I was so eager for the plane to land after our drive from Asheville -> Charlotte, flight from Charlotte -> Newark and being on the plane for hours and hours to Stockholm. I was ready to experience Sweden. Liz swapped seats with me for the last 15 minutes of the flight so I could look out of the window.
When we landed we made our way to baggage claim and passport control. Liz and Lina went through the EU line, and I waited in the “other” line. When I got to the window, the man working asked me where I was going. I answered, ‘Norrköping’. He looked up, seeming a bit confused, and said, ‘Do you know people there?’. I said that I did and he nodded, then asked me how long I would be there. ‘Four weeks,’ I answered. He looked even more confused and asked, ‘In Norrköping?!’ I was now amused and wondering where exactly I was heading, since my only research had been to ask Liz and Lina questions about their time here. I explained that I would be traveling around Sweden, and he seemed satisfied with that and told me to enjoy my stay. When I told Liz and Lina about this they laughed, but assured me that there was plenty to do in Norrköping.
Our already long journey continued with a train ride from the airport, through Stockholm and into Norrköping. The ride was beautiful and Liz and I both enjoyed looking out the window. I became more and more excited with each place we passed.
Photo by Lina
When we arrived at the train station, Lina’s amazing and adorable mother was there waiting for us with a Swedish and an American flag! It was so sweet!
I was invited to Lina’s sister’s wedding. The BEST wedding I’ve ever been to!
I was treated like part of the family from the moment I got there. It was incredible! Lina’s parents, siblings and friends were so incredible! They included me in everything, patiently translated things for me, and encouraged me each time I tried to speak Swedish… Which leads me to another topic….
The Language…. Let me tell you, I tried. Really hard. When we were in Asheville and they were teaching me words I felt extremely confident in myself. I was going to try, every single time I could, to speak Swedish. However, my second night there (granted this was after a drink or two) the way I pronounced strawberry (jordgubbar- sort-of pronounced yor-goo-bar) created this reaction:
Yes, yes, those are my two Swedish teachers being oh so encouraging by laughing hysterically at my “Swerabic” accent. Despite this reaction, I still attempted, for most of my trip, to order food/drinks in Swedish, use pleasantries, and ask as many questions as I could. Let me tell you, though, I was exhausted. All of the time! Then, when people would speak English to me, I was trying so hard to pick out the Swedish words that I knew that I didn’t even realize that it was English! My favorite accomplishment was learning a pretty fast-paced, Swedish campfire song my first full week.
By the last week, I could recognize things (often, with the help of context) but I could keep up with things, more or less, without needing every word translated. However, I have so, so, so, so, so much to learn, like, basically all of it, but I’m pretty excited to continue to work on this now that we’re home with the help of Liz and Lina.
The other adjustment for me was the sunlight.
I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty mesmerized by the sun that never seemed to set. I had experienced long days in Alaska, but this was crazy to me! My first night there I got up and out of bed once an hour or so to look at the sky- this photo was taken around midnight! After realizing the sun wasn’t going anywhere, literally, I pulled myself away from the window and finally got some sleep. This really did mess with me from time to time, though. I would think it was incredibly early still because it was so bright out, but I loved it. I still felt refreshed and awake at 9:30pm.
I had a truly amazing time, and I feel like I have a Swedish family now! I love it! I have to send a special shoutout to these two wonderful people! Lina’s parents let me stay at their house, ride in their car and share meals with them. They made me feel welcome in their home, shared stories and laughs with me and I could not be more grateful for the two of them!
So, here it is, a brief introduction to my month in Sweden. Welcome, and I hope you enjoy your visit!