Friday, March 6, 2015

"It is F!@&ING challenging!"

"So how do you enjoy life in Sweden?" I remember when the curious question came up from one of Q's friends at a casual Christmas gathering (sans Q, of course). By then I was already midway into my visit in Holland, so admittedly I got a little boring after answering this type of questions. "It is ... challenging", I answered. "Oh, is that a diplomatic way of saying that you hate it but you can't really say it?", the question persisted. It made me smile when people want real meaningful answers and not just some BS - it is Holland after all. :) "No, I mean it is F!@&ING challenging" I emphasized with a even broader smile, and was pleased to see some mildly shocked and definitely satisfied looks. I continued,"It feels like riding a motorcycle on a tricky road full of twists and turns, and I'm loving it."

Okay, no twists or turns here, but snow helps pose as interesting biking condition in Malmö.

A few months back I took one of those super comprehensive personality tests that apparently the HR departments in Scandinavians love using. Out of some 25 scale categories, I ranked "high" for the "Experiences" scale, which shows "how prepared one is to try new activities and be emotionally stimulated by the world". The real surprise to me was in how others can perceive this. "People around them may become frustrated and fatigued by this impulse to always want to try out new things and rarely or never use existing experience or knowledge..."

This reminded me of a story back in 2011 when a friend congratulated me in returning to Toronto. I know the friend meant well and is a most caring person, but the following comment caught me off, "It is about time for you to settle down, eh?"

Then it dawned on me that this friend is not alone in the chorus. I recall several people felt it was a very risky move to, well, move. And some think that it is just a phase thing that I would pass through eventually. The comments almost made me doubt my mental maturity level. Then I realized that I like being immature anyways, so it really doesn't matter, ha!

Back to now and 8 months after moving from Toronto to Sweden, I still don't know what settling down means. I think the thought somewhat terrifies me. I feel that the world is full of roads with twists and turns. Settling down just seems like ... having a beautiful motorcycle - yes, a yellow & black one named Casa for example - and only ride back and forth to the office. Don't worry. It is just a metaphor and not at all what Q does.

Sure, one can experience plenty of new things while still living in the same place... But moving to another country just changes the landscape completely that it is so crazy! I have no choice but to adapt quickly. It is effing challenging and I am learning to enjoy the process more and more.

Sometimes I have to be so focused that I drop other important things in life like blogging for example. Here are some "challenges" that had kept me busy in the past couple of months...

- I promised myself not to work for the first year in Sweden, and I broke that promise - trust me, I really hesitated in breaking it, but it is also important to embrace the opportunities life presents sometimes. Anyway, over January and February, I prepared and taught a 6-week pilot course on public speaking with a small group of participants. It is an fantastic entrepreneurial exercise as I launched it under the talk&awe banner. It was very "challenging" as I set the goal for myself to put together a most fun and rewarding positive learning experience for everyone involved. And what fun and rewarding it was! After receiving some glowing review from the participants, the organizers and I plan to give the course again in mid-April - WOOHOO!

- In February I passed the Swedish National Test for immigrants! The test itself was quite gruelling: lasting over two days including four parts: reading, listening, speaking and writing. It is quite a feat. Now I continue to study on my own while waiting for the next level's class to start. I feel that I built a fairly solid Swedish language foundation, now I just need to build on top of it and keep progressing... which may be a little "challenging" because of the next point...

- Last but not least, I applied for university study and was accepted to the Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation master's programme at Lund University. It is a two-year programme, and it was an incredible journey to put together the application package and network to secure the spot. Can't wait to put on my backpack and go back to school in a few months!

Sorry, Toronto - spring is already here in Malmö!

So yes.... Life continues to be challenging and I continue to love it. I wouldn't take it any other way, you know. It is in my blood. And to my/our lovely friends and family, thanks for cheering me/us on!

1 comment:

FreeTinkerer said...

You never cease to shock & awe, but we are cheering you on!