Looking Back At The Siberian Expedition
(10 years later)
‘It couldn’t be more different’, I’m thinking to myself while sitting here at my apartment in the city of Enköping. The temperature outside is at +29 degrees Celsius and the inside temperature somewhere around +26. I’m thinking back to the adventures in Siberia where I together with Mikael spent ten months in a land which in many ways was so different to what I was used to, but in many others very similar. The climate was of course the biggest difference and adding to that we were risking our lives several times during the expedition. But the people, the mentality and to some extent, also the culture were at least similar to what I was used to. It’s been just ten years now since we arrived back in Sweden.
How did the expedition affect me, and what has happened during these ten years? Well, that’s a very good question that I will try and answer here below. The truth is, though, that I’m not quite sure. It’s very hard to know in what ways certain experiences changes or affects you. You’re right in the middle of it and before you know it your thoughts have changed and your life has simply just taken a slightly different path.
Anyway, the first change that hit me when coming home was the fact that everyone seemed to recognize me. That was a new experience for me. It was certainly not throughout the entire of Sweden but in my home village, the surrounding areas and amongst the people I would soon be in contact with. You see, even before we had finished the expedition I was offered a job at one of the companies that we had cooperation with, over satellite phone. It was from one of the, at that time, leading distributors in Sweden for outdoor equipment. After having explained that I at that moment had no thoughts at all about what to do when I got home and that I would have to take their suggestion into consideration, I went on with the current task of surviving until the end of the expedition. After we had finished and gotten home I contacted the company and said that I would gladly accept their offer. Two months later I moved to the small town of Alfta in the beautiful parts of Hälsingland. Almost all the people that I got in contact with during my time at that company knew something about the expedition, which of course was of great help in building relations.
Another major thing that I noticed pretty soon, and this has more to do with how the expedition affected me personally, was when meeting some of my old friends. These were good friends that I had spent endless hours with during the years before the expedition, but now I couldn’t believe how childish they were acting and the way they were thinking about everyday life and their situations. At least it seemed like this to me and it was absurd. It took a while before I realized that I was actually the only one thinking this, though. They were still, just like me, only 21 years old and there was nothing strange with their ways. I had been exactly like them before the expedition but something had changed during it. I had matured a lot, or at least I’d like to think that this was the reason. Whatever the reason, it affected me a lot since because of that I lost contact with many of my old friends. We had simply grown apart and things had to change. With this came of course also new friends and new perspectives which has lead to a lot of fun and many experiences.
I spent four and a half years working for the same company in Alfta before moving on. Currently I’m living in the city of Enköping, just west of Stockholm. I moved here in December after finding a new job in Uppsala, still working with outdoor equipment, but in a better position than before. This was not the main reason for moving though, because when moving here I also moved in with my Dutch girlfriend. We met over the internet a year or so before the expedition. She was one of the few people that I kept in contact with throughout the expedition, even though we were not a couple at that time. It took almost 3,5 years after coming home before we finally met for the first time, though, and since that first time we have both been looking forward to her moving to Sweden.
My plans for the future are not that clear at the moment. I would love to go for another expedition somewhere. However, it would have to be something that I really feel for and would love to do. I have some ideas, of course, but at the moment I’m not pursuing any of them. My short term goal is to settle down in my new situation with Marieke (my girlfriend) and get into the rhythm of things. Everything is still new and exciting and there’s no reason not to enjoy it! You never know what might happen, though.
Read more about Johan at his homepage www.johanivarsson.com