Sweden international Nathalie Björn’s first chapter to her Everton career has been quite the adventure.
The 24-year-old joined the Blues in the summer, embarking on a new challenge of playing domestic football away from her homeland for the very first time.
With an Olympic silver medal around her neck, the defender flew to England in the final weeks of pre-season to meet her new teammates for the first time.
The four months that followed were not as smooth as Björn had anticipated.
From injuries, a recovery from COVID-19 and the adjustment of a new coach, her start to life in England has been far from smooth.
“It’s been like a rollercoaster since I arrived,” Björn expressed to evertonfc.com. “However, I’m really enjoying working with the girls in this team.
“The football is very different to what I experienced back in Sweden.
“It’s been great to play against top players and top teams every week and learn a different side to football that I didn’t experience before.
“Every game is different from the next, any team in this league can beat their opponent on the day.
“It shows you have to always be at your best if you want to get a result.”
Björn admitted she envisioned the start of her life with the Blues panning out differently, venting her frustration caused by minor injuries.
However, she credited the medical staff for helping her get off the treatment table and pack on the pitch.
“After the Olympics, I missed a lot of games,” she continued.
“It’s not the fun way to come to a new team and be unable to play with them and help them on the pitch.
“The medical staff have been very important for me since I came in.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with them to get me back from all the minor injuries that I had suffered.
“They have done a great job and I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for them.”
The personal challenge of moving to a foreign country can be difficult for anyone to tackle.
Björn expressed that she felt no different, but with the additions of international teammates Anna Anvegård and Hanna Bennison, and the welcoming nature of the Everton group, the Swede quickly felt at home at USM Finch Farm.
“The team have been massively important in helping me settle into life in England," she added.
“Every girl in this team is super friendly.
“The team have been so welcoming, and it’s been easy to settle into my new life here.
“Having Anna and Benni around has helped me settle in well too having some familiar faces around.
“I’m very grateful to have them both here.
“I’ve never played in another country before, I know the language but it’s still a long way from home and it’s nice to have some friends from Sweden close by.
“I’ve been able to rely on them in challenging situations and they can reach out to me as well.
“I’m really grateful for that.”
One challenge that perhaps Björn did not anticipate when signing for the Club was the strong nature of the Scouse accent.
The Swede jokes about the difficulty she has understanding some of the members within the squad and staff but believes she is becoming more familiar with the slang as the weeks go on.
“It’s difficult, I have to admit!" she laughed.
“Our physio, Connor, is from Liverpool and when he speaks it can be difficult to understand.
“I’m trying to get to grips with the accent but it’s challenging!
“When I was isolating with COVID, Connor sent me one Scouse phrase every day.
“’I’m sound’ was probably my favourite, which means ‘I’m good!’
“I remember sitting at lunch one day with Grace [Clinton] and Toni [Duggan] and they were speaking in thick Scouse accents.
“It was like a game of ping pong, I just watched them talk and I couldn’t understand a word.
“I just had to laugh as I had no idea what they said!
“It’s really, really hard to get used to the Scouse accent, but I’m beginning to pick up some words.”
This summer brings the delayed Women’s European Championship finals, with the tournament taking place in England.
After coming so close to gold at last year's Olympic Games, the defender is motivated to take her nation one step further when the tournament rolls round later this year.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Björn said.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience, especially considering the tournament is being held in England.
“I really hope I can be there and represent my country.
“We believe we are good enough to win the European Championship and I hope we can show everyone that it’s our time to shine.”