Sami, outbound to Sweden

Winter Wonderland
Yeah, it’s official – I live in a winter wonderland. At the first snow of the year, I was actually over at a friend’s house watching the finale of Swedish Idol. Mind you, I have not seen snow in ten years. I glanced out the window and saw flurries fluttering down. And as the typical Floridian I am – I screamed. “BEATRICE LOOK, LOOK IT’S SNOWING!” (Earlier that day, I told her my phone says there was a possibility of snow. She laughed and said it probably wouldn’t snow and that I shouldn’t get my hopes up – Who was right this time, Bea?!)I proceeded to run outside and feel the snow and taste it on my tongue and take copious amounts of selfies, as any self-respecting 18 year old does when it just so happens to rain when it’s below 0C.

Since that first snow, I have had so many winter experiences that would pretty much NEVER happen back home. I’ve learned some karma from forgetting my hat when I had to walk home – I ended up shamelessly turning my scarf into a scarf-turban-device-of-warmth. I’ve slipped on ice and busted my butt in front of people I’ve never met. I’ve stepped in “solid” snow, only to find out that it was really slush – thank goodness I wore high shoes that day! I’ve even felt my nose hairs freeze on a day when it was almost -18C. I’ve build a snowman that was a meter tall and made a snow angel that froze my butt to make. Even as I look out my window now, there is somewhere from 3-4 inches of snow on the ground and on tree branches.

I’ve also learned that snow is not always the same. Around 0C, snow is wet – perfect time for snowball fights and snowmen! When it gets really cold, the snow becomes dry and crystal-like.

While winter was one of my sources of fear and excitement about Sweden – it has turned out to be really fun. However, I remember the Northern Europe ROTEX telling us how it would be “so dark and cold.” I had thought “Yeah, I know what dark is, no big deal.” TAKE IT BACK, SAMI. It was so difficult to get used to the sunset being at 3:30pm and not rising until 8:30am! But, now the sun is slowly staying up later – which is really nice!

On another note, I had the most amazing Swedish Christmas. Let me warn you, Swedish Christmas is NOT a one-day event. I would say, more of a 3-day extravaganza. You eat and eat and eat until you are just about to pop; then you do it all again the next day. Raw herring and raw salmon are just a few of the things I was terrified to try (“Don’t ask, just eat!”), but I ended up actually loving. I even tried the very smelly raw fermented herring – not nearly as bad as I had thought it would be (or as bad as the smell would make you think).

I did miss my family a bit over the holidays, but it was honestly drowned out by how much fun I was having. Did I mention that we had snow on Christmas?! Well, on the 25th, not the 24th when Sweden celebrates – but I’m still going with it! I cut down my own tree for the first time I can remember (apparently I have done it before when I was young). I also quickly learned that I was allergic to touching the tree – thanks for that, genetics!

Swedish Santa: not like the American Santa. Swedish Santa is a little troll-like man that lives in the forest and helps keep the farm going good. You must feed him porridge or he will turn evil – and burn down your farm! And if you give him too high-quality porridge, he will get greedy and not help the farm anymore. Also, Swedes see Santa on Christmas evening! He comes up and knocks on the door to hand out presents. I learned from home videos that as a disguise, ‘Santa’ usually is wearing a full face mask, leaving only holes for eyes. No wonder young Swedish children are scared of Santa! I would be too with that mask!

A bit more up-to-date, I am currently booking my trip with Rotary to go up to the Arctic Circle – it will be so amazing!
Until next time,