Achievement hunter

united-kingdomWell hello there! It feels very strange to be writing here so soon after my last post (it hasn’t even been two weeks since my Eurovision write-up!), and to be honest, I had planned to write something completely different for this month. I’m working on another true crime post (in Swedish), but I’m trying to do as much research as possible so I’m not just aggregating all of the facts you can find online into one place, I’d like it to be at least somewhat original, and that’s really been kicking my ass so I’m sorry to say that it’s not quite ready yet. But hopefully it will be soon. I’m trying not to beat myself up about it, I’d much rather post something good that you’ll all enjoy rather than something sub-par I end up wishing I’d worked harder on. So for this post, well, we’re getting a little introspective.

One week from today, I will be turning thirty one years old. I used to be one of those people who freaked out about getting older, and I think it’s something a lot of twenty-somethings struggle with – but since turning thirty (under lockdown), I’ve found there’s a kind of freedom in no longer giving a fuck. I’m going to be celebrating in a very low-key fashion (most likely due to getting my Covid-19 vaccination the day before) and I might treat myself to some new books as a gift to myself. I’m almost looking forward to it.

But getting another year older has the annoying side-effect of making you look back on the previous year, or even an entire lifetime. And you know what? I find myself with more happy memories than regrets, and that’s a really great place to find yourself. I’ve got a lot to be proud of!

IMG_5626Although I’ve not really used it since, I’m still proud of my degree. I got an upper second class honours degree in English Literature from York St John University back in 2011 – and although I (like most students) was completely penniless the whole time, made some pretty bad decisions regarding housemates, and spent the last two months of my course panicking about what I was going to do next, there were some real highlights. This is where I discovered my love of creative writing, it’s where I discovered conlanging, and it’s where a fully nocturnal but nevertheless sweet Chinese housemate took it upon herself to teach me some Chinese characters by slipping notes under my bedroom door with attached homework questions. It’s also where I was given the opportunity to go and live in Stockholm for six months, with only a smattering of Norwegian to guide me, and it’s where I fell in love with both Swedish and Sweden. The picture you can see here is my lovely little university’s quad – fun fact, it was going to be used in the Harry Potter films, but the filming was going to take place during term time so the university refused. I imagine that’s something they now regret, but many a happy afternoon was spent sitting on blankets reading in this beautiful place.

IMG_1103I also applied for (and got accepted onto) a summer course in Modern Icelandic at Háskóli Íslands in July of 2015. I had applied thinking there was no way I’d be accepted, but I’ve always been interested in etymology and, knowing the relationship between Icelandic and its peninsular Scandinavian brethren, I thought that learning this new language that was just different enough that I struggled to understand it, but not so different that it was completely alien to me, would actually help towards improving my Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. And in many ways, it did! But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t completely fall in love with Icelandic in its own right. Iceland is without a doubt the most beautiful country I’ve ever been to, and getting the opportunity to learn this beautiful language in a class of equally enthusiastic language nerds while going on trips around the country at the weekends (not to mention my first ever Taco Bell experience, after a 45 minute bus ride with some classmates) was something I’ll never forget. I’ll definitely go back to Iceland given the chance. Hell, if I won the lottery, there’s a huge chance I’d move there permanently. But I consider myself very lucky to have even been given this taste.

IMG_4088Traveling in general is something I’ve been incredibly grateful for. If you’d taken me to one side as a teenager and said, one day, you’ll travel all across Europe on your own, I would have laughed in your face. I was chronically shy, I was the guy who would send his friends to the counter at McDonald’s because he was too afraid to talk to the person behind the till (in the days before automatic ordering screens, what a boon!) But since my experience being thrown in the deep-end in Stockholm, just try and keep me in one place! Obviously it’s been curtailed a lot recently, but over the past couple of years I’ve visited Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Frankfurt completely on my own, either to visit friends or to explore a new city. I think little me would be glad to hear about where I’ve ended up. And even more excited to hear about where I’m going next… which I’ve not decided, and I’m open to suggestions. Where the hell should I go next? I’ve been meaning to check out Riga for a couple of years now… maybe there. We’ll see.

Now, the last thing I want is for this to come off as me showing off. That isn’t my intention at all. Honestly, I’m mostly writing this to remind myself that actually, I haven’t completely wasted my thirty years on this planet, and there’s still so much more to see and do. It’s a retrospective, and now that things are starting to return to some sort of normality, and we can all look forward to new adventures. Maybe it’s a little self-indulgent, but… come on, guys. It’s my blog. And it’s almost my birthday. Give me this one.

As always, I want to thank you for reading, it’s always a pleasure to have you here. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them here on this post or of course you can contact me on Twitter or Instagram (I’m @sprakskatan) on both. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming hopefully next month.

– J.

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