Being born and growing up in Santiago was great. I am very proud of my heritage and I love Santiago. When I was there I used to slag it off a lot, but I think many of us do whilst we are in our hometown for too long and haven't seen the world yet.
Moving to Europe has been a crazy adventure, specially moving to Scandinavia, because the culture, the climate and everything is very different. There are many things I love about being here and others that I still can't say I'm very fond of, but that's normal. We are raised in an specific way by our family and our surroundings while we are shaping our personality, and our values are influenced by the culture, society and time you are being part of.
So yeah, it has been a shock in some ways but it's been fun.
To start with, the language. Swedish is crazily different to Spanish, and lucky for me, I was already an English speaking person before I arrived, so I can say that it made things easier for me because most people speaks English in this country, but I can imagine the struggle that it is for people that doesn't speak any other language than their mother tongue and I feel that's very brave. To feel comfortable in a new place you need to be able to communicate. Making friends and surround yourself with nice people is a key to start getting used to your new home. I've always felt that it's hard to "be yourself" speaking in another language. The way you joke, the way you verbalise your thoughts, everything it's way more complicated. Like I've said a couple of times to my friends "I am way smarter and funnier in Spanish" haha and I indeed think it's true.
I always get asked how is to live abroad and how easy is to find jobs, etc. Well, you could start by just speaking english quite fluently, but if you live in a non english speaking country, at some point, you MUST learn the language of the place you are in. Better sooner than later. The other thing is that if you don't have a strong university degree you probably will struggle to find jobs and will end up doing something totally unrelated to what you studied or what you expected to be doing. At least for a while until you get contacts, you learn the language and probably take a course or too, but usually natives of the country will get the jobs that you want before you, even if you are technically more qualified (sad but true).
That said, once you get a job (specially if full time) you will probably have the chance to have a good quality life. I've travelled, I've bought quite a bit stuff for myself and now I live alone in an apartment in town at the age of almost 24. So yeah, the fulltime job gives you the chance to do so! At least in Sweden.
A good thing in Sweden for instance is that the healthcare and the education system are great. You can study for free once you get a permanent residency permit or if you are an EU citizen. If you are from further away it's quite expensive though. Other thing that is good is how safe the country is. I never felt scared or uncomfortable walking alone, not even at night. The crime rate feels so low compared to Latin-america and that makes me happy being the sort of person that acts respecting law and other people's rights. If you lose something, you usually find it, even your wallet and your phone, a big YES to Swedish honesty.
As a woman, I'm living in a feminist minded society and I love that. I love how I am not looked over the shoulder by being a girl. I love how I can decide on my body, my sexuality and my career path regardless of my genre. I love how men have to take equal responsibility over the kids, I like how earning more than your partner is completely fine without people judging his manhood, I love how abortion is a choice, how the church don't get involved in stuff that doesn't have to do anything with them, I like how a woman can decide to not have children or get married if she doesn't want to and I love how cat call in so unusual here. I like the respect you get as a female, I love it!
Going to other general matters, one thing that it's always important to consider is that getting residency permits or "visas" is quite hard in most EU countries. You must have a stable partner (and show proof that the relationship is legitimate), you have to have family related to the country (like if your grandma was french and stuff and you have to do all the paperwork to get french nationality, etc) or if you apply for a job internationally and you get placed abroad. As a student you usually cannot stay after your course is finished. Even if you get certain jobs. I've seen so many people struggling with staying in the country afterwards and to be honest, if you start a life somewhere is such a task having to go back home after a couple of years I suppose (but the experience makes it worth it anyways)
Now I'm personally on a stage where I miss home a lot. Don't get me wrong, I like living in Sweden indeed, but there are smells, places, sensations, people and feelings that you just inevitably are going to miss. It's highly likely that I'll visit soon (not gonna say more because you shouldn't talk about projects before you build them up properly) and I'm quite worried about how it's going to feel. I haven't been home in almost 4 years and I know things have changed there and the people I know maybe won't be the people I knew. I have changed too in many ways and the experience to fight life abroad has opened my eyes a lot. I am incredibly grateful for the experience and the tests I have gone through. I feel proud of myself and of my family, because to leave home you have to be brave. You are going to struggle sometimes but you also going to be very happy to have the chance to do all these new things you never thought you would.
I think everyone should go out of their comfort zones and travel, learn, open up to different cultures, meet different people. All the learning is extremely rewarding in the end.
Now I'm looking forward to drink some terremotos, to go walking around Barrio Bellas Artes and taking a coffee with a friend, to go dancing in Bellavista, to sit in a park with my friends, drinking a can of beer and laying on the grass laughing, to go for a weekend to Valparaiso and take a walk in Cerro Alegre and drinking wine in the stairs on a warm night, to visit the museums, to swim in the Pacific ocean again, to hug my friends and catch up about everything that has happened in between, to do some photoshoots, to get tattooed with some of my talented friends and specially to get to smooch my dad's face and cook together while we listen to Ismael Serrano and sing The Smiths in the car. Oh! and have a massive box of Papas Supremas in Taco Bell with a crazy amount of cheese. Call me lame, but I am emotional person and all these sensations just give me incredible happiness. Looking forward to this and to build so many new memories both here and back home.
Umeå, Sweden. ^