Lobster weekend (even though we did not get any lobster)

Liseberg with friends!

Ida and I got up early for the sunrise and this was the start of the beautiful sunrise.

After the swimrun race in France


October 28, 2023

Learning The Lay of the Land

It’s been almost three months, and it’s incredible how time has flown by since I first arrived here. Let me share with you what I’ve been up to:

One of the most magical experiences I’ve had so far is witnessing bioluminescence and even swimming in it. The water transforms into a mesmerizing blue glow as you swim through it. It is rare, requiring just the perfect temperature and the right amount of salt in the water. I consider myself lucky to have experienced it.

I’ve also spent several days exploring Göteborg, both on my own and with friends. My architecture class has been a fascinating adventure as we ventured into the city to examine various building types and their architectural designs. What’s remarkable is that we don’t merely observe pictures of these buildings; we physically visit them, discuss their history, unique features, and even sketch them.

One aspect of my schooling that still surprises me is that we don’t stay in the building the whole day. Lunch is in another building and we travel to the city to study different aspects. At lunch, we refer to the eating place as “bamba,” a typical Göteborg term that isn’t used in other cities like Stockholm. Additionally, time is expressed differently here, with dates often referred to as “we have a test week 43” or “fall break is week 44,” which is practical and intuitive. Another thing that initially threw me off but now makes perfect sense is that the week starts on Monday.

I’m slowly mastering the bus system, and I can now figure out which bus to take without needing to check the app. School has been going well also…I have passed all of the tests I have taken(in Swedish).

In late September, I had an exciting swimrun weekend with Ida. I met several new people and reconnected with some I already met. The camaraderie among swimrunners is remarkable; they support and challenge each other to do better. We kicked off the weekend with a 14k run, followed by a yummy dinner. Someone even baked fresh sourdough bread that was absolutely scrumptious. The next day, we did a 2.5-hour swimrun adventure in Smögen, one of my favorite places for swimrun. Smögen’s picturesque beauty and a tower jump before a swim made the experience so memorable. We also had the chance to go rock climbing, as some of the swimrunners were skilled in outdoor climbing. After a few attempts, I made it to the top, and I must say, it’s much harder than it looks. It’s amazing to think that I got to swimrun and rock climb in Smögen, a city that is pictured in Google when you look up Sweden. The last day brought a shorter 2-hour swimrun, followed by a nice fika.

A common Swedish activity is lobster fishing. I joined Ida, Michael, Ture, and Ida’s brother and his daughter at their summer house. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t permit lobster fishing, so we took a boat ride around Smögen instead. Typically, lobster traps are set out on Friday and checked several times on Saturday and Sunday.
Ida and I share the love for making kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls), and we had the perfect excuse to bake them on October 4th, Kanelbullens dag, and share them with friends. All you could smell on October 4th was cinnamon rolls!

I also had the opportunity to visit France recently. Ida and I took a train to Stockholm, where we met up with her swimrun teammate, Anders Södergron, and his daughter Joline. From there, we caught an early morning flight to Nice, France, and then took a train to Cannes. After settling in, we headed to the beach and spent the entire day there. Some of Ida’s friends joined us, and we all had a great time, sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company. Dinner was a memorable experience, with other swimrunners who were competing. It was held at an Italian restaurant with multiple courses, from bread to tomato and fresh mozzarella, various pasta dishes, and a variety of desserts. The company was just as wonderful as the food, with individuals doing so many different things, including a motivational writer, an ex-Olympian, and a CEO. Despite the language challenge, I did my best to keep up with the fast-paced Swedish conversations. The following morning, Ida and I woke up early to catch the stunning sunrise along a beautiful boardwalk by the water. It was an incredible sunrise, and we indulged in croissants and pain au chocolat on the way back. We then went on a ferry to Ile Sainte-Marguerite, an island near Cannes, where we explored the island, swam to discover some really cool statue heads in the water, and had lunch. That night someone was looking for a swimrun teammate so I signed up with them. We ended up getting 3rd! The views during the runs were breathtaking, and the clear water allowed us to look at the fish while swimming. It was an adventure I hadn’t anticipated, but it went so well. We celebrated with French crepes. Then the next day we had to go home.

The weekend following our French adventure, I attended a friend’s birthday party, which was a blast. There were 10 of us and we enjoyed burgers, played Mario Kart, watched a movie, and played card games. The next day, I participated in the Rotary District Conference for District 2360. Along with three other exchange students from the district, we prepared a video where we showcased dishes or desserts from our states/countries. I made a peach crumble, as Georgia is famous for its peaches, and I did my video in Swedish. Before we showed the video, we each gave a quick introduction of ourselves. I gave my introduction in Swedish but the clothes were in half Swedish, half English. All the Rotarians were super impressed and told us we did a great job. A few rotarians came up afterwards, we talked in Swedish and they complimented my Swedish. That felt pretty good.

Most recently, my friends and I visited Liseberg, the amusement park in Gothenburg. Max, Enis, Lovisa, Cornelia, Madde, and I had a great time riding roller coasters, with “Helix” being my personal favorite. We also braved a haunted house – my first haunted house experience, and Lovisa’s too. After one haunted house, Lovisa and I chose to do more roller coasters while the others ventured into another spooky adventure because one spooky house was enough.

As I adapt to the local culture and language, I find that I’m making significant progress. I might not be fluent yet, but I understand more than 50% of what people are saying. I’m even starting to catch the jokes my friends make.

It started getting dark pretty early, around 5:30pm. It has also started getting colder, not below freezing during the day yet though. It is only going to get colder and I am a little nervous for that to happen.