Sunday, February 27, 2011

As promised, here is part two.

I humbly believe that there comes a point in time where most people take a good, hard look at who they are. One examines their role in others lives, how one sees themselves compared to others, how one has or has not changed when compared to an earlier point. Well, I reached that particular junction in late January.
Being an exchange student is more than living in another culture, learning a different language, trying new foods. It’s also about making friends, keeping friends, having new families, and keeping your old family. It is about change. It’s also a struggle to hold on to your identity.
I was confident in my identity when I arrived. I was a studious, headstrong, and quiet. Nobody here knew that about me. My first host family knew a little because I had written them a letter of introduction. But as the months went by, I changed. Sometimes, it was a crazy change. I tried being someone utterly different several times. But those visages were not who I am. Since I didn’t know anyone, and nobody knew me, I got a great deal of freedom. I received plenty of wiggle room to try things and not feel embarrassed or judged. I dyed my hair red. I went out more often with friends. I began to feel more comfortable in my skin.
But I lost some pieces. That quiet side? She’s still there: In the back of my mind, at least. She comes out every once in a while, but not as often. I found I can be outspoken in strange situations. It’s one thing to be loquacious among friends, but in my mind, it’s a separate situation to be loquacious in front of strangers. That side of me who kept her hair done up tight? She’s fading as well. She is being replaced with someone more wildly. I still know when enough is enough, but the wild side has made her debut.
I find too that I’m forgetting some of my English. As I’m writing this, I’ve had to utilize spell check more than I used to. I’ll look at something as call it by its Swedish name without thinking about it. I nearly had to look in a dictionary to double check the spelling of the word, ‘thrive.’ So, when I’m back in Canada and I begin talking in the wrong language, bear with me, I’m probably still trying to readjust to English.
With that, my long suffering ladies and gentlemen, I conclude the long awaited ‘Part 2’.

In other news, my school orchestra has performed once again. We played Pirates of the Caribbean (same version from Grade 11, but with violins and cellos, and string basses), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Danse Macabre, Hungarian Sketches, Rondo in G, and the Merchant of Venice.
My host sister, Ulrika, and I went to a self-defence course. It was really cool. Painful, of course, but fun.
Currently, my host family will move in August to Shanghai for about a year. It is a work related move. My host dad is leaving for Shanghai tomorrow so he can start working. Soon, it will be just my host mom, sister, and brother living here. I’m going to miss my host dad; regardless of the fact that we’ve only lived together for about a month.
I met the newbies. They are the new exchange students. Three are from Australia and one is from Brazil. In a way, they remind me of how I felt when I first arrived: full of questions and excitement. They seem like very decent people. I hope that they have a good year.

Så nu, jag tror att jag har ingenting annat att säger. Men, jag hoppas att alla ni hade en bra vinter, och om det var inte, bara minna, vår kommer att snart. Förstå ni? :D

Hej då!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Of Dates and Time

First off, I know that I said there would be a second part to the last blog. I'm working on it, but it needs time. I refuse to talk about something really important to me, on the internet, without taking time to actually edit, revise, proofread, and edit again. Therefore, I crave your indulgence. It's on the way, it just needs time.

I received an email from my (well, technically, District 5360's) travel agent. If anyone is curious, I have the time when I'm coming back to Calgary.

3:55 PM, Saturday, July 23
Calgary Intl. Airport
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Har en bra dag!

Friday, January 21, 2011

January Items...

Januray 21st. Maybe that date isn’t symbolic in and of itself, but it does mean something rather important to me. I’m almost at the half way mark. How scary is that, ladies and gentlemen? Nearly half a year has gone by. In those precious six months, everyone has gone on with their lives. Some have started university, some have found new jobs. Some people finished school, some stopped working. Some went home, and others stayed. So this blog is going to be in two parts: Part the first will be a recollection of some of the major event in January; Part the Second will be shorter.
Part the First: Events
So New Years, first and foremost. In Sweden, there exists a law that prohibits the lighting of fireworks in city limits. But on New Year’s Eve... The police will look the other way. Or down in this case. Starting at around eight o’clock in the evening, there were fireworks. People were lighting them in their back yards. At midnight? It was madness. I was at a friend’s house, welcoming the new year with her and a couple of her friends and some loud music. Five minutes to midnight, we went out of doors and launched our own fireworks. By that time, the entire night sky was lit up. It was one of the most breath-taking moments in my entire life. I left soon afterwards to catch the last bus home. And the fireworks were still going up.
School started again. It is my humble opinion that no matter where you come from, no matter how awesome the school system may be, school is still a prelude to purgatory. Don’t get me wrong, the people in my school are awesome! Fantastic! There must be a little angel sitting on my shoulder making sure I end up with wonderful people, because the people in my class are nicer than I had ever hoped for. My schedule as well is fantastic! But only after I stepped in and said, “Look: I’m not a regular stream student. I don’t need to pass. If I didn’t feel like it, I wouldn’t be in school. Yet, I do want to be here. So can I have a better schedule, please?” It took a little time, but I have more classes that are outside of science. I hope. I’m waiting for the teacher of my history and social studies class to give the go ahead, but other than that, my schedule is better. But I still despise early mornings. And 45% of the time, I don’t understand what’s happening in my classes. So school still sucks. Particularly after a two week break. But it’s better.
The Aussies went home. I wasn’t close to any of them really, but regardless, I will miss them.
In return, we are getting four new two students, three from Australia and one from Brazil. Hopefully they’ll be fine.
I also changed host families. I live now in an apartment downtown. My window overlooks the river and I get to watch the ferries come sailing in and out. I have a new host sister, Ulrika, and a new younger host brother, Erik. I have a new host mom, Katarina, and a new host dad, Jerker (The ‘j’ is not pronounced). All in all: life is good. But it was hard leaving my first host family. You know, I got a little attached. More than a little. I won’t go into details here. Permit me just to say that it was very hard to say goodbye.
So that’s the month of January as it stands now.
Everyone: Stay warm! And Take Care!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas! Jul!

So now, nu ska vi ser. We are in the charming month of January now. This is the best time to get out of the house, go for a walk, do a little shopping, spend time with family/host family, and relax now that the craziest time of the year is past. Christmas!! Yes, that time of year has now come and gone. But the run up to that event was fantastic!
The first Christmas event was Lucia. Lucia was an Italian Saint. No one really knows how she came to be in Sweden, but the why and how is no longer important. What is important is Lucia brings with her. Every December 13th, she comes. In her procession, her handmaids carry candles with flowers woven into their hair. The boys join in as well, wearing wizard’s hats with stars on them. All of them are singing traditional Swedish Christmas and Lucia songs. But the Lucia herself is a sight to behold. Lucia wears a white robe with a red sash. She has candles in her hair. She marks the ending of winter, and the return of spring. It is not Christmas unless Lucia is here. My school put on a Lucia play. I think it was about a girl, Lucia, who needed to find people for her procession. Once the play was over, the Lucia Train began. They sang the most beautiful songs that I have ever heard. Most of the songs were new to me, and I didn’t understand them, but they were beautiful none-the-less.
Christmas in Sweden is huge. Göteborg was decorated to the nines. Most of the streets are covered in decorative lights. Liseberg, the amusement park, has reopened its doors to allow everyone in to see their Christmas lights. I went there with a few of my friends one winter night, and I must say, it was a beautiful sight! Some of the trees were covered with lights, the tower near the centre had lights that stretched over it, and had a three dimensional star crowning it. It was a wonderful adventure, made more so by the people I was with. XD
In each house window there is another set of lights, a candle stand, if you will. The shape of it is terraced, holding about four candles on each side, with one more candle sitting on the top. Nowadays, these use electric lights. You can buy them in any department store. Every home has one. I mean EVERY home. Late at night, when I’m walking home, in apartment windows, house windows, business office windows, every single window, has one of these. Göteborg is full of light this Christmas, and everyone is in on it!
On the 23rd, Karin, Thomas, Maja, and I left for the summer house. We celebrated Christmas there along with Karin’s family. Thomas’ mother also came and spent two nights with us. She is a wonderful lady. So, on the 24th, we celebrated Christmas. The day opened with a quiet breakfast and a quiet morning until we went down to Binnie and Göran’s house for lunch. We had rice pudding and some soup. We went back to my family’s house to watch Kalle Anka. Or, Donald Duck, if you speak English. Yes, a long standing Christmas tradition is to watch Donald Duck’s Christmas at 3:00pm sharp. It was a minor shock to watch it in Swedish. But an even bigger shock that I understood it, and that everyone was watching it. Yes, Donald Duck it taken very seriously here. IT IS NOT CHRISTMAS WITHOUT DONALD DUCK. After that, we went back to Binnie and Göran’s for dinner.
Onto the next, and best, part of Christmas: FOOD! (Cue the song from Oliver!, Food Glorious Food. ) Traditional Christmas foods are: Pepporkaka (Gingerbread), Luciabulla (it’s a bun made with saffron in it, so it’s a beautiful golden color), and Smörgåsbord (Also known as smorgasbord). In a traditional Smörgåsbord, there are two tables, one for cold food, and the other for warm food. The food consists of meatballs, small sausages, Jacob’s Temptation (made of potatoes and anchovies), herring (sill) of different kinds, salmon raw and marinated, smiked salmon, shellfish, Christmas ham, bread, eggs, cheese, pig ribs, brown cabbage, and knäcke bread. All of which are so divine!! Most of the food was brought in by family, but major thanks to Binnie and Göran, my host grandparents, and Karin, who baked the cookies and the Jacobs Temptation. To drink: Julmust. The taste resembles Coca-Cola, but it is not Coca-Cola.
After dinner, we went back to my house and opened Christmas gifts. I gave to Maja and Thomas some Canadian T-shirts. To Karin, I gave a Sarah Mclachlan CD. The gifts that I received included some books, a sweater, coffee, and candle holders. To those who gave me anything, your kindness really touched my heart. I could never repay your kindness. Thank you.

God Bless everyone reading this, and have a Merry (albeit LATE) Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Thanksgiving is the biggest holiday of the United States of America. In my district here, most of the exchange students are from the States. Guess what we had on December the 4th? Thanksgiving!!
David arranged it, Kendra hosted, and it was amazing! First question that I can hear: Why December the 4th? That’s not Thanksgiving! Yes, I know. But the planning started about five days before the American’s Thanksgiving, so this was the compromise. Second question: Did you have turkey?? No. No one here really has the skills required to cook a turkey. Again, we compromised. Kendra made tacos, and the rest of us brought something, cider, pie, cookies, anything.
So who went to this? Sarah and I completely missed ours in October, so we definitely there! The Aussies showed up, and just about everyone in our district and the one above us! Bria (Texas) is from the other district so she stayed the night at my place. We didn’t do too much: played some card games, talked a lot, relived language week, all that jazz. It was an awesome night!
Bria, Surya, and I didn’t get home until 1:00am, we were having that much fun! Oh, yes! Bria and Surya stayed the night at my place! Bria is one of my friends from language camp and she and I are really good friends! A few weeks before, she asked to stay at my place for the weekend as she was coming down for a visit. Thanksgiving happened to be at the same time, so of course, we were there! Surya’s host family was going out for the weekend, and Rotary doesn’t really like it if we spend the night alone. Therefore, she asked to spend the night at my place. Slumber party! And Thanksgiving! All-in-all, a great weekend! XD

So to everyone reading this: Happy Belated Thanksgiving!! XD

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Traveling Around

Once upon a time, or two weekends ago, I went on a trip with my host family. We went to a warm place, 15°C warm. The restaurants were open late, the population was loud at 2:00am, and the main spoken language was Spanish. Can you guess where I was?
Yeah, peeps, I was in Barcelona! With my host family! For four days! It was EPIC!! Words cannot describe how amazing this adventure was, but I think the sheer amount of pictures that I took, could.
So the sights: La Ramblas; Sagrada Familia, a massive basilica designed by Gaudi; a massive park, designed by Gaudi; the Olympic Stadium; the Columbus Monument; and penalty more!
Day 1: Our plane landed in the afternoon and we dropped off all our bags at the hotel and away into the city we went. Well, then again, our hotel is in the city, so we didn’t have to go far. We started in La Ramblas. The walking street. Outdoor vendors, live statues, birds and flowers for sale, painters, for 20 euros, you could have your picture drawn. I was in awe! We then went to see the Columbus Monument, and wandered into the Gothic Quarter. The Gothic Quarter is the oldest part of Barcelona, at least 2000 years. After we found a restaurant, and went back to the hotel.
Day 2: Gaudi day! Gaudi is a very famous architect here who designed several buildings which are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So we went to see Sagrada Familia, and the Gaudi apartment. Words cannot really describe either, so I will let the pictures do so. I went back to the hotel late afternoon, rested for a bit, and went off again in the evening for dinner and another wander of the Gothic Quarter with my host family!
Day 3: I did the most touristy thing in my life with my host family that day. We bought tickets for the tour bus. We spent a day on the bus, getting off when we wanted and when we were ready to go on again, we hopped back on the bus again. That was the best way to see the city, I think. We got off at the Gaudi Park, spent the morning and some of the afternoon there. After we went to the Olympic Stadium, and took a good look around. By then, it was evening so we started looking for a restaurant.
Day 4: We packed our bags and spent what little time we had left shopping. Well, Thomas, Karin, and Maja went shopping. I took one final walk down La Ramblas. I stopped at a tourist shop and bought two key chains and a fan. They are currently sitting in my room; the key chains are waiting to be sewn onto my Rotary Blazer. XD Oh, and some chocolate typical of Barcelona. Chocolate covered almonds. To die for!! XD Afterwards, we all got back to the hotel and piled into the waiting taxi and went home.
I want to go back!! It was so much fun being with my host family and getting to know them better! I will forever be in my host family’s debt for this trip! XD

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I'm a moron. In the last blog, I completely forgot to post an upcoming/ongoing event now: A musical. Hvitfeldska is putting on a musical called, "Patience." Patience is about this person, Bunthorn, who needs to find a wife. Patience is a girl who struggles to understand what love is and who should she love: Bunthorn, a poet, or Archibald, her childhood friend. In the words of Kendra, who watched it during a rehearsal, its like a high school drama... But in the style of of Jane Austin. I'm not acting in it (Damn!), but I do get to be in it. By virtue of being the only oboist in the school, I got a first class ticket in the the orchestra. I'm not complaining, in fact, I'm really happy! It is such an awesome experience to play in an opera! We are led by the ever so talented, Peter! Peter a few years ago was in Banff, studying at the Fine Arts School there. And the actors are led by Martin, the band director, not conductor. We performed twice already; Thursday and last night. Felix (Taiwan) and my second host family came to see it last night. It was so nice of them to come see it! And!! They gave me a rose after wards! They are such sweet people! XD

IT SNOWED!! Late November, and the snow decides that it's time to put in a permanent appearance! I cannot believe that I'm saying this, but I missed snow. A lot. I'm watching the birds fly through the air and sit on the trees. I'm listening to the still silence of the outside... punctuated with the music of Halo and Bullet for my Valentine. XD

So that's all I have for this really short update!

Hej Då!