Jenneva Clauss  
2012-13 Outbound to Sweden
Hometown: Gainesville, FL
School: Buchholz High School
Sponsor: District 6980, FL
Host: District 2370, Sweden
The Rotary Club of Nacka

October 18, 2012

Hej, jag heter Jenneva! Jag bor i Nacka, Sweden. Nacka is about a 15-minute bus ride from the center of Stockholm! (Venice of the North) When I first got off the plane I found out my bags had been lost. This was probably because between my flights, which I was running through the airport to catch, there was about no time for my luggage to make it onto the same plane as I was going to catch. It actually turned out to be even more convenient that my bags had been lost. This is because in Sweden if you loose your bags the airline delivers your bags straight to your house! Even though my house is about an hour away from the airport, my bags were delivered the next day! I have never heard of this kind of airline service in America... I never even had to carry my two heavy suitcases through the airport.

My first week was filled with adventures throughout Stockholm city. I did a lot of shopping throughout my first week, and I quickly realized that the prices in Sweden are MUCH higher... for everything! In Stockholm, there is a theme park right on the water and it is amazing! It is named Gröna Lund and I went there on only my third day here. About two weeks after arriving in Sweden, I attended a language camp for all the students in the surrounding area in Sweden. I learned a lot there, and was also able to meet and become friends with many other exchange students from many different countries around the world.

The biggest thing in Sweden would probably be FIKA! Fika can't really be translated into another language, but the best description of fika is when you eat Swedish pastries and drink coffee with friends and Swede's do ALL the time! Swedish schools are also very different. It's similar to a college schedule. You have different classes every day, get out at different times, and start at different times. Although throughout your classes you stay with the same class and have the same people in all of your classes throughout high school or gymnasium (Swedish high school).

Even though I have only been here a little over two months, exchange has taught me so much about different cultures and about myself. It is definitely not always easy, but it would not be teaching me so much if it were always such a breeze.

Until next time,
Hej då!

January 15, 2013

After being here for close to half a year Stockholm, Sweden has become my home. The streets of Gamla Stan and T-Centralen I have memorized and come to love just as much, maybe even more, than the streets I know in Florida. The subway has become a place where I feel safe and that is familiar to me. The long hours it takes to use public transportation seem to be shorter now and the faces more inviting. I never thought my feelings towards Sweden would differ so much from my first two months here to now, my half waypoint. It feels incredibly strange to say.

One of the hardest experiences on my exchange so far happened last Saturday when we had to say goodbye to our Aussie 'oldies' because their exchange year had ended. It really opened all of our eyes to realize that we are now the 'oldies.' We know this city, this culture, and language a lot more than we ever expected to. We realized we are now really part of this city and this culture and that our knowledge of the Swedish language grows every day.

I feel as though Stockholm is overlooked when thinking about the magnificent, historical cities of Europe. Stockholm is often times called the Venice of the North though. I can completely agree. Everything about Stockholm makes me feel at home now, as though I have been here my whole life. I feel the history by just walking on the streets that I know millions of others in history have walked on the same cobblestones. Stockholm in few words can be described as beautiful and incredible. Pretty much what I'm trying to say is that I feel like I finally belong in Sweden and that Stockholm is my new home.

I have the feeling of understanding myself more and understanding everything a little more, which almost every exchange student talks about. To all you future exchange students, THE FEELING IS REAL. At times exchange can be hard and you can miss home, but you really have the best support group in your host country. This support group is made up of your fellow exchange students, your host family, and friends. They really do make this experience the best it can be. My eyes have already been opened to the world that is so close for all of us to get a taste of. I am starting to learn how incredibly small the world really is and that my hunger for exploring it won't stop here in Stockholm. The people you can meet, the culture you can be a part of/ experience, and the things that will make you speechless in every way possible are really priceless.