Amanda Goes to Sweden: Adventures in Lappland

03/11/2014

Well, I survived my trip to Lappland. Barely. While I was up north, I got into a fight with Sweden’s fifth largest lake and the meter-thick layer of ice on top of it. My face lost, the ice won, and I walked away with a minor concussion. But other than that, the trip was absolutely awesome! (Apparently the sight of me lying face down on the ice as my phone and camera skidded meters away from me in opposite directions was also highly entertaining.) I’m fine now though, and all memories of the trip are still intact. [See all my photos from the adventure at the end of this post.]

Early Friday morning we flew into a town pretty much buried in snow, we stocked up on food for the weekend (trying to feed/please seven people from four different countries was also an adventure in itself) and headed an hour and a half further north, until we were about 200 km above the Arctic Circle, to the ski lodge where we would stay. It was absolutely beautiful. While up there, we…

  • … Drove to the border of Norway and ran across like silly people in the snow. We returned when we realized that things, not surprisingly, looked pretty much the same on the other side of the “Norge” sign, still cold and snowy.
  • … Went snow shoeing. I was very disappointed, to be honest, that they don’t use the tennis racket-like things I imagined from cartoons (we were informed that we were about 50 years too late to use those), but the views from the mountains were amazing!
  • … Went dogsledding. We got to help harness the dogs and unharness them. We learned all about how they are trained and how it works. (Did you know that when set up properly, in a normal race, each dog only carries about 2 pounds?) I also got to face-plant in the snow when trying to help push the sled up a slope. It was a rough weekend in terms of falling.
  • … Spent every evening in the sauna. I’d never been in one before and it was so nice after a day out in the cold. But if someone threw too much water on the rocks it was absolutely suffocating, wow. But so many warms, so many warms.
  • … SAW THE NORTHERN LIGHTS! Each night we would walk about 10 minutes up to a cabin where we could hide out until the lights appeared. It was kind of strange because I feel like the camera probably saw it better than we did, we didn’t see as much of the colors that show up in the pictures, but it was still really cool to see these almost eerie patches of light move across the sky. It looked almost like ribbons of light kind of snaking across. Really awesome! I spent a lot of time wondering what the first people to see the lights must have thought and my friends spent a lot of time looking at me like I was crazy.

But on Monday morning we had to return, and to give you an idea how much in the middle of nowhere it felt like we were in: when we left the lodge, literally all we had to do was turn right at the end of the driveway and follow that road for an hour and a half. No other turns, barely any other cars, just one road and then bam, airport.

I’ve been talking a lot about my adventures but not so much about actual school so I guess I should probably mention that. The third period is winding down slowly and exams for my first set of classes will be in about two weeks. I only have one period-long class right now, the other two carry on into the next one, so only one exam coming up, but I might be slightly terrified since I don’t really have homework assignments here, so I have no idea where to start studying. I never thought I’d miss having homework assignments, even maybe a little bit. But it’ll be fine.

I think one of the things I’ve found the coolest about being here is the amount of things you learn from just talking to the other students around you. In our corridor and in our group of friends, whether you are Swedish or another international student, it always comes back to how things are in your own country. In the process of hanging out, we’re always swapping stories and comparing things. I’ve learned a lot about places like Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, etc. Everything from how universities differ or driving permit requirements, to the inevitable slang, phrases, swear words, and random hand gestures. Example: we spent the weekend up north also learning all of the supposed hand gestures that go along with Italian. Stay, go. No. Come here. What are you doing? Etc.

We’re kind of rare creatures here, Drew and I, because we are native English speakers. People ask a lot of questions and pretty much expect us to correct their English if they make mistakes. It’s no problem really, I understand pretty much everything people say but I don’t know if I’m making their English better or my English worse. I’m starting to find myself making the same weird mistakes they do. Example: The people on my corridor are too much good. Sweden is too much nice. Oops.

This is probably enough for today. Until next time! Exam week is upon us, so no more adventures for a while…

This week I learned: Sweden is a wonderful place to lose your wallet. I lost it on the subway on Thursday; I think it fell out of my coat pocket. I was thinking, well, it’s gone. But every person on my corridor, Swede or not, was absolutely confident I would get it back. I did. Today KTH contacted me saying the transportation company had used my student ID and library card to trace me back to my school, who then contacted me, and my wallet was there waiting for me in the lost and found. It was a little worse for wear but all cards, identifications, and three months’ worth of public transport on my SL card were safe. I lost maybe $20 in cash but everything else was still there. That’s fine. I’ll take it. I don’t know if someone stole it or I just dropped it, but the things that really would have been a pain to replace made it back to me, so it’s all good.

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