Thursday, February 13, 2014

Exciting stuff to come!

So, now that I am all settled, don't wander around Karlstad like a lost puppy since I somewhat know my way around, have a rough idea of my class schedule for the rest of the semester, and have (kinda sorta not really) narrowed down what I would like to see during my time in Europe, I have begun to make plans for travel! Sorry for the run-on sentence. While you already know about London (eeee!), the newest additions include Oslo (next weekend!), Berlin and Prague for Easter Break (with maybe a few days in Copenhagen), and (most likely) a cruise to St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Riga. Not to say that is where the list ends, but those are the travels I am pretty confident in.

My family is officially coming in the very end of May, and I am already to excited to show them around and see their reactions to all of the little culture differences that I will have (hopefully) grown used to! I am so lucky to have family that is so supportive of what I am doing and that wants to join me on my crazy adventure here, if only for a couple of weeks. I would be lying if I said that I am not jealous of how easy it is for most of the other exchange students' friends and family to visit. Not to mention casually getting sent care packages. I guess this is the reality of living on a different continent! I am quickly realizing that besides the snow,  Sweden doesn't have much at all in common with home. I am enjoying that, but there are definitely days where I wish I could hop in my car with my sister and go have Starbucks while shopping at Target. It really is the little things.

While I do have a leg up as far as classes go since English is my first (and only fluent) language, it is sometimes tricky. There has been times when I am in a room with two people speaking spanish to each other and two people speaking german. I honestly don't even know what to do in those situations, it is really a peculiar place to be. Honestly, it feels lonely sometimes because it is as if everyone else has a secret language with each other but me. While I have never needed to use another language and it isn't really necessary within a 3000 mile radius from my home, it makes me feel kind of stupid. I almost feel guilty, like I expect everyone to know my language while I don't care enough to learn theirs.

Which is completely untrue, and I am so impressed with how well everyone speaks english as their second language. I can't imagine how exhausting and brain strenuous it must be, and I totally understand why they take the opportunity to speak their mother tongue whenever they get the chance. I remember when I studied abroad in France, after living with a family for a week without using english, how amazing and effortless it felt to speak my mother tongue when I was reunited with my classmates. I know it will only get better as the semester goes on, and I love helping my fellow international students out, if it were me I know I would really appreciate it.

Now that all the depressing stuff is out, I would like to share some highlights of my week! On thursday, I had my first day as a nanny. It was very nice, the kids are so cute and polite and eager to improve their english, I was amazed. We spent most of the time doing puzzles and singing along to Pitch Perfect. I can't wait for the weather to be nicer so we can play outside instead. On Friday, a huge group of us went to the mega club Noyesfabriken, and it was really fun! It was beautiful, with lots of chandeliers, and the music wasn't all electronic for once, which is a good thing in my opinion-ha! I like to sing along, ok? On Saturday, a group of us got together and planned the Oslo trip over a nice fika. and attended the closing ceremony of the Swedish Rally (a car race) in town square afterward.

On Sunday, I met with my host family and we explored the Varmlands Museum and art gallery (Varmland is the region of Sweden where Karlstad is). Afterwards, we went walking along the river, and, even though it was a cloudy day, I got some beautiful pictures of the city. I can't even imagine how stunning it will be once the snow melts (which is beginning to  happen already!). I have never had spring fever this bad, even though this winter has been mild, the potential of all the water activities excites me! Where I live, going across town to ride on a ferry or go kayaking is not possible, and I think it will be so fun. I want the "sunniest city in Sweden" to prove live up to its nickname!

Here are some of the pictures I took on Sunday:

Until next time.. <3

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