My weekend has been filled with activities that you could only experience in Sweden. From three hours of school Fridays, to sauna-ing, to fika.
Friday started with my short and easy school day and I was done by 12:10. When I got home, Mamma and I decided to bake a dessert so we spent some time looking up recipes and finally decided on an Oreo and Nutella cheesecake. We walked down to the store to pick up some ingredients which was a little tricky since we had to convert everything for cups to grams and milliliters. I think next time we will try a Swedish recipe! While waiting for the cheesecake to be ready, we had some tea, played some cards, and decided on a movie to watch. We spent the night relaxing and turned in early.
Saturday morning, Ebba and I got up early and took the train to Gröna Lund, the theme park in Stockholm. I was excited to see what it was like, but I figured it wouldn’t be too exciting since Florida is full of huge theme parks like: Disney, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Busch Gardens, Sea World, pretty much if you name one, we have one.
Gröna Lund was way better than I expected. First of all, it’s much smaller but it feels like it has the same amount of rides. It’s so nice to come out the exit to one ride and be at the entrance to the next. All the roller coasters sort of intertwine between the cracks of the other making it seem like one huge roller coaster.
For lunch I had my very first fish and chips which was also surprisingly much better than I expected. After lunch we rode a few more rides before deciding we had had enough and were ready to head home, but not without some Fika! We bought a couple donuts and headed for the train station. We stopped in a nice park near the station since we were a little early and ate our donuts.
I had one with chocolate icing and marshmallows and one with chocolate icing and M&M’s. Easily the greatest donuts I ever had. After we had caught our train and returned home, we had a few hours to relax before heading off on our next adventure, the sauna!!
Everyone in Sweden saunas and saunas often. Most gyms have a small sauna in the locker room, and apartment complexes will have them as well. As an American, you have to be very open minded to trying new things if you want to experience a true Swedish sauna since you do it nude. For us, my host dad’s brother has his own personal sauna at his home so we were able to use his. Ebba, Lina and I went first so we headed down the hill and into the sauna.
You walked in and there was a small room where you could put your clothes and towels. A true Swedish sauna experience starts by taking off all you clothes, grabbing a small towel to sit on, and heading into the sauna. We sat in the sauna for a while and started sweating out all the bad fluid in our bodies. When we were so hot we could barely stand it any more, it was time for a swim.
We grabbed our towel from the small outer room and ran out of the house, all the way down the dock and jumped into the freezing Swedish lake. I paused for a second before going in, afraid of the cold, but I knew I had to do it, so I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and jumped. As soon as I hit the water, a shock ran through my body. The cold water made my skin start to tingle, my muscles tensed, and my heart begin to beat out of control.
It was so exhilarating and all I wanted to do was go again. With adrenaline still racing through my body we headed back to the sauna to heat up again. We went back and forth a few times until we felt we had had enough.
I am so happy I was able break out of my comfort zone and experience something completely different, something I could never find in Florida. By putting aside my reservations and plunging feet first into such an experience, I was able to make it the best it could be.
To me, studying abroad is only as good as you make it. No matter where you are, the best way to get a good experience is to do everything the way a Swede, or an Italian, or an Aussie would. During my time here, I have decided traveling is all about making the unknowns your norms and that is exactly what I plan to do.
This morning I woke up and found my host mom had picked some fresh plums from our very own plum tree. After I had a small breakfast we started making a quick and easy plum pie. Once everyone was up, we went for a nice workout at the gym. Feeling stronger, sweatier, and hungrier, we stopped by the grocery store on the way home to pick up some lunch and dinner.
My host family thought it would be nice for me to try another new dish for dinner so we picked up some Sill. Sill is uncooked herring, but not fermented!!!, that is put in jars and prepared in a multitude of different ways. I cautiously scooped one slimy piece and some spices from the jar and onto my plate. It looked much worse than it tasted.
The flavor the sill is placed in masked the strong fish taste well and I was shocked that I actually liked it. I don’t think I could eat too much of it, but a few pieces of some different flavors were very tasty. Swedish cuisine is definitely much different from the typical American food and has constantly been testing my stomach’s limits, but so far I have been pleasantly surprised.
Now I must get some rest for I have a long and exciting week ahead of me. Hej då!