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Askøy & Bergen, Norway (Part II)

It has been MONTHS since I last wrote about my Norwegian adventure!  I haven’t stopped reflecting on my time in Norway with such incredible hosts.  I stayed with Kjell, who was my mom’s foreign exchange student in high school.  I hadn’t met him prior to staying with him, and it was great to hear about his time in America with my mom, uncle, and grandparents!  I was also touched to meet his wife and children; they are truly a second family to me.

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The view from Kjell’s home on Askoy

One of my favorite, and perhaps most memorable parts, of my two weeks in Norway were the boat rides Kjell took me on.  We were able to see his many summer homes and have great conversations along the way.

Above is Kjell’s parent’s home.  The red shed is where I would be asked to help him gut the fish we caught in the North Sea, little would I know!

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I remember that afternoon like it was yesterday; Kjell was taking me through the neighborhood on one of the family’s fishing boats.  He was showing me all of his favorite fishing spots, while sharing childhood memories.  I felt so close to him and I felt like I reliving his fondest memories.

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We eventually stepped out of our fishing boat and hiked a little bit.  He showed me his favorite spots where he, his siblings, and neighbors would play; Kjell even showed me the only spot where small flowers could grow along the sea!

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After some light hiking, Kjell and I had to cut the fish we caught in the North Sea (Kjell: 5, me: 2).  I didn’t have it in me to cut the fish, so I kept his mom company as Kjell prepared the fish for cooking.

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I remember feeling guilty for “taking the life of two fish,” but Kjell cracked a joke that made me feel so much more at ease!  He said, “Well, think about this, you’re feeding my sweet mother.  Without you, she wouldn’t have dinner tonight!” It made me laugh more than I probably should’ve!  And that was the best seafood I’ve ever had 🙂

Öland, Sweden

Öland: where stereotypical Swedish stugas and breathtaking views come to life! Öland is a large island off the coast of Kalmar, Sweden where I was studying overseas. I nicknamed it “the Mackinac Island of Sweden,” but Michigan’s island is much smaller!

Three of my closest friends and I decided to spend the weekend relaxing, playing cards, having BBQs and making s’mores here; we mixed our American ways with traditional Swedish life.

The stuga was barn-colored red and was much bigger on the inside than it appeared on the outside! There were five bedrooms in this tiny place, but somehow it still felt spacious. The only thing that didn’t feel so spacious was the ceiling in the kitchen area; it must have only been four or five inches taller than me. Now I know how players in the NBA feel on the daily.


The outdoor patio was by far my favorite part of the Airbnb. I loved how cozy, comfortable, and “summery” it felt. It was like this square of no stress about school, no drama, and lots of laughter. The four of us all have mixed feelings about heading home in June, so the weekend getaway was just what we all needed.

The ONLY bad part of our location wasn’t that it was on a main road or that the bike ride took forever (that’s what makes for the best stories)!  It was the bugs that found their way into our home away from home. Bees and wasps kept swarming into our kitchen, as did two huge beetles! I have never seen beetles quite that large in my entire life, and I live in Michigan (where the summer bugs are enormous).


Nevertheless, the creepy crawlers didn’t hold us back from having a relaxing weekend. We all needed some R and R, and I would highly recommend visiting Öland someday!

Lund International Food Festival

Lund, Sweden offered more than just great food; there was so much to do, see, and experience in one of Sweden’s southernmost towns.

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Once we arrived at the train station, we wandered around the town and discovered the beautiful architecture and springtime feeling in the air.

Of course, anything that pertains to food and all things international draws me in!  The food market was packed with vendors from all over the world; servers from Spain, Australia, France, China, and the United States were there, just to name a few!

I stuck to what I knew for my first lunch (yes, I usually eat two lunches…): good ole fashioned Mexican nachos!  They were loaded with cheese, salsa, sour cream, homemade guac, and extra jalapenos.

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Obviously I had to check out the French cheese stand after I ate my lunch!

The eight of us who traveled from Kalmar wanted to visit Lund’s cathedral; it is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have visited.  I wouldn’t imagine my favorite cathedral to be in Sweden of all places (compared to Italy and France).

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All of my friends (myself included) were amazed by the craftsmanship in the woodworking of the cathedral.

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After our cathedral visit, we all decided to go outside and enjoy the warm sunshine!

What I love most about Sweden is her mix between old, colorful buildings and modern architecture; Sweden really embraces contrast and provides tourists with the best of both worlds.  After all, Sweden is known for Ikea, as well as timeless, quaint homes.

 

My favorite buildings in Sweden are the ones painted golden yellow with olive green accents.  The colors are both so bold that one might see it as overpowering, but I see it as unique to southern Sweden, which is very special in my opinion.  As a child reading about Sweden in school, these are the homes and shops I imagined in my head; to see my view come to life is really incredible!

Because the weather was spectacular that day (which is rare in Sweden!), we couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to stroll through Lund’s largest garden.

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I was bummed to find that the university library was closed that day; it is one of the oldest libraries in Sweden and it has a large collection of books!  Who doesn’t love the smell of old books?!

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At least we gained more time in the city because of the library being closed!  The signs and advertisements in front of the little shops were picture worthy for sure.

Lund was a riot!  It was the perfect day trip for a group of food-loving and fun-loving people!  I’m so thankful that I visited Lund, and I was definitely grateful for the food and sunshine along the way.

Afternoon Bike Ride in Kalmar

Today was an incredibly stressful day, but my dad put things into perspective for me yesterday. He said, “Cate, I know times are tough for you right now, but think about how many places you’ve seen and how much you’ve done with your college career!”

He’s absolutely right. I’m too blessed to be stressed!

So with a smile on my face, I biked around my study abroad town and took photos with my 5s.  I am finding myself comparing the first place I studied in and Kalmar; I need to stop comparing the two and I need to enjoy both for what they have to offer!


  
  
  
  

Spring is in the air here in southern Sweden, and there was a spring in my step today once my dad’s words sunk in. I’m blessed to have this study abroad experience and opportunity AGAIN, and I’m forever thankful for the family I have waiting for me at home in Michigan!

And c’mon, there’s a CASTLE ten minutes from my dorm! You can’t beat that!