High School - Sweden, High School Abroad

Into the Wild, in Sweden

by Jillian Stallman, CCI High School Abroad Participant in Sweden

I ended up going to Robbansson (I think that’s how it’s spelled), which is kind of a team-building weekend with my Norrköping City team. We were walking. In the woods. For a really, really long time. We started at around 10 a.m. and stopped around 3 p.m. the same day, when we got to our destination. So five hours of walking through the woods doesn’t sound like it’s too bad, I know.

But it was exhausting.

Not only were we tramping through thick snow and answering random questions posted on trees (on everything from “how many meters to an English mile?” to “what is true of a zebra, that it lives in Australia, it is not easy to tame, or eats meat?”  to “what is sotano:  fish, liver, or bird?”), but we also carried a large garbage can filled with.. Actually, I still don’t know what it was filled with. Something that weighed a LOT. And a box full of, well, we didn’t know until around 1 p.m.

Turns out we were carrying FOOOD! Hot dogs and apples and bananas.

Except that, in order to have hot hot dogs, we needed to build a fire.

So we were also carrying firewood and newspaper and such.

And six matches.

Now, I know that my family thinks I’m a little bit of the flake for getting out of Girls Scouts before I was, oh, about 25. But I will have you know, I’m actually not so bad in the woods. And so Frida, who’s pretty much the team’s dominant leader, and I, because I was like “ooh! ooh! pick me! I know how to build a fire!” built the fire.

And we did it with just one match. By the way, “match” in Swedish is tändsticka (TEHND STEEK-ha), which really just translates to lighting stick. Pretty cool. And so that was our lunch.

Take THAT, Girl Scouts!

And then we continued walking for another couple hours, still carrying our mystery green container garbage thing.

But then we stopped. Thankfully. Near this gorgeous lake, where our coaches were waiting. And guess what?? They had kladdkaka! Think the most delicious brownie you’ve ever eaten. Now think of eating two of them, but at the same time. So that the flavor of both of those most two delicious brownies is morphed into one brownie of deliciousness. And then frost it with this creamy but slightly cold (because it was cold out) frosting. And then eat it.

Yummmmmm. Probably one of the best desserts here.

It was just a gorgeous day out, and it got just warm enough for packing snow. So naturally we had a gigantic snowball fight. And then after that, we had a PK shootout in the snow. Which doesn’t really make sense, but it was cool because it’s very difficult to kick a soccer ball in boots. Winner got to decide what chore they wanted to do, and then it went on down the line. My team got second, so we got to duka bordet (DOOK-ha BORD-hett), which is ‘set the table.’

After that, of course, the most natural thing to do was to don a random ugly dress that someone else brought, plus a pair of hideous socks, and wear them for the next five or so hours at the stuga (STOO-gah), guest house, vacation place thing that we were staying at.

It’s not like it was some hideous place these people brought us to. It was a set of two little hidden away cabins in the woods: one that we slept in, and one that we ate and watched the little Swedish version of the Eurovision Song Contest, the Melodifestivalen. Which is pretty much American Idol but Swedish style. It’s pretty awesome. One of the ladies singing must have been forty-five, and she had bright pink hair.

I suppose you’re only as old as you think you are.

But then later that night, naturally we went to bed pretty late after a delicious dinner of tacos and then waffles and leftover kladdkaka. There were some long conversations involving Swedish-English translations (I taught them what “fancy” means. The closest we could come to was lyxig (LJEECKS-eeg), which is ‘luxurious.’ Also, the majority of my team now knows the five fingers: The thumb, the index or pointer finger, the middle finger, which they prefer to call the EFF (but the actual word) you finger, the ring finger, and the pinky. (By far the favorite was the pinky). However, almost all of our conversations were completely Swedish, with maybe the occasional translation to an English word. I understood most of the Swedish explanations, so even if I didn’t understand the word, I could get the meaning eventually. It was pretty cool.

I also talked politics with Julia, who is awesome. But this time around (and I don’t know how many times I’ve talked politics. A lot. It’s really entertaining), I could say a lot of it in Swedish! I still don’t know guns, but taxes I learned are skatter! (SKAHTT-er. It’s pretty close to how you’d think to say it). But if you think about it, it actually sounds like you’re having taxes to scatter the wealth around. So even though tax = skatt, and skatt doesn’t sound so pretty, skatter = taxes, which is a cool way to remember the word. At least for me.

Also, I sang the 50-states song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kYWgbv0Nng  is the best version of it, if you don’t know the song I’m talking about) for them, to show them that yeah, I know all the states in my country. They’re sometimes not sure of all the European countries, so I had to represent the U.S. What up.

After we finally went to bed and then got up and hung around for a couple hours, we went skiing! I hadn’t felt so hot earlier in the day, so I napped a lot and then went skiing. But not downhill skiing. And not like, real cross-country skiing. We pretty much had a relay race. Go back and forth, zigzag across some cones, then ski up a hill, shoot a BB gun at a pop-can (yes, there are guns in Sweden! Whoa!), and then come back down the hill again for the next person on the team.

So you know, some Swedes do have guns. Not as many as in the United States, and certainly not very many with handguns. They don’t have much crime! They don’t need it! But there are a reasonable amount of elk and things to shoot at and have fun hunting, and Kenny (that’s my host-father, in case you’ve forgotten) actually really enjoys hunting. So it’s not like an “Oh my gosh, scandalous!” thing that a gun is being shot here. It’s more difficult to get a gun and get a permit for it, but it’s more difficult to get permission to do anything that could potentially kill someone here.

And.. yeah. That’s about all I’ve got on the Robbansson thing. It was a lot of fun, really tiring, and quite entertaining. I’m glad I went, and hopefully you’re not looking at these pictures and thinking “Ohh.. that Jillian. What a slacker. She goes to Sweden and does THIS? How does that work?” because, well, you’d sort of be right. And I would hate for you to be right!

I got lucky.

Read more about Jillian’s host family, her homesickness for driving and ordering food in Sweden on her blog…

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.


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