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New Beginnings: Home & Abroad

The European Union flag flies proudly in front of the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament, earlier this week but on Friday it was lowered in the UK.

Hej! Välkommen to my first blog post which, as you may notice, is coming a little later than some of my fellow bloggers. I’m a new addition to the team here at DIS Stockholm and I’m really excited to share my adventures this semester with you.

In many ways, this is perfect timing, because there’s going to be something of a recurring theme to my posts when possible, one that focuses on my unique position at DIS at least. When I wrote this post, I was a European citizen, but unlike my host family and some of the Swedish friends I’ve made here, a little over 24 hours later and I am no longer. Before moving to Maine to study two and a half years ago, I was born and raised in the United Kingdom and I’m increasingly less proud of that fact as these dark days of Brexit loom over us. When I considered study abroad, I discounted Europe at first because it was always on my doorstep- Paris no further from London and my home than Boston from New York. But as I chased my interests in international security, I realized there was no place that fascinated me more than home, and so with its intriguing course on European Security Dilemmas, DIS Stockholm was my logical step.

Uncertainty over Brexit deals and terms plagued my application and pre-departure process, and though December’s election in the UK was a blow for many young enthusiasts like me, it at least provided some clarity on the situation. Brexit was to happen, and it was to happen on January 31st. Fortunately it wouldn’t affect the liberties I enjoy on the continent until the end of the year, but politically speaking at least, I’ve enjoyed my last hours as a European citizen, and all the challenges that come with Brexit provide a fascinating surrounding for the scarily pertinent issue of security.

Going into the semester, I found comfort in the fact I’d be spending my last moments as an EU citizen in a nation that couldn’t be prouder of its place in the union. Approval ratings in Sweden are at 72%, and though Swedes aren’t the type to brag, their political system and place in Europe is envious as an outsider looking in. I know that I’m keen to learn from Swedish citizens about their views on the EU, and engage with their politics in a series of challenging classes at DIS. At the heart of the refugee crisis in 2015, Sweden is facing its own issues of polarization, and yet there is no talk of a “Swexit” or a “Swedone”. I have a lot to learn from my four crammed months here, back at ‘home.’

So my first post didn’t get too much into my life at DIS, but there’s more to come. I’m excited to share my classes, activities, travels, and home life with you, as well as another quirk of mine- vexillology. Every so often, I’ll share a Swedish flag with you, and talk about its meaning. It’s a niche interest, but the world of flags can go a long way to explain the nationalist tendencies that drive the polarization we’re seeing today in Europe. I hope you’ll find them as fascinating as I do.

In the mean time, check out my ‘about me’ page for more information on me, in lieu of an introductory post, follow me on social media, and feel free to ask me anything related to DIS or Brexit down below!

Vi ses to you all, and the EU, for now.


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