but here it’s a pretty common thing to do. That’s just taste, acquired taste. And it’s also not just in how our style has shifted – we wear much sportier clothes and I haven’t worn heels in months, our car has badass extra headlights for the winter, and I pretty much cycle everywhere like every other person does in Scandinavia. I say that we are integrating because changing our habits to local customs feels natural now, and not like an imitation anymore.
There was a time in my life when I used to wear heels quite regularly and I never thought of a bicycle as an actual means of transportation, but rather saw it as a sporting equipment used in one’s free time. When I started wearing sports shoes on a daily basis here it felt like I was doing it out of necessity, I was adapting to a different place, climate and lifestyle. When I started biking to work I was also doing it out of necessity. At first these things felt alien, but now they don’t anymore. I wear a ski jacket in the winter more often than my fancy coat. I do it because it feels natural. It’s the best attire when you bike in the rain. I used to be a coat person, but the ski jacket feels like me now. This is how I’d describe integration in my fourth year.
I started 2017 happy to have doubled the views from the year before. One year later and I have quadrupled that amount. It’s still very far from what professional bloggers achieve, but it’s a growth. Yes, I did add ads to my blog this year. No, I’m definitely not making an income out of it. What makes me proud, though, is that this year I managed to get two sponsored meals at two different restaurants. It was a small win, but an important one for a small blogger like me. It’s always nice to see that your work is being appreciated.
I will continue blogging and my main goal is always to get some creativity out forcing myself to write and photograph. I am developing as a food photographer and I am proud to see how much I’ve improved and created my own style since I started this blog. I would still like to devote more time to it, to share more of my life in Sweden, but this will always depend on what the future brings. My enthusiasm for it never faded, I still write with the hope to give my readers inspiration for their next meal and that is, and will forever be, my driving force.
Thank you to all of you who keep following this journey. Thank you to those who just stop by. I hope you enjoy my photos and find some sort of inspiration when you’re here. I wish you a fabulous 2018!