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I go back to school in 16 days (if I pass my accounting exam, knock on wood.)

Or rather, I start school in 16 days. I’m done with my bachelor’s degree and am starting my master’s. I do intend to write a longer post later, to sum up my first four years at SSE, but I do need to study some more before that.

It feels strange to start though (and to go back.) It’s been a very tough couple of years and sometimes I wonder what I’ve learned, really. Did I accomplish everything I though I would when I started college?
(Nope.)

At the same time, it’s exciting. The thought of new challenges. Travels. New people. It’s also a comfort to know not everything will be new, there are people I know, I know the buildings, where to eat lunch, all those things that take up energy if you don’t know them.

The program I will attend is a completely new one. We don’t know how it’s going to be. While SSE is lovely in many ways, administration isn’t always great and we’ve yet to see if they’ve managed to do well for once. I hope so, because we’re so excited to start.

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I had a talk with my friend Sara today, a fellow student at SSE, and we talked a bit about being teenagers.

I’m sure all of you remember it. And i’m sure most of you aren’t eager to repeat the experience.

I don’t remember life as being terribly hard when I was 12-18, but I know there were so many things that upset me, so many hours spent discussing trivial things that don’t matter know. Even when I was slightly older and living in the US, almost all of our time was spent with drama. Who’s friends with who, I’ve got a crush on him, he doesn’t like me…

And I can objectively say, my life is much harder today. I work much more, I have so much more complicated things to think about… My future, my family, my friends… And yet, life is so much easier now, at 23 than it was at 17.

Things like going on holiday somewhere new was daunting at 17. At 23, I’m nervous but I know I can handle pretty much anything that may happen. I’m so much better equipped to handle whatever life throws at me.

No matter that SSE is so much harder than high school, that it matters much more and that it’s so intense compared to everything else. I can handle it all in a different way. Even though an outsider would say there’s so much more against me today, it doesn’t feel that way.

I guess that’sn why they tell you life gets better when you grow up. And why I, no matter how much “easier” being 17 was, never want to have to do it again.

I’m back from London and have had a beautiful time (it’s impossible to not have a good time in such a city! ) but I wanna make a quick post about something else first.

The Stockholm School of Economics, or rather the student association, SASSE, is entering a special time of the year. Not the holiday season, but the election season.

Every year, we elect the new association board, the student council and some other positions, after a month or so of campaigns. Since the student association has so much power, both over education and entertainment, this is an essential process and a lot of fun.

It’s not all fun, though, at least not in my opinion. A tradition we have is the hecklings, where candidates are questioned on stage about their candidacy, personality and so on. While it’s a good way to get an impression of a person, it’s very biased towards charismatic people who are funny on stage, which doesn’t necessarily mean one is better suited for a position.

I also have an issue with the public humiliation aspect of it. Hecklers’ duty are to be funny and illuminating, but there are definitively instances where it has gone too far. And suddenly, it’s not funny anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I love hecklings, perhaps a bit hypocritical of me, but sometimes I leave them with a bitter aftertaste in my mouth.

I have a mentor.

I “got her” through a program called Headstart which is aimed at women at SSE, the Royal Institute of Technology and Karolinska Institutet. A girl I know nominated me for the project, and here I am.

We’ve met around three times now, and we… talk. A lot. For a few hours, about everything and nothing, from things about her career, travels, my schoolwork, families, everything. I’m not sure if that’s exactly how a mentorship is supposed to work, but… It does.

If you think about, it’s so rare that you actually sit down and just talk with someone, without distractions, for hours on end. I love it.
And I can’t be certain, of course, but I’m pretty sure my mentor feels the same way.

My friend L and I had a conversation about our futures today. We both graduate this spring, and there’s the big question of what we’re going to do with our lives.

I’ll be honest: I have no idea. Literally. I could end up anywhere. (hopefully not at a tobacco company.)

And I found myself wishing, as I have done many times in my childhood, that I could just have a talent. You know, like music. Or dancing. Or writing. Or soccer. Just something that I was especially good at and that could be my big interest in life.

I always hated the question “what are your interests?” because really… I like loads of things, but…

I just don’t have that one shining passion. And the woe this has caused me!

I like loads of things. I like knowing stuff. I like learning. I like quiz shows just because they allow me to demonstrate my knowledge on a wide array of topics.

Even now, I study business and economics, not because it’s my one great area of interest, but…Well, because SSE is a good school and you can do lots of things with a degree from there.

Some of my more random areas of interest:
– Ballet
– Grammar
– Medication interactions and sideeffects
– Medical experiments during WWII
– Romance novels
– Ask Prudence and other question-answer coloumns
– Young adult literature
And these are just the “weird” ones, I have so many others.

Nowadays, I try to think of it as a blessing and just accept that I wanna learn pretty much everything. I just hope it’ll be to some good, someday, other than for quiz shows and Trivial Pursuit.

I go to a great school.

The Stockholm School of Economics.

It’s really good. And I mean that in every sense of the word.

It’s not quite the Swedish equivalent of Harvard or Yale, but the closest we get over here. It means that most of the day, I’m surrounded by highly intelligent, utterly brilliant and ambitious people. I go to class, and listen to top researchers. I do projects that are presented to attractive future employers and that challenge me and my fellow students. I haven’t bought hairspray in four years because we always get some in a goodie bag or other.

And sometimes it’s utterly miserable. Because everyone else feels smarter than you. Because you never, ever get to take a break. Because no matter what, you feel like you never catch up. And believe me, sometimes it feels unbearable.

There are tales (urban legends, I’m sure) about the law school students in Sweden. That because they need top grades for certain jobs, they’re ultra-competetive. They are said to rip out pages from important books or hide them so others students can’t find them.

I don’t know if it’s actually true or not, but you’d expect that sort of culture at SSE as well.

That’s the one thing that makes it all worthwhile, sometimes. That it isn’t like at the law schools.

Because I’ve met some of the most caring, most helpful people at my school.

Need to retake an exam? Someone will have their old notes for you.
Missed a few lectures? There is probably a summary of the course someone can send you.
Stuck on an assignment? Just ask someone in the computer room.

A month or so ago, I was working with some others on a group project, and we were well and truly stuck. We were in the computer rooms, discussing how to proceed when the girl sitting next to me turns around and says:
“Oh, is that the management case? I did that last year, do you wanna look at our presentation?”

She had no idea who we were, but she recognized the situation we were in and wanted to help. And next year, I’m sure we’ll do the same.

Pay it forward, as they say.

And that makes everything bearable.