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!!

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