hello! My name is Autumn Crosby and I am in love with saying that I am going
to be a Rotary Outbound exchange student to SWEDEN! When I was making my
decision for my top 5 countries Sweden was a country I went out on a limb
and picked. I was completely clueless about it, and I was shocked to hear I
was actually going there. I'm so so excited to be spending a year there.
am a sophomore at Pedro Menendez currently, but when I am on my exchange I
will be a junior. I love listening to music any time I can, I love it, but
by no mean am I musically talented! I play tennis and I also do yoga. I
have 2 older sisters that are part of the reason I applied for Rotary. They
supported me completely with the exchange. They've been there with me every
step of the way through the anticipation! My parents are also very
supportive even though they will miss their baby!
first heard about Rotary when they came to my school and talked about it. By
the second time they came and talked I was hooked and I knew it was my
time! My freshman year I met my now good friend, Patrick from Switzerland,
who said his exchange year was the best year of his life. Then I met more
exchange students and I was so envious of how much they were learning and
gaining from their experience that I decided to do the same thing.
do worry about leaving my friends, but then I remember how many I will gain!
The positives out weigh the negatives by far. I get a lot of criticism
about leaving and sometimes I do think twice, but that's the reason I am
doing this exchange. My goal is to become so independent and self aware
that I won't even be fazed by people who are too close-minded to do what I
am going to do. I am so ready for this experience and to be completely
submersed in the Swedish culture.
an enormous thank you and appreciation to you. You all are making my dreams
come true. Thank you a trillion times over. I can't wait to represent
Rotary and the U.S.A
me tell you, time flies. I can hardly believe that this time last year I was
stressing about the 19 page application for this exchange. The day before I
left St. Augustine I did all my favorite things with my friends and family,
it’s the perfect thing to do before you leave. I never thought looking at my
house for the last time before leaving for a year would be so hard. I felt
like my heart was being ripped out of my chest, it happened all at once, I
broke down. From the day I left until the next day when I arrived I had
never had so many emotions happen at once. I was calm before I left my
house, then cried, then was fine in the car, then died a little when I said
goodbye to my 2 best friends and my parents, then I was sooo nervous and
excited to get off the plane and meet my host family for the first time.
Already after two weeks I was extremely homesick. I hadn’t been able to stay
at my first host families house at all since I had gotten off the plane. I
dropped off my luggage at the house then packed a bag for language camp in a
different city. When the language camp was over my host family was still in
Spain so I stayed in another house until they came back. I stayed at three
different families in 2 weeks. It was rough, I wanted nothing more than to
go home to Florida until I finally got to spend time with the family I am at
now. I don’t think I could’ve picked a better host family. I get along with
them so well and one of my host sisters Filippa is also 16 and we’re best
The best thing happened the other weekend. I went to different cities in
southern Sweden with my Host club President and his wife for a couple days,
then when I came back my host family said they missed having me and they
couldn’t wait for me to come back, the house was too quiet and not the same.
Then Filippa said honestly it was horrible I missed you, and I’m so happy
you’re here and we get along so well. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I
love the Lirvall family.
School… I chose to be in first year which are students born in 1995. I
should be in second year but I chose first because everyone is new and I
figured it would be easier to make friends because no one had their cliques
yet. No one talks the first day, it the most uncomfortable thing. But NOW,
our class never stops talking and neither do I. The actual lessons are still
boring because I am not fluent in Swedish and when the teacher talks about
Swedish politics it’s incredibly hard to follow. Luckily this year doesn’t
count for me so I’m not stressed about my bad grades.
Transportation… Buses will always be your main transportation in Sweden,
or a bike. All families have cars but don’t always use them. The buses go so
often that it’s not necessary to drive. I miss driving my car though!
Swedish… Honestly when I first came here it sounded like Chinese, it
could have easily been Chinese and I wouldn’t have known the difference. But
now I’m familiar with the way it sounds. It’s so much easier for me to read
Swedish than for me to speak it. Yes, everyone in Sweden speaks English.
It’s bittersweet. When I try to speak Swedish like when I order a coffee or
something they hear my accent and automatically reply in English, it’s very
frustrating. Or even on the bus when you tell the driver “ett barn till
Södra Sandby” he laughs and makes fun of my accent! I mean honestly cut me
some slack here I’m doing my best with this crazy difficult language! It’s
not very hard to learn, but pronouncing the words is NOT EASY. My host
family is doing a good job with speaking Swedish to me, but of course it’s
not all the time because if I don’t understand then they explain it in
English. But it’s really cool when you start to understand your target
language, you feel accomplished.
Food… I am officially a successful exchange student, I have gained about
9 lbs in 2 and a half months! The food here is really good I like it,
clearly. There’s always cheese and bread and dairy products so that explains
the weight gain. They eat a lot of potatoes, fish, and sausage. Their salads
aren’t usually made with lettuce more like just the toppings. Fika is a
wonderful thing here in Sweden, it’s like a coffee break that Swedes make
time for, it’s a good time to relax and talk. Swede’s eat the most godis
(candy) and deserts, love it.
My best advice for someone thinking about being an exchange student is to
make sure you really want this. It is NOT a vacation; it is an adventure.
You realize that the world really isn’t so big. No, it’s not easy.
Sometimes it’s not very exciting, it becomes normal life and you’re just
living it. You absolutely can’t be too shy to talk to people or be yourself
or proud of where you are from. You will most likely be living like a
college student; broke, stressed with studying your language, and sometimes
a little homesick. But the people you meet when on an exchange make it all
worthwhile. I love the country of Sweden, I would come back for the people
that are here, but not for the weather…
So I’m now an expert at smiling and laughing at the right times when I’m
sitting in a group of people and they’re speaking Swedish and I don’t
understand. Now awkward situations kind of make up my life. Before I came to
Sweden I was kind of always nervous about things and afraid to just go out
on a limb and DO SOMETHING, but now I just do whatever and not have
expectations because if I let myself relax then I know I will have fun.
That’s what I love about this exchange it makes me fearless to live, that’s
what this life is about, LIVING IN THE MOMENT.
Rotary, you are a God sent. Thanks a million for sending me on this
Sitting in Malmö, near the Turning Torso!
host sister Filippa at Ven Island, Sweden.
About to go jump into the Baltic Sea. Åhus, Sweden.
Danish cathedral in Lund, Sweden