Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oj, tiden går fort!

I realize that I have been lacking quite a bit in the blogging category, but having the life of an exchange student makes it very easy get caught up living the dream. As a result, blogging is often long forgotten after the newness has worn off.
In that case, I suppose I have a lot to catch up on! I suppose I’ll go in chronological order…so
In the beginning of November, I went to Stockholm with Ann to see the Aqua Rapid Diving competition. Divers from various different countries came and competed. It was a very exciting and fun filled weekend!

Two weeks later, I went to Stockholm again, but this time it was with Rotary. It was a weekend in Stockholm where all the exchange students were invited. In total, about 60 were there. I am the only Rotary student in my town, so this was the first time I had seen all of them since language camp back in August, so that was quite exciting. (Minus a few that I saw in October at our district conference)

Jul och Nyår:
I had a wonderful, but very busy Christmas and New Year's here in Sweden. I personally don't think Christmas in Sweden is too different from that in the US. The main difference was that we celebrated on Christmas Eve, not Christmas. Since I lived with a six year old sister who still believes in Santa, I also learned that Santa doesn't just come in the middle of the night and leave presents under the tree, he actually comes during the day and delivers them I got to meet the Swedish Santa Clause too! Not much different I must say.

It is also tradition to see Donald Duck at three o'clock on Christmas Eve, and everyone in Sweden sees it every year, even though it is the exact same episode every year.

New Year’s is celebrated very similar in the US versus in Sweden. The only difference was that fireworks are everywhere. It’s not just the local town that decided to blow off fireworks, it is literally everyone. It was very easy to tell when midnight hit because the sky just lit up with fireworks. There were also quite a few people that sent up Asian lanterns as well, so that was very pretty.

It snowed after New Year's so I got to make my very first snölykta (snow lantern)!

Of course I also made a snögubbe :)

Jag har flyttat…igen! (I have moved…again!)
In the beginning of January (the 6th to be precise) I switched families again! Yes, that means that I have now moved to my third family! My new family consists of my host mom Lena, who works in the Örebro hospital as a nurse, my host dad, Clas, who works in Karlstad, and my youngest host brother Carl who is in the same school class as me. Carl is the only child that lives at home now, but I also have another host brother named Oskar who lives in an apartment on the other side of town with his girlfriend. I also have a new host sister, named Emma, who lives in Holland with her boyfriend (who is Ola Toivonen! He is a professional soccer player who currently plays for a team in Holland, but he comes back to Sweden to play for Sweden’s national soccer team when they have matches.)
This is my new house.

My new family is very active, so that is very nice for me! Over the time I have lived here, we have ice skated and cross country skied many kilometers. I have definitely cross country skied a lot this year! Even though we don’t have enough snow in town to ski here, we have still managed to find a place where we can go skiing at. So far this year, I have only been skiing seven times. In total, I have skied 95 km. The shortest I have skied in one day was 10 km, and the longest was 25 km. For me, this is quite good training because I will be skiing the Stafett Vasaloppet on March 2nd this year! (Which is already next week now!!) The Stafettvasan is the same distance as the real Vasaloppet (90 km) but instead it is divided into a relay so that 5 people will be skiing it together as a team. The first person in our relay is Sten (my host mom’s brother) who will ski 24 km. The second person is my host mom’s brother’s wife, Monica, who will also ski 24 km. The third person is Oskar, my host brother, and he will ski 9 km (yet it is said to be the shortest but hardest).The fourth is Lena (my host mom) who will ski 14 km. This means that the last person is myself! That means that I get to ski 19 km, but most excitingly, that means that I get to ski into the town of Mora and into the Mål (finish area). The last 2 km are skied directly into downtown Mora, where they bring in snow so that it literally goes through their downtown area. This should be very exciting and also make my last 2 km seem very easy because I hear that a lot of people line the streets to cheer everyone in!
Rotary Presentation:
On Thursday, the 26th of January I had my Rotary presentation! I had the entire presentation in Swedish and I think it went really well! Apparently I am the first exchange student that the club has had who has done their presentation in Swedish! Anyways, we always eat lunch before our presenter speaks, so like any other day, I thought our lunch looked quite delicious. It was very tasty, but just not exactly what I expected. I personally thought that I had eaten thinly sliced (and delicious) ham. It wasn’t until after I had just finished eating, that my first host mom Lena (who was sitting next to me) asked me if I knew what I had just eaten. Casually, I replied that it was ham. Well, apparently it wasn’t. Apparently I had really just eaten pig tongue! I am not even kidding. I had eaten pig tongue! Surprisingly, it was still very good, and I think I would eat it again if given the option! After my meal of pig tongue, I had my presentation and it went really well!

My past few weeks have been filled with trips to Sälen! Sälen is a quite large ski resort that lies about three hours northwest of where I live. It is very close to the Norwegian border, and extremely beautiful! They have many different regions where you can go downhill skiing, and many kilometers of beautifully groomed cross country ski trails!
My first trip was from Thursday evening (the 2nd of February) to Sunday the 5th, and I went with Alf and Margaretha Rosberg. Alf is my Rotary club’s current president. They have a winter cabin very close to all the ski slopes and cross country ski trails, so that was really nice. We were lucky that there was no wind and that it was quite sunny because it was quite cold! (Between -15 and -25 degrees Celsius the entire time, and it was even -28 on Saturday morning). Despite the chilly weather, we went both downhill and cross country skiing on Friday, then on Saturday (the really cold day) we just went downhill skiing. On Sunday morning, we went cross country skiing. Overall, it was a fantastic trip and I had a wonderful time!

The following Wednesday (the 8th) I was there again but this time it was with school! It was frilufts dagen (aka “fresh air day”) so that meant that nobody at our school had class, but everyone had to choose some type of sporting activity that they wanted to do. We could choose from things like spinning, zumba, swimming, skiing, tennis, and many others. I chose to go skiing, because, frankly, I thought it sounded like the most fun! We left school at 6 AM and didn’t return again until about 8:30 PM. We definitely had a fun filled day skiing! Even the long bus ride was very entertaining.

The following weekend on Saturday and Sunday (the 11th and 12th) I went to Sälen again, but this time I went with my family. My older host brother who doesn’t live at home came with us as well. My host mom, Lena, has a brother who lives in Sälen, so we stayed with them on Saturday night. When we were there, we only went cross country skiing because we had to train for our Vasaloppet race. On Saturday, we skied about 25 km throughout the day! We skied 10 km first, then ate lunch and then skied another 15 km! The following day, we only skied about 14 km. After skiing, we began our drive back home. On the way we did stop to eat carrot soup that we brought with us.

Weekly activities:
Every Monday I have begun taking an art class at the local Culture School. Right now, I am painting a picture of a winter sunset with someone biking along a path that goes by the lake. I thought this was a good idea because in Sweden, we literally bike everywhere no matter what time of year it is!
Every Tuesday I continue to play tennis. I am still having a wonderful time playing tennis every week!
Every Wednesday evening I have been coaching diving to kids! Mt old host dad was on the board of directors for the local diving club, so I went with to one of the meetings, and Ulrika Knape-Lindberg was there. (She actually won gold in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. She also coaches her daughter Anna Lindberg who will be competing in the London Olympic this year!) Anyways, she asked me if I could help out with their new beginners group. This means that every Wednesday between 6 and 7 I help coach a group of about 30 kids between the ages of 7 and 12 to dive. It is actually quite exciting. After a few weeks, I have finally gotten the hang of everything and I feel like I actually know what I’m doing now. The first week was definitely an adventure because I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, and I didn’t even know how to say the word “dive” in Swedish and Ulrika just said to me, here is your group of kids, and that the far diving board was mine for the hour! Now, things are going much better and I am having a wonderful time. I even had two of the parents come up to me a few weeks ago and thank me for what I have done. They also told me they thought I was very good with the kids and that they were having a great time and really enjoyed diving! Don’t worry, I now know how to say dive (among other things) in Swedish, dyka :)
There was even an article in the local newspaper about the new diving group!

Språket: (Language)
I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but while we were watching a movie in Spanish class right before winter break, the teacher put on Swedish subtitles, and throughout the entire movie, I just read the subtitles. Looks like I'm forgetting my Spanish, but my Swedish couldn't be better!
My Swedish has become quite good now and I rarely find myself wondering what a word means. My Swedish grammar has also greatly improved. In the beginning, I found it extremely easy to listen and talk Swedish, but I had quite a difficult time writing it because I had no idea how to spell. For example, if I were to spell the word ‘feel’ in Swedish, it is spelled känner, but pronounced ‘sh-enner’. Recently, in my Swedish class at school, we received an assignment where we had to read a few articles, and then write a paper about the subject of our articles we chose to use. I did the entire assignment in the allotted class time, and I was quite shocked when I finished writing my paper, and looked down at the computer and saw that I wrote a 690 word paper in complete Swedish with minimal translation. I only looked up a handful of words because I was unsure of how to spell them!
I have even begun reading the first book in the Stieg Larsson series, Män som Hatar Kvinnor (known in English as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). The series is written by a Swedish author, so I thought it would be interesting to read the non-translated version of the series. I also received the first two books of the series from my first host family as a Christmas gift, so that was great!
Now, this week I actually don’t have any school because it is “sport break!”
Anyway, I am having a wonderful time here in Sweden and I am savoring every single moment I have here!
Hej då!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Latvia, Moose Hunting, and One Year Older!

These past two weeks have been very eventful for me. I have done so many things that I never would have imagined doing. I think it will be both easier for me, and possibly more exciting for you, if I use pictures with captions to describe my last few weeks instead of writing a really long essay-like description.
Two weeks ago, I went to Rīga, Latvia with 13 other Rotarians from either my club or clubs that are in neighboring towns. That was a very fun trip.
The purpose of our trip to Latvia was to go to an elderly care center and give away numerous lifts to help the staff that work there. This elderly care center has had some very tough times since it is located in a small town in the country, and cannot be properly funded. Thankfully, over the years, Rotary has stepped in and helped them get back on their feet. This was the final project that Rotary has done at this particular location. For me, going to the elderly care center let me see firsthand how Rotary has helped the people who live in tough conditions like this. Rotary really is an amazing organization.
This was only half of the reason that we went to Latvia. The other reason was that we were giving away two Paul Harris Fellowship Awards. These honorees are individuals who meet high professional and personal standards set forth by Paul Harris. These are very important honors, so it was very exciting to witness this award being given away.
We stayed in a hotel while we were in Latvia, and this was the view from my hotel room window. (That is an opera house to the right.)
The town of Rīga looked very different in many places. Some parts were more modern European looking....
Others had more modern architecture.
Other parts were very old. These particular buildings were built in the 1500's or 1600's.
 Others had more of a Russian influence.
Lastly, some parts were old and run down.
This was the freedom statue. To Latvians, this is a very important monument. It represents that Latvia is a free, independent country. It wasn't until 1991 that Latvia officially freed themselves of Soviet Control. Everyday, there are guards surrounding the statue, due to its importance. There are also red and white flowers resting at the base of the statue. (Another symbol of Latvian pride since the Latvian flag is dark red and white.)

While we were in Rīga, we also went to a huge market where you can shop....
A very wide variety of fresh fish. You could also choose to buy a live fish, which they would take from a small tank, then put in a bag for you to take.
Just about every type of vegetable you can think of...
Nuts. Literally, thousands of nuts.
Many different types of fruit too.
There were many more types of food that you could shop, but I didn't take pictures of everything. Any type of food you can think of, they probably had there. Including chicken hearts or bones. Literally, you could buy everything there.

Another interesting thing I did was go moose hunting. This was the first hunting experience, and it was very interesting to be a part of. Basically, this is what happened:
There were eight shooters (located at the numbers on the map), and eight other people that were driven to the other side of the woods, about 2-3 km away. We were given a compass, map, and were told, “Walk to your shooter”. We had to walk through all different types of terrain by ourselves, hoping that we would find our shooter. I walked througt a very wide variety of terrain, as seen in the pictures below.

This is what I walked through, beginning to end. It was very beautiful scenery throughout, especially at the end.

Thankfully, I was only about 30 meters off, so I found my hunter without going too far!  After lunch, we went to a different part of the forest, and went on a different path. This time, while walking, I heard two shots, and then got a phone call to meet up with the other walkers. The hunt was over now because a moose had been shot. We then ran, literally, to where we thought the shots had come from. We quickly found the moose, and it was a very big one.
They guessed it was between 170 and 180 kilograms.
I pet a moose!
They then tied ropes around the moose and we all dragged the moose about half of a kilometer out of the woods to where someone parked a truck.
It was very exciting, and definitely a new experience for me. Now each hunter will receive about 30 kg of moose meet, which is plenty!

Another interesting thing that I have begun, is playing tennis on Tuesday nights!

I never figured that I would do this in Sweden, but I taught my host mom how to solve a Rubik's cube. I taught her in Swedish too :)

It was also my birthday yesterday, so my host family made me a beautiful, and delicious cake. In the morning, my family also came into by room singing happy birthday in Swedish, waking me up. Apparently it is tradition that they wake you up singing on your birthday. They also had candles in the cake, which I blew out after they finished singing. Then I opened the gifts that they had for me, and following that, we had "breakfast" in my bed. The "breakfast" being cake! It was very exciting and awesome!

As you see in this picure, the cake was amazing. The first (bottom) layer was cake. On top of that, was strawberry jam. After that, was another layer of cake. After that layer, was a layer of smashed bananas mixed with vanilla sauce. Then another cake. On top of that, is whipped cream mixed with small pieces of chocolate. Over the entire thing, was pink marzipan. On top of that was a rose and petals that my host dad made. It was finished off with a little bit of powered sugar and my host sister wanted to add the little animals on it too! It was very delicious and I'm actually sitting here eating a piece as I'm typing this. YUM!

Anyway, I'm having a FANTASTIC time in Sweden!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Jag har flyttat.

I cannot believe that I have now been in Sweden long enough to have changed families. It seems like just the other day that I was stepping off the plane and wondering what I had just gotten myself into. I wondered how I would manage to live in a country where I didn’t yet understand the language. I also found myself wondering how my new life would be with my “new family”, whom I hadn’t actually met besides a few emails back and forth. I can honestly say that this decision that I made “just on a whim” was the best decision I have made. It has opened me to a world of new opportunities that lead to numerous new experiences. I am extremely grateful for everything that has been given to me, as well as all that I have been able to experience through those around me. Little by little, week by week, my life is changing. How it is changing, I am not so sure. I am excited to see what the rest of this year will bring. At the same time, I know that if my journey had to end now, I would be more than satisfied with all that I have done here.

It is hard to believe that about one year ago, I was rushing to finish my application, and at the same time, beginning to get nervous about my first interview in Northfield.  It seems like that was such a long time ago. I really feel like I have adjusted very well into my new life as a Swede. Every day that I am here, I am beginning to feel more and more Swedish. The other morning, while I was bicycling to school, I realized how surreal my time here has been. I have had the opportunity to do so much. I have definitely learned always to say ‘yes’ too.  Next week, I will be traveling to Riga, Latvia for three days with a few members of my Rotary club and a few members of Rotary clubs in the surrounding towns.
I have experienced so many things that I could not experience had I not chosen to become an exchange student. I wish all people could experience what I have so far. It is incredible that I am actually here, living a Swedish life!
Getting on to my life now….
My move took place on the first of October, and since then I have adjusted well to my new family. My new family consists of my host parents, Ann and Ronnie. I also have two host sisters, but the oldest, Felicia, is currently living in Northfield as an exchange student. My other host sister is Filippa, is only six years old, and she is adorable. She only speaks Swedish, so that is definitely good for forcing me to speak more Swedish. She has a lot of fun helping teach me Swedish too, so that is very good. She also has fun learning a few words in English.
My new family lives just 200 meters from the lake in Karlskoga and about the same distance to the center of town. For me, that is very nice since I can just walk or bike just about everywhere I need to go. I ride my bike to school every morning, and it takes me about 10 minutes to get there.
Recently, it has begun to really feel like fall. The temperature has dropped below zero (Celsius) during the night, and occasionally in the mornings too. The other day, it was -2 degrees when I biked to school. Time for mittens and a scarf! Soon time to break out the winter hat too!
It has also begun to be quite dark here too. By 6:30 PM, it is dark. When I say dark, I mean dark too. It is very different than what I am used to, and right now, it is only the beginning. It will only get darker from here. I have been told that it will be dark when I go to school and dark when I come home from school during part of the winter.
For the next month, I will be quite busy. That will definitely be good for me since it is beginning to be a little depressing with the dark and cold. Since I cannot guarantee that I will post again in the near future, this is what I will be up to.
Today: I had my very first test in school. Yes, I have been in school for two months now, and we are just having our first test. It was a math, so that was definitely good for me. This wasn’t any regular test though. It was a three hour long test that was over three chapters. Long chapters too. They learned most of the information last year too. Overall, I think I answered between half and three quarters of the questions on the test. After talking with my classmates after, I think I did pretty well by answering that many. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how it went…
Tomorrow: I will go to Linköpping Universitet with my class for a Popular Science day. Basically, it will be a day filled with lectures about current science topics as well as lunch and a few fikas thrown in. It is 2.5 hours away, so that means that we will leave school at 6:15 AM. It sounds as if it will be a fun day since we will have plenty of time to just relax and be with our class.
Wednesday thru Friday: I will be traveling to Riga, Latvia with a few Rotary members from my club, and a few from Rotary clubs in the neighboring towns. Most people are traveling separate, but I will be traveling with Nils, my Rotary counselor while I was living with the Frisks. We all plan to meet in Riga on Wednesday evening. To get there, I will leave my house in Karlskoga around 4:45 AM, and then go to Karlstad, about 45 minutes away, where we will catch the train to Oslo, Norway. From the Oslo airport, we will fly to Latvia. Upon our arrival in Riga, we will have a few hours to kill before we plan to meet up with the others. On Thursday, we will visit a senior citizen center, where 10 Rotary clubs have been working on a project. We also have a Rotary dinner, where an award will be given to a member of the Rotary Club of Riga. Late Friday morning, we will fly out of Riga, which means that we will be back in Karlskoga sometime in the evening.
Saturday: I will be going with Olof and a group of his friends into the woods for moose hunting. Yes, that’s right, I’m going moose hunting!
29-30 October: I will be traveling to Västerås, where I will attend the Rotary District conference (not just youth exchange, as there are only 7 or so in our district). On Saturday, we will have a day filled with various activities. On Sunday, there will be more activities for Rotary members, but the exchange students don’t have to go to this, which means we just get to hang out and do what we wish until we go home.
October 31 – November 4: We have no school due to the fact that it will be our fall break!
11th – 12th November: My host mom, Ann, and I will go to Stockholm where we will watch the Aqua Rapid Diving Competition. Our neighbor is on the junior national team, so we will watch her. We will also watch Anna Lindberg, who also lives and trains in Karlskoga. She is on Sweden’s national diving team and even won gold at the European Championships on 3 meter this year! It will be a fun filled weekend with lots of diving and a little shopping thrown in too!
26th – 27th November: I will be going to Stockholm again, but this time it is with Rotary. Nearly all of the exchange students in Sweden will get together in Stockholm, where we will do various different activities together. 
Anyway…this is what I’ll be up to in the coming month!
Hej då!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mat (Food)

I thought that I should dedicate one of my posts to the food eaten here in Sweden. Before I do that, I will give you a quick update on what I’ve been up to since my last post, which was quite a while ago!

I must say that Stockholm is a beautiful city. I had an amazing time while I was there three weekends ago. While I was there, I got the opportunity to see Gamla Stan (old town) where we were able to see one of the king’s castles, a famous church, the building where the Nobel Prize is given, the beautiful streets, alleys, architecture, and archipelago of Stockholm. We also went to the National Museum, where we were able to see what Sweden was like in the 1500’s to today through art, history, and a little imagination.
Crazy wood door at the National Museum from a castle in 1629

Two weekends ago, I got the opportunity to go to a summer house in Sunne with another exchange student with another exchange program. Her name is Elizabeth Rasmussen. Yes, exact same last name. How ironic! She too is from the US, but she comes from California. She is only here for 6 months, so she leaves in January. Anyway, we were there Friday thru Sunday (yes, I skipped school on Friday to go!). While we were there we picked many lingonberries, went swimming in the lake a few times, went to town to look at the local shops, and overall had a wonderful time. While we were on our way back home, we stopped at where... IKEA. I have to say, even though IKEA in Sweden looks exactly the same as it does in the US, the Swedish one is way cooler just because all the signs are in Swedish.

Last weekend was very fun too. On Friday night, my second host family invited my current host family over for dinner. I actually move there on the first of October, which is very crazy to think about. It doesn’t seem like I have been here long enough to be moving families soon. Anyway, we had a very nice dinner, and ended up chatting for over three hours! Their daughter is only six years old, and really shy. She did draw me a picture of a Swedish flag though. I really look forward to having a little sister who enjoys coloring and watching kid movies. (Kids movies are dubbed in Sweden, so they are in Swedish, not English with Swedish subtitles). The next morning, my family and I went to a baptism. That was very interesting. This baptism was similar, yet different to ones in the US. Similar to the US, there is a ceremony in a church where the priest says a few words, pours water on the baby’s head, the parents light the candles, and we sang a few songs. Unlike in the US, this service was in the middle of the day on a Saturday, not in the middle of a Sunday church service like I’m used to. A baptism in Sweden is also when the baby is officially given its name. Until the baptism, the baby’s name is not “official”. After the service, we all went to another part of the church were we ate traditional sandwich cake. It was very interesting tasting. I will just leave it at that. We also had regular cake with coffee/tea, so that was good. In the evening, I went to Louise’s (fourth family) house for the night again. We actually went over to her friend’s house for a taco fiesta! We made tacos with all the possible fixings, and the 7 of us had a very fun night. Imagine a bunch of very excited and energetic girls all talking Swedish at the same time. Now, imagine trying to follow all of it. Yeah, that was a challenge. I ended up going through the night understanding most that was said though! So that is definitely progress.
Now for the food……
Even though the breakfast and dinner I eat here will likely differ with each family, I thought I would give you an idea of what I have eaten since I have been here…
·         Every morning, we eat an extremely similar breakfast. The only thing that never, ever changes is the type of tea that we drink. Every morning, we drink Twining’s English Breakfast Tea. Why this particular type…because a few years back, my host parents decided to have a taste test for various different types of English Breakfast Tea, and Twining’s was the winner. Ever since that day, they (now me too) have had the same tea every morning.
·         Along with our tea, we will often drink a small glass of juice. Almost always, it is either orange or red orange juice. Occasionally, we will have cloudy apple juice too.
Now, for the food…
For breakfast, we always eat small open faced “sandwiches”. With each sandwich, we have a variety of choices of what we want it made of. First of all, we will generally have two or three different types of bread to choose from. One is always dark, very health bread. The other one is usually dark bread with some type of seeds/nuts in the bread. Occasionally, we will have some lighter/white bread which we can toast. The first step to making our sandwich after we have chosen the bread we want, is adding the butter. Now, I have learned that Swedes really enjoy their butter. No matter what you put on top of the sandwich, you must have butter. Not just a little butter either. It needs to be thick, almost thick enough that you can’t quite see the bread underneath. Along with our bread and butter, we have many different options. We can have…
·         Cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. There are probably a hundred different types of cheese that can be found in the grocery store, but they are split into different categories. Breakfast cheese is one of them. There are many different types of breakfast cheese, and honestly, I can’t tell the difference between most of them. They are all really tasty though. Cheese will go on most sandwiches too.
·         Marmalade, aka jam. This too, comes in many different varieties. Currently, we only have apricot and orange. We just ran out of the svarta vinbär (black current). I think that one was my favorite. That may be just because it was homemade, but it was very, very good.
·         Kaviar. Ew. Basically, this is a fish paste that consists of smoked fish eggs mixed with other spices and fish parts. I tried it once even though I was told I would not like it. (They were correct…I thought it was quite bad.) The only reason Swedes like it is because they grew up with it.
·         Banana. Recently, we have had bananas to put on our sandwiches too. I think that banana and cheese sandwiches are my new favorite now that we don’t have any black currant marmalade.
·         Occasionally, we will also slice a tomato to put on our sandwiches too.
Toastable Bread
Darker Bread
Ost (Cheese)
During the week, I eat lunch at school. Like I mentioned before, school lunch is free. You can take as much or as little as you want too. Since this is now my fifth week in school, I have learned what our weekly lunch usually is…
·         Monday is korv (sausage) day. It may be rice with a sausage/gravy sauce that you put on top, or it might be small sausages with potatoes and spinach sauce, or it may even be a Swedish hot dog (this means that you smother the top of the hot dog with mashed potatoes).
·         Tuesday is a random day.  It will be anything from pasta to “meatballs” with potatoes and gravy. I put the meatballs in quotations because they are really more like meat patties/logs. They taste the exact same as Swedish meatballs, except they are just bigger, and not in the traditional ball shape. I think it’s that was just because it is easier for the cooks at our school.
·         Wednesday is fish day. So far, every time we have had fish in school, we have had white fish (mostly cod). To go with our cod, we (of course) have a sauce to go with it. We also have the option of putting lingonberry jam on our fish too. With our fish, we will almost always have boiled potatoes.
·         Thursday is soup day. With our soup, we also have soft bread (similar to pita bread) with cheese to accompany our soup. My first Thursday lunch, was not a good one. We had spinach soup (It was very green, thick, and jiggled on your spoon). So far, this has been the only school lunch that I have not enjoyed.
·         Friday is also a random day. My favorite “random day” meal has without a doubt been the pankakor med lingonsylt (Swedish pancakes with lingonberry jam) day.
Some days, like fish day and pancake day, the school cooks will replace the ketchup dispensers with lingonsylt dispensers. It looks like a ketchup dispenser, but lingonberry jam comes out instead. How awesome.
To go with our meal every day, we have a choice of water or milk. I always drink milk since we never do at home. (No, we do not drink milk with 10-16% milk fat like some people thought. It actually comes in 0.5, 1.5, and 3.0% milk fat, so very similar to the US). We also have the option of eating knäckebröd med smör (hard bread with butter). The hard bread is about the size of a graham cracker, so I was very surprised to find out that when people took the little individual butters, they put all of it on their bread. (I would maybe use one quarter to one half of it). When this much butter is used, you literally cannot see the bread underneath! Even though I have been in Sweden for six weeks, it still shocks me to see how much butter is consumed each and every day.
Dinner here is extremely delicious. Nearly everything is homemade. My host mom, Lena, is a fantastic cook too. Whatever she decides to make, no matter how strange it sounds/looks to me, tastes wonderful. It is not like the US, where someone will prepare dinner from scratch 5 or 6 times a week, and just put something in the oven on the remaining nights. Literally, every single day here, we have food made from scratch.
To accompany dinner most nights, we will eat some type of salad. Sometimes it is just a pile of lettuce that you eat plain, but other times there will be a homemade (of course!) vinaigrette. Sometimes we add tomato or cucumber to our salad too. Once, my host mom forgot to prepare the salad, so what did she do?? She took a tomato, cut it in half, and we each ate half of a tomato (plain) for our salad. Tomatoes are extremely popular here, and it is not strange if someone just picks up a tomato and starts eating it as if it were an apple.
For the main part of the dinner, we have had many, many, many, many, different things. I don’t think that we have repeated exactly what we ate for dinner more than two or three times since I have been here. (and I will have been here 8 weeks on Friday).
Here are some examples of what we will eat for dinner:
Toast that we put tomato and shrimp (in a creamy sauce) on top.
Eggplant with tomato slices and cheese sauce on top.
Grilled sirloin steak with mushrooms we picked in the forest.
Lasagna. (They put carrots in their lasagna too)
Lamb chops with artichokes (boiled artichokes that we ate with butter, salt, and pepper).
Salmon baked in a white sauce with pasta on the side.
Risotto with shrimp.
Pizza (once) that we cooked in the pizza oven. (Actual pizza oven that you need to start a fire in a few hours before you make the pizza) Everything, even the sauce was homemade!
Chicken with rice and a red beet salad.
Sushi. Yes, I ate sushi tonight for dinner. We had four differett types: salmon, shrimp, avacado, and sushi rolls. They were all very good.
Various other things that I can’t think of at the moment…
After dinner, for ‘dessert’ we will often eat cheese. This cheese is specifically for after dinner. It is usually a softer cheese. Occasionally we will eat it with knäckebröd, but not always.
On Saturday, we will generally eat godis, which is basically candy that you pick from bins in the grocery store. There are probably 50 different types of candy you can choose from. It is tradition that Saturday is godis day. (Godis på lordags)

On a side note, I know many of you are wondering about my Swedish. I am happy to say that my Swedish is coming along quite nicely now. (You can probably tell because my English is slowly getting worse.) When someone points to something, says the word in Swedish, then asks me what it is in English, I sometimes have a hard time remembering what we would call it, for example, a dresser that you put clothes in.
On the other hand, in my Swedish class, one of our assignments was to write a letter to the editor (though not actually sent...). I wrote the entire thing in Swedish, and only had to use a dictionary to look up the word 'wasted'. I think something clicked the other day, as now I can understand nearly...60-70% of what is being said. Some conversations, I understand everything, others, if I don't pay attention in the beginning, I don't understand anything. My Swedish speaking is not that good yet, but it is slowly getting better.
Random story, I never remember dreams (maybe 2 or 3 a year) but on Monday night I had a dream that was in half English, half Swedish! YAY! It was really random and about finding things in drawers, but oh well, it was partly in Swedish!
Hej då, Kristi