Sami Swift

Sweden

Hometown:Largo, Florida
School: St. Petersburg Collegiate High School
Sponsor District : District 6950
Sponsor Club:Seminole Lake, Florida
Host District: District 2380

Host Club: The Rotary Club of Vetlanda

 

My Bio


Hej! Jag är Sami! In English, that’s: Hi! I’m Sami. This will be my blog for updates while I spend ten months in beautiful Sweden! I am seventeen years old and I have lived in the same house in Largo, Florida my entire life. I live with my mom, dad, and my fourteen year old sister Rikki. But my “furry family” is equally important! I have two chihuahuas: Spice and Rufus, a terrier mutt named Ginger, and a yellow lab, Daniel – the guide dog in training that my family is raising to become a guide dog one day! I go to St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, a small charter school. In fact, I only have 79 students in my graduating class. At SPCHS, students take a full course load of college credits while in high school so that we will graduate with our Associates in Arts degrees the day after we receive our high school diploma. At school I am involved in yearbook club, student government as the class president, student ambassadors, National Honor Society, and more. I am so excited for my exchange, it’s hard to contain. It is actually hard for me to articulate all of my excitement, anxiety, fear, and passion for the crazy adventure I’m going to be having. I could go on and on babbling about why I want to go, but I guess it all boils down to the fact that the world is so much bigger than the world I know now. There is so much out there to see and discover; so why not go out and experience it? “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

The view inside the mine!

The view inside the mine!

All of the inbounds to Småland!

All of the inbounds to Småland!

Fika time! A fika is the Swedish tradition of a coffee and cake with friends!

Fika time! A fika is the Swedish tradition of a coffee and cake with friends!

The view of my school Gallerian - I LOVED all the flags!

The view of my school Gallerian - I LOVED all the flags!

Me presenting the Rotary Club of Vetlanda with the banner from the Rotary Club of Seminole Lake!

Me presenting the Rotary Club of Vetlanda with the banner from the Rotary Club of Seminole Lake!

Ready for a kräftskiva!

Ready for a kräftskiva!

The river we caught crayfish in.

The river we caught crayfish in.

Crayfish party decorations!

Crayfish party decorations!

My excited selfie at the first snow!

My excited selfie at the first snow!

Me and my snowman! He is rocking my glasses and hat!

Me and my snowman! He is rocking my glasses and hat!

My favorite thing is to look out and only see white trees - it's stunning!

My favorite thing is to look out and only see white trees - it's stunning!

My cute little Christmas tree!

My cute little Christmas tree!

The Christmas table! Eat up!

The Christmas table! Eat up!

Ahh yes. The lesson from this: ALWAYS BRING GLOVES AND A HAT.

Ahh yes. The lesson from this: ALWAYS BRING GLOVES AND A HAT.

Frost on the window 2 days after Jul

Frost on the window 2 days after Jul

Yes, I did get very excited and take million snow pictures...

Yes, I did get very excited and take million snow pictures...

Journals: Sami - Sweden

  • Sami, outbound to Sweden

    Here are a few tid bits from my personal exchange journal over the past ten months that I thought were worth sharing. Enjoy!

    Thursday, December 11, 2014

    "I mean, sometimes at school, I feel like I am an extra wheel with my friend group. But other times, I am finally feeling like I really fit in. But it's all good. I look back and remember how I wanted to give up and go home in my first few days, and now I'm just so glad that I didn't. Life is so good here. It's not always some grand adventure, but it is oh so good. There's no magic moment that says 'Hey! Best year of your life right here!'
    It's a collection of all the little moments. Yelling at Candy Crush with your friends. Laughing until crying. Actually crying. Trying a new amazing food. Getting a conversation right.
    And I think somehow it all adds up."

    Monday, February 16, 2015

    "I had always thought bravery was about being fearless, and that being fearless was about never being afraid. But now, I don't think that's true. I think you can be brave and scared. I think you can only be brave when you are scared.
    Being brave isn't about never being afraid. Being brave is about being terrified - and doing the thing anyway. Being brave is being frozen in fear, taking a deep breath, and moving forward.
    Fear does not negate bravery - it creates it. Fear pulls bravery up from the pit of your stomach and the depths of your mind. Fear and bravery coexist.
    So be scared. Be anxious. Feel your knees knock and hear your voice shake.
    Then be brave."

    Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    "This country, this city is my home. Because home is not a place - it is a feeling. The people here, my friends and host family - they are my family. Because family is not just blood and DNA and genetics. Family is who is there for you and who makes you laugh. Family is who pulls everything together when it feels like it's falling apart. Sometimes, you find these people living under one roof. But sometimes, if you are lucky, they are from every corner of the world."


  • Sami, outbound to Sweden

    Winter Wonderland
    Yeah, it’s official – I live in a winter wonderland. At the first snow of the year, I was actually over at a friend’s house watching the finale of Swedish Idol. Mind you, I have not seen snow in ten years. I glanced out the window and saw flurries fluttering down. And as the typical Floridian I am – I screamed. “BEATRICE LOOK, LOOK IT’S SNOWING!” (Earlier that day, I told her my phone says there was a possibility of snow. She laughed and said it probably wouldn’t snow and that I shouldn’t get my hopes up – Who was right this time, Bea?!)I proceeded to run outside and feel the snow and taste it on my tongue and take copious amounts of selfies, as any self-respecting 18 year old does when it just so happens to rain when it’s below 0C.

    Since that first snow, I have had so many winter experiences that would pretty much NEVER happen back home. I’ve learned some karma from forgetting my hat when I had to walk home – I ended up shamelessly turning my scarf into a scarf-turban-device-of-warmth. I’ve slipped on ice and busted my butt in front of people I’ve never met. I’ve stepped in “solid” snow, only to find out that it was really slush – thank goodness I wore high shoes that day! I’ve even felt my nose hairs freeze on a day when it was almost -18C. I’ve build a snowman that was a meter tall and made a snow angel that froze my butt to make. Even as I look out my window now, there is somewhere from 3-4 inches of snow on the ground and on tree branches.

    I’ve also learned that snow is not always the same. Around 0C, snow is wet – perfect time for snowball fights and snowmen! When it gets really cold, the snow becomes dry and crystal-like.

    While winter was one of my sources of fear and excitement about Sweden – it has turned out to be really fun. However, I remember the Northern Europe ROTEX telling us how it would be “so dark and cold.” I had thought “Yeah, I know what dark is, no big deal.” TAKE IT BACK, SAMI. It was so difficult to get used to the sunset being at 3:30pm and not rising until 8:30am! But, now the sun is slowly staying up later – which is really nice!

    On another note, I had the most amazing Swedish Christmas. Let me warn you, Swedish Christmas is NOT a one-day event. I would say, more of a 3-day extravaganza. You eat and eat and eat until you are just about to pop; then you do it all again the next day. Raw herring and raw salmon are just a few of the things I was terrified to try (“Don’t ask, just eat!”), but I ended up actually loving. I even tried the very smelly raw fermented herring – not nearly as bad as I had thought it would be (or as bad as the smell would make you think).

    I did miss my family a bit over the holidays, but it was honestly drowned out by how much fun I was having. Did I mention that we had snow on Christmas?! Well, on the 25th, not the 24th when Sweden celebrates – but I’m still going with it! I cut down my own tree for the first time I can remember (apparently I have done it before when I was young). I also quickly learned that I was allergic to touching the tree – thanks for that, genetics!

    Swedish Santa: not like the American Santa. Swedish Santa is a little troll-like man that lives in the forest and helps keep the farm going good. You must feed him porridge or he will turn evil – and burn down your farm! And if you give him too high-quality porridge, he will get greedy and not help the farm anymore. Also, Swedes see Santa on Christmas evening! He comes up and knocks on the door to hand out presents. I learned from home videos that as a disguise, ‘Santa’ usually is wearing a full face mask, leaving only holes for eyes. No wonder young Swedish children are scared of Santa! I would be too with that mask!

    A bit more up-to-date, I am currently booking my trip with Rotary to go up to the Arctic Circle – it will be so amazing!
    Until next time,
    Sami


  • Sami, outbound to Sweden

    Thoughts on Glasses

    I've worn glasses since the third grade. But every year at the ophthalmologist I guessed at fuzzy letters on the screen - usually getting them right. Finally last year, I spoke up and admitted to guessing. Two weeks later, I put on new glasses with a brand new and stronger prescription. When I first got my glasses, I got headaches and was dizzy everyday from the new strength.

    What does this have to do with my exchange? Well, a few days ago, I took my glasses off to wipe raindrops off of them at the bus stop. I looked out at the town, and everything looked flat. Like a painting. Or something from a comic book. And I thought about how I used to think that something so flat was normal.

    And I think that's what exchange is. Exchange is like getting glasses. It's headaches and dizziness at first. And then slowly, without you realizing, you get used to this new, vibrant world you are seeing. And sometimes, you stop and remember how flat the world looked before. And you think of how much you have grown. How much more you've seen. How much more depth the world has than you ever thought was possible. And it's like magic.

    ------------------------------------

    I know this is quite short, but I keep finding it very difficult to figure out ways to articulate this rollercoaster that I’ve been on. I plan to pick more thoughts like this out of my journal and share them.

    I’m having a brilliant time. Not very moment is sunshine and many days it’s just about getting through. But I know I am growing. And I can feel it in my bones. I truly think I am making lifelong friends and that I am finally getting a breakthrough in the language where I can understand bits and pieces in class. It’s not a 24/7 adventure, it’s not a vacation, and it’s not always easy. But I can promise – it’s a good life. A VERY good life. And I am oh-so lucky.


  • Sami, outbound to Sweden

    The Beginning of an Amazing Adventure!

    Hej hej!
    It’s so crazy that as I write this, I have been in Sweden for 47 days! So much has happened!

    My flight over was wild and crazy: including getting lost in every airport as well as having my last flight canceled in Amsterdam and I even ended up sleeping in a café! When I thought finally landing in Göteborg was the end to this craziness, I was even more wrong. My luggage was missing, and proceeded to stay missing for a full week.
    During that first week, I was so immensely homesick, and I truly learned why everyone says you need to get busy. Because when you do nothing you think. And when you think you think of home. When you think of home you think of dad. When you think of dad you think of his amazing food. When you think about the amazing food you think about laughing over the dinner table with your family. And when you think about that – you cry. Homesickness for me was intense downward spiral thinking. I sobbed in the shower on a daily basis. I cried myself to sleep. I wasn’t sure I could really do this.

    But after a week of being in Sweden, everything turned around. My luggage arrived, I bonded with my host sisters more over Just Dance on the Wii, and everything looked brighter.
    Now, I am having such an amazing time here in this country. I wish I could explain in full detail about every single moment that has passed, but that would be intensely boring. So I’ll about some differences I’ve noticed in Sweden:

    • School is so much more laid back. I’ve been in school for a month now and I’ve only turned in 1 assignment – and there have been no tests. There is no dress code.

    • Students call teachers by their first name. I thought this was awkward at first, but I’ve been getting more and more used to it. It really makes things more personal, I think.

    • At school, student can and will smoke cigarettes and use chewing tobacco – I thought this was so strange because of the no tobacco rules in Florida.

    • SCHOOL FOOD IS SO GOOD. Everyday there is a hot food buffet! And it’s free! There is also a soup bar with bread, butter, and a typical-Swedish type of crunchy bread called knäckebröd. It’s amazing. (Also, so is all of the other food here, but the fact that even the public high school food was tasty really stood out.)

    • Sweden is so green – and I mean that in two ways. There are forests literally everywhere, especially a ways out from the city into the countryside where I live. It is so beautiful. On the other hand, Swedes care so much about the environment and it is so refreshing! All families separate their garbage into food garbage/other as well as recycling with separations into glass, plastic, paper, and tin!

    • Swedes tend to be outside so much more than people back home. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s not close to 100 degrees F everyday, but I still like it! It is typical to walk to bus stations (to get to school or home from school) or to walk or bike to shops if you are close enough.

    • Instead of one big shopping trip a week, people tend to shop a few times a week.

    • There are practically no streetlights. I would say 90% of street “things” are roundabouts and Swedes use them MUCH better than Floridians do!

    I’ve also done a few amazingly fun things since being here! I’ve gone fishing to catch crayfish and had a traditional end-of-summer crayfish party or, kräftskiva. I went to a party kind of like a high school homecoming in the US, called a Kick-In. I’ve swam in a lake. I’ve trekked through a forest. I’ve gone to spinning, Zumba, and Pilates classes with my host mom. I’ve climbed up the inside of a mountain in a silver and nickel mine at 2ºC. I’ve made friends from all over the world. I’ve attended and survived Swedish high school for almost a month. I’ve made actual Swedish friends!

    If any prospective outbounds are reading this, let me give you some advice. If this completely terrifies you but also sets your heart on fire – do it. Exchange is crazy, wild, emotional, and so many things. But one thing it always is – is worth it. Take a leap of faith. See how crazy and amazing this world is. You won’t regret it.
    ~~
    I’ve been writing application essays to college while on exchange because I’m taking a gap year. Here’s an excerpt from one of my essays:
    “But everyday I lean more about this amazing culture. And everyday I learn more about the beautiful and confusing language I am fully immersed in. And everyday I learn more about myself as I deal with homesickness, navigating European public transportation, trying to make friends in a foreign language, and so much more. Some may say it’s crazy to spend an extra year in high school for no credits, but I know just how valuable this experience has been and will continue to be for me. Being an exchange student means truly learning the meaning of the quote: “You’ll never know your limits until you push yourself to them.” I’ve cried getting off the bus at the wrong station. I’ve been so homesick that I’ve wanted to quit. I’ve been so frustrated with my language skills that I’ve wanted to scream. But exchange teaches you something through this. It’s that, no matter how crazy things get – you get up. You go on. You survive. And somehow, it becomes the best year of your life.”
    ~~
    Thank you so my host club, sponsor club, RYE Florida, RYE Sweden, and my amazing family for supporting me! I love you guys!

    Hej då!
    Sami


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