Erilyn Read

Sweden

Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida
School: Leon High School
Sponsor District : District 6940
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Tallahassee, Florida
Host District: 2370
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Stockholm-Söder


My Bio

Hej!! This is how you say hello in Sweden, my home for the next few months. My names Erilyn Read, and I’ll be spending my junior year in Sweden!! I’m from Tallahassee, Florida and currently a student at Leon High School. I live with my mom, dad, and younger brother. Some of my hobbies are spending time with my best friends, playing my ukulele, and enjoying life. I’m going to miss my friends and family, being so close to the best college football team in the US (Go Noles!!), and having the best theme parks and beaches at the tip of my fingers. However, I’m extremely excited to start this new chapter of my life. As an exchange student, I seek to improve my knowledge on other cultures, and improve other people’s knowledge on mine. It is so important for people to be kind and loving in this world, and putting yourself in new places can help you understand them, and reach that goal of unity. I’m also not mad about living somewhere that actually appreciates hockey, unlike Florida. I’m also not a huge fan of the cold. Well, I’m not a fan of what Florida calls “cold weather.” I’ve never even seen snow! But I’m so willing to adjust to my new home and its surroundings. Cheers to new beginnings (: Vi ses senare!

Me at The ABBA Museum

Me at The ABBA Museum

Stockholm City Hall or as the Swedes say, “Stadshuset”

Stockholm City Hall or as the Swedes say, “Stadshuset”

My host brother and I after the Arsenal game

My host brother and I after the Arsenal game

My host mom, host dad, and host sister greeting me at the airport

My host mom, host dad, and host sister greeting me at the airport

Me in Stortorget, in front of the buildings you are most likely to see when you search “Stockholm” into Google Images

Me in Stortorget, in front of the buildings you are most likely to see when you search “Stockholm” into Google Images

The Vasa ship at the Vasamuseet

The Vasa ship at the Vasamuseet

My host family and I in front of Lake Mälaren

My host family and I in front of Lake Mälaren

My host mom and I on a boat tour that goes under all the bridges in Stockholm

My host mom and I on a boat tour that goes under all the bridges in Stockholm

Rotary Exchange Sweden Thanksgiving Dinner

Rotary Exchange Sweden Thanksgiving Dinner

I love playing in the snow

I love playing in the snow

Me in Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

Me in Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

Ice skating Downtown with my RYE friends

Ice skating Downtown with my RYE friends

My Rotary friends and I celebrated our Australian friend Jill’s birthday!

My Rotary friends and I celebrated our Australian friend Jill’s birthday!

Me chilling with my reindeer friends

Me chilling with my reindeer friends

My first large snow!!

My first large snow!!

Swedish Midsummers Eve in the Swedish Archipelago

Swedish Midsummers Eve in the Swedish Archipelago

Me with my reindeer friend

Me with my reindeer friend

My mom and I in Stockholm

My mom and I in Stockholm

Watching the sunset with a view of Stockholm City Hall

Watching the sunset with a view of Stockholm City Hall

All the exchange students who came on the Kiruna trip in front of the ICEHOTEL

All the exchange students who came on the Kiruna trip in front of the ICEHOTEL

The Northern Lights :)

The Northern Lights :)

One of my best friends Daisy from New Zealand visiting me in Stockholm

One of my best friends Daisy from New Zealand visiting me in Stockholm

Me in the ICEHOTEL

Me in the ICEHOTEL

Journals: Erilyn-Sweden Blog 2018-19

  • Erilyn, Outbound to Sweden

    I have really sucked at these journal things and I’m sorry!!!! I have so many things to catch up on so be prepared.

    I guess the absolute most exciting thing about these last 6 months is my trip to Kiruna in March! Me and a bunch of other inbounds traveled up 200km (125mi) north of the Arctic Circle for about a week. There were two weeks we could go on this trip and I chose the second week as it was the one with most of my friends and some of the other exchangers I haven’t met yet. During this trip, a high school tourism class from Kiruna were our tour guides and the ones in charge of us for this week. On Day 1 (Monday), we either flew up or took the train to Kiruna (I personally chose the 1 ½ hour flight over the 15 hour train ride). Once everyone arrived, we went to our hotel to unpack and get ready for the evening planned for us. We walked to the ski mountain to eat dinner and do some downhill sledding! During dinner we introduced ourselves and got a preview of the week that was ahead of us. Then it was time for the sledding. I had never been sledding before and after this experience, I can say I personally haven’t missed out on anything and am definitely 100% a Florida girl. I had to walk my sled up the second half of the slope (in knee deep snow) and by the time I reached the top, I was ready to be done with it. The whole time I was sledding down, every other minute I would fall over and have to get back on again so overall not the best experience. Later that night, we walked back to the hotel and were really hopeful to see any Northern Lights, but we weren’t so lucky. So instead we went back and watched Adam Sandler movies on Netflix on the TV in our communal living room.

    The next day we went to Jukkasjärvi to visit the ICEHOTEL and a Sami village/open air museum (Sami are the indigenous people to Sweden, Norway, and Finland). First we visited the Sami museum and we got to feed and play with reindeer! We learned a lot about the way of Sami living which was really interesting to here. They live in the Lappland of Sweden, Norway, and Finland and they move with the reindeer. For lunch we ate a traditional Sami meal with reindeer and it was actually really delicious but I have eaten reindeer meat earlier in the year so I knew it was good. The people who live up north in Kiruna (even regular Swedes) say they regularly will eat reindeer meat. Then we went to the ICEHOTEL. The ICEHOTEL was absolutely incredible! Every room had a different theme with different artwork entirely made up of ice and snow. There is an ICEHOTEL that’s around all year round which is inside of an actual building and then there is the one that is made every winter and melts every summer that is made 100% of ice. My favorite room was probably the one that had a Volkswagen van in it. In the ICEHOTEL is also a chapel wher people can get married, and a bar. The other exchange students and I got mocktails (because we follow the 4 D’s!!!!). You could choose an orange pineapple flavor or a blue raspberry flavor in an ice champagne glass for 100kr (approx. $10) but it was worth it for the experience. That night, around 10pm, we got to see the Northern Lights! It was one of the best experiences of my life to be honest. It was a big check off of my bucket list not only for my time in Sweden, but in general. They were around off and on for about an hour and a half and it was a night I’ll never forget. I even started crying at how amazing they were. I still can’t believe I really got to see them.

    The next day, we went on a dogsled to a camp area owned by ICEHOTEL and did various different activities. We went ice fishing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and just hung around and talked. For lunch, once again, we had reindeer. The rest of the day was just us spending time together before we left the next day.

    I’ve gotten the opportunity to do lots of other things in the last few months and I’ll share some of them now, and then in a journal that I will upload shortly after this one!

    In February, I went on a ski trip with my school! In Sweden, they have days in the school year called ”Sports Day” where they have different activities to choose from and be outside being active. My school gave us the option to go indoor rock climbing, ice skating, going on a scenic walk, and going to Romme Ski Resort to go skiing or snowboarding. I went snowboarding and it was REALLY hard. I had never done it before and maybe underestimated how hard it might’ve been when I signed up. I probably should’ve choosen skiing first since I’ve never done either but it was still a good time. Not many of my friends went on the trip so I made some new friends from my school who helped me learn how to snowboard. I did the bunny slopes for a while to get the hang of it, and then once I felt somewhat uncomfortable I decided to try one of the green slopes. I fell a lot, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and by the 2nd and 3rd time I did it, I was having a pretty good time! I’m glad I went since I had never done anything like it before and proud of myself for taking the risk and going out of my comfort zone.

    For Easter, we get a week off from school so during that break I hung out with my classmates and other exchange students almost every day! The weather was finally getting over 50° and it was really sunny. During that time was when I think I hit the peak of my exchange. The language started coming so easy to me, I had solid friends, and my exchange felt complete and like I was a Swede at heart. It felt like all my time working and trying so hard finally paid off and I felt like the most me I could be. Ever since then, I’ve been in a really good mood and making great memories.

    Just 3 weeks ago during the first week of June, my mom came to Stockholm to visit me for the week! She arrived the night of my birthday and it was the best present I could’ve gotten. While she was here I showed her all around the city to some of my favorite local spots but also to my favorite tourist spots. We went on a boat tour around the different islands of Stockholm, to the ABBA Museum (my favorite!), Skansen to see reindeer, my school to meet my classmates and teachers, and the infamous Old Town. It was so good to show her into my life for the last 10 months and to just talk with her and hug her again. It also gave me inside to some of the reverse culture clashes I may face when I come back home.

    And from then on, it has kind of set in that soon I’ll be home again. It’s really weird to think about. Life here has gotten so normal and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Speaking and hearing and seeing Swedish everywhere has almost become as normal as it is in English. Riding the subway to the city center, taking trains to visit my friends outside of Sweden, making spontaneous plans with the exchange students… It’s all so strange it’s coming to an end. In a week I’ll be back home and with my family in my old room 5000 miles away from my other home and my other family and the room I’ve lived in for 8 months. I’ve learned so much about life and while I have learned about myself, I feel like this year gave me so many opportunities to be the me that I’ve always been but never had the chance to back home in Tallahassee. I’m still the same me, but I feel like maybe an extra version of me. This year has truly been a dream and I’m forever grateful for the experience. Every person who has contributed including Rotary, my parents, and all the amazing people I’ve met like my host families, classmates, and other RYE friends: I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve made this the best year of my entire life. I wouldn’t redo anything or wish this year went any differently. All of you have such a large place in my heart. Stockholm, Sweden is always my second home. I’ll be back sooner than you know it and it’ll be like I never left!

    Thank you Rotary for everything you have contributed, taught me, and given me this past year. This is not the end of my time working with Rotary! I’m so excited to become a Rotex and potentially a Rotarian in the future.

    I’ll try to upload one last journey during this last week or maybe even once I’ve arrived home. But just in case, I wanted to include all of my thank yous and goodbyes into this one.

    Hejdå Sverige och vi ska träffas igen snart!

    Sverige i mitt hjärta, forever ❤️

    Click HERE to read more about Erilyn and all her blogs.

  • Erilyn, Outbound to Sweden

    Hej allihopa!! I am sooo sorry for leaving y’all hanging for like 5 months… However, in those 5 months, I have been having the best time here in Sweden! Since there is a lot to catch up on, I’ll be splitting this journal into 2 or 3 different topics sections and will probably end up posting another one soon with the same idea. But knowing me, this will probably just end up with me going all over the place.

    TRAVEL:

    In these past 5 months, I’ve done my fair share of traveling in and outside of Sweden.

    In September, I went to Sweden’s largest amusement park, Liseberg, in Gothenburg with my host family! We had a blast and the park had a subtle viking theme to it. This was also my first time visiting Gothenburg, Sweden’s 2nd largest city.

    In October, a few of my exchange friends in Stockholm traveled to Strängnäs and Eskilstuna to visit our friends at a fair, and then to celebrate our Australian friend Jill’s birthday. Strängnäs is a cute little town of about 14,000 people so it was such a fun time to visit as it is so different from Stockholm. At the end of October, we had one week off for fall break. My host family and I traveled to Copenhagen for a few days. It was such a fun trip!! We saw and did so many great things. We saw went to Nyhavn, Den Blå Planet, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, The Little Mermaid statue, Experimentarium, and Tivoli’s. Danish is very similar to Swedish in written form, but when it is spoken it sounds completely different. Even my host siblings had a hard time to understand. It was such a fun trip and I’m so happy I got to experience it!

    In November, me and 30 other exchange students in Sweden traveled to Eskilstuna to have Thanksgiving together! We had traditional American/Canadian Thanksgiving foods, and those from somewhere other than the US and Canada made a dish from their home countries. We all spent the night together and had such a great time. Exchange friends are truly the best friends!

    To kick off the beginning of December, my host mom, host sister, and I spent the weekend at a cabin in Ornö in the Stockholm Archipelago. While was there, I did my first sauna. I didn’t do it the Swedish way (completely naked), but I did it! Then I ran out and attempted to jump into the cold water, but I could only manage to dip my toe in. Maybe I’ll get over my Floridianness and jump into the ice cold water.

    And my latest trip was to Skövde to spend Christmas with my host mom’s family. The town is in the countryside, which I have seen very little of due to me living in central Stockholm. I had a great traditional Swedish Christmas eating Swedish meatballs, Christmas ham, potatoes, and so many sweets. In Sweden, Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve (the 24th), rather than Christmas Day (the 25th). One Christmas tradition that Swedes have that I love is writing rhymes on their Christmas presents to give hints to the ones receiving them. Swedes also gather together around the TV at 3pm on Christmas to watch ”Kalle Anka och vänner” or Donald Duck and friends. It’s a program that’s been running every Christmas for at least 40+ years filled with short Disney cartoon clips. Being the Disney fanatic Floridian I am, I loved it! I didn’t really get homesick on Christmas because I have such a great host family. I focused on being in the moment and enjoying the time I had with them, as I never know when I will get to experience this again. I didn’t spend Christmas with my biological family, but I still spent Christmas with ones I love like family.

    RANDOM UPDATES:

    After the holidays, on Jan. 4th, I switched host families. I was pretty sad to leave my first family as I had grown to love them like actual family, but I was excited to get to know my new one. So far, the transition has been really good. I had met them before, so I knew they were very kind and fun people. From the first day, they welcomed me into the home so fast and I feel so comfortable here in just almost 3 weeks! Their daughter is currently on exchange in South Carolina, and they’ve visited the US and Florida a few times so it gives us things to talk about and relate to. We also share similar interests which is very nice as well!

    I have also been experiencing winter!! And fall!! Seasons are so cool and I wish Florida had them, although I do miss the warmth during these cold months. I’ve had my fair share of playing in the snow, ice skating, and of course ice hockey. I saw snow for the first time last year when I traveled to Toronto, but it is nothing compared to what I’ve seen here! I love the snow and it is so pretty to see it fall from the sky. However, I hate how icy the roads, sidewalks, and pretty much any walking surface gets after it snows. I’m definitely not a fan of almost slipping and falling.

    My Swedish is coming along pretty well I’d say. I understand most of what people are saying, and I can read Swedish better than when I listen. My speaking is not as good as my understanding, but I am working on it! When I’m ordering food, at the store, or out in public I try to use as much Swedish as I can. I go to an English speaking school, and even though I take Swedish classes there, it has put me back in my Swedish. Swedes are also very good at speaking English (90% of Swedes can!) which sometimes makes not speaking Swedish easy. However, I practice and I am determined to get as best at it as I can while I am here. Swedish words can be very literal when translated into English. For example, the word hospital in Swedish is ”sjukhus” which literally means ”sick house.” Another example is the word dentist which is ”tandläkare” in Swedish and it translates to ”tooth doctor” in English. There are also a few Swedish words that are very similar in English. I try to find the similarities between the two, and I’ve been trying different methods to learn Swedish and so far I’d say it is working well. It is really cool to be able to speak any language, but I think it is even cooler to learn a less common language such as Swedish. You also never know all the amazing opportunities learning another language can bring you, so I am very determined to continue getting better.

    I don’t want to bore you guys too much with one LONG journal post, so I’ll wrap it up. I hope you enjoyed this one, and look out for more very soon!! I am going to be getting very better at posting more journal submissions to help my fellow future Swedish outbounds, my parents, and to also stay on Ms. Karen’s good side. ;)

    Hejdå!!! Hoppas att du har det så bra och vi ses snart!!

    Click HERE to read more about Erilyn and all her blogs

  • Erilyn, Outbound to Sweden

    Hej hej!!

    To start this journal off, I just want to say THANK YOU to all the Rotarians with RYE Florida, and my sponsor club for making this dream of exchange a reality!!!! You all are amazing!

    I can’t believe it has been almost ONE MONTH since I have arrived in Stockholm, Sweden. In less than a month, I have grown to love this country and everything about it. Since it has been 4 weeks since my arrival, I thought I’d celebrate with a journal submission.

    Getting to Stockholm was a long and frustrating process, but I won’t get into too much detail. Basically, my flights leaving Tallahassee towards Atlanta we’re delayed due to a severe thunderstorm and I kept switching between 2 flights as one seemed like it would leave before the other. I was supposed to leave at 12:50pm on Tuesday July 31st and didn’t end up leaving Tallahassee until about 7:30pm that evening. I said goodbye to my family twice and boarded 2 different flights (that I got off of due to an extreme delay) before I actually said goodbye and was on my way. This was frustrating as I was filled with so much emotion. I was feeling anxious, happy, excited, and sad all at the same time. The Delta staff were very kind and let my family wait with me at the gate while we were figuring everything out.

    The next day, August 1st, I arrived in Stockholm and was greeted by my amazing host family. I was so happy and relieved to finally be in their company after the day I had just dealt with.

    My first 1 1/2 weeks in Stockholm were filled with all kinds of adventures. We took a guided tour of Stadshuset, Stockholm City Hall, (where the Nobel Prize Banquet is held every year in December), the Vasamuseet (a 16th century ship that sank during it’s maiden voyage in Stockholm Harbor and was almost fully recovered in the 60s after spending 300+ years underwater), an Arsenal preseason futbol game (my first futbol game) with my host brother, a trip to the Riddarholmskyrkan in Gamla Stan, and probably one of my favorite museums, The ABBA Museum!!

    My family here has been amazing and have let me see and experience so much of Stockholm. Living in the center of such an alive city definitely has its perks. I have grown a liking towards public transportation (specifically the subways!), fika, the weather, the nature, and if we’re being honest, EVERYTHING! I can’t fully express how much love I feel towards my new home, as the emotion is just too great.

    After about two weeks into my exchange, it was time to go to Sundsvall to spend a week at the language camp Rotary has set up for us. This was an amazing week filled with new friendships, new food, new experiences, and learning new Swedish words and phrases. Students from districts 2370, 2350, 2340, 2330, and 2320 came together to meet each other for the first time. I made so many friends and relationships that will definitely last forever. Swimming in the lake while it was 14 degrees Celsius, walking to ICA, and taking trips into downtown Sundsvall are all memories I will hold onto.

    I came home from Sundsvall on a Sunday, and the next Monday would be my first day of school! I wasn’t that nervous as I had met some of my classmates a few weeks before. I was just very excited to see them again. My first day was amazing, and everyone in my class is so nice and wonderful! Everyone is kind to each other and especially to me which I was grateful for.

    I attend Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet, which translates to International English High school, as all the classes are taught in English by many native English speaking teachers. The school also has a lot of influence from high schools in English speaking countries such as the US, Canada, and the UK. For example, my school has many clubs and sports teams which allows the students to become very involved. The school has also adopted the house system from Britain (and Harry Potter!). Basically, there are 4 houses that students are places in based on what Swedish national program they are in. They are also all named after Nobel Prize winners. There is the Pavlov house (my house!!) which is where the students in Natural Science and Social Science (my program), Russell house, Curie house, and King house. With these houses we create events together, and have house competitions in all kinds of things (sports, dance, debate, etc). There is so much to do and be involved in at my school and I love it!

    In this past month, I’ve truly understood what it means to be an exchange student and a citizen of the world. It is one thing to hear from your Rotarians and Rotex back home, but it is a completely other thing to experience it first hand in your new host country. While the big picture has been sunny and amazing, there have been times where I didn’t feel my best. Some days I come home with a pounding headache from the reality of everything. Hearing an unfamiliar language all day, traveling to different places, meeting so many new people... It is all amazing but there are times when it can get to you and that is just the reality of being an exchange student.

    However, exchange is truly what you make it and even though I’ve been here for a relatively short amount of time, I can say that statement is 100% reality. What you get and experience from your exchange, will be a representation of what you have put into it to experience those things. I have always been and considered myself a positive, outgoing person so I haven’t had that hard of a time bonding with my new friends and family and really trying to be connected to Sweden. I have only talked to my family back home maybe a handful of times (and not for long either). I’m so happy I did because it has allowed me to keep my mind in Sweden with my body. Keeping your mind where your feet are is a huge thing to be reminded of on exchange.

    Language is a HUGE thing that I have focused on since I have been here. Sweden is a country where most people speak relatively fluent English, so being able to learn the language is rather difficult on top of going to a Swedish school where all my lessons of taught in English. I am enrolled in Swedish 2 (the class my Swedish classmates are in), and Swedish for Beginners at my school. I will also be taking an intensive Swedish course with my host club. And on top of that, my family is teaching me new words, phrases, and helping me practice my Swedish at home. And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been taking 10 minutes out of my day in the evenings (or extra time whenever I am free) to practice my Swedish using Duolingo. With all of this practice, I am so amazed by the Swedish I have picked up on in such a short amount of time. I can sometimes understand my family, my friends, and even some peoples conversations on the subway! Starting with the basics has helped me be able to understand the context or purpose of what someone is saying even if I cannot fully understand it. I’m not going to lie, speaking Swedish to Swedish speakers when they can tell I’m American by the second I say one word is nerve-wracking. They will want to speak English with you since they are so good at it. But you just have to get over that fear and stay persistent to speak the language. I can read a good amount of Swedish, but I am trying very hard to speak Swedish to get used to the unique language.

    Long story short, I love it here in Sweden. This first month has been the best time of my life and I can’t wait to see where the rest of my exchange leads me.

    (PS: to all the high schoolers back home reading this, APPLY FOR ROTARY YOUTH EXCHANGE!! It will be the best experience of your life, I can promise you that!)

    Hej då!!!!!

    Click HERE to read more about Erilyn and all her blogs

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