I went to Sweden for about 10 days in June. It was subtly amazing. It had the appearance of home, yet the attitude of someplace else. Now, the story of Sweden is somewhat of a crazy one. So here it is:
In April, I decided that for several reasons, I was going insane. I couldn't get away from some things and couldn't find others. I felt like I was losing a sense of who I was and where I was going. So one night, around midnight, I got onto a travel website and bought a ticket to Sweden. For no reason whatsoever. I began to hyperventilate because this is not something I would do. Ever.
I had met a family online several months before and spoke over Skype frequently, but we had never formally met. And the next thing I knew, I was asking if I could stay with them when I arrived in June. My friends and family were excited about this. I was doing something truly exciting. Little did they know I was scared out of my mind. What was I thinking going to a foreign country, planning to stay with people I had never met? My only fear that I could process at that point was they weren't going to be at the airport when I landed.
The morning of the flight, I was proud: I only threw up once before getting on. I was nervous and what made it worse was that I sat next to a guy that did not understand the concept of sleeping through the night. Instead he watched comedies all evening, laughing and tapping his foot. When we landed in Sweden, I turned to the other man sitting next to me, relieved, and said "we made it!" He grabbed my hand, smiled and laughed a little. He was going home, but he knew I had never been before. That was my first welcome into Sweden: comforting and promising.
I can't say enough wonderful things about the Lindqvist family. Their friendliness and hospitality goes beyond that of anything I've ever known. Their extended family and friends were even welcoming and accommodating. I could not believe how willing people were to speak English, since I spoke no Swedish. It was like I became part of their family. My--I still have the bracelet you made me, and I get lots of compliments. I have the pictures the kids made me hanging in my room.
Things that stood out/I enjoyed/was amused by:
1. I got to see a Swedish Midsommer. By far the best ever.
This is me dancing around the Midsommer pole:
This is the Midsommer wreath that someone made me. It was BEAUTIFUL:
2. I was excited to go home. Sometimes you miss strange things because that's what you're used to. Upon arriving in the US, I sent a friend a picture of the sign just outside of customs that said "Welcome to New Jersey." Underneath I wrote "it should say: Welcome to New Jersey: Where no one is nice, it's always dirty and it always smells like McDonald's." Their response? "Welcome home :)"
3. I forced myself to be on limited internet and had no phone while I was there. It felt good. Really good.
4. When I got home, I had to remember Americans don't use the centigrade system. I spent 10 days trying to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius. And now, I had to convert Celsius into Fahrenheit. Go figure.
5. The more I talked about Minnesota, the more I didn't understand how I could live there compared to Sweden.
6. The liquor stores are fancy, and Swedish people are amused that American liquor stores are so sketchy.
7. I got to use the macro part of my camera!
8. Everything is cleaner, happier, more open minded, and land is under developed in Sweden.
9. Playing games with a large group of people, even if they're as simple as Uno, really is a lot more fun than most other things. But I don't want to sit next to Sofia again during games.
10. I don't know how those people stay thin; candy was utterly inescapable.
11. In Sweden, it's apparently acceptable for military bands to play Abba songs at a military ceremony.
12. Sweden nice puts Minnesota nice to shame.