Vivianne Everington

 Sweden

Hometown: Orange Park, Florida
School: Ridgeview
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Orange Park Sunshine, Florida
Host District: 2370
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Strängnäs


My Bio


Hej! Jag heter Vivianne—Hi! My name is Vivianne. Currently I am a sixteen year-old junior attending Ridgeview High School and part of the Academy of Technology and Innovation. I am an active member of my school’s FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and French Honor Society. I adore art, specifically drawing and music, and love playing video games in my spare time, so much so that I aspire to become a game developer in the future. How lucky am I to be sent to a country that is famous for their video games? One of my biggest passions, however, is studying other languages and cultures. I took French in school for two years, and now I am focusing on Swedish and Japanese. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to be an exchange student, as I never thought I would be brave enough to do something like this. I am fortunate enough to have supportive parents and grandparents, as well as a little sister who is very energetic. Usually, I am a very quiet person, and am often described as shy. However, now that I know what I am capable of, I am finally beginning to come out of my shell a bit more. I am so thankful for the Rotary and their staff for showing me my potential and for giving me such a great opportunity. I cannot explain the anxiety and happiness I am feeling as I await to embark on my journey.

Drottningholm Palace

Drottningholm Palace

Welcome sign

Welcome sign

The Rolling Stones saying "See you soon"

The Rolling Stones saying "See you soon"

Jazz concert in Strängnäs

Jazz concert in Strängnäs

Viking restaurant in Birka

Viking restaurant in Birka

Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred

Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred

Street in Mariefred

Street in Mariefred

My first snow!

My first snow!

Journal: Vivianne-Sweden Blog 2017-2018

  • Vivianne, Outbound to Sweden

    I’ve been kind of AWOL when it comes to these journals, so everyone has missed out on quite a few of my adventures I think. I’ll probably do two journals, one for August, September, and October, and another journal for November and December, just so you don’t miss out on hearing about what I’ve been doing for these past few months. That said, this journal is talking about things in August, September, and October.

    School:

    Before school started, I met with the school’s secondary headmaster, my counselor, and my host father to discuss what program I would be in and what grade I would be in. I chose the Teknik (Technology) program and chose to be in the third year (12th grade).

    The Teknik program is split into two sides: Theoretical Science and Practical Science. I chose Theoretical Science, which means I have classes in math and physics, while those in the Practical Science classes have more construction and architectural art classes.

    My classes are: math, physics, construction, religion, Swedish for immigrants, and digital creating.

    While most of my classes were set within the program, I was allowed to choose one class. I chose Digital Creating, which focuses on creating different media and art with digital tools. This is my favorite class and by far the easiest, since art isn’t affected by language barriers so much.

    My first day of school was August 22, and it was only an hour long. All of the students were given a greeting by the headmaster, and then we all split up to meet with our classes and discuss our basic plan for the year.

    My class has 16 people in it, including me. Of those 16, 12 of them are boys. Apparently it’s normal for the Teknik program to have a lot more boys than girls. My classmates have all known each other for about two years, since they have all stayed in the same program and same class with each other. On the first day of school I introduced myself to all of them in Swedish. I quickly found out that my classmates are really nice and really good at English.

    High school in Sweden seems to be more like college rather than high school. Each day follows a different class schedule, however you are always with the same people in every class. Some teachers teach multiple subjects, so you may have one of your teachers more than once during the school day.

    One of the best things about Swedish schools is the school food. I have to say, school food here definitely outranks school food in the U.S. The food at school is free, and most students eat the school’s food rather than bring their own or skip eating. However, we are free to leave the school campus at any time, so some students will leave and go grab lunch in the city instead.

    Rotary:

    I actually have two Rotary clubs: Mariefred and Strängnäs. Mariefred is supposed to be my official Rotary club, however Strängnäs provides my allowance and my counselor from Strängnäs works with all of my official stuff like school and Rotary activities.

    My host father is a member of Mariefred’s Rotary club, so I go to meetings whenever he goes, which is almost every week. Mariefred meets on Mondays for a dinner meeting, which is nice since we have more time to talk to everyone, eat, and hold the meeting. With Strängnäs, I have gone to every meeting since I started attending them. Strängnäs meets on Tuesdays for a lunch meeting, so I leave school and my counselor will usually drive me back to school for my last class.

    My two Rotary clubs here have quite a few women in them, which I’ve heard is unusual. All of the Rotarians are incredibly kind and they have helped me with learning Swedish a bit. A few of the Rotarians have invited me to different events or outings with them. So far, Rotarians have taken me shopping in Stockholm and to a jazz concert.

    I did a presentation on myself and where I’m from for both Rotary clubs. I used a PowerPoint presentation that was all in Swedish, and I tried to speak mostly in Swedish during my presentation. I talked about my family, my school, and my city. I know I threw a few jokes about the Jacksonville Jaguars in my presentation, but I don’t think those jokes hold up anymore since they have actually been winning games recently it seems. The Rotarians seemed to really enjoy it and I received many compliments from them.

    Many, if not most, of the Rotary clubs here have something called the vinlotteri (wine lottery). Each Rotarian puts a 20 kronor bill (a little less than $2.50) in a basket and memorizes the last four numbers of the serial code. Someone then pulls a random note from the basket and calls out the last four numbers on that bill, and whoever that bill belonged to wins a bottle of wine. Obviously, I can’t participate, but I sometimes collect the money for it or call out the numbers.

    Activities:

    One of the major things that happened at the end of August was my birthday. The two other exchange students in Strängäs stayed over at my house for that weekend, and on that Sunday we baked cakes and invited over the two other host families and my counselors. My host father set up a Swedish flag outside, since that’s something they do on birthdays here. I really enjoyed being with everyone on my birthday, although I think the cakes were probably my favorite part.

    One of my host families took the other exchange students and I to Birka for a day. Birka is an old Viking city situated on an island in Lake Mälaren, and it’s known as Sweden’s first city. Since it’s in the middle of a lake, we took a boat there. For most of the boat ride we sat outside so we could get a good look at everything we passed by on our way, but eventually it got way too cold and windy. Our tour guide, who was dressed like a Viking, was on the boat with us and took us on a tour of the city when we arrived. Being an archaeologist, he was very interested in all that Birka has to offer in terms of history, and his enthusiasm was very evident in the way that he explained everything to the tour group. I have to say that he was probably the best tour guide I’ve ever had, because he was genuinely enthusiastic about everything and he knew a lot about the city. We also got to eat in a Viking themed restaurant on the island, which was run by a Swedish musician, E-Type. His music is fairly good, but I think the food in his restaurant is a bit better.

    Another big thing that has happened recently was the Rotary District Conference. It was a required event for all exchange students in the district and we had to wear our blazers, which was fine because it gave us an opportunity to exchange any pins that we missed or forgot about before. Before the actual conference we had breakfast, which was really more like breakfast fika. Throughout the whole day I think we had fika three or four times.

    If I haven’t mentioned fika before, it’s basically a coffee break that doesn’t necessarily have to have coffee, usually accompanied by pastries, sandwiches, or other small snacks.

    After our breakfast fika, we had speaking part of the conference, where Rotarians or people related to Rotary, like Rotex, came up and spoke about different topics. Since most of the talks were in Swedish, it was a little hard to follow at times, but I think I got the main ideas of the talks. The whole event lasted for most of the day, and since us exchange students did not need to be there for certain parts of the conference, we mainly used that time to catch up and make plans with each other.

    In October, I got to see The Rolling Stones in concert. Apparently my host father has been to about 8 of these concerts and there happened to be another one this year, so he invited me to come with him and my host mother. I will admit, I don't know all to much about The Rolling Stones, but I said yes to going anyway.

    The concert was held in Stockholm, and the arena is was in was completely packed full of people. I knew The Rolling Stones were popular, but I didn't know they were this popular.

    The concert consisted of really good (and loud) music, cool visual effects on the arena's big screen, and Mick Jagger trying to speak Swedish.

    Weather:

    Sweden is cold. If you didn’t know that before, then I don’t know what to tell you.

    As someone from Florida, the word “cold” is used to refer to any temperature below 70°F. In Sweden, 70°F is pretty much nothing. I had to buy a winter jacket and boots, and I started wearing them in November. Ice started forming on the roads and cars, and eventually it started snowing.

    I had never seen snow before I came to Sweden, so this was all really fascinating. However, I quickly learned that snow is much more fun to look at than to be in. It’s cold. Like, really cold.

    I have yet to build a snowman or make a snow angel or do any of the snow activities, but hopefully I’ll get around to it eventually.

    Challenges & Successes:

    Since this journal is talking about past months, I’ll talk about any challenges and successes I remember from that time.

    During this time, I was relying almost completely on English. I had no clue what my teachers were saying and I had to translate all of my schoolwork and pages in my textbooks. Some of my teachers would help a bit by speaking in English for part of the class, or by asking me if I understood and repeating anything I didn’t understand in English for me, but others only spoke Swedish.

    Despite this I think I succeeded in at least trying to speak more Swedish and trying to learn more. I would speak a little Swedish to Rotarians and then in turn they would help me learn new words by pointing at things around the room and saying the object’s name in Swedish. Whenever I translated something in school, I would write down unfamiliar words and their translations in the margin of my notebook, just in case it came up again later.

    There wasn’t a lot of homesickness during these months, except around Thanksgiving. I did feel a little homesick around Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t incredibly bad and I moved past it rather quickly.

    Closing:

    As you can probably tell, I’m really enjoying my stay here even if it’s freezing. It’s not Sweden’s fault that I keep forgetting my gloves at home. We won’t say who’s fault that is.

    Some exchange students have been complaining about RYE, but I see no reason to complain. I think Rotary has done a great job getting us to our host countries and making sure we are taken care of. Whenever people talk about wanting to be an exchange student I always give them a long speech about how Rotary is probably the best exchange program out there.

    So thanks Rotary, for giving me this wonderful opportunity and helping me along my way.

    Now, I expect to be hearing from next year’s exchange students to Sweden soon. Good luck to the Outbound candidates. Your training is about to begin and while it is a lot of work sometimes, it’s worth it in the end.

    Click HERE to read more about Vivianne and all her blogs

  • Vivianne, Outbound to Sweden

    Hi everyone. I’ve only been in Sweden for one week, but I’ve already fallen in love with this wonderful country. It’s quite a bit different than what I’m used to, but that’s perfectly fine. The whole reason us exchange students are on exchange is to see a different way of live and that’s exactly what is happening. I have to say though, it’s not as cold here as I thought it would be.

    Travel:

    This was my first time on a plane. Ever. So you can understand how nervous I felt about getting on different panes and navigating through the different airports for almost 2 days straight. Not to mention my best friends had me watch Final Destination a few weeks before I left, which didn’t really help calm my nerves. In all honesty, I was more afraid of the planes than the fact that I would be living in a foreign country where I knew no one and couldn’t really understand the language.

    I left Jacksonville around noon. I waited with my mom, stepdad, and younger sister outside of the gate until it was time for me to leave. As far as I saw no one cried while I was getting on the plane, although I don’t know what happened afterwards. I know I teared up a little knowing I wouldn’t get to see my family in person for a whole year, but then I quickly went back to being nervous about the plane.

    Miami airport was the most difficult to navigate. I had to go to Check-In to get my next two boarding passes, but I couldn’t find the desk. I eventually asked someone working there who told me where to go, but they didn’t seem too pleased that I asked them. Luckily, the woman working the desk was very nice and even drew a map for me on the back of my boarding pass to show me where I would need to go next and what I could do while I waited. After going through security and finding my gate, I only had a little more than an hour to wait for my next flight, so I really couldn’t do much besides wait in the crowded waiting area.

    My flight to London was 8 hours long, but I hardly slept. I think I got 30 minutes of sleep at most, and for the rest of the time I was playing games on my phone with the screen light turned down so I didn’t disturb everyone else who could actually fall asleep. However, I wasn’t even that tired when I got to London, I was more hungry and annoyed by the fact that I'd have to wait 6 hours in the airport.

    I can’t really say much about the flight to Stockholm, since I was asleep the entire flight. When we arrived in Stockholm, I had to wait in a long line before I even got close to baggage claim. Eventually I got both of my bags, but I had trouble finding the exit. I had to ask my host family by email where it would be. When I did find it, I walked out of the airport to see my host mother and father, both with signs saying “Welcome to Sweden Vivianne!”. During our drive home, they pointed out a lot of buildings and areas, and told me what each of them were. When we finally got home, I immediately fell asleep after eating. I was absolutely exhausted.

    First Week (and a half):

    My first week was full of travel. My host family showed me around Mariefred and Strängnäs. I got to see my school, which looks so different from my school in the U.S. I found out that I’ll be taking the bus to school everyday. A public bus, not a school bus. I have no clue how public transportation systems work really, since I’ve never really used them, but luckily my host family arranged to have another student show me what buses to take and where to go.

    My host family took me to three castles in three days, with two of the castles being royal castles. First was Drottningholm, where the current King and Queen of Sweden live. After that was Gripsholm, which is in Mariefred near where I am living now. You can actually see this castle from the window of my home. Last was Taxinge, which is a small castle that is known for having a huge cake buffet. The other two exchange students and I met for the first time before getting on a train and spending a lot of the day here.

    Later in the week, my host family and I went to Utö, which is a small island east of Stockholm. It was raining for most of the day, but we still had fun going around to the museums and walking around the island.

    On Sunday, we met with the other two host families and exchange students, along with two outbound students leaving for the U.S. later this month. We got to hang out and tell each other what our countries were like and how school would be. We ended up playing a game like HedBanz, but it had a Swedish name that I can’t quite remember.

    The day after that, we met up with the other two exchange students again to check out the Kulturskolan (Culture School) in Strängnäs. The school is sort of like an after school program where students can take classes in music, theater, art, and film. As of right now, I’m thinking about joining one of the art classes, but I still have to talk with my host family about it.

    Yesterday, my host parents took us three exchange students to the older part of Stockholm. It was really crowded, but everything looked so great that I didn’t really care. We saw the Royal Palace and the Changing of the Guard. Later we got to tour CIty Hall, which was so beautiful that I didn’t believe it was actually City Hall! This is where the Nobel Banquet is held, in the Blue Hall (which is, sadly, not blue). My favorite part was walking up the steps that the guests of the Nobel Banquet get to walk down. It wasn’t really anything too special, since about 100 other people were doing it at the same time I was, but it felt nice nonetheless.

    Challenges & Successes:

    Since it’s only been a week, I haven’t really had many challenges or successes.

    I guess one challenge would be that everyone here speaks English. Rotary didn’t lie. Whenever my host family introduces me to someone, they automatically switch to English. Restaurants hear me speak with my host family before we come in and immediately pull out an English menu for me. It definitely makes it easier for me (sometimes a bit too easy), but I still want to try and use Swedish. My host parents have put sticky notes on some objects around the house, so I’ve learned a few object names in Swedish. Now I can understand some more of the words my host parents say when they speak to each other in Swedish.

    I haven’t really been homesick or anything, and I think I’m adjusting fine. I think that it will be better for me when I get into school and develop a routine. Since I don’t have a routine yet, I don’t really know what to do sometimes.

    I also have to get used to having a little less household responsibility than I have in the U.S. There, I have a younger sister I have to take care of during the day while my parents are at work. I drove myself to school, picked my sister up from school, cooked when needed, cleaned when needed, and took care of our 4 pets. Here, I don’t have any siblings (in this host family). I can’t drive and my host parents do most of the cooking (although I do help. I don’t need Rotary thinking I’m not helping). We have people come to clean the house every two weeks and we have a dishwasher. There isn’t really that much for me to do, so I try to find small chores that I can do to fill up my time, but there aren’t really that many.

    Closing:

    “Closing” sounds a little too formal for me, but I couldn’t really think of anything else. I’ll try to keep this as short as possible.I don’t really have anything else to say besides thank you. I do want to thank everyone who helped me get here, and I have a few specific people that I want to thank here.

    Ms. Paula and Mr. Jeff, thank you for supporting me and the rest of D6970. We greatly appreciate everything you have done and continue to do for us. Just know that we’re all going to do our best and make you both proud.

    Mr. Göran and Ms. Catrine, thank you for teaching me a lot about Sweden and helping me improve on my Swedish a bit. You have done so much to help me that I can’t even fully process it. Hopefully when I talk to you later this year, it will be in Swedish.

    Rotary Club of Orange Park Sunrise, thank you for sponsoring me. I definitely wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. I hope to be able to Skype with you later and talk with all of you about my life here in Sweden.

    Rotex, I have to say, all of you are awesome and you know it. I don’t think I even need to tell you how great you are. So, thank you for showing us the ways of exchange and helping us through training.

    Friends and family, I’ve already thanked you a few times, but I figured I should do it again since you deserve it. Thank you for helping me get here. To me, it is worth all of the hard work spent, and hopefully it is to you too. I look forward to sharing my exchange with you.

    Lastly, my host family, host club, and host country, thank you for taking me in and allowing me to experience this beautiful country firsthand. I never thought something like this would be possible for me, but as I can see now, it was definitely possible, I just needed the right people to help me get here.

    This wasn’t as short as I intended for it to be, but if you’re reading this you made it through the whole thing. Thank you for reading my journal and I look forward to sharing the rest of my exchange with you!

    Click here to read more about Vivianne and all her blogs 

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