Ellie, Outbound to Sweden

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Hej y’all! This upcoming Wednesday marks my four-week anniversary in Sweden! So much has happened since I got here so let me update you in the best (and quickest) way I can:

Travel:

I had to take three flights in order to arrive in Copenhagen. My first flight was from Atlanta to Newark, New Jersey. It was about a two-hour flight. Leaving my family behind at the Atlanta security line was one of the hardest things I had to do. I was a complete emotional wreck and cried for a solid ten minutes. Then, I was fine. I started to feel the excitement as I waited for my first flight. During the flight to Newark, I listened to music and looked at the scenery below me (since I got a window seat).

Once landing, I had to make my way to the international section of the airport since my second flight was to Oslo, Norway. This was pretty tough. Thank gosh for signs because otherwise I would have never found my way. Also thank goodness for my three-hour layover. This gave me plenty of time to get something to eat before the seven-hour flight to Oslo. During this flight, I just watched a ton of movies. I believe I watched around three movies.

Now, this is where my travel journey gets complicated. I had to navigate the Oslo airport and find my next flight in the span of an hour. I rushed through security and sprinted to my gate. I arrived at 10:00….my flight was set to leave at 9:30. Now, this was because the passport lady in Norway thought that it was hella suspicious for a 16-year-old American to be traveling by herself. Luckily, my flight was delayed until 10:30 so they were just boarding when I arrived. This flight was to Copenhagen, which meant that the flight was 40 minutes. The reason I was flying to Copenhagen, Denmark instead of Stockholm, Sweden was because Copenhagen was about a 30-40 minute drive to my host parents’ house in Malmo, while Stockholm was over 6 hours.

My travel journey started on Tuesday, August 1st and ended Wednesday, August 2nd.

First four weeks:

My first week was full of activities. We explored Malmo, met another exchange student, went to the Pride Parade, went to look at my school, went to the inbound welcome party, and picked berries. Each activity occupied most of a day which meant that I did not have too much time sitting around doing nothing.

My second week was spent at language camp with all the other exchange students with Rotary who are living in the southern portion of Sweden. There are around 24 of us. This was one of my favorite weeks so far. We spent each day having 3 Swedish lessons, as well as an afternoon activity. I really enjoyed getting to meet the other students and we all got along quite well. It was nice getting to chat with other students who were dealing with some of the same issues that I was (more on that later). Anyways, I was sad to leave the camp as I made some really good friends.

The third week was the first week of school. Now, this was where things got interesting. First off, Swedish schools work way differently than American schools. For one, they start and end at different times each day. That is because you have different classes each day (around 2-4 classes a day). This means that some days you get to sleep in and some days you get to go home and go back to bed (yay!). It is quite an interesting thing to get used to. Secondly, schools do not have school busses like in America. You are required to either bike, walk, have a parent drive you, or take a public bus. I always go for the “take a public bus” option since I am a 50-minute bus ride away and my host parents work. This means that I must get up about an hour and a half before my first class starts so I can get ready and make it to class on time.

The first week was pretty exciting. It was hilarious to see that none of my teachers were aware that they were getting an exchange student that did not speak much Swedish. Even now, most of them have no idea what to do with me. Haha. The other students don’t really know what to do with me either. Swedes are very different than Americans. If you want to make friends, you must be the one to start the conversation. Do not expect them to walk up to you and ask you about your home country. It won’t happen. However, Swedes do not say no. If you ask a group of kids if you can tag along, 10 out of 10 times they will say yes. This allows for you to easily meet and hang out with people your own age, which is important while on exchange.

The teachers do not give you too much homework (so far) which is an added bonus. That is probably because you will only have a subject two times a week, so they don’t have as many opportunities to give you so much homework. Plus, it is due when you next have the class so you normally have a lot of time to do it. Basically, I am just trying to say that schools here are pretty awesome. Plus, you get to choose what basic subject you want to study (like I am in the technology path which means most of my classes involve tech). Oh right! My classes are: Chemistry, Math 3c, English, Swedish, Programming, and Computer Science. I am hoping for a “Swedish for beginners” class as well as Art. We will see how that goes.

Anyways, yeah. That was my first few weeks in Sweden. Since my three-week milestone date, I have been attending school and hanging out with other exchange students. It has been a fun few weeks and I cannot wait for more! Now, here are some of the challenges I have dealt with so far:

-Homesickness

o Yes, I have dealt with homesickness already. I am actually still battling it. It just miss the little things about home, such as my pets and my family and my friends. Some days are really bad for me. Some days I just want to sit in my room and cry, but I know I shouldn’t. Exchange will bring you some of the best days of your life but it will also bring you some of the worse. You just gotta power through.

-Language

o Everyone here speaks English so getting people to use Swedish with you is rough. Plus, I always feel like an idiot when I try to pronounce Swedish words so I am too scared to try. I am going to be proactive and tackle this problem head on by studying Swedish more and encouraging others to use Swedish with me.

-Blog

o It is so hard to find the time to blog. Like, I am out of the house most of the day and when I am at home, I just want to catch up on YouTube or something. I know, A+ exchange student right here, watching YouTube in her room. I am still a teenager who likes to do teenager things. Do not hate. But, yeah. Finding the time to update this blog, and my personal one, is so difficult. I hope I find a little more time now that school has started but we will see.

Yep! That is my first blog update! If you read through all of that, thank you. I look forwards to sharing the rest of my exchange with you! In the meantime, hej då