Jönköping, Sweden

I cannot believe my trip is already over. I am definitely not ready to go back home—I have had so much fun getting to just spend time with my friends and not worry about my usual life. I don’t think I could have asked for things to go better as far as traveling and the time spent with my dear friends. Apologies for the lack of updates on time in the past week—it has been difficult to find internet, even less internet that works with my computer. So I’ve written things along the way and am posting them when I get home. Anyway, the rest of Sweden.

Friday night, Hans’ mother made a wonderful meal, though I disagree that it counts a barbeque…there’s just that NC part of me that can’t think of it as anything but pulled pork…But it was delicious none-the-less and his parents were quite hilarious. His whole family I just really like. They are nice and very light-hearted. After dinner, we went out to Bongo, a bar Hans went to when he was in high school, and a couple others. The night was uneventful—a few drinks, some blackjack—nice but not incredibly exciting. We came home sort of early (12am) because Hans’ brother could give us a ride…and that was much preferred over the bus ride, which I was warned was hideous. Again, I got a cool 10 hours of sleep, which was wonderful.

Yesterday, we went into Jönköping and just kind of explored—we went down to the pier to get some ice cream (we had to start early so that we could make up for today not being able to get any…you know…) and sat out by the lake looking over the beautiful Swedish crystal-clear water. We walked by the beach (which was SO crowded, especially with brown Swedes), and I stopped and made a flower crown, with clovers, which I hadn’t done since high school I don’t think. We stopped over at an H&M and then went up to a peak above the town, from where you could see miles (kilometers…) of nothing but evergreens. It was incredible. We had fica and ice cream (again) and took pictures. Then we headed back home and had dinner (moose meat and potatoes with linginberries), and dessert (strawberries with ICE CREAM….3rd time). After dinner, Hans took a nap while up uploaded FIVE albums of pictures on facebook, then we went to a party of friends’ of Hans. So I got to meet some Swedes my age, which was cool. They were all very nice and (as Hans & I had discussed earlier) asked me what I thought about Sweden, which we decided was quite a difficult question to answer.

It’s so hard to put into words what is different about a place—Sweden, Europe, the United States. It just IS different. And not, at the same time. After being friends with these people for a semester, I was not really surprised by anything. There is sort of a different style in clothing, in architecture/building design and decoration, but in the end, all of the differences seem really minor. Plus you can never tell what parts of the differences you feel are simply because you’re on vacation, or a year that doesn’t really matter academically. I mean, I’ve felt really relaxed here, but that might just be because I don’t really have anything to worry about. I hope I can take at least a little of that home with me, though, because it has been really really nice. I have proven to myself that I can travel not very conventionally or securely and not feel very nervous. I was a bit nervous on my past two trips (the Germany-Spain and Spain-Sweden legs) because they were so difficult to get to the airports and everything, but it all worked out, and a have so much more confidence in my ability to deal with whatever comes up. Being able to go on this trip with as little planning as I had was really priceless, and it was so nice to have my friends be the guides—they were able to show me things that they’d seen in their childhoods, where people who live in the places go, that they hadn’t seen in years. So they were excited about it too. I felt like I got to share a really cool adventure with them all, and, as anyone who knows me will attest, the most important thing to me on this trip was the people I was visiting. So while I got to see some interesting places, they were made so much more interesting in how they connected to these wonderful people I’ve befriended.

I’ve talked to everyone about visiting me in New York City next year, which, conveniently, is the cheapest place (ticket-wise) to go in the States from here. So hopefully people will come visit me :-D.

As for now, I’m heading home. I’m not really ready, but I have things to do and New York to prepare for, so, life goes on even when you don’t want it to. When I get home, I’ll be quickly unpacking and re-packing to be in Charlotte for 2 weeks, where I’ll be working in an all-Hispanic clinic (with Mexican/Central American Spanish, thank goodness). My job has very nicely rented me a car so that I will not be swimming on my drive there—neither from water leaking into my car nor from sweat. The place I’m staying is supposedly really nice (pool, work-out room, etc), so that is promising. As I’ll presumably have internet, I’ll try and keep you updated.

Much love to all,
Shannon