Wednesday, April 18, 2012


At the begining of April I took a trip to Austria with the danish student Niko who stayed with my family last year.  It turned out to be an incredible trip to say the least.  We started our trip in copenhagen on april first by getting on a german night train in the late afternoon.  We took this train through the night to Frankfurt where we changed to a train that took us just past Salzburg Austria, then a taxi the rest of the way to the ski resort town of Obertauern.  This place was HUGE.  It had seven peaks accessible by chairlifts and probably close to 20 restuarants scattered throughout the mountain, as well as hotels.  We stayed in a wonderful hotel in the valley of the ski resort right in the middle of everything.  Every day we would eat lunch at a different restaurant on the mountain and dinner at different restaurants in the town.  We were extroidinarily lucky with weather too (in my opinion) because the first two days were almost completely clear and very warm, getting to the teens in celcius, so probably close to 50 F.  The third day had a few clouds but fantastic weather still, but the fourth and fifth days were completely overcast and rainy (snow at the very higest points).  These two days were still very warm though, in fact, it didn't even get below freezing at night, so the conditions were very tough to ride in the last two days.  The last two days were also very foggy, the foggiest weather I have ever been in in fact.  We ate lunch at a restaurant that was just about 100ft or so below a lift but when Niko and I got off the lift we couldn't see it and couldn't even make out the shape until we were within about 30 ft of it probably.  When we were taking the lift up, we could only see one or two chairs in front of us, and wen there wasn't a lift tower in sight, it looked the the lift cable was vanishing into the abyss above us, it was very wild!  The first three days were absoutely prime spring conditions and were some of the best days I have had snowboarding!  There was so much terrain too, I was constantly finding new lines and spots of awesome spring corn to do big slashes in.  I could have stayed there for a month and not gotten bored.  It makes me look forward to riding big mountains in college when I get home.  The trip home was uneventful and I made it back to Sweden just in time to start my easter break.

I also just returned from a trip down to southern sweden to visit some exchange students that live there.  I stayed near the university town of Lund which was very nice.  We mostly just hung around Lund but also went to a restaurant on the end of a big pier that goes out into the ocean.  We did a very swedish activity of saunaing and then jumping into the ocean and going back into the sauna.  The water was very cold, similar to lake supirior, but it was a fun experience.  Now I am back in sigtuna and school, which is coming to an end soon!  My last day is June 8 and the graduation parties have already started.

Thats about the latest!  Check out my flickr page for the pictures from Austria!

Friday, March 23, 2012


Since my last blog update, I have taken two fantastic snowboarding trips to northern sweden.  The first was during out spring break basically, except it is much earlier than in the states, and many families go skiing for it.  My family took me up to a ski resort called Bydalen.  It is quite near the city of Östersund if you are interested.  We went up there for a week and rented a cabin that was right on the hill.  The mountain itself was nice, but still nothing like those out west in the US.  It was still very flat....  However, they had a great line of jumps in their park so when the weather was nice I spent the day there.  The other bummer of Bydalen was that I broke my snowboard I had bought here in sweden on the first day.  It had slowly been breaking throughout the season and finally the core snapped after taking a tumble in some fresh snow (something that would have normally had no effect on the board).  I ended up having to rent for the remaining six days, which of course turned out to be a very bad board...  I still had a great time though and it was a very relaxing trip!

The next big trip happened just a week after I got back from Bydalen!  And this trip was the one I had been looking forward to since the moment I found out it was offered.  This was the rotary sponsored trip up to swedens super resort of Åre.  It is a world famous resort where they hold the downhill world championships every year.  In fact, the womens world championships were the week just before we were there.  A couple exchange students were there for them and got to meet Lindsey Vonn.  There were about 40 exchange students from accross the world that came, living all over in sweden.  Many of us took the same night train up from stockholm, which took about 9 hours, but turned out to be incredibally fun.  When we got to Åre on Sunday the 11th of March (my birthday) we headed streight to the hotel we were staying at which was in the nearby town of Duved.  We didn't ski that first day, but instead got everyone settled into the hotel and figured rentals out.  We then skiied the next four days.  Unfortuanly, the weather was not on our side while we were there.  It had been above freezing the whole week before and then went minus the sunday we got there, so the first three days were like riding on an ice rink.  The second and third day we got a little bit of new snow, enough to get some nice turns in some hidden shoots we found.  The top of the mountain was however closed the whole time we were there.   The fourth day was by far the best.  It turned partly sunny in the afternoon, and was above 0 the whole day, making for what I find is really fun soft snow.  I spend most of that day in the park which is fantastic at Åre.  I ended up doing a 65 ft jump by the end of the day (unfortunatly no photo proof though).

Needless to say, the most fun aspect of this trip was not the actuall snowboarding, but the social part.  I got to meet everyone again that lives in different parts of sweden, as well as many "newbies" from australia who came just two months ago.  We all had a great time at the hotel and on the slopes, and our chaparones were really fun people too.  They were just a bit older than us so we bonded with them really well.  It was very sad to leave everyone the last day and the trainride home was a bit depressing.  However, I have already made plans to go and visit people who live far from stockholm.  I am taking a trip down to Lund which is in the far south of sweden to visit several people who live in the area.

Thats the latest news!  Spring has come to stockholm as well, it has been quite nice and the days are getting much longer (thank god).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Winter Fun

It's been a while again, but really just feels like longer than it has been.  Winter has finally come to the stockholm area now for the past month or so and I feel like I have been non-stop snowboarding (finally).  This has been great though!  I went on a trip with my school for a day which was fun, and also to a place with some friends that was a bus ride away.  Mostly I have been riding at a place called Väsjöbacken, and I absolutely LOVE it there.  It's real small, smaller than buck if you can imagine, however they have an awesome park crew which I have become friends with, and it has been a ton of fun riding with those guys.  I have no school on thursdays this term so I have been going then, as well as once on the weekend usually.  There has also been quite a bit of snowboarding here in my town of Sigtuna that I have been doing.  We have been setting up handrails that are in town and getting some cool pictures.

The best part about my snowboarding season is that it's about the get even better!  We have sportlov (which is basically spring break) this next week and my family and I are going up north to a ski resort called Bydallen for a week.  After this I have one more week of school and then go on the Rotary sponsored trip to Åre, which is Sweden's worldclass ski resort.  That will be starting on my birthday!  (I almost can't think of a better way to spend my birthday) and goes for about five days.  We get back and spring riding will hopefully be in full swing, which is always my favorite time of the season.  I only hope my board which I bought here can last that long since I have managed to give it some major core damage which means it won't be ridable for much longer.  Hoping for the best anyways!

Aside from these snowboarding endevours, I have been doing a lot of hanging out with both swedish friends and exchange student ones.  I think I have found a good balance between the two.  I go to Stockholm and fika with the exchange students quite often, but also hang out often in Sigtuna, or Stockholm with my swedish pals.

Another quite exciting thing that has happened is getting the long-awaited information about our European bus tour in the summer.  This is another Rotary sponsored event, and by far the most anticipated one.  Getting the official information was exciting to say the least.  It leaves Malmö in the very southern tip of Sweden and runs through Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, France, and Belgium for 17 days.  It is going to be an absolute blast, that is for sure.  We get back to Sweden on the 14th of July and then I have booked my plane ticket for the 19th of July to fly back home to the USA!

I haven't said anything about my language progress in quite a while so I thought that would be interesting to mention.  I am no where fluent yet, but speaking almost entirely swedish at home with my family.  The only time we speak english is to clarify something, or sometimes when serious conversation breaks out.  I still speak english with my classmates, which is bad, bit it's a tricky one to transition over to.  Most of my Swedish friends also speak english with me, with the excpetion of one of my good friends here.  She usually speaks swedish with me and that has been really helpful in learing.  I would say I am still not where I would like to be, but that is fluent, so I should say I am happy with where I am at!  I still have about five months left so we will see how far it gets!

As you can hopefully tell, things are going quite splendid here in Sverige.  I am enjoying almost every second of it.  Hope everything is well in the states!

Monday, January 16, 2012

So much has happened, and its only begining

So I have been meaning to update this for quite some time, and am finally taking the time to sit down and do it.  A ton has happened since my last entry, but I'll try to go through the highlights in a sensible order.

I suppose the first big thing was Christmas time!  Shortly after getting back from Denmark I went to the Christmas market in Sigtuna, which is quite large actually, and someone famous, meaning lots from Stockholm come up and buy things like Christmas food, candles, and other decorations.  It was very nice and I have several pictures on my flickr from it.  It would have been much more picturesque if we had gotten snow, but for some reason the gods are mad this year and decided to give us the worst winter (snow wise) I have ever been through!  And from what I have heard, Minnesota is the same exact way.  What a bummer.  I can say we still don't even have enough snow on the ground to shovel, and it rained about a week ago in fact.  Anyways, this has been a somewhat bitter subject for me so I will try not to dwell on it much here.  Moving on...

Actual Christmas here was quite nice.  I have been with the same family the whole year (and will remain so) and this means that I felt very much a part of the family throughout the holidays.  Here in Sweden they celebrate not on the 25th, but the 24th, so that morning we opened gifts, then got ready and went over to my host dads parents house who, like I might have mentioned before, live just down the street from us.  We spend the day there with almost everyone on my host dads side of the family.  They all live relatively close so there was about 20 or so of us there.  While there we had a huge julbord which is basically a table filled full of traditional Swedish food such as pickled herring, meatballs, ham, salmon, potatoes, etc...  So much food, and all quite good in my opinion!  After dinner Santa came and gave presents to mostly the younger cousins.  That was quite fun to watch.  After this we all watched a very popular program on tv that I guess they watch every year while we at cookies and other Christmas treats and drank coffee and tea.  During this we opened up even more presents, yes there is a lot of gift exchanging.  After this we sat around and talked, played some board games, and went home somewhat late.  I thought it was a wonderful Christmas!  I felt just like a part of their family, and my Swedish has progressed enough that I wasn't always lost during conversation.

The week right after new years I went up north with my family to a ski resort near Norway called Lofsdalen.  I finally got to see some natural snow and had a nice 5 days of snowboarding!  The drive up was a nice 6 hour drive through the Swedish forests, and when we were about a half hour away, we had to stop to let three huge moose cross the road.  A truly swedish experience in my opinion.  The small cottage we stayed in is owned my my dads parents which they share with all the kids during the winter.  It's just a couple minutes from the lift.  While we were there we got a couple centimeters of snow, enough so that I didn't mind at all the fact that they had no park.  Instead, me and my brother lapped the top half and took runs through the trees where the fresh snow could be found.  It seemed to me like swedes weren't familier with the term "side country" they instead all seemed to stay right on the trail.  I sure didn't mind though!  They left all the fun snow for me.  I also tried cross country skiing for the first time in I think ten years.  Not exactly my cup of tea, but it was nice to be outside in the swedish wilderness.

Now school has started again and next week we start next term.  Last Friday our "oldies" from Australia left so that was quite sad, but we get new ones on Saturday.  We are all looking forward to meeting them because they are the ones we will share all the trips with like Åre and the euro tour.  Our oldies said they should be the ones we will be closest with.  We'll see I guess.  Also, I was very happy because one of the local ski places finally opened up called Väsjöbacken (try pronouncing that...) which is only about half hour by car, and longer by train but still doable.  I'm hoping to make it my regular spot on Thursdays since I won't have school on Thursdays during this next term.  I got to go there yesterday on sunday and made friends with a couple of guys on their park crew already so it should be a fun place to get to ride more often, even though its about the size of hyland hills....

Anyways, I think those are the main things I have done in the last month!  It's been fun and now I am about exactly half way done with my exchange.  Pretty unbelievable, and everyone says time flies after Christmas so I am hoping to make the most of it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Last Friday morning I left for Denmark.  I had been looking forward to this trip since I booked it just after Niko came and visited me.  I got cheap tickets through norwegian airlines.  It was a nice smooth flight, and I realized it was the first time I had ever truely flown completely alone.  When I got there I met up with Jon Groom, another exchange student from minnesota who lives close by here in sweden (I think I have talked about him before).  We met up with Niko shortly after in Copenhagen along with two other exchange students who live in the area down there.  We walked around the city and niko showed us his school which is located directly downtown right on the main street.  That night we met up with nikos parents at a famous place in copenhagen called Tivoli.  It's an old and very nice amusement park with a couple rides.  We walked around there and had dinner, then went back to their home town of Køge which is just a 40 minute train ride away.  Saturday we walked around Køge and got lunch their.  After that we went to a castle that is near by and went past the ocean.  That night niko had a birthday party for his 18th birthday which was quite fun.  Just a small get together with some of his classmates.  Sunday was a down day where we spent at home skyping a lot of people from back in minnesota and things like that.  Monday niko had school so he woke up early and jon and I woke up later and left for town to get home.  I got back that evening.  It was a great trip!  So good to see Niko again and really fun to see where he actually comes from after hearing about it over a year ago!  I'm really hoping to get back there again.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The latest from sverige

I just realized I haven't writen in quite a while.  It doesn't seem like it's been a month but it nearly has.  Time here is starting to fly by, as I sit here at write this, it is exactly four months to the day that I arrived in Sweden.  This is something that is hard to imagine and I'm realizing what other exchange students mean when they say how fast it seems the year goes.  After talking with many Australians this weekend who have only six weeks left, I am really not looking forward to sharing that feeling in what will probably be here before I know it.

Anyways, news here: two weekends ago was a huge snowboard and ski competition called Stadium Winter Jam.  It was an awesome event.  I got a press pass to take pictures in designated ares and managed to get some pretty decent shots.  If you have not looked at my flickr in a while, the best ones are on there, here is a link:

Because of my press pass, I was also able to go back to the inside of the stadium where the riders had all their stuff.  A friend of mine who is a big skiing fan was able to talk to one of the best freestyle skiers in the world for a while, something he will never forget I'm sure.  I also got to talk to an italian rider that was there for the comp.  It was a long day and a really fun one.

This last weekend Rotary held an event here in Stockholm.  It was just a one and a half day thing, but it was a great excuse to get 60 rotary students together for some good old fashion bonding.  Saturday everyone met at the train station at 10.  We all got on a bus and took a short walk around the old part of Stockholm.  We then took a tour of the nobel museum which is right in the middle of the old town.  We ate a quick lunch there, then got back onto the bus and went to a church choral concert at a very old church just outside Stockholm.  Then back into Stockholm for a christmas dinner and a play performed in swedish after that.  It was an extremely full day and we didn't get to our hotel until about 10.  Now when I say hotel I use that lightly because we did not stay in an ordinary hotel.  It was actually an old PanAm 747 converted into a hotel a few years ago.  It is really wild, they tore out everything from the inside and made rooms and bathrooms and the likes inside the plane.  There were also two lobby areas where we could relax, talk, and eat food.  Being that we were 60 rotary students inside a plane for the night, it goes without saying that we didn't get much sleep.  I think I went to bed at 5:30?

We had to be on the bus at 9:45 the next morning so that was fun.  That morning we went to a place in Stockholm called skansen which is a zoo that has typical swedish animals such as moose, wolves, owls, and the likes.  There was a christmas festival there where one could buy typical swedish christmas food and gifts.  We got lunch there and then headed back to the train station to see everyone off.  It was a great weekend mostly because of the people we were all able to meet.  I met a ton of australian "oldies" who have been here 10 months already.  They told us all about things like the Euro tour and trip to Åre and other things they have done in sweden.  They got me really excited for the trips, especially the Euro tour, but I know they are changing it this year so we'll see what happens with that.  I'm also looking forward to meeting the "newbies" when they get here.  The oldies only have about 6 weeks left and the newbies come a couple weeks after they leave.  It's hard to believe I will be an oldie already, but I'm looking forward to filling the role.

This next week I am going to Copenhagen to visit my Danish brother Niko!  I'm looking forward to seeing him again so much!  We had a great time when he came to Stockholm and I'm thinking going to visit him in his hometown will be even better!  I'll write another blog entry sometime after I get back from his visit.

Overall, I can say I am loving life and Sweden is treating me quite well these days.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time is now flying by

I have reached and passed the well known three month mark.  I remember thinking before I left that the first three months would be the hardest, and so far I would say I was correct.  While the first month was a lot of fun, the last two have been full of frustrating progress on the language, and not really fitting in and knowing what to do.  But I would say all of that is starting to change.  I switched into a better swedish class at school, one where I get one on one time with a really great teacher who has been extremely helpful and nice while teaching me.  This has helped me to step over a sort of plateau I was at with my language.  I feel again that it is moving along pretty well now.  I'm understanding more and more, to the point where if I listen hard enough, I can usually understand whats going on in a conversation, as long as it's not about neuroscience or something.  I'm also starting to speak more, especially at home.  My host brother has actually been great at getting me to speak swedish with him.  I'm really hoping that by Christmas I will be speaking almost only swedish at home, but we'll see.  I've also been making a lot more friends who are actually swedish.  My exchange student friends are getting quite annoyed that I'm not hanging out with them, but that's okay in my mind since I'm with swedes.  Actually, one of my friends is originally from Los Angeles but he moved here about 5 or 6 years ago, so speaks fluent swedish.

For my three month anniversary of sorts, I made fajitas for my host family.  they turned out really well and tasted like the real thing from home.  my family also really enjoys it when I cook for them so I thought it was a good way of saying thanks for the first three months of my year with them.

Another thing that has been great here is the upcoming snowboarding season.  I had my first opportunity to ride about a week and a half ago now at a ski/snowboarding competition in Uppsala.  It was a ton of fun and I almost didn't compete but couldn't stand watching others ride so I did.  It ended up being a good choice because I wound up the only snowboarder in the finals, and had a chance to win a trip to Austria, but fell on both of my last runs...  Bummer.  Two days later I found a board in Stockholm cheap and bought it.  I've now gotten to use it twice, both times again in Uppsala at a HUGE outdoor ice rink where they have big piles of snow which riders have turned into a preseason rail setup.  I took video from my last trip and will put it up as soon as I can find some software to edit it with.  Unfortunately I still have about a month until the real slopes open up.  Luckily I have found a couple buddies that are big time riders like myself that I should be taking many trips with to go boarding.  So this season is shaping up to be another good one!

In other news, school is about the same old same old, I don't do much other than listen and play cards, but I still don't mind going much.  We just finished fall break which was a great week off.  Went to a halloween party, and that was about it.  The break was uneventful for the most part but that was just fine in my book.  It is also getting quite dark here, the sun now goes down around 4:00 maybe?  and I'm not sure when it gets up, but the sunsets are amazing.

The next couple weekends will be fairly busy actually which is nice.  This weekend there is a ski/snowboard gear convention in Stockholm, and next weekend is a huge ski/snowboard event called stadium winter jam, where they set up a huge jump in a stadium that pro riders compete on.  there is also some rails that anyone can ride.  afterwards there is a photography convention as well.  The weekend after that is a Rotary weekend in Stockholm in which I have heard about 65 exchange students will be in town for tradition advent/Christmas traditions, so that will be fun.  Then the first weekend in December I am visiting my good ol Danish brother Niko in Copenhagen!  It's his birthday so I am helping him celebrate and plus I get to see Copenhagen which I am really excited for!  So I have a busy next couple of weeks, which will be a lot of fun.

Hoppas allt är bra i USA!