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

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