We moved to a small Swedish countryside house 60km away from Uppsala since we couldn’t find any other accommodation in the town. One day with -15°C outside, I looked at him sawing a huge branch and thought to myself, ”Oh my, this is too much! A Brazilian who is used to walking around shirtless in havaianas along the Copacabana beach in Rio is now cutting wood in some crazy Swedish frost!”
Līga Līce da Costa│firstname.lastname@example.org
I met him 6 and a half years ago. On our first encounter I, as Latvians usually do, extended my hand forward and expected him to shake hands with me. Instead, he pulled me close and kissed me on both cheeks, very Brazilian-like. I stood there a little perplexed. I hadn’t expected that at all…
Today we are married. It sounds like a fairy tale, right? Well, I had no clue that it would end like this. Now kissing on cheeks with strangers is completely fine with me. I eat rice and beans more often than a regular European, and I dance samba. I got used to it all while living in Rio de Janeiro for a year. Enjoying endless summers, hot beaches, cerveja* and caipirinha** was great, but then came MA Euroculture. Once I got accepted to the programme, we started making plans about moving to Uppsala, Sweden. He had his family, a good job and studies in Rio but yes, he left it all because of me.
One might imagine that it is hard for a carioca*** to live in Uppsala. Going from +40°C to -16°C and not knowing a word of Swedish made it pretty tough to adjust. He got a job at the gym giving jiu-jitsu classes. He also worked in construction – outside! And all so that I could study. It is not a secret that Sweden is expensive and since I was not working, nor had any scholarship, he had to work twice as hard to support both of us. The amount of reading material for the courses was quite significant and I was studying a lot. Often I would have him reread my papers before submitting and sometimes take him to open lectures at the university. I liked to get him involved and to hear his opinion. I took him to our group gatherings where we would bring food from our home countries. He knows what Euroculture is about…
When my first semester finished (and with it our lease), but it was still too early to travel to my host university, we moved to a small Swedish countryside house 60km away from Uppsala since we couldn’t find any other accommodation in the town. The house was located in the middle of nowhere, or the middle of the forest, to be more precise. It was literally me and him and the Moon, as we say in Latvia. We are both quite stubborn, but we couldn’t be in a place like this. “Līga”, he told me at the very beginning, “we have to be friends in this place if we want to survive, alright?” The small wooden house was nice and cosy, but meant for summertime only, so every other day we were out in the forest cutting wood for the fire. He had never held an axe in his hands before, but I must admit that he did very well. We also had to bring water from the closest village because the pipes were frozen. On top of that, the bathroom was outside so if one of us wanted to use it in the middle of the night, the other one had to come too, equipped with that same axe. One day with -15°C outside, I looked at him sawing a huge branch and thought to myself, ”Oh my, this is too much! A Brazilian who is used to walking around shirtless in havaianas**** along the Copacabana beach in Rio is now cutting wood in some crazy Swedish frost!” Luckily, the second semester was at the door… And we got married on the last weekend before going to Udine, Italy…
Even though I wanted to go to Bilbao, I was accepted to Udine. I was a little upset; however, it worked very well for us since his cousin lived in Venice. So every weekend I would pack up and take the train to Venice to be with my husband. One day he told me: “Look Līga, some couples pay thousands just to be able to spend their honeymoon in Venice and look at us! We have no money, but we are in the most romantic city in the world on our honeymoon!” Indeed. Everything happens as it should! It was very nice having him so close. He was there to support me when I was writing my IP research paper. He was the editor. He also came to see me at the end of the IP conference in Bilbao, Spain. The presentation was behind me and I had just celebrated my birthday, so having him come over was the best present.
Third semester. We were in Vienna, Austria where I was doing my internship. Needless to say that I wouldn’t have been sitting at the computer in the cosy office of the EU Delegation if he had not been sweating in the gym or carrying 40kg cement bags up and down stairs at that time. And I would go home and cook, and I would do it with pleasure because one cannot take things for granted and needs to appreciate the other.
Now I am back in Uppsala. And of course, he’s with me. The thought of being apart from each other is more painful than numb toes in winter boots.
It’s not easy with all this travelling, but one can work things out. Moving along with the other is not always possible, but in our case, thanks to his putting-his-own-life-aside-for-a-while we found it to be the right thing to do. At least a Euroculturer’s spouse’s life is never boring. And we have a deal: once I’m done with school, we switch – I work and he studies.
* beer in Portuguese
** a typical Brazilian cocktail made of lime, sugar, ice and cachaça (liquor made from sugarcane)
*** a person from Rio de Janeiro
**** a Brazilian flip-flop brand
Līga Līce da Costa, Contributing Writer
Līga holds a Bachelor’s degree in English/Swedish Philology from the University of Latvia in Riga. She spent her first semester of MA Euroculture in Uppsala, Sweden and the second in Udine, Italy. She did an internship at the EU Delegation to the International Organisations in Vienna and is now back in Uppsala to finish her MA thesis. In the future, Līga would like to pursue a career in international development. In her spare time she likes jogging, swimming, dancing, travelling, and, of course, taking care of her husband.