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Me singing

This is a video from when I was with my first host-family to visit their farm and we
went to sing karaoke at a local bar nearby.

August 2011 in Pictures


This is how I looked when I first came to Nixa, Missouri.


This was my first visit to Silver Dollar city with my first Host-mom and my exchange student friend, Mary from Italy.


This is Mary, she was an amazing friend and we could talk about things that no one would ever understand in America.
I miss her so much, and she was an exchange student for one semester so she only stayed for six months but she didn’t want to stay for a longer time. For me, on the other hand, ten months wasn’t really enough. I would’ve wanted to stay for the summer too but I had obligations to get back to at home.


This is Jessica in the car on our way to Branson to shop. What I didn’t know at that time was that we were to become best friends, sisters, and that I became a part of her family. They took me in when I needed to move and switch host-families. That was the best thing that happened to me all year. I love and miss her so so so much, it’s not even possible to explain.


This was our first girls night, we went out to dinner at Hinode, an asian restaurant. And then we had a sleepover at Regan’s house.
The volleyball girls decided this when they had only known me for a few days and they invited both Mary and I to join them and it was incredible how close some of us became after this.


Jessi and I on our way to my first football game, EVER, and the football boys’s first game of the year. This was an experience that I will never forget. These girls took such great care of me and I owe them so much for that.


This is Rachael and I.


Haley, my girl!


And Crazy Regan, GOSH I MISS THEM SO MUCH!

Some football pictures:


Me, Regan and Jessica


Regan, Me, Haley

Goofballs!

And afterwards, Haley drove me home in her two-seat car with the top off. Just a wonderful august night!


Go Nixa!

 

Love

A few days ago I was asked about the boyfriend I had for some time during my exchange year.
“What were you thinking, going into a relationship when you knew that you had to leave?”

That’s just the thing, I wasn’t thinking, I let my heart choose for me. I didn’t want to decide anything, I didn’t want to think about the consequences that came with the responsibility of developing feelings for another person. I had been there for almost five months, and I went on my first real date. We don’t do any of that in Sweden in that way so it was the unknown that made it even more interesting too. I had never been treated so well, with so much respect before I met that guy. It was a whole different culture with traditions that are so far away from what I’m used to that it left me in shock more than one time.
I know that this is really personal but I still think that it’s important to talk about. I have never really been the person to plan ahead with a boyfriend because I never expect them to stay, I don’t expect the relationship to last for very long. That might sound crazy and sad but my past has done that to me. This situation was different, just like everything else.
I caught myself actually thinking about the fact that I was leaving this person in five months, and I felt torn. I never thought that I would be put in a situation like that where i dared to think about the future. Luckily, I didn’t have to say goodbye the day I left since we broke up a few weeks before.
A relationship like that between two people from two different upbringings, cultures, traditions, families and past, can both be wonderful and absolutely horrible.
We didn’t think alike at all when it came to reasoning about things. As a Swede, I’m very used to having a lot of close guy friends, but that is rare in America. Girls and guys don’t really have that kind of friendship in the US as I do in Sweden. Some of my best friends are guys and we talk about everything, we hang out alone without anyone thinking that it’s weird. And that is something that you have to be aware of, going into a relationship with someone from a different culture since there can be a lot of jealousy and such.
Another heads up would be about the gossiping. High school is high school, if you’ve watched the movies, you know how rumors are spread and how wrong they can be. I was accused of a lot of things during my stay over there, and most of it was false. When these stories came my way and I heard what people were saying about me, it made me sick to my core. They thought that they knew me, they thought they knew how I worked and what kind of person I was. And all of this gossiping might make it hard to have a relationship. Since you are new, you are foreign, you are different, and you’re not like everyone else where you stay as an exchange student, people will want to talk about you. Some people will want to turn people against you just because you should know that you’re on their turf.
With all of that said, am I glad that I was in a relationship over there?
Yes and no, I learned a lot, I experienced things that I had never even dreamed of. But I have never been so hurt either. I had trust issues before and I can’t say that they’ve gotten any better. Just because the way you think differs so much from the one that you might be crushing on. If I said that I regret it, it would partially be true, but it would also be a lie. Everything that we go through in life makes us who we are and I know that that relationship brought me both joy and tears. But it made me stronger as a person and I’m positive that I know more about myself when it comes to coping with situations that I’ve never been in before.
So if you fall in love, if you find a crush, if you’re really interested in someone, take a chance. You might regret it if you don’t, and trust me, you don’t want to have regrets about anything that you know could’ve ended up differently.

Relationships

Family, Best friends, friends, boyfriends.
There are going to be many people through your life that will have an impact on your life and the way you choose to live it. Some people will come closer to your heart, some maybe just your brain, but every person you meet is most definitely going to effect you. Even if you don’t even think about it. “It must’ve been weird coming to a place where everybody are strangers to you and you know that you have to put yourself out there, without knowing where you’ll end up in the end.. And knowing that you’re going to leave them at some point.”
Yes, it’s awful but it also, I apologize my choice of words, sucks. I have gotten close to so many people that I can’t even begin to understand it either. I haven’t seen them since that day in the middle of May 2012, and I’m not sure when the time will come and I will see them again.
I have gotten a whole family over in America, who I can come to whenever I’m visiting because I know that they always have a place for me. They have a huge place in my heart and there’s nothing that can change that. Even if I left them, I know that they’re always there for me.
It is so worth it, leaving people in your home country, to get to know a whole new crowd. A crowd that I love.

To be back home

I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels like this, but after my trip to America, I have had some trouble with finding myself. Though I’m so much more confident in who I am, I have no idea of what I want out of life.
I went away, I didn’t know anybody, I created a whole new life with new amazing people and then I left it. It feels like none of it ever even happened. It feels like a dream or something that I just imagined and made up in my head. All of the things that I experienced were such clichés, some things seemed to have been taken straight from a movie. Everything was so different, everything is so different. I’m not sure that those who are reading this are able to relate to these thoughts but I wanted to share how I feel right at this moment.
I’ve been home for almost eight months and sometimes, it feels longer, sometimes shorter. Several days, I wake up feeling like I went to my first volleyball practice yesterday, that I walked those halls, hurrying to class in that huge crowd of high schoolers, sat with my friends during pep-assemblies etc. It’s a strange feeling, and I get this question all the time; “How was your year?”. I mean, how could I ever sum that up in a couple of sentences so that someone would be able to understand what I went through at some times, what I loved and enjoyed some times? It’s awful and heartbreaking but so comforting at the same time. I know that it’s impossible for anyone to every truly understand what I experienced, which is sad but that makes it even more special for me in some ways because I’m the only one who knows.

I have five more months of school here in Sweden before I have to make a choice about what I want to do during/after the summer. And you know what? I have no clue. And after going on this journey, I have learned how big the world is and how places can be so different from each other. There are people out there to get to know, things to do, countries to visit. But “You have to get a job”, “You have to get an education”. Yes, I am aware of that, and I plan on having an extraordinary future, I just don’t know how yet. And you know what? That is actually okay, I don’t have to know how my life is going to play out. Because not knowing, makes it so much more interesting to experience.

Emotional roller coaster

You ARE going to be extremely torn. You will want to go home during the year, but when those last couple of weeks arrive, you wont be able to understand that all of these amazing things actually happend to you and that you were the lucky one to be accepted and loved by your friends and extra-family. That last day, it’s going to feel so unreal, you’re not going to understand it at all.

The first two months will probably be pretty slow and strange, but the other eight months will go by so fast that you will stop and ask yourself how you ever felt homesick.
You are going to be sad about the fact that you ever wanted to leave and go home. And this is an experience that you will have where it’s guaranteed that you will be homesick, you will have days where it feels like nothing else but a hug from your real mom would help. But you’ll get through it and you’ll grow so much from it.

The last weeks you have left before you go home, you are going to notice that you all of a sudden mature and age a few years, it’s crazy, and it’s weird, but it’s perfectly normal. When you sit down and take it all in, all of your experiences, friends, connections, and stories you have to tell your friends, family, and future kids, you WILL change. You grow up a couple of noches. That’s not weird.

You are going to be walking with your friends for that very last time, and you’re going to say goodbye as if you’ll see each other next week, because that’s what you’ve always done.
You’ve been there for each other and that wont change. You will still think about each other, even if you don’t talk as much. And just hope that one day, you will see their big smile again and give them those huge hugs and joke around in that way that only you understood. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world. Don’t miss out on such an opportunity.

You are going to find some of your old friends, from your home country, completely different because your view on them come from another point of view after all of this. You might’ve outgrown each other, and that’s okay, that’s life. And you’ve gotten so many new friends during your exchange year!

Q and A

I got an email with a few questions and I thought that I might as well post them here too.
1. How long did you stay in school each day?
2. I’ve heard that you can choose your own schedule?
3. How is it with grades there and are there more tests and more studying involved?
4. Does it cost for the American students to go to that school or is it free like it is in Sweden?
5. Is it usual for exchange students to come to your school or was it rare when you arrived?

 

1. I had classes from 7.32 until 2.32 PM and then I had sports from 3 to about 5 or 6.
2. For me as an exchange student, I had to choose certain classes for freshman and sophomores (9th and 10th graders, I was a Senior, 12th grader) to be able to walk at graduation and to receive a High School Diploma. But I also had to have College leveled classes in Human Anatomy and English. College Comp was the hardest English class there and only people that had had “Honors English throughout their High School years with an A could choose that class. But I was an exception since I had always had an A in every English class I’d had and good grades in all of my other classes, and never had a C during my 10th and 11th year in Sweden.

The students at my school had the same schedule every day and first semester I had:

Health
American Government
Acting
Advanced Womens Choir
STAR (Where you studied or hung out with other seniors in the cafeteria)

College Human Anatomy
Lunch
College Composition (English)
Gaphour – Nothing.

Second semester I had the same schedule except for my first hour, I had Personal Finance instead of Health.

3. The grades went from A, B, C – F and so on. It could be hard to get good grades and I’ve never really been a person to study, I just got good grades anyway, don’t ask me why because I wouldn’t be able to tell you how. So I had to teach myself how to study to be able to reach the grades I wanted. I ended up with only A’s and B’s so I was fairly satisfied with my final grades.

You definitely have more tests and you really have to study more for every class in America than you have to in Sweden. But the tests are also easier since they often have multiple answers on their tests which means they have different alternatives with answers from A-D.

In my English class we pretty much had to write a new essay every other week that had to be 2-8 pages long on specific subjects and in a special format. It was really confusing and hard but so much fun at the same time. I might post some of my essays here for you to read as well if they’re interesting enough.

4. I went to a public school so it was free for everyone, if I would’ve gone to a private school people would have to pay to go there.

5. My school only took three exchange students every year and first semester there was me, and Italian girl and a guy from Czech republic. The Italian girl was so nice and sweet and unfortunately, she only stayed for six months. So the second semester a girl from Korea and one from Japan got the opportunity to go to my school because they didn’t like their former schools and/or family. So we were four foreign students at that time and it was so much fun!

If anybody has any questions, just ask. Don’t be shy.

Hannie

Common Questions

Which organization did you travel with? How were they?
Which organization did you have in the US?

STS in Sweden, and they were amazing!
We had a preparation camp with other future exchange students which was so much fun. We had meetings were we learned things so we would be more prepared and know what to, and what not to, expect.
They also helped me when I wanted to switch family and talked to my American organization so the whole process went very fast.

My American organization was Ayusa. They were good, they asked questions monthly, checked in on visits so they were sure that I had a bed and that I was comfortable with the people in the house.

They also arranged really nice exchange student trips and camps so we could get to know people from other countries through that too. But all of that means additional costs.

How much does it cost to be an exchange student for 10 months?

It costs about 100 000 – 120 000 swedish crowns with everything included as the payment to your organization, shopping, school stuff, travels etc. So it all depends on what you do when you’re there. But only the organization fee is about 73 000 depending on which organization you travel with.

(Continued)

A small introduction to my new project

2012-09-07 kl. 21.25

Wow

I felt a sudden urge to pick this up again after a day like this.

I never really understood how much I missed dancing, until today.
I went to my first dance class this year. It’s been about 14 months since my last one.
I was so nervous at first, I walked in and everything was as it has always been before.
The same people, the same fabulous dance teacher, it was just like it was supposed to be.
But I was different.

When we first started to warm up, I got nervous because I didn’t think that I would be able to catch on so fast. Which I actually did. I felt like writing this before I showered just because I was starving and the feelings were still fresh in my body and mind, so I’m pretty high on the endorphins from the workout.
I haven’t felt this free in such a long time. I could move my body in that certain way again that I didn’t even think was possible anymore.

By doing all of the different kinds of sports in the US helped me tremendously. By doing a little bit of volleyball, and mostly track/running/sprinting, my knees (which I’ve had huge problems with before by growing really fast) are more stabilized by muscles that I could only get by running and by doing those different exercises that we did during track. So they don’t hurt anymore! It’s absolutely mind-blowing and by being able to both run and dance, I am up in the clouds!

I could even do my pirouettes, I was so shocked! And when we got to do all of our pointing, kicking, stretching, pliés and grand pliés, my heart was so happy even if my joints weren’t really used to it anymore. And then when we got to dance the choreography that our teacher taught us, I was totally lost with the memorization, but it went better than I thought that it would.

So today, I’ve been studying a few hours before I went to the gym to do cardio, and some tabata with my mom and my brothers girlfriend. I was sweating like crazy and it felt so good!
After that, I ate an egg and a plate of fruits before going to the local coffee shop with my  girlfriends.
I sat there with them until I had to take my bike to the dance.

And now I’m home, ready to hit the shower and go to bed early.. well, in an hour at least, so I can go to the gym in the morning. I am really pumped about all of my plans and the goals that I have set.

This day was awesome, I feel awesome, and I’m going to go to bed smiling, which I haven’t in a very long time.

Happy to be home!