I dreamed about living in Sweden secretly for many years. It wasn’t until my farfar (father’s father) died when I was finishing up high school that I realized in order to make the dream more than just a private one, so that it actually might happen I had to take action. I felt like I had missed a huge opportunity to know my farfar personally and that while I have a “feeling” of him from our interactions during my childhood, since they were always translated via my aunt or my father I never really knew of him myself. With this new motivation and because I attended a large undergraduate university (The University of Texas at Austin) which offers tons of foreign language classes, I decided to learn to speak Swedish. I have always wished that my dad spoke in Swedish to my younger brother and I when we were children but since my father doesn’t speak a lot and also because my brother and I are both dyslexic maybe he had his reasons. Anyway, after learning Swedish in an intensive one year class, where we went to class for at least an hour every weekday. I found a research position in a Biochemistry lab for the summer of 2006. I lived in Lund, Sweden and worked at the university. It was a wonderful experience. I got to have coffee with my farmor (grandmother) every week and feel like she got to know me as an adult and my Swedish got pretty good. Since then I have been secretly planning to try to get back to Sweden….
So I hatched a “plan.” If I went abroad for a postdoc after my PhD I could live abroad for 2-3 years and not loose too much momentum in my career plus get back to Sweden. I have morbidly joked with friends that as long as my farmor was alive when I finished graduate school I would go to Sweden for a postdoc (Now this is sort of justified since she will be 95 in just a few weeks). When I began applying for postdoc positions I started with a list of 5 professors in Denmark and Sweden that I was interested in. Luckily for me one of these top choices was able to take me. So I am headed back to work in Lund again. This time will be longer and although my Swedish has gotten much worse I hope to explore more of Sweden. I am extremely excited and hope you will join me on this crazy journey of scientific, familial, locational, and personal exploration!