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!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I keep repeating to myself, “Maggie, work on your Blog! It’s been over a month now since you posted anything and people are probably going to start thinking that you died!” No, I have not died. I’ve just been lazy. Working up the energy to report back home has been difficult, to say the least.
In any exchange, there are several phases: The Honeymoon, The Disillusionment, and the Understanding. IN the Honeymoon phase, everything is epic, amazing, and really cool. The feeling is akin to waking up on Christmas morning. I was never in this stage. I bypassed it straight into Disillusionment. In Disillusionment, everything is terrible. Nothing works out, you don’t understand anything, and little problems seem twice as large. I was there when I got here. Not used to being out of control was really a shocker for me. I think I’m through that stage. Now I’m in the awkward in-between. Understanding is when the culture starts to make sense, the language comes, and life begins to get easier. I’m at the point of in-between. I believe that I’ve left the Disillusionment and am close to being in the Understanding. However, I’ve run out of energy. One evening, I was dizzy and couldn’t right my world. I had food, water, milk, nothing worked. Finally, I went to bed early. That did the trick. Yet, the fact that I pushed my body to that point frightens me a little bit. Does that help to explain perhaps why I’ve been more than a little sluggish on writing this blog?
So where did I leave off? Ah, yes! We were in October!
Varberg was in October. Varberg is a town about forty minutes away by train. For about five days, all the exchange students, except one, were in a hostel getting ready for the Rotary District Conference. There were about twenty-two of us with the building to ourselves. I’m a little surprised nothing bad happened. We did discover a trap door in the main room that led to a disused cellar. We opened it once; we left it shut for the rest of our stay. While we were there, we prepared for our half hour presentation to Rotary. Lead by Alex and Kiara (Both Aussies), we put together a show. John and Sarah played epic piano pieces, Ryu (Japan) did a demonstration of his martial arts. Felix (Taiwan) played a set of pipes from Taiwan while Konatsu (Japan), and Ryu sang a song in Japanese. Ben (Australia) sang a beautiful rendition of Stars from Les Miserables. I sang Defying Gravity from Wicked. As a group, we sang the Swedish National Anthem. Overall, the weekend in Varberg was awesome! I missed seeing all the exchange students. Even though, I’m terrible at being active in group situations, just being with these people was incredibly relaxing.
The next week, October the 21st arrived. It was my eighteenth birthday. My host parents woke me up to sing Ja, må du leva. They gave me two ABBA CD’s, which I’m listening to now, a Dalahäst, and a ticket to see Sunset Boulevard. My host Grandparents sent me a birthday card, as did my Grandfather. Later that evening, I was performing in a concert. The band director, before we started playing, introduced a stand-in bassoon player and me. He said that I was from Canada, and the school’s only oboe player. Year’s before, if the school needed an oboe, they hired a professional to play. I was flatter. Until he went on to that that day was also my birthday. Fan (Swedish swear). We performed; I survived my solos; and went home. It was a good birthday.
Moving on in the month, Jeff (Australia) tried one day to arrange a day in the massive gardens downtown. That didn’t work because it was raining. Instead, we went to the movies. We watched The Social Network. I thought it was a well done film. Afterwards, Taylor and Alex both went home. The rest of us went out for sushi. When we were finished, it was time for Kiara to go home as well. John went home as well. Those of us still there went over to ICA. Arianna, Jeff and I bought pizza. So did everyone else still left. We ran to Jeff’s house, cooked up the pizza’s and watched a Chuck Norris film. It was a good day.
Autumn break came and went. I went with Karin and Maja to Skåne and Köpenham. In other words, I went to the South of Sweden and Copenhagen. Yeah, I was in Copenhagen. And I got pictures. They will be up on FaceBook by the end of the week. Sweden kept on surprising me the whole trip. The land was flat. Almost as flat as my homeland. It was missing mountains, but it had an ocean to make up for it. We went one day to the town of Lund. It’s a university town with a massive cathedral. We probably spent about an hour in the cathedral. Being in there felt like taking a step back in time. That evening we were in Malmö. The next day, Copenhagen! While we were there, we watched the changing of the guard, went through Christiana, climbed the spire of a cathedral, went into the museum of the late queen, walked along the wharf, as that jazz. It was an amazing trip. XD
I discovered over the last two weeks that I can get angry. Usually when people insult me, it just rolls right off. Those kinds of things never really bothered me. But this one time, I really got angry. Someone I had considered a friend, in a backhanded way, made me seem base and as low as an animal. He insulted me big time. Not just me, either. He also insulted one of my other friends here. Yes I was mad. I had never been quite as infuriated as I was then. She and I one night cornered him. We demanded answers. All I wanted was my pound of flesh. I got it. I discovered as well that I can stand up for myself. If I was back in Calgary and this had happened, one of two things could have happened: I would have shoved it under a rug and forgotten about it; or I would have told Matt (older brother), and he would have ‘fixed’ the problem. But this time, I took care of this problem myself. I can forgive, I told him, but I will not forget. Where does this leave us? Right where we started: Strangers. I felt really good after I confronted him. It felt like I had popped a blister and all the pressure is now gone.
To my belief, that’s pretty well all the major events that happened over the last month and a bit.

Take care! And Hej Då!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ramble Ramble!!

Time is the most finicky idea I've encountered to date. One minute, time moves as quick as frozen molasses; the next, it moves with the rushing force of a hunting cheetah. One would think that after a period of waiting, time would go back to normal. It certainly has now. Life had fallen into a rhythm. Wake up; eat some breakfast; run to the bus stop; sit, utterly bored, in class; eat some lunch with my friends; more classes; then live!

After school is the time when I actually feel alive. I can move, fika, talk with people, and do something. As much as I enjoy school, honestly, I go to listen to Swedish, hang out with my friends, and re-teach myself patience. But after this long period of inaction: Life starts.

A week or so ago, I went to a tango class. Now, I know that the tango doesn't even come from Sweden and that some eye-brows were raised when I went to this class. Why not learn folk dance? I can't find it. Maybe, I'm not looking in the right place. Eventually, I'll find it, but until then, I'm with the tango. So anywho: Tango Class. I went into the class with very little expectations. The studio was in the lunchroom of the International School right beside Hvitfeldska. There were two people in the room. One was the male teacher and the other was his partner. He was a patient man. I told him that I was very new to the tango, but I did have some dance experience. So as the rest of the people were trickling into the room, he taught me the most basic moves. And then he passed me off to different partner. That wasn't bad. This elderly man took his time and gave me the time I needed to figure out where to put my feet. XD The third partner I was with was the beginning of the end. He smelt of cigarettes and was huge. Whenever I messed up, he stopped what he was doing, told me what I did wrong in a highly patronizing voice, and then started again. After about half and hour of dancing with this guy with no hope of switching partners, I took my leave of the class. Yeah. I ran. I will try again. But perhaps at a class where there are people closer to my age level. Oh well... New experience: DONE.

I found a cat. A tiny little bag of fur who adores affection and frolicking. I met this cat as I was walking to school. I didn't even leave my street and this little gray shadow comes running out from behind me. This little kitten scared the devil out of me. Thinking of my own cat back in Calgary, I squatted down to pet it. The second this cat starts pawing at my hand, tried to climb my knee, and I felt that he had damp fur, I figured that I was NOT petting an outdoor cat, but a cat that was clearly well loved. The cat also had a collar around its neck. With a phone number inscribed in it. I started kneeling on the ground, held the cat firmly by its collar, and grabbed my cellphone. I let him play with my headphone cord in order to get him to hold still long enough for me to read the phone number. I called up the owner and the kitten climbed up around my neck and sat down. Within five minutes, the owner and her two children came driving up. At that point, I was standing, holding the cat securely in my arms. I returned the cat and headed off for school. I arrived about fifteen minutes late for class (Sorry!!) and with a chewed through headphone cord, but it was worth it. XD

So Fika. As it turns out, it seems that I end up fikaing at least once a week. Or twice in one day. On Wednesday, my class was out all day 'oritenteering'. That's when one is given a map and told to find all the stations, all on the map, and get back to the starting point. One needs to be in gym class, which, unfortunately, I'm not. So, I had a free day. At around lunch, I had fika with David. He was in school, but with a three hour break. Therefore, I suggested that we fika and he agreed. So we had donuts. XP Later that day, I met up with Arianna (Italy). We ended up in a coffee house and were there for about two hours. XD

Last weekend, I stayed over at Surya's (Arizona). Sarah (Ottawa) was also staying over. Her host parents and mine were heading out of town for the weekend. So that night, after supper, Surya and I watched Pan's Labyrinth. Sarah was pretty tried, so her went to bed early. Now, Pan's Labyrinth is a Spanish film. It was spoken in Spanish. We didn't have English subtitles. We had Swedish subtitles. This was a test for the both of us: How much written Swedish do you know after two months? Enough to follow along, it seemed. XD We both enjoyed the film. The next day, Surya and I had a "flop" day. She and I read books, had some tea, and lunch. I borrowed one of Surya's books called, Ransom my Heart by Mag Cabot. Awesome read! Surya read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. XD Another awesome book! Sarah went out shopping with some of her friends from her class. It was so nice to just "flop". XD ("Flop". Surya's word. Not mine. XP)

It's a wonderfully sunny autumn day outside. I think I'll go for a walk. XP

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Of Tastes, Liseberg, and Scents

Part one: Tastes. On Saturday, eighteen exchangers, including myself, went to Hovås. We were given a two hours to learn a little about sea rescues in Sweden. The group was split into two groups. I was with the first group. We boarded the vessel and we backed out of the harbor. This ship had two engines, high horsepower, I don't remember the exact number. Once we were in a little bit more open waters, the captain made the boat move sideways, spin in circles, and then cruise at about 30 knots. Kendra, Sarah, and I stood outside at the bow. When the vessel started moving fast, we were washed in the sea spray. My hands and lips tasted like sea salt.

Afterward, we took the bus back to town. A ticket controller got on the bus and started checking tickets. Alex saw them come on the bus and ninja-ed off it. David, unfortunately, didn't see them come on and got slapped with a 1200 kroner fine. That's about $177.78 American. He didn't go to Liseberg the next day. Neither did Alex

After we arrived back in Gothenburg, John stated that he wanted Thai. Badly. So, away we went in search of a Thai restaurant. We found one. A little hole in the wall that was more like a cave in the ground. The food was good. I had never tried Thai food before. It was really good!

So new tastes: Sea salt and Thai!

Two: Liseberg!! (Pronounced LIS-a-BERRY) Liseberg is the largest amusement park in Scandinavia. It is home to three roller coasters, two drops of doom, a haunted hotel, and a large outdoor concert hall. On Sunday, Liseberg played host to a bunch of exchange students completely giddy about the thought of being in an amusement park. Oh, yeah. It was crazy.

We arrived at Liseberg just as the rain started pouring in earnest. Once John, Gage, and Tom were through the gates, they ran towards the nearest store and bought Liseberg ponchos. They are blue with green rabbits all over. We also meet up with Konatsu, Ryutaro, and Sergio. Ryu was also wearing a Liseberg poncho. XD So, what was the first thing that we did? We went straight for a roller coaster. There were some adrenaline junkies in the group, myself included. There was also a roller coaster that lasts only for 40 seconds, but one starts sitting completely still and then one gets shot off really fast first horizontal and then vertical and back down. O_O It was so AWESOME!!! A wooden roller coaster takes one up a ramp and then back down at a 70 degree angle. O_o I went on that one twice. Before I left, Surya, Martha, Naomi, and I went to a chocolate stall. What one could do was buy a number and a wheel would spin. If the wheel stopped on the number one picked, you win. You win a two kilogram box of miniature Toblerone bars!!! I WON!! A TWO KILOGRAM BOX OF TOBLERONE BARS!!! The four of us spilt up the chocolate as equally as we could, but I kept the box. It's a weird thing to be proud of, but I won!! XD

After Liseberg, I went to mass and had fika after wards with some of the university students staying in Gothenburg. They are a part of a student group called REX. I found about about REX on the internet and thought I would give it a try. It was probably the most intellectual experience I've had to date here in Sweden. XD I'm going again. This is too good an experience to pass up.

Now part three: Scents.

While I was typing up this blog, I have been drinking a cup of tea with some of the tea that Mom packed into my bag. It smells of oranges and butterscotch. Yumm... It is gently mixing with the luxurious scent of white jasmine. Earlier today, I went to a store called Laguerhus. There, I purchased some candles and a candle holder. The candle holder is made of colorless glass, molded into a pond lily. The candles that I purchased to go along with the candle holder are scented. The scent right now is white jasmine. It is calming. I feel as calm as the sea after a storm. I have not felt this way since I have arrived.

For once, it is not raining.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It is now 2:17 in the afternoon. My afternoon classes were cut short for unexplained reasons. So here I am. Alone. In the house. With nothing to do. Again. What's that you say? I should get out of the house? Truly, I would love to. But! It's raining. Again. And it looks like it will rain for a long time. The rain I don't mind, it is the wind that is bothering me. So to fill up time in what would otherwise be a REALLY quiet afternoon (Except for the pounding of the rain), I'm going to write. With my glass of hot chocolate. :)

On Sunday, I had dinner with my host counselor, Per, and his family. It was good. The whole family was nice. Per's oldest daughter, Anna, moved out, so I didn't meet her. But his second, Lotta, was on a exchange two years ago! To Australia! A rotex! Huray! His youngest daughter, Sofie is my age. I liked her instantly. Always smiling, always has something nice to say. XD

I had more fika with David.

Okej. In a few days time, there will be an election for the Federal Government, Riksdagen. There are seven major political parties. A party needs 4% of the vote to get a seat. Usually, there are no majority governments, so there are coalitions. Among the parties, there are two major coalitions. The Right Wing parties, and the Left Wing parties. Typically those are the coalitions. And traditionally, it was the left parties in charge. There has been a recent shift in that. The most obvious example that I can think of is The Sverige Demokrates, Swedish Democrats. This is the most extreme party. Right wing. One could almost, ALMOST, call it a fascist party. Most of its policies are alright, in fact sensible. But, the one policy that rankles with most of the people is their stance on immigrants. They don't want them to come to Sweden. For background, most of the recent immigrants are from the Middle East. Yep. Swedish Democrats do not want immigrants. This isn't a racist party, but it attracts a great deal of racists. Swedish Democrats don't have seats in the Riksdag, but with this election, they might. When my school held a mock debate, there was a person representing the Sverige Demkrates. Everyone supported the other debaters, but this poor guy got brow-beat all over the stage. That's the measure of how much a lot of people hate the Sverige Demkrates. On the lighter side of politics, there is a political party that wants to legalize downloading. XD No, The Pirate party has no seats. :( One final note about the election. The voting rate is high. 80% vote. 80%! And that is considered low here!

Last thing. I'm throwing my pride into the wind. Comment! Please! I need to know that people are reading this!

It stopped raining. For a while. XD

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Week

Blogging is a challenge for me. I don't do it as often as I should. Whenever I do post something, I always try to be careful of what I write down. I don't want to insult anyone; I don't want to write things that may get me sent home. As well, when I post the finished article, I'm never sure if anyone reads it. That will always remain a mystery to me. But, I think, a happy mystery.

So without anymore ado, here are some of the highlights of the last couple of weeks.

A few days ago, I helped Sarah (Canada) dye her hair. Sarah had never dyed her hair before. She was never allowed to consider it because she was not allowed. But, now that she is in Sweden, her rules have changed. There is no one to stop her from doing just about anything. So, with my assistance and moral support, she bought hair dye. Four days after she bought the hair dye, I helped her dye it. Her hair is now jet black. I haven't seen it yet, but I can certainly imagine it.

Over the weekend, the exchange students went sailing in Uddevalla. Uddevalla is about an hours drive north of Gothenburg. The Rotary club in Uddevalla organized this sailing trip up and down the archipelago. There were twenty-three students this time. The Australians joined us. I get to steer the ship and navigate, be a lifeguard (Not that anyone fell overboard) and lookout. But everyone on the trip, excepting the Aussies, were pretty out of it. The general atmosphere was reserved and quieter than it was at language camp. Maybe it was because we had chaperons this time. Maybe it was because everyone was exhausted from school and the language. Maybe it was the cold. Who knows. I know for me, I was fine with the cold wind, the slight chill, and the chaperons. But what got me, was the tiny little bed that I 'slept' in. I had no sleep. I found out that I suffer from minor claustrophobia. I will say no more there... But overall, everyone felt down about something or another. It was a good trip, however.

I had my second Rotary meeting yesterday. It was better than the first meeting. I gave my PowerPoint presentation about myself and Canada. I barely remembered what I was talking about. The most I can remember from that presentation was that I got laughs. I was really worried that my presentation was going to go longer than twenty minutes. I think it was closer to about fifteen minutes. XD

A few days ago, I realized my own ignorance. This happened in two events. First: MacDonalds. Yes, there are MacDonalds here. And yes, I was in one with a couple of friends. I knew beforehand that MacDonalds is an international corporation. But it didn't really strike home until I got the hamburger wrapper. It had a white background with aqua writing in about five different languages. I kept it and made a paper crane out of it. It's on my Rotary blazer. Second: Disney. It failed to register in my mind as well that Disney is everywhere. Then I found Beauty and the Beast on YouTube. In Swedish. Yes, I absolutely watched it. I had no idea what they were saying half the time, but I guessed and enjoyed the movie anyway. With both MacDonalds and Disney, I didn't really comprehend how international and connected a great deal of things are. Now I know. And I'm really grateful for it. XD

The last weeks or so have been odd. There has been this odd feeling that has been germinating in the back of my mind. It feels like I'm waiting for something to happen. Plenty has been happening; I've been getting out of the house, having fika, going to school, wandering downtown, dying Sarah's hair, all that jazz. But I don't understand WHY it feels like I'm waiting for something.

Friday, August 27, 2010

School! Skolan!!

First week of school! First week of school! If those two lines were not said with the enthusiasm of five year old starting school for the very first time, go back and say it again. XD

On Monday morning, bright and early, I rolled out of bed, landed on the ground, turned my alarm clock off, found clothes and food, packed my bag (again), and ran out of door. I arrived about twenty minutes earlier than what I needed to be. Monday, for some students, was when class started. However, for the music students in second and first year, this meant that for two days, we would be in a small camp about a half hour out of town. There were about eighty people at this camp, but that part of the story comes a bit later.

I arrived at Hvitfeldska too early to see the music students gathering. Instead of wandering around the place looking like a chicken with its head cut off, I found a bench in front of the building and watched the movement of the student crowd as it swirled and twisted in front of me. Every once and a while, a student, wearing a T-shirt with the word, "Hvitfeldska," would walk over with a bowl of candy and would commence speaking in Swedish. Once the person figured out that I couldn't understand what they saying, they would tell me, in English, that there was some student activity that was being held at such-and-such a place in such-and-such time. Politely, I turned down each offer, taking a piece of candy as I did so. There was one student, however, who stopped to talk. Simon was his name. He is a science student in the third year. He too wanted to know if I would consider joining the other science students in the lab to play some games. He was the first person who saw that I was really lost and confused by what was going on. Eventually he went on, but until he did, he was kind enough to explain some of the inside jokes about Hvitfeldska. For example: The basement of the school is called, 'The Ghetto.' This is where all of the music classes are held. Oh, bother.

Moving on, I eventually saw that a group of students with suitcases and pillows had gathered up against the eastern wall of the building. I made a beeline straight there and inquired as to wither or not this was the music class. I was told, "Ja" with some funny looks. Really funny. As in, "Who the heck is this person, and why is she asking me the obvious?"

As Peter Larrson, the principal, was taking attendance before we left. All was fine and dandy until he got to my name. To this day, I am still not entirely sure of what he said. I'm pretty sure that he said, "This is Maggie, our new exchange student from Canada!" I got a round of applause and more looks from the people. These looks were more akin to, "Oh!! A new person! Let's stare at her until she feels uncomfortable!" So much for trying to blend in. This was how I started the band camp. With funny looks and a non-salvageable introduction. Great, is all I thought.

There was, however, this one girl who took me under wing, so to speak. I sat with her and her two friends on the double decker bus that took us to camp. Over the next two days, I hung out with her and her friends. They were all highly welcoming and more open than I had expected. As a group, it felt like that they took turns to keep me company and explain what was happening. It felt wonderful to know that these people took me under their wing and accepted me into their group. I was afraid of spending the school year alone. Over the two days, the second years and first years put on a concert. Other than that, generally, we just hung around. And had a party on the second night. Someone brought an amp over to my cabin, plugged in an iPod, and turned up the volume. We didn't stop dancing until a teacher came in a told us to turn off the music. Then one of the male students said into the sudden silence, "Bada?" 'Bada' is Swedish for swimming for pleasure. It was fun to watch. Then the next day we went home.

Now, the next topic is the school system. First off, there is no set time where all the students have to be in class. The closest equivalent that I can think of is a university schedule. But the schedule is NOT individual. Some classes may variate from person to person, but for the most part, everyone's schedule is the same. One is with the same people for most classes. Class sizes are small. Maybe 20-25 people in each class. Physical education is mandatory for all three years. English is also a mandatory class. Teachers are not called, "Mr., Mrs. Miss. or Ms." One calls a teacher by their first name. Lunch is free and offered to all students and teachers. Music students get private lessons. School, in theory, starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends by around 5:00 p.m. But start and ending time varies from day to day and class to class. Yes, I still am really confused on what is happening.

Because I am an exchange student, some rules don't technically apply. I can't take Gym because that class is at the same time as Swedish as Second Language (Svenska A). I don't need to take the English class because it's redundant for me. But being an exchange student is also causing problems for me. I still lack a schedule. I don't have student I.D. because it seems I still lack a student number. I don't have a bus card because, well, that's usually sent out in the first year, and because I'm starting in the second year, I need to get it mailed to me. So, cue the headaches, and the constant irritation at the seeming lack of organization thereof. I am so grateful that Mom packed headache medicine for me. I love you, Mom! <3

The particular line of study that I am in is science and music. Yeah. Science. For me, that means Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Math, Swedish Literature (Svenska B), Swedish as a Second Language, Orchestra, Choir, and anything else that may come up in the year. The Chemistry and Math, I have already done before. The challenge now lies in the language and what any teacher will try to say to me. My math teacher asked me constantly what something was called in English much to my embarrassment and the classes amusement. IN Svenska B, the teacher told me right off the bat that I should drop her class. I told her that, no, I was not going to drop her class and I didn't care if what was being read was at too advanced a level for me. I am determined to learn.

Throughout all of this, that one girl who is my new found friend, was a willing listener, translator, and wellspring of patience and smiles. It's easy to like her. Her and most of her friends. This is going to be one hell of a year.

It rained today. But now, it is night time. Spooky.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Language Camp

Last week, a language camp at Fristads Folkhögskola was held for all the new exchange students from District 2360 and 2380.

Before I go any farther, I need to tell a few important things. 1) No one was from the exact same place. 2) There were 13 American's, 4 Canadians, 1 Brazilian, 1 from Chile, 1 from France, 1 Italian, 2 Japanese, 2 Taiwanese, therefore 25 people no younger than 15 and no older than 19 from all over the world. 3) While the main spoken language was English, for most, English is their second language and some were not very skilled in it. One could speak no English, but Spanish. But! There were about five people who could speak broken Spanish, so between the five of them, we could communicate with the one who couldn't speak English. 4) In the evenings there was little to no adult supervision.

With these four things in mind, and without any further ado, I present to you: Language Week.

On Sunday, I was home alone, packing and waiting for Per, my counselor, to pick me up so we could head off to Fristads. Fristads was about an hour and a half drive away from Göteborg. So, we made it there in about an hour. Did I mention that drivers here love to go fast? Well, they do. Really fast. Oh, all ye fast drivers in Canada, you would love it here.

So, Per and I arrive at camp. We went to the main building where I left Per to go find my room. At first, I was in the same room as Felix (Taiwan) and Sergio (Brazil). Think about it for a second. I switched out pretty fast. My new room was shared with two other girls. Bria from Texas and Kendra from Oregon. Both were wonderful people filled with stories from home and a ready ear.

All that week, we had classes during the day, fika, and more classes. Usually, we stopped classes by 3:00 pm. Susanne, the District Chair, and the woman running the camp, had events planned for us each evening. Sunday, there was nothing planned. We were left to our own devices. That night, I got to meet and know just about everyone there. Monday, we introduced ourselves, in Swedish, to the District Committee. Tuesday, we went golfing in Borås. Wednesday, we went into the charming town of Borås and after waiting out the rain in a mall, we went off to examine the statues. A member of the Rotary Club of Borås hosted us for the evening and fed about thirty people homemade Swedish meatballs. They were delicious!! Thursday evening, Erasmus students came over for a barbecue and talk. Erasmus is another exchange program for European university students. Friday afternoon, we all went home.

There was an awkward moment that was difficult to break on Sunday evening. But someone, I don't remember who, brought a soccer ball. So on Sunday evening, I played soccer with the most diverse group in my life. We had teams of four with the people from Brazil, France, USA, Canada, Japan, and Taiwan. That was the best way to break the ice that had been hanging over all of us. Every night after that, a group of people would find a field and play soccer. One night, we played with three people from Sweden. On Thursday, we played with some of the people from Erasmus. Now I can walk away and say that I have now played soccer with German people as well. Sports is probably the best way to meet people. XD

Every evening, we usually would have shenanigans of one form or another. David (Chicago) lit a fire on the school grounds one night. He lit another one at the beach another night. At the beach , talked about everything and nothing. We learned certain details about each other that I probably would have never guessed about them. XD Yet another night, someone, John I think, learned how to say, "Make me a sandwich" in about three different languages and started saying it whenever, as well, John and Dakota got almost everyone by the end of the week to say, "Oh, yeah," in a deep voice. John taught Gage (Minnesota) how to make a popping noise which then spread to the rest of the people so every time one turned around, one heard a popping sound. One night, someone played a video where it told us that one has to do the cooking by the book (Thank-you, who ever played it). Another time, a bunch of us had a pot of tea. I started washing the dishes after we finished, and Konatsu (Japan) came over and helped. Another day, we were taught self defense by someone, I don't remember his name, and we found out the Ryu (Japan) was really good at martial arts.Another night, we 'educated' Sarah (Canada) about the finer tastes of Coca-Cola. As it turned out, she had never tried Coca-Cola before. Someone bought a one liter bottle of the stuff and gave it to Sarah. Another night, one thing led to another, and suddenly John (South Carolina), Dakota (Texas), and David were acting as utter fools and we were all having the time of our lives. Did I mention that in the evenings we had no adult supervision? XD

By the end of the week, it was hard for me to say good-bye to everyone. I became close to most of the people there and good-byes and I have never gotten along very well. Tom (Australia) then suggested that on Saturday, August 28th, we should all go to Liseberg. Liseberg is an amusement park in Göteborg. So maybe, I will see them all again really soon.

It's sunny today. First time in a long while.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fifth: Of Food and Exchange Students

Food. Food is the life force of everyday life. It brings sustenance and nourishment. It brings people together. Food also has that ability of being different everywhere. Take pancakes. A typical Canadian pancake is thick and not too large in diameter. Usually served hot with butter and maple syrup. A Swedish pancake is thin and very large in diameter. Usually, it is served cold with anything sweet: Ice-cream, strawberry jam, white sugar, and maple syrup, to name a few.

Fisk. To those who speak English: Fish. Fish is common in the summertime. When I was at the summer house, Karin bought a large bag of shrimp and eight crayfish. These crustaceans still had their shells. And heads. So to eat them, one has to twist off the head, break the shell, and then pick out the meat and set it on toast. When the toast has enough shrimp meat on it, on can eat it as is, or one can add sauce. It was probably one of the best things that I have tried here to date!

Sauces. Sauces here are pretty big. Whenever potatoes, meat, or well, anything, is served, there is usually a sauce to go with it. Thus far, my favorite has been the sweet chili sauce.

Salt. This is a seafaring country. A lot of people own a boat of some sort. At least, a fair few members of my host family own boats, and a friend of the family owns a sailboat, and every time I am at the docks there are always a great deal of boats and ships there with the Swedish flag or markers identifying it as from Sweden. Anyway, Sweden sits on the coast. That's why fish makes up a big part of their diet and it might also explain the salt. No matter where I find myself in Sweden, there always seems to be someone adding more salt to an already salty dish. I don't know why they do that. It must be a cultural thing. XD

Candy is another favorite. Swedes will likely tell you that they are one of the greatest candy eating countries in Europe. With good reason. Their candy isles are massive. They are capable of putting some candy isles at home to shame. I have yet to go to any candy store here, but I can image a little of what it must be like inside the store. There is a type of candy here that looks like black licorice. However, it tastes both sweet and salty at the same time. The first time I tried it with my host family, everyone at the table laughed when they saw the expression on my face. I didn't finish it. It is, as my dad would say, an accustomed taste. But not all of Swedish candy is salty. Some of it is really sweet. There is this gummy type of candy that tastes like green apples. The caramel that I tried wasn't hard, neither did it melt easily. It had the relative consistency of fudge. Toblerone chocolate is a readily available chocolate here.

All-in-all, I am in really good shape when it comes to food. Except peanut butter. I haven't seen peanut butter here. This calls for a walk to the grocery store!

Exchange Students. Yesterday, I meet a couple of the exchange students. Two were from the States, one from Italy, one from France, two from Sweden (one was a host sister to one of the Americans, the other was leaving for her own exchange in a few days), another Canadian, and three Australians. Thus far, they are all amiable, well spoken, and nervous as hell. Seriously. I think that the only really relaxed people there were the three Australians. Everyone else was a little tense at first. But after we had fika at the Cafe Rosa, we all relaxed and enjoyed a day walking around town. Fika, before I forget, is a Swedish term referring to drinking coffee (or any beverage) and having cake with other people. The original plan was to watch Inception, but that plan was scrapped because some people had to leave to catch their trains before the movie would have been finished. So then, we walked by a bowling alley. While some of us went to get food, others went to see if the bowling alley was open. It wasn't. Another bowling alley was also closed. By the end of the day, we found ourselves sitting under a tree in a park located downtown. When the time to catch trains came, we all split up and went home, or to the bar, or somewhere. Wherever. I think, it was a good day.

It's raining today. XD

Monday, August 9, 2010


Hej, Hej!

Rain is the current sum of my life right now. Yesterday, it was raining. Today, it rained a little bit. When my plane landed, it was raining. Any day that it has not been raining, it has been cloudy with the sun shining through. I was sent to the perfect country. The weather does something. And it's constant. As much as I enjoy Calgary's unpredictable weather with all its twists and turns, there is something comforting in the idea that when I wake up in the morning, the weather will be the same the whole day.

Green is an unofficial national colour. There are trees and flowers (blooma) everywhere. Moss (mosse) grows on the rocks and cliffs, there are small plants in between the cobblestones, ivy grows everywhere. Poison ivy is also a common sight, depending on where one is. On Saturday, my hand brushed up against a poison ivy bush. Did it hurt? Nej. It was mildly irritating, though. But the colour green is everywhere. If one steps outside, one is probably standing on something green.

Karin (my host mom) and I wandered through the botanical garden on our way home from the bank today. It was so beautiful. The gardener's, it seemed to me, have their own patch where they stylize it based on a particular country. I walked through a classical European garden, a Japanese garden, a Mexican garden, and so on. I also meet the cat who wanders the grounds. Mostly, however, the cat was by the cafe. She was a brown tabby with 16 toes. :)

All told, it took us about 3 hours, by foot, to get home. Between Gothenburg and Mölndal, there is this massive hill. Karin and I walked around this hill through a forest. The forest was old. With unexpected wonders. We passed by a lake with lily pads on it. I took a picture.

The days go by slowly. Most of the times, it feels as though this is normal now. Other times, it feels as though I'm in the wrong country. Forget country, try wrong continent. But the city is beautiful with it's buildings from the Industrial Revolution, to buildings from early 1900's, to more contemporary architecture.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


This is the final old blog, written on July 31st. After today, I will give real-week updates on my adventures in in Sweden!

This is my second day with the Wetterlundh family. So far, it is alright. I talked with Karin, tried to read some svenska, and made a major discovery. Their newspaper contains comics. By a quirk of fate, Zits and Calvin and Hobbes are here! They are in svenska, naturally, but they are here! Calvin and Hobbes, however, is called Kalle och Hobbe. Same thing. The comic featured Calvin taunting a plant about how he could let the plant die by not giving it water. Then in the last panel, the rain fell. Some things have remained the same!
Like music. Right now, I am listening to a band called Kent. No joke. It is alternative music and the singers sing Swedish, but it sounds alright. Now I just need to become good enough to translate. But if I can read a newspaper with a lot of help, and still be capable of recognizing and remembering some of the words (example: svart meaning black) then understanding it shouldn’t be too bad. Eventually. One day.
I met the family, today. The entire family. Well, it was almost the entire family. After a small breakfast, Maja and I went down the hill to have lunch with one half of the family. I tried to do a head count. I’m fairly sure that there was at least 10. I think. (tror). All of the girls are blonde or strawberry blonde, and very tiny. But they were all very nice
We ate pancakes. Swedish pancakes are thin and large. The cooked pancake, owing to its thinness, is capable of being rolled. Pancakes here are served with jam, white sugar, and ice-cream.
After lunch, I joined Maja and her cousins on the beach. Now, don’t assume. This was not a typical beach. It was very small and narrow. With Maja’s female cousins, we played Cheat. Cheat is probably the best way to learn numbers in Swedish. One of the girls picked up that I was trying to say all my plays in Swedish and tried to help me out with pronunciation, but the other’s kept on speaking in only English. But my favourite part was when they spoke in Swedish. Whenever they did that, I was allowed to sit back and enjoy a musical language not have to say anything.
I didn’t go swimming. The water was cold.
There were these two small children. By far, they were my favourite. They couldn’t speak a word of English which, in a very weird way, was refreshing. Everyone above the age of 14 is capable of speaking English here. Conversely, this makes them speak to me mostly in English. Right now, I don’t have the heart to ask them to stop. Every so often, they would stop speaking English and talk for a while in Swedish. Sometimes to ask each other for a translation of a certain word, other times just to talk. I prefer it almost when they talk to each other in Swedish. This forces me to learn it.
In the evening, I met more of the family. This time, it was only five people who came instead of ten. They were nice, amiable people.
After supper, they all left. But, Hanna, Marcus, Sara, and one more girl, whose name I can’t remember arrived. We watched “P.S: I Love You”. It was about a recently widowed woman who was being sent letters written by her deceased husband just before he died. The movie is now on the list of movies to buy.
I sat on a chair that was covered by an exact same blanket that we have at home. It’s that blue Ikea blanket with the tassels at each end.
A random note: Ikea is not supposed to be pronounced, “I-kea,” but really, “E-kea.” Weird.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


This is the second part that I wrote while I was waiting for my final flight to Gothenburg.

July 30th

The leap has been taken! That was probably the longest fall of my life, thus far.
The first thing that is required for this story is two things: An introduction and context. Introduction: I am currently sitting in the Frankfurt International Airport waiting for my final flight into Göteborg.
Context requires its own paragraph. In the week running up to today, I have been saying good-bye to various things and people. Work is one of the first things I said good-bye to. I will fully admit that I did NOT regret saying good-bye to that one. In fact, I am reallllly content to wait another year before returning to work. The second thing I told farewell to was driving. Starting today, driving is forbidden to me. A moment of silence now for the loss of this skill. ... The moment is now over. I also said good-bye to my friends. That was hard. Too hard. My friends gave me a scrapbook that Heather, Amanda, myself, and other various unknown people put together. To everyone: Thank-you for that. And thanks for the envelope of photos. It really put my relationship with everyone into perspective. I realized how much you all care about me. Yell at me later for this, but I had doubted a great number of friends that I had or didn’t know I had. I was wrong. Isn’t that a kick in the ass when you learn that you are appreciated and that others do love you.  I also realized that having one cooler and a very small thing of sour puss is not a good idea for me; especially when I was already emotionally compromised. Tim Horton’s is now gone for me.  I knew that this exchange was going to be hard, but I think I might go back, just for Timmies coffee (That was a joke, by-the-way).
That now brings us into today. Well, technically yesterday, but that is beside the point. I awoke early. 7:30am is considered early for a summer’s day. I packed away the last bits and bobbles that I would need. Went for breakfast; said and talked about something, I can’t remember; found Trouble, filled up her food bowl, gave her a kiss, and reminded her to play nice with the family; watched Matt and Josh load two remarkably heavy suitcases into the truck; stopped Trouble from escaping from the house; went to the bank with Mom and Matt; then drove off to the airport. We listened to music by Jack Johnson. Once at the airport, we checked in my luggage. As it turns out, one of the bags was too heavy by two kilograms. Out went a binder and a converter case into my backpack, and the over-weighted bag was cleared for take-off. While Mom, Matt, and I were waiting (with our Tim Horton’s coffee) Rick from the Fish Creek Rotary Club appeared. He was the only one from Rotary who came to see me off. Later, Dad, Rose, and Josh appeared. It seemed that there was a miscommunication. Dad thought that after we went to the bank that we would come home. We didn’t go home however. Anyway, when the rest of the gang appeared, there was more hugging and introducing everyone to Rick. Rose was tense. I think she was fretting over Dad’s probable silence in the car. But Rose: If you are reading this, and to anyone else from the Rondot clan reading this, I didn’t care when you arrived. I only cared that you DID arrive. Any who, once all was said and done, more tears were shed, final hugs exchanged and away I went through the airport.
Of course, I have issues with leaving things alone. Therefore, as I was walking through the non-existent security line, each time I saw my family I made a funny face. I heard some laughter from them.
I made it alive through security and waited for my plane. After half an hour or so, I got on the plane and was seated beside the most boorish person I have ever had the misfortune of meeting. He didn’t speak a word of English and he didn’t try to speak in any language at all. Whenever he wanted something, he pointed. That’s it, a point. Although in the grand scheme of events, one ill-mannered person makes no difference. However, this was my first encounter with anyone who couldn’t speak a language that I understood.
The plane ride was long. NINE HOURS IS WAY TOO LONG FOR ANY PLANE TRIP NO MATTER THE DESTINATION. So, to pass the time, I watched movies. Clash of the Titans, The Mentalist, Sherlock Holmes, and Invictus.
The way that we traveled was simple and well timed. The plane moved up to touch the lowest part of Greenland to swing down over-top of Edinburgh and Dusseldorf, to land in Frankfurt. We raced the sunset and then chased after the dawn. The plane was in darkness for about an hour. By the time that Invictus was finishing, the sun had risen back up over the horizon and the pilot announced that we were coming into land. That is what I call good timing.
Once landed, I waited with about fifteen other people for a bus to take us from the tarmac to the terminal. Everyone else had got on to two other buses that had arrived earlier. Once the bus arrived, I realized that I was really in Frankfurt, Germany. Then I got to the terminal and realized that airports and I don’t get along. I nearly got lost finding the connecting flights. But a very kind person pointed me in the direction that my gate was. I ended up walking along side this very tall man. He wore a blue shirt with a yellow outline of a boarder on it. He said that he was going to catch his train. I didn’t ask where. But when we split up, he wished the best of luck on my travels. I wished him luck as well. I kind of wished that I had asked his name. He was handsome.
Anyway, after i found my gate, I had half an hour, once again, to wait for my plane. Currently, I am now sitting outside of Gate A30.

Part 2

Sitting on a bed is positively one of the most grounding actions ever created. It brings home the reality that home has changed. Home is longer in a valley sheltered by the mountains. Home is now a world that looks eerily similar, yet vastly different. Welcome to Sweden.
Home right now is a small hamlet called Sundsandvik. I should be more specific. Sundsandvik is not so much a hamlet as it is a collection of summer homes.
When the plane landed in Gothenburg after the shortest flight of my life in an airbus, I found myself in a faux stone building that contained a corridor, a right turn, a short flight of stairs, and baggage claim. Baggage claim was not so fun. I was standing with a heavy backpack on the ground with my Rotary Blazer covering it. It looked like a bright red flag that had fallen over top of my bag. Then the conveyor belt started. So far, so good. I wasn’t worried. There was no need to be worried yet. Suddenly, out of a great yawning in the wall, came a red suitcase. There was a rainbow fabric tied to the uppermost handle of the case. SUCCESS! One suitcase had survived! Now for the other one. Time passed and more suitcases plopped onto the conveyer belt. Then there was a lull. A pregnant wait that was terrifying. But there was nothing to fear for my second suitcase landed on the belt and was removed promptly by me.
So out of baggage claim I went. I was lucky enough to miss the random security check. A poor man in front of me was hauled over. And no, this man was dressed respectfully without any visible piercings or tattoos.
I meet my host family! And others! I meet a boy called Phillip. From Taiwan. He arrived the day before. I meet Ingrid Johansson, my third host mom. I meet her son who was leaving for Switzerland the next week. I meet Karin and Maja. My host mom and sister, respectively. Thomas, my host dad, wasn’t there. There was a problem at the summer house so he stayed there to take care of it. Karin, Maja, and I drove for about an hour to Sundsandvik. We stopped at a grocery store, brought some pasta and tomato soup and bread and then drove to the summer house.
The scenery is so similar to interior BC that I nearly thought I was in the wrong country and that someone was playing a really bad joke on me. But we eventually got to the house.
There, I met Thomas as well as some other members of the family. I don’t really remember names very well. But they were all nice and clearly have had experience with dealing with over emotional exchange students, especially the Grandpa and the Grandma. They have had three exchange students over the years, so they know what it is like for exchange students.
Maja is a bit of a mystery to me. She is quite shy but I know that she can speak English, but she is remarkably shy, rarely smiles, and is always on her cell phone. I like her.
After a quick nap, I helped Thomas and Maja make some pizza.
I have been awake now for over 24 hours with maybe an hour long nap. My mind is jumbled and incoherent. I remember crying a lot. I feel like there is a hole ripped wide open in my chest. The worst part about that hole is that I brought it on myself.

Friday, August 6, 2010

In the beginning...

In the beginning, there was this girl who decided that a trip to a foreign country for a year would be absolutely fantastic. She worked hard, meet a lot of people and was thereby sent to Sweden.

In truth, I probably should have started this long before now, but I never could get settled down enough to start this. But here goes nothing.

The following is what I have written down over a period time. One is from before I left, to the day I was flying, to the next day. I will post these one at a time. Subsequently, real-time blogs will be posted. So, Live to you from, Sweden, heeeerrrrrrrreeeeeeeessssssssss A BLOG!

July 18th, Calgary

Alrighty. Sweden is less than 11 days away and I figured that now is the time to start blogging about this experience.

I feel like an idiot. First off, I rate it very low that people are going to read this. Second, I doubt that a fair few people even register the fact that I'm leaving. For a year. Whether it has or has not is not my concern. My concern lies more with the third reason why I am an idiot.

Back in September, this sounded like a great idea. Go somewhere in the world, try something new, all that jazz. But reality, now that it has finally settled in, does not feel really well. It feels like this massive weight just landed on my shoulders. That weight hurts, in more than one place. My shoulders now ache, more so than usual, my head hurts a little (packing does that), and my heart is quietly bleeding. But that's alright: Because in exchange, I get an exchange to a country directly across the globe. Regardless of the fact that this exchange, in theory, will be wonderful and exciting and uplifting and something, I still feel some residual idiocy hanging over my head. Deep down, I know that this exchange is going to hurt.

That's a rather cheery being to a blog that is supposed to outline and describe my up and coming adventures. Yet truthfully, I have yet to arrive at a stage that commands my complete and total attention. This stage is known as: Hurry Up and Wait.

Hurry Up and Wait requires two virtues in order to survive. Patience is the first. Patience is what keeps everyone calm. On the surface at least. Underneath that calm exterior is panic. Panic that I'm leaving; panic that ones daughter and sister is leaving; panic that friends are disappearing into the world of forgetfulness; panic panic panic. HOWEVER! With patience, one has the time to deal with any one of the aforementioned fears. Patience also provides the gift of tolerance and understanding. usually. Hopefully. Sorry if I stepped on any toes there....

The second virtue that is required for this uneventful and stressful time is ‘tact.’ This new found skill is the ability to tread in dangerous talks with parents, brothers and sister, and friends without making anyone angry, but still getting what you want. This skill, I have found, has provided me with the foundation of talking about difficult topics and how to bring them up. End of paragraph.

You see what I mean? I have been stuck at this unmoving stage for so long that for the first time, a volcano and I have something in common. It’s like I’m standing at the top of a giant cliff. All I need to do is jump. But I can’t. Not yet.