YFU Switzerland

Autumn arrived in Sweden

It’s been a long time since I wrote my last blog and in this time alot of things happened and changed.
I made many new experiences and learned a lot more about Sweden.
Some of the things I did:
•I’ve been to Göteborg twice. The first time some other exchange students and me visited Liseberg (a rollercoaster park) and the second time I did some sightseeing and met friends from Switzerland who did holidays there and brought my second suitcase.
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•I’ve been to a „Chelbi“ as we would call it in Switzerland. It is like a little fair where people cell candy, knitted gloves and scarfs and so on. My host siblings and me even participated a race.
•We celebrated my host mother Maries birthday. (And even ate kräftor, swedish crabs…!)
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•Besides the Swedish lessons, all the exchange students who live in or near Karlstad had many lunches, fikas and other fun times toghether. Before I came here I heard  that other exchange students will always be ones best friends and now I can absolutely rely to this.
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•I’ve learned a lot of swedish, what makes life easier here. I also can participate better in school, it’s more interesting if you understand more.
•I read more, what I really appreciate. It gives me a little break sometimes. And I think it’s important to have this in an exchange year, breaks or short moments for yourself. Right now I read Ken Follett’s „Fall of Giants“. A cool new hobby I found here in Sweden and I look forward to read my first book written „på svenska“!
•I observed how autumn made the beautiful swedish nature even more beautiful (if this is even possible!) The forests look like they were on fire! From yellow, over orange-red, until brown, a wonderful play of colours…! And I am very lucky now, that I packet so many winterclothes, brrrrrrr!
•I had an very exclusive sight of the bloodmoon, my friend and me saw it shine over the Vännern. A wonderful experience which I will never forget. The picture couldn’t really catch the beauty of this moment.

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•I also made my first difficult experience here in Sweden; 4 days ago I moved from my first hostfamily to a temporary one, where I stay until a new one is found. The main reason for this change is the long and complicated way to school and also the independance it causes. I’m glad that I will stay in friendly contact with my first family and that my temporary family and me get on very well with each other. Yesterday for example, we cooked moose together, what I really enjoyed.

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I make so many wonderful memories here and I’ve got different ways to keep them. I have a little booklet where I right in what I do here and I also glue in stuff like tickets or receipts and so on. Another thing I do, is an picture album on my phone named „324 days“, the plan is to take a picture everyday and save it in that album. Until now I’ve got 66 pictures, for those 66 days I’ve spent here. Another way of saving memories is, that I exchange letters with my family and best friends in Switzerland. We write eachother about what’s happening in our lifes and how we feel about this.
I can’t wait for the real swedish winter. I’m curious of the darkness and also especially Christmas and I hope that it will be a very cold and snowy one.
Today I’m going take a walk through the nearby forest with my temporary hostfamily. It’s a wonderful sunny day, the trees are absolutely worth it to look at and take pictures of! Later I will see a volleyball game of my team here in Karlstad.
I have found much more knowledge in this time than I ever did in school. I’ve learned about myself, others, our society and the connection between all three.

Some pictures…

my home during my exchange year

my home during my exchange year

Simon Milian Victor Kewin Kendra Paula Cornelia Miranda - 8 siblings

Simon Milian Victor Kewin Kendra Paula Cornelia Miranda – 8 siblings

Skråkvik Gård - our street name

Skråkvik Gård – our street name

I live in the middle of Karlstad and Kristinehamn

I live in the middle of Karlstad and Kristinehamn

Having fika with some classmates

Having fika with some classmates

FIKA TIME

FIKA TIME

First meeting of all current and former exchange students living in or near Karlstad

First meeting of all current and former exchange students living in or near Karlstad

A picture of me taken by my hostmom

A picture of me taken by my hostmom

Some More Details

Until now I didn´t have the time to write a very detailed blog.
Today is a rainy Sunday here in Kristinehamn, so I could finally find some…

About my family:

Besides their own 4 children (age: 19, 17, 5 and 4) and me, my host parents take care of three foster children, twins who are 6 and a 3 year old boy. I believe it demands to have a big heart to be a foster family and I can say for sure that everyone in my host family has a really big heart. I experienced this, when last Sunday the news of the death of my loved neighbor in Switzerland reached me. I was very sad but my host mother was there for me, cuddled me and we talked quite long, which helped me very much.
As already mentioned we live in a big red and white house, right at the shore of the Vännernsee. I like to help my host family with the animals. For example, putting the ponies in the stable, feeding the rabbits or going for a walk with the dogs.
It can sometimes be a bit chaotic with 10 people in one house, for example if it´s time to eat. We don’t have a fixed eating schedule, what I was used to have in Switzerland. Here we eat if we are hungry and sometimes, everyone eats something different. That´s why we never have this “everyone sits at the table and starts eating at the same time”-thing.
A very nice experience I could share with my host father was a road trip to an alpaca farm 3h south from where we live. We got up at 4 am and started our trip. I took about a million pictures of the sunrise and the beautiful Swedish landscape… In the 6h car ride we talked quite a lot, what I really enjoyed.
What I also enjoy is being with the 5 kids. I tried to teach the twins Volleyball, it was very fun! Being with kids is a good way to learn a new language… For example when I (try to) read a book to them, or if we play a simple game.

About school and finding friends

I was a bit afraid of my first school day… “Will it be hard to find friends?” “Can I cope with the Swedish?” and most important “Will I even find the way to my class?”… Now after 2 weeks in school I find it ridiculous how I could be afraid! My class is very nice. Everyone is friends with everyone, which made it easy to build up connection. In Swedish schools students get treated like adults. We call the teachers by their first name and they don’t have like a “boss-role” they are more a “knowledge broadcaster”. There aren’t many rules, e.g. about mobile phone usage or being late. In short; the Swedish school system is very easy-going.
Älvkulle, my school was built in the 1950ies, that’s why it looks a bit runned-down. But the lessons are quite modern. Every student has his own laptop and we use it frequently in class. I didn’t expected to eat good food in school but… WOW … the food is very good. We have a big choice of meals and fresh salad or vegetables.
On Monday afternoons I usually meet the other exchange students to go to the Swedish lessons for beginners. It´s always fun to be with this international group of people.
I signed up for a volleyball club in Karlstad. I think that´s also quite a good way to make friends, same interests, team spirit… The coaches are really nice and one of them can even talk a little bit German!
Because school starts quite late on Thursday mornings my Swiss exchange student friend and me go to a gym a bit outside of Karlstad.

About the Swedish language and culture

I´m surprised, how fast I learn Swedish… I´ve been here for 3-4 weeks and I can already understand quite a lot and also talk a little. In school or with my little siblings I learn the most I think. Because then there`s no other choice than listening to the Swedish language. Sometimes I try to answer and every once in a while I succeed…
One reason I took Sweden as country for my exchange was, that it´s standards are quite similar to the ones in Switzerland. For example drinking water from the tap or crossing the street is no problem in both countries. Sweden and Switzerland seem to be very similar from the outside, but with a closer look you can see quite a big difference. And this closer look I want to take during my exchange year!

Although I miss my family and friends at home I enjoy every minute here to the fullest and try to experience as many things as possible.
This isn´t just a year in a life, it´s a life in a year.

The beginning of my new Life in Sweden

Wow… I can’t believe that 17 days of the 324 days I’ll be spending here in Karlstad are already over!
I learned so much during the short time here; about Sweden but also much about myself. I found out that people here are very very social, everyone helps and cares for eachother. And I also experienced the social political system, for example with the free food at school.
In a exchange year no one knows your past and you don’t have a future. Maybe the future is the next 307 days, but you don’t have to care about your future job career or whatever. Here in Sweden, I live in the moment. And I like this. I try to apreciate as many things as I can and there are many… For example the fika I had with some of my new classmates, the first volleyball training I could go to, my big and lovely family with all their animals or how friendly the teachers in school are. I’m very motivated to learn swedish fast, because I think this will help me in many ways, not only better communication but I think I will also feel more like a „svenska flicka“ if I can also talk like one.
Besides fika and learning swedish I did many other things here, too: I went to Mariebergskogen (a park with animals in Karlstad), had my first day of school, I’ve been to a little festival, I tried to find my way in Karlstad (and also shopped a little hihihi), my family took me to a kind of agricultural fair and many many more things.
Eventhough I really miss my family and friends in Switzerland, I fell in love with Swedens nature, people and especially the very easy-going school system!

The First Few Days

On 12. august I started my exchange year. It was so unrealistic to say goodbye to everyone at home and to know that I won’t see them for a whole year!
In the airplane my feelings were playing rollercoster. One minute they were like „AWESOME!!! Finally my exchange year starts!“ but in the next I had to think about my family and friends and that I won’t see them for a whole year… „What the heck am I doing?! Can we turn the plane and go back to Switzerland please??“
The welcoming camp was very cool, I’ve met so many people from all over the world. We stayed in typically swedish houses, had fika (swedish cake and coffee) and were bathing in a very cold lake. (For me it felt like if it was ice water, but for the swedish people it was like a whirl pool…) It could not have been more cliché!
I was in the train to get to Kristinehamn were my host parents and my seven host siblings waited for me. I could barely handle my 31kg suitcase, so people had to help me. I said tack så mycket (thank you very much) like a thousand times and I said that I was an exchange student. „It’s our responsibility to help you.“ Said one (blonde hair and blue eyed) women. That’s when I knew I really was in Sweden. People are so social and helpful here…
I had tears in my eyes when I first saw my new home. The next 321 days I will live in a red and white house, next to the biggest lake in sweden with my hostparents, my 7 host siblings, 5 ponies, 2 horses, 4 dogs, 2 alpacas and several rabbits. I feel like I am in some of Astrid Lindgrens stories!