You may ask why I chose Sweden as the place to study. I can say this: because Sweden is well-known for its innovations, it is one of the world's most modern countries, and Sweden is the birthplace of many successful international corporations. This means that getting on the career ladder here can really take you places. Another reason is everyone speaks English – Sweden ranks as one of the top countries in the world for non-native speakers of English. English is the first foreign language for most Swedes. And last but not least is the beauty of Stockholm, its cleanness and a sustainable, environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

Before I got to Sweden, I had no idea what to expect. I had never been in Europe before, so one semester exchange study sounded like a great opportunity to experience a totally new culture.

Kristina Vasileva 1

Well, already during one month in Stockholm I found a few similarities between my hometown and Sweden. Firstly, we are united by the Arctic, its nature, and, in particular, the climate. Here the weather reminds me of Yakutsk a little bit, but, of course, it is much warmer here than in my hometown. It is already below zero and all covered in snow there. Therefore, the transition into the Swedish culture was partly aided by my northern background – after all, cold, getting early dark autumns and gloomy weather were nothing new to me. Many of my fellow exchange students are bothered by these phenomena though. Sweden as well as Yakutia is a place where it is possible to see the Northern lights (aurora) which is a unique natural phenomenon and not everyone has the opportunity to see. Just a week ago, my friends sent me a photo when they saw an aurora in Yakutsk, and I was so jealous. However, a couple days later I was lucky to see it myself here in Stockholm.

Another thing I found similar is the celebration of Midsummer here and the Yakutian celebration of Ysyakh, they are both held at the summer solstice and celebrated between 19 and 25 of June. Raising and dancing around a maypole during Midsummer in Sweden reminds me of the Yakutian traditional dance Osuokhai during Ysyakh, which is a simultaneous round dance and song.

Moreover, there are similarities in food. For example, Swedes have dishes with reindeer meat, which you can also find in Yakutian/Russian foods, and also black pudding. This enabled me to understand the local culture even more, and because of this, my adaptation into the Swedish way of life wasn't the longest one.

Kristina Vasileva 3

In addition, as I have an Asian appearance, I am getting used to one thing that people often ask: am I Chinese, Korean or Japanese. When I say that I am from Russia, they are really surprised. There is a stereotype that if you are Russian, you have to be tall, with blond hair and blue eyes. However, it is not actually true. Therefore, when people ask me where I am from, I try to tell in detail that Russia has both a huge territory and a multinational culture. It is a pleasure for me to tell people about Yakutia, about our culture, and I want more people will get to know about our nation, Sakha.

Moreover, I really like my study in Stockholm University. I had chosen four courses: "Branding: Strategic and Cultural Perspectives", "Sweden: Society and Everyday life", "Academic and Scientific writing in English" and "Swedish language for Beginners". After studying these courses, I am going to apply all this knowledge into my final paper and my project as well.