Linnéa: My Swedish Soul Sista
I remember meeting Linnéa on one of the classic single decker buses that zoom in and around Sydney all the time. In my 6 months there I don’t think I ever remember seeing a double decker bus. Anyway. My friend Emilia, introduced us and I’m so glad she did. We clicked instantly, especially after finding out that we were both Swedish (me only half so, though) and that we could understand each other on that level.
Speaking (literally) of which, I’m going to try my best to flex my Swedish muscle and translate Linnea’s answers within this post. First of all, I asked her how she remembers us meeting:
“Vi träffades via Emilia va? På vegan market tror jag det var. Det roliga var ju att hon trodde jag var norsk. Och till mig sa hon att du var britt och inte halv svensk. Minns du? Så vi pratade ju bara engelska först. Och sedan insåg vi att vi båda kunde svenska.”
We met via Emilia, right? We were on the way to the Sydney Vegan market I think. It was funny because I remember her thinking I was Norwegian and I didn’t actually know you were half Swedish, so we just spoke in English at first, do you remember? And then finally something clicked and we realised that we actually could both speak Swedish!
We actually became quite close and began a little tradition of us going to Bondi beach in the afternoons after work, watching the sunsets with a tub of hummus, some wine and crisps, talking about anything and everything. We also ended up going to the BoHo bar most friday nights for the cheapest happy hour one could find in Sydney, right on the beach front and those nights were so much fun. When you’re halfway across the world, it’s so important to make friends where you’ve settled and sometimes you hit the jackpot with finding someone who you can connect with as I did with Linnéa. I especially remember – as does she – our lovely celebrations before I was set to leave in the new year of 2019.
On Christmas Eve, Swedes celebrate ‘julafton’ which is their ‘big’ day equivalent of Christmas, so we decided to spend it together with a few Swedish traditions. At the time I was housesitting in a beautiful house 5 minutes from Bondi beach so we had the place to ourselves. We bought pepparkakor (ginger biscuits), our favourite cheap (but actually delicious) Aldi wine and of course, hummus/crackers and clinked our glasses as we watched the sunset from the front doorstep. We watched Kalle Anka as well, a classic Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck feature from way back to the ‘30s I imagine, which was quite emotional. I felt like I was with family for a moment, reliving this sweet tradition. It was my first Christmas away from home so it meant so much to me that we could spend it together doing little Swedish things no one else would really understand.
We had breakfast on the patio the morning after which was of course Christmas Day and it was boiling, a very discombobulating experience if you’re used to bitterly cold winters. Then New Year’s Eve came around and we had such a special evening. We found a restaurant in King’s Cross in the city that had one of the last tables available, where her friend Melissa joined us for pizza and wine. After we hurried out of there, we went hunting for the perfect spot to watch the fireworks over the bridge, settling in about 2 or 3 places and then moving again to finally find the perfect spot. It was packed full of people around the harbours, but we plopped our blankets down, got our plastic wine mugs out and waited for the countdown. The fireworks themselves were the most impressive I’d ever seen and blew any others (quite literally) out of the water. I remember us sitting there in silence after midnight, the display going on for about 10 long minutes in total, in a pocket of time where everything seemed to stand still.
Linnéa stayed over where I was living that night and we had a delicious hangover-curing New Year’s Day breakfast out on the balcony the morning after and a good long deep chat about where the year 2019 was going to take us.
On my last day in Sydney, we went for a stroll along one of our favourite beaches (Bondi) where we’d spent the most of our time, in the days and nights. We’d go and get dressed up to go to bars, for ice creams at Messina’s at the weekends, noodles at the restaurants down the side streets, but then that day we walked all the way to my ‘home’ beach, Bronte. We sat on the grass watching the sea and having our last in-person chat before it was time for me to go.
More recently I caught up with her and asked what her favourite memories of Australia were:
“Jag var bosatt i sydney i 2 år men reste ju runt lite i australien. Förmodligen port macquarie [va speciell för mig]. Där jag gjorde mitt farm så att jag kunde förlänga mitt visum. Fantastiskt ställe och verkligen mkt Australien i den byn, då Sydney mer är som vilken stad som helst. Noosa uppe i qld, också, där firade julen med mamma och pappa efter att jag inte sett dem på 16 månader. Underbart ställe och att få utforska med dem.”
I was based in Sydney for 2 years but I travelled around Australia too. I think Port Macquarie probably had the biggest impact on me personally, where I did my farm work so I could extend my visa. It was an incredible place with loads of Australians, compared to Sydney, which is more comparable to any city. Noosa in Queensland was also quite special to me, where I celebrated Christmas with my mum and dad after not seeing them for 16 months. An amazing place to have had the opportunity to explore with them.
I asked if she had any thoughts on whether her experience had changed her in any way:
“Det är såklart alltid lite läskigt att vara ute och resa själv. Långt ifrån familj osv. Man är utsatt och du får lösa dina problem själv. Men man får lita på sig sj och fortsätta kämpa och tänka på allt man får uppleva.”
It’s always a bit scary to be out travelling on your own, far away from family. You feel quite vulnerable and you need to find ways to figure out problems on your own. Nevertheless, you also need to trust yourself and keep going and keep thinking about all the amazing things you’re experiencing.
I asked if she had anywhere high on her list to travel to in the future:
“Jag vill absolut tillbaka [til Austrsalien] på ett sätt eller annat. Älskar Australien och kommer alltid att göra. Men annars är jag sugen på typ Japan eller China. Även Europa och Italien lockar.”
I definitely want to go back to Australia one way or another. I love Australia and always will. But elsewhere, I’m definitely intrigued by Japan or China, even Europe/Italy is quite tempting.
I asked her what she was up to these days and what her future aspirations are:
“Bor i Sverige, Växjö. Jobbar på ett lager, men hoppas på att jag kan flytta till antingen Borås eller Malmö för att börja plugga till polis. Vill verkligen resa igen. Men inte att vara iväg under flera månader utan kortare perioder.”
I’m living in Växjö, Sweden at the moment, where I’m working at a warehouse, but I’m hoping that I can move to Borås or Malmö to join the police force. I definitely want to travel again though, but for shorter periods, rather than months at a time.
And finally, I asked Linnéa what her 3 takeaways from her time travelling were:
- Att våga. Jag tänker inte dö nyfiken eller ångra att jag inte gjorde något eller upptäckte ett land etc. To dare! I don’t want to die thinking ‘What If?’ Or with any regrets of not doing something or exploring a certain country.
- Lita på mig själv. Man kan så mycket mer än vad man tror. Och man kan lösa problem på ett annat sätt här i Sverige. To trust myself. You are so much stronger than you think and you can fix problems in different ways here in Sweden.
- Personer som är ”kvar” i ens liv och som stöttat en under hela rese perioden. Vilka som är ens äkta vänner och personer här i livet. Remember the people in your life who were always there for you during your time away: they are your true friends.
On my last day, we both had a bit of a cry as we hugged goodbye. It’s always difficult to part with someone who’s genuinely become a friend, especially given the distance. Linnéa felt like a home away from home and was really there for me when life got inevitably tough. But of course, we are still very much in touch and have plans to meet up again since we’re virtually neighbours now she’s back in Sweden! I can’t wait to sit down and have a kanelbulle and fika with her again and catch up with her on the happenings of the last few years, which will no doubt be soon.
Tack Linnéa for att du stötade mig när jag behövde det mest. Vilken jädra tur att vi träffade!