Caroline Bernet

Sweden

Hometown: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
School: Douglas Anderson School of the Arts
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach Sunset, Florida
Host District: 2370
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Södertälje Östra


My Bio


Hej! My name is Caroline Bernet. I am so excited to spend my year abroad in the beautiful country of Sweden! My home consists of my mom, dad, sister, brother and four cats. I was raised in the Washington D.C. suburbs of Maryland before moving to the Jacksonville, Florida area. The weather here in Florida is very pleasant, and we live about 15 minutes away from the beach. In my spare time you can find me hanging out with friends, playing piano, volunteering at the local library, and spoiling our cats. My family has hosted many exchange students over the years and I’m so excited to become the daughter and sister of my own future host families in Sweden. Currently, I am a tenth grader attending a performing arts high school and study both classical and jazz saxophone. Through my experiences, I can see how valuable it is to be able to communicate with people through music, and can’t wait to have the same feeling as I learn Swedish. Not too long ago, my family had a chance to visit Stockholm briefly and I fell in love with the beautiful buildings, cobblestone streets, and the mix of old and modern architectural styles. Through my exchange, I am looking forward to gaining lifelong friendships, independence, and a new perspective of the world. Thank you, Rotary, so much for this amazing, life changing opportunity!

At the top of Fjätervålen (We could see mountains in Norway from up here!)

At the top of Fjätervålen (We could see mountains in Norway from up here!)

View from our apartment balcony!

View from our apartment balcony!

View in the forest my host grandparents bought!

View in the forest my host grandparents bought!

Nice stop for fika 

Nice stop for fika 

Cottage from my other host grandparents summer place

Cottage from my other host grandparents summer place

My host brother and I carved a pumpkin

My host brother and I carved a pumpkin

Drove by lots of reindeer during my trip to Fjätervålen!

Drove by lots of reindeer during my trip to Fjätervålen!

Rotary District Conference

Rotary District Conference

Autumn break

Autumn break

A Floridian enjoying winter. Wait no… October!

A Floridian enjoying winter. Wait no… October!

Cambridge with some of my classmates!

Cambridge with some of my classmates!

Journals: Caroline-Sweden Blog 2018-19

  • Caroline, Outbound to Sweden

    The point of these journals is to show the feelings of an exchange student, however it’s incredibly difficult to describe my emotions. For example, the weeks seem to go by super fast, but at the same time, I feel like I have been gone from home for a year already. Sometimes I feel so exhilarated and happy. Like when walking through Stockholm as it snows--in October, or when one of my host brothers said he didn’t want me to change host families. Those feelings make for amazing highs, where I truly feel on top of the world. However, just like regular life, there are moments where I feel so empty and like I’m missing something. Sometimes it can be hard to take in that I still have 8 months on exchange. Not because I don’t love Sweden or my host family, but just because exchange is more emotionally and mentally draining then I could ever imagine.

    My favorite moments are either spent with my host family or with a really cool exchange student from Belgium that I met named Marie-Liese. My host parents are so caring, and my host brothers are so goofy and fun, so I absolutely love spending time with them. Marie-Liese and I love to meet up for fika breaks at cute little bakeries and then walk around Stockholm. However I think the long walks might start coming to an end because it’s truly starting to get cold, and yes she thinks it’s cold too, not just me the Floridian haha!

    Two really fun things happened in October. (Also my host family decorated the house with decorations and we baked Halloween treats, so it truly felt like October!!)

    Firstly, all of the first year students in my school went on a trip to England! We stayed in Cambridge and saw all the beautiful architecture, and one of the days we went sightseeing in London. Since my line or track at school is natural sciences (aka i have biology, psychics, and lots of math) we also visited a botanical garden and a science center. It was a great way to get to know my classmates better, and I really felt apart of the school!

    Secondly, I returned back up to my host grandparents winter house in Fjätervålen during autumn break. The week was filled with walks through snowy forests, lots of hot cocoa, and tons of board games played with my host brother, Vide, and my host grandparents. It was so cozy and fun! I also ate moose meat and it was really good!

    This past month has really made me think of a certain quote by the one and only Winnie the Pooh; "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." I miss my family back home like crazy, and sometimes all I wish is that I could be running into their arms at the Jacksonville airport, however I know that this year is not forever. I mean, I’m already 3 months in! That sounds crazy to me!

    To those currently in the application process, I wish you luck at interviews! You’re applying to an amazing program that truly transforms you as a person. I already feel so much stronger as a person, and I’m not even half-way through!

    Thanks for reading!

    Caroline Bernet

    Click HERE to read more about Caroline and all her blogs

  • Caroline, Outbound to Sweden

    Hej från Sverige!!

    From stopping to eat blueberries as I climbed up mountains with my host family, to having to stop in the road to let reindeer pass, my time here so far has felt surreal!

    I arrived in Sweden August 1st and I have enjoyed my first month here so much! I live in Stockholm, but the second day I was here in Sweden, my host family brought me to their grandparents winter house. It’s about 6 hours from Stockholm and their house is located right next to a mountain for skiing. (Fjätervålen) We walked through forests, bathed (a lot), climbed mountains, picked blueberries then made blueberry pie, went fishing, and saw lots of reindeer! Everything was so beautiful and there was a stillness and quietness in the air that was so beautiful.

    I really like my host family!! They are so fun, kind and welcoming and I am so happy I am with them! I have a 12 year old brother (Vide), 13 year old brother (Kasper), 15 year old sister (Lova) and then my host parents (Nicklas & Kristina). Lova just left for France, and although i’m so excited for her to start her exchange, i’m sad our month together is up!

    Another fun thing I did was go crayfishing with my host family. Although I didn’t participate in putting the dead fish in the traps, I did get to go out on the little boat and pull up the crayfish we caught from the water! We then had a party, which consisted of quiche, lots of bread and cheese, crayfish, and ice cream cake.

    As for school, I started August 20th and I’m in the natural sciences track. This means i have biology and lots of math, in addition to Swedish, religion, Spanish, P.E., and English. My class at school really feels like a community. I’m in the first year so everybody is new to the school and everyone seems to look out for each other. I have people to sit lunch with everyday and hang out with during breaks between classes. And we all bonded over feeling super sore after our first gym class haha.

    So how is school in Sweden different?

    -Schools have different programs. (At my school they have the economics track and natural sciences track.)

    -I have the same people in all of my classes which I love! It makes it easy to really bond and get to know people

    -Teachers commonly let students out of class 10/15 minutes earlier if they’re done with lessons.

    -I start/end at different times every day. (On Thursday I start at 10:10 and on Friday I get out at 2!!)

    -Everybody gets a laptop

    -Lunch is free, and they always have knäckebröd (hard bread) with butter set out, as well as vegetarian/vegan options.

    What else is different about Sweden?

    -Everybody is out walking, biking, bathing and enjoying the nice weather! This goes along with an important right in Sweden, Allemansrätten一or "everyman's right.” Under this, Swedes are granted the right to roam wherever they please in the countryside, forests, etc., as long as they respect the land.

    -Little kids have a lot of freedom/independence and you even see young kids finding their way to school by themselves via public transportation.

    -There’s bread/cheese/butter with almost every meal. (And I’m in love…)

    -People don’t drink as much water or just beverages in general. Maybe i’m just so used to having to stay hydrated in Florida, but it’s definitely weird using tiny cups, and not having free refills.

    -Fika really is a prominent thing in Sweden! Basically fika is where you take a break, drink coffee and eat sweets, and maybe catch up with friends. I’m always happy for a fika break!

    And Homesickness?

    Of course I have moments where i really miss my family, friends and cats, but I also know this year will not last forever and I need to appreciate and enjoy it as much as I can! It’s hard to have to say goodbye to all that you know, but the thing is you have so many hellos and new experiences waiting for you ahead. Yes there are days I wish I could be eating Chick-fil-a with my friends or making countless target runs with my mom, but i know those moments will be waiting for me when I return home. It’s also important to find a balance of communication back home. I don’t think you have to cut off communication completely, but also don’t go overboard every day.

    “We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”

    Lastly I wanted to say thanks, tack så mycket, to Rotary for making my exchange possible! Thanks to Mrs. Paula/Jeff for all your passion, dedication and kindness you pour into this program. And of course thanks to all the support and love from my family and friends!

    Vänliga hälsningar,

    Caroline Bernet

    Click HERE to read more about Caroline and all her blogs

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