Beyond 2020 p5– Sweden

courtesy of Tilda Nilsson Giege

Tilda Nilsson Giege is from Stockholm and now attends Sciences Po in Reims.  She faced the lockdown with family in Sweden.

So, according to you, how was this year universally impactful?

2020 was universally impactful because the pandemic knows no borders – geographic, social, or economic.

Everyone has struggled with highly personal issues.

turns for the worse

Mental or physical health problems often took a turn for the worse, one’s structure or economy broke down, the fear of one’s death or the passing of someone you love added to existing concerns and created new ones.

Assessing, based on testimonies, the academic situation for students across campus, we see that it affected everyone, no matter the severity of the issue.

What has the shared experience made us realize?  Any lessons?

It led to more sweeping solidarity between students and people in general – it led us to give up some of our liberty for someone else’s.

Frankly, it was refreshing to learn that as always, people struggle in such disparate ways. On the same note, I believe we need to recognize the asymmetry of the effects. That could entail staying home from a party or refraining from seeing others to protect a mate or a family member.

a sense of collectivity

But it could also mean taking a job to support your family.  Overall, I hope it prompted a sense of collectivity! 

Each person experienced the universal shock in their own personal way ––  we all seemingly went through highs and lows.

Most challenging for me was having to move home in spring. Even though I love my family, it felt like regression.

Being in my childhood home, some destructive patterns crept back. Which was scary. I experienced a low point, where my structures and motivation plummeted. My sleeping and eating patterns went bad. I would have headaches and stomach pain nearly every day.

Besides, having changed my country of residence, I was not eligible for healthcare in Sweden. So, whenever I was sick, I was scared of going to the doctor because of the high fees my family and I would have to pay. 

Still, in the bigger picture, I realized that this is reality especially for those in the U.S. lacking adequate health insurance. Students in France are often stuck between health care systems. 

The confinement forced me to establish new structures for my days, which I needed! I also came to realize that I work better at home than at school due to distractions in the library.

what is important in life

Finally, it made me realize what is important in life – essentially health, loved ones, and looking out for one another.

No matter how tough this experience has been, I walked through it with a feeling of gratitude. I have a roof over my head, a solid (student) economic situation and nice people around me – something most important because it’s so easy to lose your head sometimes.

If 2020 was a book, each chapter an account of one’s own personal experience of the year, what would be the title of your chapter? 

Bouncing Back.

What’s a memory of yours from this year you hope to preserve forever? 

There are so many. All involve seeing my friends or being in nature of some sort.

Over the summer, because of the travel restrictions, my boyfriend at the time and I decided to go on a road trip across Sweden. Overall, it was so lovely: warm weather, wild strawberries, and around-the-clock sunlight.

the cheapest bottle of champagne

One of our stops was on the west coast, at my best friend’s summer house. In the evening, we took the boat out on the sea right before sunset. At close to eleven, we watched the sunset on the horizon, while sharing the cheapest bottle of champagne we found at the state’s alcohol monopoly. It was so beautiful.

How will you remember 2020 twenty years from now?

I will definitely remember transitions. I took trips between France and Sweden to avoid the worst outbreaks but also shuttled in and out of quarantine and restrictions.

changing nature of things

I will also remember the insecurity and lack of control I felt during a large part of the year due to the changing nature of practically everything.

How will having lived 2020 impact the year to come— either in terms of new general normalcy or rather how you envision the effects on your own life post-pandemic?

I will be more chill!

After all, we’re still here, and things we worried about are in the past.  For a long time, my motto has been everything is going to be okay. So, whatever I may face, I will do it with a soberer attitude, knowing I can control my outlook but not my surroundings.

For that reason, I will be more lenient on myself.

to appreciate normal again

When the vaccine is finally here, I will make sure I appreciate every opportunity of going back to normal and seeing friends with the realization I cannot take anything for granted. 

About the Article

A  look at one person and her decision to ride out the quarantine at her family’s home in Sweden.

Beyond 2020 Intro

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