Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'm Finally Here!!!

Yep, you read it, I am in Sweden!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It has been sort of chaotic the past few days, so I will break it down day by day.

Friday, 29th of July
This was the day I was originally supposed to arrive in Sweden, but because of the visa trouble, I was still sitting at home in Colorado. Finally tired of waiting for the email from the embassy, I called them around nine o'clock in the morning. They looked up my file and said 'Oh, your visa was approved two days ago, I'm not sure why we never emailed you.' As you can guess, this really pissed me off, because it meant that I could have left on time, but oh well, there is nothing I can do. Anyway, they emailed the visa acceptance to me right away, and I forwarded it to my travel agent so she could make the flight arrangements. The problem is, my travel agent never got back in touch with me, even after I sent two emails asking if she had gotten my information. So finally I called her and it turns out she never saw my emails. But because she felt bad for missing them, she stayed late and arranged my flights for me, for the next day. After everything was arranged, my friends Carli and Anna came over to help me finish packing and cleaning out my room and such. We messed around for a couple of hours then they went to sleep. I managed about 30 minutes, but then I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep, so I just stayed up.

Saturday, 30th of July
Carli, a stuffed bear, me, my dad
and Anna
My mom, dad, Anna, Carli and I drove up to the local airport around 11:00am. We were early, but it was a good thing, because there was some trouble figuring out how to get my bags to Göteborg without haven't to pick them up and re-check them in Denver. But we figured it out then spent a little while messing around and saying good bye. My plane boarded at 12:30 so we all said our goodbyes. I only cried a little bit, but then I boarded the plane quickly afterwards so it wasn't too bad.

My first flight was just one hour from my town to Denver. It was fast and easy, no trouble at all. At the Denver airport I had to take a train from one part of the airport to another, but I figured it out easily and got to the terminal with three and a half hours to spare. Because I was tired and nervous, I didn't wander around very much, and mostly just sat there and waited.

The flight from Denver to Frankfurt was absolutely terrible. There were four seats across, a guy sat on either aisle and no one had the seat next to me, so I thought that it would be a good flight. I chatted with the guy next to me for a little while but then we both fell asleep. I woke up about 45 minutes later with a migraine. I brought my migraine medicine with me on the plane, but it was in the overhead bin which I was too small to reach so I just tried to sleep. I couldn't eat any of the dinner because I felt sick and about eight hours into the flight I threw up.

Sunday, 31st of July
My flight landed in Frankfurt at 11:00 and my next flight didn't leave until 17:00 so I was left to wander through the airport for six hours. I would have liked to wander around the airport a bit but at this point I had slept a total of six hours in the past 46 hours, and I spoke minimal German, so after getting lost and having multiple people refuse to help me because I couldn't speak German very well, I was about to break down. At the Frankfurt airport they only post your gate number about an hour and a half before your flight takes off, so you just have to stay around the flight board until your gate pops up. There aren't many chairs there, so when I got one, I didn't get up until my flight came onto the board about five hours later. I slept a little, but it was loud, bright and uncomfortable so it wasn't very good sleep. Most of the time I just people watched or spaced out.

The flight to Göteborg was very nice. It was a medium sized plane but there were not very many people on it. I had a window seat and a guy and his daughter who was about three sat next to me. There is one thing that I learned on this flight: The little boy behind you speaking German is completely adorable, until he starts shouting and kicking the back of your seat. However, the little girl speaking Swedish next to you is always adorable especially when she starts singing Swedish children's songs to you.

Magnus, Me, Axel, Anna and Oskar
(yes I realize I'm short)
In the Göteborg Airport it was surprisingly easy to get all of my bags, and since I did my passport and visa stuff in Germany, I didn't have to deal with it there. My host mom, dad, and two of my brothers met me in the airport. I was worried that it would be awkward, but I was actually really comfortable with them. We drove to their house, they showed me around, we had steaks for dinner, I met their older son Johan, Anna (my host mom) and I took a walk with the dogs around the neighborhood, and then I passed out.

I am going to write more tomorrow about my first day, the summer house and touring Göteborg with Johan, but right now I need to sleep.

Hej då!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Possible Delayed Departure and Packing

So... There is now four days until my departure date (well, actually three considering it's 00:05 right now) and I have a couple of things to talk about.

First: Visa Trouble
I have still yet to hear from the Swedish Embassy. The visa office is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, meaning if I don't hear from them tomorrow, my departure date will be pushed back a couple of days. I am supposed to be in Sweden by August first, so hopefully it will only be pushed back by three days, but it is possible that it could be pushed back even more than that. Because the embassy changed their policy on July 1st and they don't have time to figure it out, instead of sending me a visa, all they have to do is email me a letter saying that I can get my visa when I get to Sweden, so I am rather angry that it takes them this long to send me an email, but there is nothing I can do about it.

My four suitcases

Second: PACKING!!! 
My larger suitcase
Okay, so packing really worried me, because I tend to over pack and I had no idea  what to bring, but it was actually much easier than I expected it to be. At this moment, my bags are completely packed and the only things I need to add when I leave are my laptop and my camera. I do have to tell you that it is a strange feeling to have your life packed away into four bags. I am checking two bags (the two red ones) and I will carry on a small suitcase and a backpack. The smaller checked bag is about forty pounds and the bigger checked bag is about forty eight pounds. They are samsonite brand and the collection is some sort of fancy ultra light so they actually weigh less than my carry on. I am allowed fifty proud, so I am pretty proud of myself for this pack feat.
My smaller suitcase
Inside the bigger case is most of my clothes and toiletries with a couple of host family gifts. Inside of the smaller checked bag is almost all host family gifts and toiletries with a few days worth of clothes, just in case my other bag gets lost. Also, as you can see in the picture to the left, I have a ton of candy, and nooo it's not just my extreme sweet tooth (though, I do have a major sweet tooth) I am bringing a lot of it to show the Swedes what American candy is. And, yes, I am bringing Swedish fish, which are actually not Swedish at all, but American.

Part Three: Host Family Gifts!
For those of you not familiar with exchanges, it is customary to give each of your host families some gifts and things from your country. I'm bringing quite a few host family gifts, because I will have a lot of siblings while I am there. Here is a list of what I'm bringing: (if any of my host family members stumble across this, please don't read this unless you want your surprise to be ruined.

First Family:
Dad - Mug with Colorado map
Mom - Mug with Columbine (Colorado's Flower)
Dad and Mom - Matted photo my father took of a lake near where I was born
Johan (18) - Colorado themed T-shirt
Axel (16) - Colorado themed T-shirt + hat
Oskar (12) - Colorado Avalanche shirt
And a nerf flag football set, so I can try to teach them football (even though I've never played)

Second Family:
Dad - Mug with Colorado map
Mom - Mug with cute bear on it
Dad and Mom - Matted photo my father took of my town
Ellen (16) - Mickey Mouse t-shirt
Kristian (14) - Colorado Rockies shirt
Martin (9) - Colorado Avalanche shirt
And a game of Twister

Third Family:
Dad - Mug with my town's train on it
Mom - Mug with local flowers on it
Dad and Mom - Matted photo of a valley near my house
Fredrik (18) - Colorado themed shirt
Patrik (16) - Colorado themed shirt

I'm also bringing a lot of American candies, Swedish Fish, two rubiks cubes, two other photos my father took to give to Rotary members, brochures from my area, powered chili, and a soap/lotion set made in my town. There are a couple of other things, but I can't think of them at the moment.

Part Four: School!

Hvitfeldtska Gymnasiet
 I also now have a host school! At first I was going to attend was Vittra Vasastan. That school had a facebook page with a whoooole bunch of pictures and videos with lots of them being of musical performances by the students, but in the videos, most of the students were not all that talented. A couple of weeks after I was told I would go to Vittra, my host father emailed me and told me that because Vittra was mainly a self directed learning school, and I don't speak Swedish very well, it might not be the best match for me. Instead, I will attend Hvitfeldtska Gymnasiet and I will be in the music/esthetic program. A cool thing about Hvitfeldtska (besides the fact that I have no idea how to pronounce it) is that is much older than the United States. It was founded by Queen Christina in 1647. It is just so amazing to me that it is that old!

Vee and I in our Rotary Blazers on my back deck

Monday, July 18, 2011


Alright, so I haven't really blogged in the past month. Since my last post, not to many interesting things have happened. My short-term residency permit application is at the Swedish embassy and I should hear back from them soon. Hopefully, at least, if I don't hear within about a week or so, I will have to push my departure date back, which I really, really, really don't want to do. I don't have my flight itinerary yet either, and I won't get it until I get my visa.

Vee and our dog Max
In other news: Vee left to go back to Thailand yesterday. I'm not sure if she has landed in Bangkok yet, the time difference makes it hard for me to figure it out. We had to get up at four in the morning to get her to the local airport, which is about half an hour from my house. The roads were completely empty, that is except for the bear we almost hit on the highway. It was perfect for Vee, because seeing a bear was one of the few things she wanted to do here but didn't get a chance.

At the Airport we had to wait in the line to check her bags for about half an hour because our airport is tiny has one check in station. Luckily her bags were in the weight requirement so it didn't take too long. After we checked her in, we sort of just stood there in front of security saying goodbye. We all cried a little, but I managed to keep myself from crying too much until we got to the car.

Going Away Party!

Carli, Me and Vee
 On Friday, we had our group going away party for Vee going back to Thailand, Me to Sweden and Carli to Romania. It was a simple, just a lot of people hanging around my back deck and chatting, eating burgers and Swedish cookies with soda.

 I recently got a new camera, so I used the party as an opportunity to try it out, or in other words, take a lot of really bad pictures of my friends, such as this one of all of us trying to fit in one picture, but none of us had the energy to actually move.
My group of friends