Archive for Nathalia Mikhalkov — Student

Originally Russian student from France, I'm an exchange student at the department of Political Science at Stockholm University. I love old movies, good coffee and Sunday mornings. This is Sweden as I experienced it.

Welcome home.

I’m sitting on the bus to Arlanda.

It has been raining for the past few days and the tears are still falling on the window of the bus and on my cheeks.


I have been imagining this moment for so long that it doesn’t seem to be real. I remember myself rolling from side to side in bed, trying to fall asleep, thinking I have only two weeks, one week, four days, three, two… one day left in Stockholm.

And every time I was imagining myself leaving, saying bye, closing the door of my room, taking the metro.

It was there, so close to that moment that I could almost feel the weight of my big suitcases that I would tow…


But then I would open my eyes.


Silhouettes of a chair and a table in the dark. I was surrending to the reality of my dark room.

I was still in Stockholm.


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Norwegian wood

The clock of the train station was pointing at 8 and 14.

I was shivering in the morning fog:

“Why is she always late?!”

“Only six minutes before the train leaves…” Hugo stated.

Morgane dragged deeply on her cigarette: “She’s gonna be just on time”.

That’s when we saw Claudia running with her suitcase and making signs at us:

“Sorry, sorry, I’m here, I made it!”

Relieved, we got on the train. Morgane opened her Coke light and cheered us:

“So guys, we’re finally going to Norway!”



We were planning this trip for a long time.

Oslo is only 6 hours away from Stockholm by train and we had several free days in the beginning of May.

Our friends told us it was boring, our parents said it was expensive, the weather forecast told us it was going to be cold.

Well, we still wanted to go there.


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Happy campers

I told you my first camping experience was in Gotland but technically speaking my first night in a tent in my life was on the 15th of May in the Swedish archipelago.


So that’s the thing. It was the beginning of May and coincidently my birthday and I really wanted to go camping. May seems like the perfect time to go to the archipelago. It’s almost June, it’s supposed to be warm and we could even go swimming.


Which island to chose in the archipelago? In fact, there are dozens and dozens of islands. So we just decided to go to the one our friend told us about.

It happened to be the island called Utö: far enough to say we went to the real archipelago, close enough to Stockholm to go just for one night.


As I had never NEVER camped nor slept in a tent before (not in the backyard, not at a festival, not in a forest), the first thing to do was to pack. As my professional camper friend advised: all you need is a sleeping bag, a spare pair of socks and something in case you get upset (if the tent gets wet, or the weather is bad, or you forget the matches…), so I brought some chocolate.


The whole trip to Utö takes more than one hour and a half. First you have to take the community train (pendeltåg) from the central station towards Nynäshamn and get off at Västerhaninge, then you take the bus 846 from Västerhaninge station towards Årsta and get off at Årsta brygga and only then a ferry from Årsta brygga towards Utö.

On the ferry to Utö! May 2012. Photo by Nathalia Mikhalkov.

On the ferry to Utö! May 2012. Photo by Nathalia Mikhalkov.


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“Oh when I look back now that summer seemed to last forever”

For me, as for Bryan Adams (please, don’t judge my music taste) and for a lot of you I guess, summer is a special time of the year. As one Russian song says: “Summer is a small life”, meaning that it’s a whole life on its own, isolated from the rest of the year.

At the end of every scholar year I have the feeling that summer is going to bring something, something exciting, something incredible in my life.

And here, in Sweden, the relation to summer is even more particular.

I had a conversation with a Swede who told me that for a lot of people in northern Europe, Scandinavia and especially in Sweden, summer is a sort of a huge getaway. Summer is the time that everyone is waiting for, the time during which we can do everything we were dreaming about during the cold winter. And especially in Sweden summer brings hope and people believe that it will arrange things and everything will be better afterwards.

Summer is here, and then there is nothing.

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You know you’ve been in Sweden too long when you…

* Call your friends to go for a “fika“…

instead of inviting a friend to go for a coffee, it becomes natural to ask:

“Are you up for a fika around 4 p.m.?”


* Write “hej” instead of “hey“…

when you begin text messages. And no, it is not misspelled.


* Get angry when people do not recycle properly…

because everyone should know what plastic and what carton is.


* Think it’s usual to see cows on the way to uni…

when you’re walking from the student residence Lappkärsberget to Stockholm university.


* Appreciate the smallest ray of sunshine…

when it’s the only one you’ve seen since several days/weeks/months.


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