Now what?

After 20 hours of travel, and 10 hours of catch-up sleep, I’m left wondering – now what? I think this is what is so hard about the Watson. I have practically no idea what I’m supposed to do now. In a way, the first day was already a success before noon. I walked around a bit, found a supermarket and got some groceries, and finally landed in a café with internet. I learned how to order a drip coffee – essentials first – “bryggkaffe.” So when can I start asking people about their health?

In other ways, it hasn’t feel like as successful. I had one conversation in the span of the first 24 hours, and that was with a guy on the tram. I asked him if I was going in the right direction, and I found out that he’s from Germany and makes robots that paint cars after they go through the assembly line at factories. I’ve been very humbled by the fact that I don’t speak the language here. There was a lot of English in the Stockholm Centralstation, and now there is much less in a residential neighborhood on the other coast. I’m by the neighborhood Majorna (barely mentioned in my enormous Lonely Planet book) just outside of Gothenburg. Perhaps I’ll spend the first couple days going into the city and being a tourist in Gothenburg, Sweden’s “Second City” after Stockholm.

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Colorful mural in my neighborhood

I have to learn how to approach life differently this year. I think I have to see myself more as a freelance journalist – someone who spends a lot of time alone, but has various interesting conversations dispersed through the week – rather than my New York self, constantly surrounded by family and old friends and talking constantly (whether or not it’s interesting!). That will be one of the challenges.

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Inside the tram to Frölunda Torg. The whole city transport system is comprised of these trams, which run quickly and often.

I spent the rest of the day wandering around Frölunda Torg, an enormous mall a few tram stops away. I learned that they have great free wifi, that “rea” means “sale,” and that the unlocked phone I brought to use with local SIM cards will never work in Sweden, and will probably never work in the other countries I’m visiting. I met up with someone who will be hosting me for a couple weeks in September, and he kindly loaned me an old Swedish iPhone that works great. I’ve been trying to set up meetings and email people about the project, and now I can give them a phone number!

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I splurged in the mall for a taste of home (but I have to be careful with this sort of thing on the Watson budget).

That’s plenty for today. I think it was a success after all. Tomorrow I’ll explore central Gothenburg and get started on this project soon enough (though I’m realizing why the Watson is a full year – it takes a couple days to get settled before you can really delve into the topic of interest).

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