The average life expectancy in western europe at the moment is around 80 years. However, this does not mean that each and every of those years feels as long as the others. It fact, our perception of time changes drastically within a lifetime! While one year feels like forever as a child, it seems to just fly by when we are older.
The reason for that is simple. As humans, we perceive time based on the experiences and memories we make during that period. The more new experiences we make, the longer our brain needs to process them, the more it gets stimulated and the longer the time period feels. And while a child makes new experiences all the time, the older we grow the more of our daily life becomes routine.
So in order to slow down our relative perception of time, it is absolutely essential to every now and then break with routines we have and keep making AS MANY NEW EXPERIENCES AS POSSIBLE!!
I recently did that by moving to Sweden for a year. I crushed my comfort zone of family, friends and familiar country to experience something entirely new. A new home, a new university, a new language, a new peer group. Just hit he reset button and completely start over.
And I gotta say, it is incredible how after two weeks I already feel like I’ve been living here forever! I’ve been overwhelmed with new impressions since the first day I got here. Living in the biggest and most international dormitory in Jönköping, I have the opportunity to hang out with about 500 students every day, sharing the common area and the pool table, ping pong table and table soccer we have there. This way it was super easy to get to know each other and each other’s background, even before the official kick-off week started. Within an hour I found myself drinking beer with people from Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Iraq, Poland and China, all of them just as excited as myself to be here and experience something new.
But when the introduction week started, that’s when things got really crazy! I believe I am quite experienced and persistent when it comes to partying, and yeah, I pride myself a little on that. But the program that was put together here for the incoming students during the last ten days is beyond everything I have ever experienced! It totally blew my mind to see the work and dedication that hundreds of other students voluntarily put in to give us newbies the best start we could possibly have!
Every day from morning until late at night I was out, just getting flooded with new experiences. I learned so much about the Swedish culture and student lifestyle here, but also about myself, that I am still trying to process it:
– I experienced that it is not as cold as one might think to go swimming in in a canal at 2 am at night, only dressed in a toga (the way home in your wet underwear is the part you actually should worry about)
– I came to the conclusion that you are never too old for foam parties
– I now know that it is possible to party six days straight while only eating fruits and sandwiches (if you have no time to cook)
– It is in fact possible to get laid even though you are in the club with a penis and a lot of ejaculate drawn in fluorescent colors on the back of your skull
– I found my acceptance limit for the price of one shot (it’s 88 kronor, which is about 10 euro)
– I learned (the hard way) that you do not want to get involved in drinking games that require special skills when all the other players have been playing this game for years (no more playing ‘Caps’ with Swedish people!)
– A lot of guys shaving their legs together can actually have some kind of bonding effect
– “It is considered rude NOT to hit on your neighbors” is the best rule ever and can ruin the mood of even the fanciest dinner
– Even if you have heard it a 100 times in one week already, when the DJ plays “Wake me up” by Avicii, people in Sweden still go crazy
– It is totally ok that all clubs close at 2 am, as long as you know where the after-party is (“94, second floor!”)
– I can scream for about five days non-stop before I lose my voice- and it then takes about three days to get it back
So I look back on the last two weeks, which were without a doubt some of the best of my life, and I can’t help but imagine what they would have been like if I hadn’t taken the step to come here. I probably would have wasted them with my daily routine of work, food and Facebook. Would I remember them 40 years from now? Would I even remember them 4 months from now? I doubt it. But because I broke with my old habits and made room for something exciting and new, I now have memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life!