Setting the Balance

2013…. you’ve been a rollercoaster. Man. I don’t even know where to begin. A year full of experiences. A year of adventure. A year filled with tears, of both sadness but mostly of happiness and joy. Most relatives and friends I know are currently Christmassing it up, but as Christmas here has already finished, I’ve spent the day on reflection. I was just in the supermarket, as it closes at ten and thought, ‘mennn, Dutch Christmas is so much better, I’d be wining and dining for hours’. Meanwhile the cold and harsh fluorescent lights were highlighting my cart full of half-priced bad Christmas-junk, kind of sad. The Swedes are back to their schedules, but I refuse to. Don’t care if Christmas here is over, I’m a Dutchie and Christmas is on the 25th, so I’m gonna stuff my face with all the tiramisu I can get my hands on while watching ‘All You Need is Love’ and reminiscing on the past year.DSC_0211It’s been a hectic year from start to finish. My year started off with a bang and romantic trips with the bf and basically since then, every week has been different. Normally I do not like these kinds of year-end posts very much, ’cause let’s be honest, my life isn’t all that interesting. But reflection is also nice, and it’s good to set the balance after 12 months. 12 months that flew by by the way.  Also, who am I kidding, I love lists, so might as well jump on the blogging-bandwagon of year-end posts. So how to describe this year? 


First and foremost, I have chased down my dreams. My dream to study, and now live, in Sweden. Doing the things I want, starting a small business, learning the language and soaking up the culture. My dream to emigrate from the Netherlands and my goal to find that dreamjob. I’ve also met amazing people, lived in beautiful places and visited new destinations where possible. But it comes with a price. I quite often hear the comments ‘oh it must be so cool in Stockholm’ or ‘It’s so brave of you to move away’ and ‘it must be amazing to start all over and meet all these new people’. Well in a way it is, but it’s also extremely tough and at times difficult.

Living in Stockholm, or Sweden, or any country for that matter, doesn’t automatically mean it’s all glitz and glamour. Unfortunately, the ‘sad’ part of growing up and adult life is that you’ll always have responsibilities. ‘More money, more problems’ is what a friend of mine always says and I guess it’s kind of true. But no money equals even more problems. And being away from a lot of loved ones can make it all the more daunting.


On the other hand, still living on a student budget makes you extremely creative with your time, money and energy. For years on end I refused to plan ahead and think of ‘larger workshemes’. I was the endless drifter, never really knowing what to do. But this year has shaken that all up and it has opened my eyes. It’s nice that I now have a future perspective, something to build toward. And don’t get me wrong, Stockholm still is an awesome place to live. But in general, for me this year can be re-capped with a lot of extreme ups, and a couple of extreme downs.

To give a summary of an eventful year:

  • I have worked really hard. At school, with working out, in relationships and with applications. If anything, hard work has paid off.
  • I’ve graduated my masters with distinction, who’d have thought it?
  • Saw my gramps from the States for a quick visit in Copenhagen (yes!)
  • Been in the Netherlands 4 times! All thanks to the Dutch governmental administration.
  • Visited Latvia, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Norway, Denmark and of course a place I call home.
  • Moved in with a boy, for the first time of my life
  • Moved to Stockholm
  • Started my own small business in honest and handmade goods; Swedish Yarn
  • hiked Norwegian Fjords, something I always had wanted to do.
  • felt extreme and utter loneliness
  • started to therefore blog. Might sound cheezy, but any form of communication was good at the time. It has in return opened my (digital) world in new ways.
  • Cried more tears than a river, both of happiness and sadness.
  • Learned a buckload.
  • Sent out 106 applications, and gotten 100 declines.
  • Then I all of the sudden had 6 weeks of interviews. Robotic phone interviews, skype interviews, first meetings, second meetings, in English, Dutch and Swedish, 6 rounds, 2 rounds, assesments and obviously countless of nerves.
  • But it was all worth it, as I have now landed my dreamjob!!
  • Found myself a new healthy addiction in weighttraining, (and lost it a little bit in the end)
  • Lost 6 pounds. This is actually a bad thing at the moment, since I lost all of my hard earned muscle mass.
  • Am broke to the core of my bones and owe my parents shitloads of money (the Dutch government as well btw)
  • Met amazing people in Lund, a couple of the most inspiring people I’ll ever meet, only to know after last June I might never see them again
  • I love more, and more deeply with each passing day.
  • Learned Swedish, or still learning it
  • Written a master’s thesis in 2,5 months, it can be done. Don’t ask how though.


In essence so many good things have happened to me, and yes I have seen the top of the mountain, quite literally and figuratively last June. And then things rolled down, emotionally. After graduation and saying goodbye to some people whom you form closeknit relationships with in a year’s time, the black gaping hole of after-grad stress and poverty stared me right in the face. I can usually handle extreme changes really well, but moving to Stockholm has really been a challenge.

For 4 months there was so much insecurity and doubt. I didn’t see it. I didn’t see why I was here and what I was doing, and whatfor I was doing it. I though I’d get a job within a month, I mean, most Swedes did, why shouldn’t I? Turns out it’s quite the challenge to find a professional job as a foreigner in Sweden. But now after 4 months I see it, how it all happened. How the process developed.

Even though it was tough, it was all worth it. I’ve landed my dreamjob and I’m so looking forward to the coming time. I set out on my dreams, followed my heart and in the end, after long struggles, I managed to get it. I wanted to challenge myself and show myself that I can do this. That I can move away and survive. Doing all this at the age of 23/24 makes me rather proud of myself. Yeah, I said it.5887_10151504792562043_1384908805_n 222697_10151288853137043_1961242192_n 375691_10151454558652043_1246083260_n 1004756_10151504793047043_388253735_n 1382230_10152092436690929_952353894_n

I want to integrate into this culture for a while and soak it all up. The downside is that I therefore have to leave behind my own homecountry, my friends, my family and miss out on a lot. Something that’ll never be easy. But the scales definitely keep tipping towards Stockholm. What I’ve learned?

Work hard, be a better you and follow your adventures. No regrets, ‘YOLO

Even though this year has been hectic, I reflect back on it with a lot of positivity. For now I can’t wait for the new year. A new chapter is just around the corner. 2014 bring it on!

love sign


  1. Such an inspiring post to read! I’ve started to read your blog a few months ago and am impressed by your journey so far. Hopefully more good (no, great!) things will follow in 2014), and keep blogging. Happy holidays!

  2. Haha yolo, love it. Fijn verslag – fijn eerlijk ook weer, maar er is weinig beter dan dat 🙂
    En OH zo fijn om te lezen dat een masterscriptie daadwerkelijk in 2,5 maand geschreven kan worden. Ik ga er ook voor – 2,5 à 3 maanden, that is. En geloof maar dat dat gaat lukken (nu geloof ik het zelf ook weer, voor zolang als dat duurt).

    Geniet van de laatste 2013-dagen en dan straks van het nieuwe jaar he! Ik ben benieuwd naar al je avonturen.

    • ah, heel lief berichtje! En je masterscriptie gaat echt lukken! je gaat misschien helemaal kapot (althans dat had ik, haha) met weinig nachten slapen, maar uiteindelijk staat ie er, is het af en kan je trots zijn. Je gaat het gewoon doen, door blijven zetten en door alle woorden en uren heen buffelen, maar komt helemaal goed! en je bent nu klaar met stage toch? dus geniet nog van de vrije dagen voor uni weer begint en alvast een hele goede jaarwisseling!!

  3. Great post Ellen. I’m actually working on a post like this myself… I think I can really relate to what you’ve been through. Since I’ve moved to Argentina I’ve kind of felt the same and although I’m not yet a year here I think we started this adventure of searching for a job, experiencing poverty, loneliness and tears of joy or sadness around the same time. It’s hard at times but when everything seems to work out it’s amazing! I’m very curious what your dream job contains but I guess I have to wait for another post 😉 Keep on going Ellen, you inspire a lot of people!

    • Ah thanks!! Yes, it takes quite a lot of effort to move out on your own, so you must know exactly what it’s like. And sometimes wondering ‘what the f am I doing here’, but like you say, sticking through it and seeing the long-run will make it all worth it. I think for anyone moving away it’s hard, no matter how long you’re gone. I had some of these thoughts and feelings also when I wasn’t in Sweden for a such a long time yet, I guess it’s part of the deal. Must say, that’s it’s nice to know other people in similar situations have likewise experiences. Enjoy the year end and keep us updated on all your adventures, work and life in Argentina!

  4. Wat een mooi stuk heb je geschreven. Ik heb hem nu al een paar keer gelezen. Wat heb jij een moeilijk/mooi/indrukwekkend jaar gehad en wat kun je dat mooi verwoorden. Ik vind het moeilijk om er iets op te zeggen, maar ik hoop dat 2014 een fijn jaar voor je wordt waarin je je kunt blijven ontwikkelen in je baan, er vriendinnen langs komen en je mooie dingen meemaakt. XXX

    • Ah, nou dan vind ik het extra fijn dat je toch iets geschreven hebt! En bedankt voor je lieve woorden. Ik hoop ook dat jij een fijn jaar hebt! Kon me heel erg vinden in je beschrijvingen over kerst (had dit jaar helemaal geen kerstgevoel) Hopelijk dat je het komend jaar weer mooie, eerlijke tekst en DIY-posts (die vind ik erg leuk!) kan leveren.

  5. Niels de Bresser

    Hee Ellen!
    Allereerst (en wrs uit onverwachte hoek 🙂 ) de allerbeste wensen voor het nieuwe jaar!
    Wat een cool bericht weer van je. Ik zag laatst je nieuwe blog voorbijkomen en dacht zal eens kijken hoe het je afgaat in Zweden. Ik vind zulke buitenlandse avonturen toch erg interessant (mede door mn eigen ervaringen). Ik was dan ook gelijk geboeid!
    Echt super mooi en indringend geschreven met veel emotie, heel nice. Ik heb gelijk wat andere blogs van je teruggelezen en vind het echt stoer van je welke stappen je hebt durve nemen en wat je nu daardoor al hebt bereikt, zeer knap EN inspirerend ook! Ik kon het dan ook niet laten om je dit even te melden 🙂 en je nogmaals alle succes te wensen met het settlen van je leventje in Stockholm en het opbouwen van je eigen business! X

    • Hej Niels! wat een ontzettend lief berichtje! Ik reageer weer superlaat, maar beter laat dan nooit 😉
      Jij hebt natuurlijk zelf in Rome gezeten, dus je zal het vast goed begrijpen. Heel erg bedankt voor je woorden, en bericht uit onverwachte hoek is altijd fijn! Als je ooit een keertje in het noorden bent kunnen we een Zweedse fika doen

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