Recently I went with my host mom to the Island Öland. This is where she was raised since she was 10 and her parents still live there. Öland is acrossed from Kalmar on the mainland. There is a bridge connecting them and to get from Kalmar to Färjestaden takes about 20 minutes. My host mom’s parents lived in Färjestaden. Kalmar and Öland both have a lot of history. Kalmar is an old city and used to be enclosed by a wall and has a castle that was built by the king of Sweden in the 17th Century. Thats older than the United States! Since Öland borders Kalmar and the East Coast of Sweden it was used often during the wars of that time. Multiple ships has sunk in the Baltic sea on the East Coast of Öland.
On the island Öland there are great huge grain mills that were powered by the wind. They look like old fashion wind mills but you actually grind your grain in them. They are placed randomly through out the island. There are also viking grave sites and a wall that built 400 years by a king that wanted to keep all the game in the southern part of the island so he could hunt it. Öland is definitely a farming island. Although a lot of farmers have left because they can not make a living off of it. It is also a haven for people to go to during the summer. There are tons of summer houses, including the Skarsgård’s family summer house in a little town by Färjestaden.
My host mom’s parents lived on a cute little farm that they renovated to make it look historical along with modern day appliances like electricity and running water. Along with there house, there are stables, pig houses, a chicken coop and another little cottage where my host parents used to live. On the stables that surround the house there is a thatched roof that they made they put on them after they moved in. It looks like a typical swedish home and is adorable!
On my first day my host mom and I went into the city of Kalmar and saw the city. We had a fika at this historical cafe, went to a museum about a historical ship that sunk on the coast of Öland, and I met with my friend Abby from Michigan who is also on exchange in Sweden. I thought Kalmar was beautiful! It is so beautiful and historic with an old cathedral, old and taken care of buildings, a castle, and the cobblestone roads.
On the second day there my host mom and her dad took me to see the southern part of Öland in his 1975 Jaguar. On the way down to the tip we drove on the east side of the Island in hopes that I could see The Baltic Sea on the drive down, but it was awfully foggy that day and we could barely see right in front of us. But the drive was still nice. Since I live in a metropolitan area in Sweden it was nice to see the countryside of Sweden. Öland is really similar to back where I live in the states. There is no major place close to us but there are little towns and communities who have there own personality. We made it to the tip of the Island where a bunch of people were bird watching. We came in the time where a certain bird is flying back to Africa and stops in Öland. There we had a fika and I saw the Baltic Sea for the first time. For somebody who lives in the midwest and does not see the ocean often, it was a big deal for me. After we had a fika and sat an talked for a while and then we headed back and made it home right as the sun was setting.
On the third day my host mom took me to see the middle northern part of Öland. We drove through a lot of little towns and communities and she showed me where she used to go and hang out with her friends when she lived there. We also went for a morning walk around her parents farm. The day started off like the one before; cloudy and foggy but it cleared up and was a pretty day by one in the afternoon.
On both days we saw forts and castles on the island. The first day we went to a fort that was excavated and then rebuilt to show what was once there. There was a small part of the fort that was the original but not very much. The second day we went to where a fort would have been but it obviously deteriorated since it was from 700 A.D. On the second day we also saw a castle. My host mom told me that there was a fire so the inside of it was destroyed so now its like an outdoor theater where they have concerts and plays. Öland is mainly flat, but this castle was perched on top of a hill.
This weekend trip to Öland was quite enjoyable. I loved it being relaxed and calm. I didn’t have a placeI had to be all day and we took the day as it came. I love seeing where my host mom came from and she was so comfortable here. I loved spending the quality time with her and I am so grateful that she took me. Her and her parents are wonderful people and I am so grateful that I got to meet them and live with her.
With it being October 7th it is also my two month anniversary of being in Sweden. Two months ago, on August 7th I arrived with an adventure set out in front of me. Two months ago October seemed so far away. I imagined what it will be like to be familiar with this new and exciting place. To know my way around Lerum, Gothenburg (sorta), and Borås. It’s safe to say that for the first two weeks I was here is all a daze. So much stimulation. Meeting new people, seeing new things, and hearing a new language can be exhausting. When I look back on these two months and try to remember it is difficult. I have to look back on pictures i took or Snapchats I saved to see what I did that day. It is crazy on how looking back on pictures helps you remember things.
With it also being two months in my exchange, and living in a Scandinavian country is the inevitable arrival of Autumn, or in swedish Höst. Personally, Autumn in my favorite season. I love Autumn in Southern Illinois, but Autumn in Sweden definitely has a place in my heart. The way the leaves changed on the trees so quickly is amazing. On the ground there are piles of leaves, but yet there are still leaves on the trees. The air here is chilly and refreshing. It is the perfect weather. However, with the coming of Autumn also comes shorter days and the reminder of winter. Cold, rainy, and dark winter. Since I live in Southern Sweden instead of getting snow we will probably get slush and ice, which is not that different from back in the States.
Now that I have been for two months I have started (slowly but surely) to pick up the language. Sometimes I can understand arguments between people, and I can survive small talk. In school though, I still have no idea what goes on. Along with being here for two months I have mastered short cuts to get to school, the train stations, Bronte’s house, and have started to venture out of Central Station and Nordstan in Gothenburg. I have also gone shopping, came to the harsh truth that europeans are just smaller than Americans, and that I should really take my dad’s advice and try EVERYTHING on.
As the two month mark closing in, and I embark on the third month of exchange I have a checklist of goals or things I want to do.
First- Let go of home in the states. Throughout these first two months I have had a lot of contact with my friends back home. It has not necessarily made me homesick, but I have found myself being upset or worried about stuff that happens there that I can not change or help. Since I have spent time here and worried about things back home that I have missed out on time to enjoy Sweden and this once in a lifetime chance.
Second- To make it farther in the language. Hopefully in this next coming month I will be able to order in Swedish, and hold small conversations. Maybe even get a small grasp on what the teachers are talking about in school.
Third- To Travel more of Sweden. In this next coming month I would like to see more of Sweden and maybe more of Scandinavia. This weekend I am going to the island Öland with my host mom. There I
will see where she grew up, my families summer house, and the villages and city Kelmar.
I hope by the end of the following month I have accomplished these goals. These first two months have certainly been a learning experience. It is hard to believe that I only have around 9 1/2 months left. It sounds like a long time, but also short. When I got here, I had 11 months and my year had just started. Now two months in, and I am ready to let go of my life back in the USA and start it in Sweden.2nd Month Update- Autumn (Höst) Arrives With it being October 7th it is also my two month anniversary of being in Sweden. Two months ago, on August 7th I arrived with an adventure set out in front of me.