Tag Archives: sweden

Longing for Lapland (March, 2016)

The cold, windy air hitting my nose and cheeks in Michigan reminds me of Swedish Lapland. We visited Abisko and Kiruna, and even crossed the border into Norway for an afternoon. From visiting the ice hotel I saw in Nat Geo as a third grader to sledding in the town after bar hopping, riding on the back of a dog sled, feeding the reindeer and seeing the Northern Lights (three times!), Lapland was probably the happiest week of my life…

Five Favorite Foreign Cities

As the friend who is “always gone somewhere,” a lot of people ask me where my favorite place is (or what city I enjoyed the most).  The truth is that after visiting 20 countries abroad, I can’t pick “one favorite.” So instead, I have five!

I put this in chronological order, not in order of preference:

Aix-en-Provence, France (2014)

  • At this time, this was the longest period I’d been away from the United States.  I spent three weeks in Germany when I was 18 (two years prior) but this felt different, because it WAS!
  • I was truly immersed in the culture.  I lived with a host family as well as someone from New Jersey (who is now one of my closest friends) and learned more about how the French saw world issues, like the Holocaust for example.  Aix will never be Paris, but on the same note, Paris will never be Aix…think about it…
  • My mother’s side of the family is predominantly French.  Although they weren’t from Southern France, I felt close to my roots here.  The experience of living in Aix for two months was something I wouldn’t trade for the world, no matter how insane my host mother was!!

Amsterdam, Holland (2014)

  • My boyfriend and I visited Amsterdam together once my two months in Aix was over, and boy was I pleasantly surprised!  There is such a bad reputation of Amsterdam here in the United States (sleazy, dirty, etc.) and although some of that can be found here, Amsterdam was one of the greenest, cleanest, beautiful cities I’ve visited!
  • Amsterdam is such a melting pot of cultures, languages, and lifestyles.  Hearing Norwegian, Spanish, French, German, and British accents all on the same street is something you can’t experience in Michigan very often!
  • There is absolutely no judgement here!!

Kiruna, Sweden (2016)

  •  On a school trip during study abroad round two in Sweden, we visited Lapland (in the Arctic Circle).  As a third grader, I wanted to visit the ice hotel SO BADLY and my dreams finally came true in Sweden!  It was more breathtaking than I imagined…
  • Being in Lapland was one of the best weeks of my life.  Still is two years later.  I was in love with every aspect of the trip, from dog sledding to seeing the Northern Lights (twice!!) and everything in between – it was perfection.

Bergen, Norway (2016)

  • I visited my mom’s family’s foreign exchange student, Kjell, after studying in Sweden for one semester.  My mom and Kjell haven’t been able to physically see each other once he returned home in the 80s, but they have been able to talk on the phone and write each other letters ever since.  Meeting Kjell, his wife, children, and basically all of his immediate family was something I’d been wanting to do my whole life.  Bergen itself is beautiful, but the sentiment behind my visit made it even more memorable.
  • Um, well…Bergen is absolutely stunning!  I think the photos above speak for themselves…

Bangkok, Thailand (2017)

  • Although I volunteered in Chiang Rai for one month, Bangkok was the best possible way to end my Thai adventure!  I had previously booked a room for myself to explore Bangkok, but then my friends Kaila, Karl, and Hee Cheol decided to join.  I’m beyond thankful that they did because I know I wouldn’t have had as much fun without them!
  • On our first night together, we ate at one of the best restaurants I’ve been to!  And right after, we had drinks on a rooftop bar, which was the perfect way to end our volunteering and begin our weekend together!  I think Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai were places I’d rather be long-term; however, because of the people I was spending my weekend with, Bangkok (and its memories) make the list for me!
  • And aside from what I’ve just mentioned, WE HAD A ROOFTOP POOL!  People, it doesn’t get any better than this!  For a month, I was taking cold bucket showers, squatted down to pee, and had mosquito spray on me 24/7.  This 180 was exactly what I needed 🙂

Where are YOUR favorite places?!

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!

Kalmar Castle at Dusk

Taking evening bike rides has been one of my favorite things to do in Kalmar.  And with the weather getting better by the day, taking photos has become even more enjoyable!

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Things have been bittersweet for me lately, with many of my close friends from home graduating and all, but having an escape with my camera is something I’m thankful for!

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.