America is always on the move. As soon as the thanksgiving celebrations were behind us all the fall decorations were put away and Christmas lights started popping up in every corner. Literally. The limit does not exist. I used to think that my mother in Sweden decorated slightly too much... Well, an exchange year will offer you different perspectives on a lot of different things. The amount of Christmas decorations is apparently one of them. I happen to be a big fan of Christmas lights though, so I do not mind at all, it's beautiful.

Due to the many children in my host family, every kid gets to draw a name out of a hat to see what person they get to buy a Christmas gift to. We have a similar thing going on at school but I am honestly not sure how that works really. I guess we'll see. Chances are I'll get some random freshmen I've never seen before, believe it or not, since there's like 300 kids in my high school. But who knows, it might be an adventure.

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I did unfortunately not get many pictures of our thanksgiving food, mostly because of the fact that we eat it all so very quickly. At least to the point when it's no longer beautiful enough to capture.. One of my host sisters and one of my host brothers came home from college and work and spent the holiday with us. Since there's already four kids staying at home we were nine people around the table. Most of my host family's relatives live to far away to come here but despite this there were more family members than I am used to. 

The pineapple dessert I made was surprisingly good considering the odd combination of pineapple and American cheese. The turkey was as huge and amazing as it seems, so was the rest of the day. Although it mostly contained eating food, cooking and preparing it was just as much fun. 

On thanksgiving you are, naturally, thankful for what you're given. In my case that is a lot. It's actually quite unbelievable how much love I've received during my short time on this earth. I am not only blessed with wonderful parents and 3 beautiful siblings, but in addition to this I've been blessed with another set of parents, 8  extra siblings and the rare opputrunity to live a completely different life for one year. In some way, I was also given the courage to go through with all this. And for that I am forever thankful.



Thanksgiving dinner preparation: I cook things I've never heard of in amounts I could never imagine eating. Do pineapple with cheese, sugar, butter and wheat sound good to you? Yeah I was pretty skeptical too, I'll come back to you tomorrow when I've tried it. Family insists that it's good and family tends to be right. 

I just ate dinner and its soon time for thanksgiving church service. I'll sing in a beautiful blue gown with the church choir (a bunch of old men and ladies + my host brother and I. Squad goals btw we are amazing) like people do in movies, in America too apparently. I'm very excited. It's not before the holidays start you realize what kind of country you decided to spend a year in.



Packages from Bath and Body Works, American cereal, foreign exchange student friends and American beauties. All things that most definitely will brighten your day. After a week with 3 days spent at colleges instead of at school, all state music in Lincoln and what seemed like 400 algebra assignments, I am more than ready to go on thanksgiving break. I still know little about this tradition but I've been well informed about the food. Apparently there's going to be a lot of it.

At this time in Sweden, my family is celebrating the birthday of my 20 year old sister. I don't think I've ever missed a birthday of a family member before. To wake them up early in the morning singing "ja må hon leva" just to later with the rest of the family fall asleep in this persons bed sounds very tempting when you are 5000 miles away. Love you guys and hope you have a wonderful day.

It feels like I just woke up and I still don't really know what to do with this day. I'll probably help my host mother prepare the infinite amount of food for tomorrow. It feels like Sunday. I am confused. I'd better take a shower and get myself together.

Despite my confused mood - endless appreciation to my family in Sweden, my friends and family in Nebraska, the delicious American cereals and the wonderful scents of bath and body works (never to be underestimated) I love you all.



I don't miss Sweden. Right now I'm in a state where "home" is no longer definable. At least not in the traditional way, where your house is and where you go to school or where you grew up. It's more like a "home is whenever I'm with you"-kind of thing. Not a person in particular of course, but the more time you spend apart from what you instinctively would call home the more you realize how little it has to do with a simple building. Home's where your loved ones are. So, instead of yearning for the day I go back to see my family and friends I sometimes wish that they'd be here with me. It's not the place, Uppsala Sweden I sometimes miss, it's the feeling of being at ease, a feeling of belonging, to be at home. So nah, I don't miss Sweden. My American host family, my friends and neighbors, truly make me feel at home. This took a while though, a couple of weeks at least. If you are outgoing and open minded you will have no problem at all getting friends in your host country. What makes it hard is that you can't rely on past events and memories to keep these friendships alive, but you have to constantly put effort in keeping your friends friends, until you make your own memories, of course. If you are a foreign exchange student in a small town, people around you will most likely have known each other since kindergarten. Each school has their hierarchy and cliques, regardless of its size. You are somehow supposed to rise above all this and with your big foreign heart embrace everybody. It's never 100% easy being the new kid in school, and you will at some point miss the possibility to always be able to trust your best friend because of a life long friendship, and be able to have a really bad, frustrating day when you don't want to speak to anybody but still know that your best friend will be by your side. To all of you out there who might be struggling with this, keep going until these people becomes that best friend for you. Until you can sit in class, spacing out thinking about things you've been going trough lately and in a sudden giggle, lean over to your friend beside you and whisper "do you remember that time when..."



For many Europeans including myself, American school buses have become more of a legend than something that actually exist in people's everyday life. I remember when I first saw one and amazed as I was, i couldn't shake the feeling that I was a character in a movie. Preferably Mean Girls. High school always makes me think of Mean Girls. I still get that feeling though, every time. I mean it's unbelievably yellow. Anyways. The truth. It's also unbelievably uncomfortable. During the hot half of the year, sitting in that bus is nearly unbearable. To start with, there's the struggle with sweaty legs and slippery seats and you just kinda slide around without control. Then of course, to prevent this you open as many windows as you can, which leads us to the inevitable "wind in the hair" struggle you known when your beautifully brushed, untangled, long hair in combination with the Nebraskan wind makes you wish you had a scissor to cut it all of. Yeah. Then we have the other half of the year, horribly cold. And the bus is nothing but freezing. And you know there's something with being uncomfortable and cold at the same time that really makes one have to pee. The bus tends to be a little bit less cold in the back though, and if you're lucky (seldom happens) you get the honor to use those seats. This is usually where the cool people and the seniors sit so unless you're one on them you'll have to kiss the dream of not getting a cold goodbye.
The buses are used for all kinds of field trips and sport events. Everything from volleyball, basketball and football games, to college visits, math days and of course, for kids to get to and from school. In all of these case, the smaller the group - the better. The school bus is simply not comfortable enough to make you want to hang out with people... it mostly just makes you want to sleep. Therefor you would want a seat for yourself. The picture illustrates student from earlier today, taking ultimate advantage of the situation I am describing. I woke up at 4.10, took a shower and went to school, boarded the bus and traveled 2 hours to Lincoln for math day. It was fabulous. Especially the lunch. I am unbelievably tired. Thank you all for listening.





Being on an exchange is awesome and that is one of the reasons exchange students like to talk about it. However, being an exchange student can also pretty hard for a couple of reasons, one of them being the ignorance they have to deal with. I would encourage everybody to make contact with exchange students, ask them about their (host) countries, since they are some of the most awesome people on this planet, still there is an end to an exchange student´s tolerance.

Here is a list of things NOT to ask or say to an exchange student and the thought they will probably have when someone does.

In the home country

1. "But why are you throwing away a year instead of going to college like everybody else"

Because I think a year abroad can actually teach me much more than sitting in class with 200 other students?
People seem to be to hung up on what you are supposed to do that at times they forget what the actual purpose of those things, such as education is. Don´t get me wrong, education is very important, but that doesn´t mean you can´t learn anything outside of school. Besides, it´s called `studying abroad` for a reason (although I think many exchange students can agree with me that this is not always the main activity)
And again, it is NOT throwing away a year. If you aren´t convinced by the 6 reasons why you should do a high school exchange, maybe the statistics of it all will help you clear your mind. For example, you are twice as likely to find a job within 12 months after you graduate. As if that isn´t enough, with that job you will on average also make 25% more than people who didn´t study abroad.
These numbers are not because making more money is a natural consequence of doing an exchange year, it just shows the people that go abroad in general might be better candidates for certain jobs. Some people are just not up for new experiences but that doesn´t mean we should be held back by that.


In the host country

5. "Oh so in your country they *insert random stereotype or crazy *"

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Please tell me you didn´t just say that.

When you get asked an ignorant question you can do two things.

1. Explain the truth

"No, not all people in Brazil own monkeys. I wish though"

"Trust me, I wouldn´t have been here talking to you if I had taken drugs from the Netherlands in my luggage"

2. Exploit their ignorance

"Yes as a matter of fact we do kill all ugly people to make sure the country of Europe only has beautiful people"

"Crying with blue eyes? No, of course not! Crying is for weak people"

9. "Oh you gained so much weight since the beginning of the year!"

Unfortunately most of us will suffer from this, but the worst part about is when people keep reminding you about ¨how much skinnier you were¨ in the beginning of the year, or even if it´s the other way around. It´s painful, please don´t do it.

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2. " Oh I am so jealous! I would love to have vacation for an entire year!"

Yeah I would love that too! Unfortunately I already signed up for this thing called an exchange year, so I can´t be doing that anymore since I´ll be too busy learning a new language, trying to fit in with my new family, going to school, adapting to the culture and eating (don´t even try to deny it).

3. "I would love to go abroad but I love my parents/friends too much, I could never leave them for one year"

Too bad for you then, but for us heartless people it´s much easier to do awesome stuff like this. Leaving everything we know just feels natural to us. We also won´t get attached to our new country which we then have to leave for an indefinite amount of time so we don´t really suffer any emotional trauma or anything.*

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*Please note this was sarcasm. I actually believe your heart grows within your exchange year to fit in all the amazing people you meet. I don´t have the science to back this up but take it as a fact and trust me, 10 years from now studies will prove this theory to be true.

4. "But why would you go there?"

So you think I shouldn´t go to this country based on some type prejudice? You don´t really get the point of an exchange year, do you?

6. "Oh I heard about your country! That’s the country where *insert crazy fact or well known serial killer from your country or even worse, from a neighbouring country*. Now let me tell you exactly what your country is like because you don´t already know that"

I am fairly certain every exchange student will meet at least one person that will tell them about your host country as if they know much better. They tell you Denmark is really an African country, they speak Chinese in Thailand or your country is very dangerous because they heard about some crazy incident that actually happened in a neighboring country.

If you tell them this isn´t true they will most likely not even listen to you. Some people just can´t handle the truth.

7. "Why are you doing it that way?! That´s so weird!"

I am weird. Deal with it.

I grew up in a different culture, doing things differently and it would be much more helpful if you guided me through the process of adjusting and adapting to this new culture instead of calling me weird.

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8. "Haha, you have an accent.."

Do I really? I had no idea.

Or even worse, when people go around and imitate your accent but in a really wrong and offensive way. First of all, if you are going to try and do accents you better get it right because otherwise (and even if you get it right) you will probably only offend people. Second of all, why don´t you learn another language before you start making fun of me.

10. "Don´t you miss your family and friends though?"

Of course I do. Some days more, some days less, but I won´t let a temporary feeling get in the way of doing something amazing, something that I really want.
Some people see it as a potential excuse not to go on an exchange but the truth is, we will all miss our family/friends/home country at some point, but that should get in the way of the bigger picture. It´s true when they say nothing valuable comes for free, and an exchange is not only a financial investment, it is also an emotional investment, but you will always get something out of it. Something that is called ´personal growth´, which can be at so many levels (speaking a new language, being more independent, being more tolerant etc.).

So yes, I do miss them, if that answers your questions. But I don´t mind because I know it is all for the greater good



8.10 start with weights, English, American history, physics, psychology, lunch, algebra II, art, choir, volleyball practice and finally dinner, homework and various games in whatever sport is relevant at the moment. This has been a normal day for me since I got to this enchanting place. The most fascinating thing about American school is (I don't know if this is just small towns and schools) is the way they dress. It's like the dress codes (but the teachers are so nice, cool, smart, and funny) hahaha <--that was a greeting from my sweetest English teacher. The people in my class has their regional writing, something I'm not eligible to do, therefor I'm writing this post in school, and just got interrupted by her curiousness. Anyways. There's nothing wrong with the way she dresses - she's fabulous. The students on the other hand, it's like the dress code erased their sense of (I don't want to say fashion so eh..) creativity. It's sweatpants 5 days a week. I didn't like this at first, I'm Scandinavian and used to school being the place where you through the way you dress, build up a certain image of yourself, like fashion statements if that's what you prefer to call it. But now - wow. Stupid Scandinavians and their way of wearing uncomfortable stupid clothes to school just to impress others, bless America and their sweatpants. You can't imagine how much less exhausting sitting in a school bench for 8 hours is without those tight ass jeans. Also, of course, this way of dressing is a direct consequence of the amount of sports you spend your day participating in. There's simply no reason to dress up when you have sports morning and afternoon. We have dress-up days though, whenever you have a game in whatever sport you play, you dress up. I'm not really sure why.... But I just smile and embrace the traditions.



Sonic blasts: a legitimate reason to move to America. When people ask me what my favorite American meal is (seems to be the number 1 thing people here are interested in knowing) it always stands between sonic shakes and whatever my host mom is cooking for dinner. She is my everyday hero, her phenomenal cooking is just one of her many qualities. Actually, despite the inevitable interest in food preference; I often get the question what's most different with living here. Since the answers to this question seems desirable for many, I figured I might as well share it with you.

1. School

Teachers, times, subjects, clothes, grades, sports, foods, books, behavior, bell-ringing - you name it, everything is different. I bet you all are rolling your eyes at me thinking well isn't this exactly what you payed a fortune to experience?.... Well, yeah. You're right. It's just that I couldn't even imagine, before I left Sweden, just how different it would be. The infinite amount of pamphlets, books and information you receive from your organization don't cover half of it. (Don't get me wrong, I'm truly glad they didn't. Just sayin', there's more to come)

First of all, the fact that you have the exact same schedule every day reveals a whole new dimension of amnesia. I mean I often remember certain events and days depending on what class I had that day, like, "I had english that day so it must've been a Thursday or a Monday, also, I was wearing a sports bra after PE, so this must've been a Monday" you know what I mean? Well forget all about it because the days will float together into a bigger mess than ever before. In other words - I don't remember that much, at all. I'll do my best to document it though, this is, after all, said to be the best year of my life.

I would really love to keep writing this post about my fabulous thoughts but the ball game just got exciting. Hang around for more spectacular information about my sublime American life.



As we are approaching the fall, leaves are turning fall-colors (Signe's turning more and more retarded), the days are getting shorter and it's freaking unbelievably freezing walking to school in the mornings (hela 300 meter) And dark. And horrible because it's morning, and the sun is not up, and you think about the English assignment you didn't do, and the judgmental look upon your teachers face when she realizes this, echoes in your mind. As we are approaching the fall, life gets dull dark and difficult. As always. You simply cannot escape it, not even in America (actually you can if you're not living in Nebraska but like places that has the blessing of the sun like Florida or whatever but we're staying positive cuz we happen to live in Nebraska and we appreciate what we are given in life, if one of those things is a freezing fall, so be it.). I got a comment about the confusion my mixing with Swedish and English in my posts creates in the poor heads of you readers and I'm deeply sorry but I ain't changing a thing, you simply have to see beyond my flaws and idk use google translate.

General update about life:

The first quarter ended not long ago and we got our first grades. If this was my real education, man I would be a star. It would take an effort though to fail these multiple answers quizzes. I don't know how some people manage to fail classes, I guess they must really be doing nothing at all.

Saturday = Halloween. I'm so excited. The decorations in this country exist without limit. A concern at the same time because it hurts a bit to think about everything people produce for these kinds of holidays. Traditions that have come to circle around spending money more than anything else, with humongous amounts of plastic toys, decorations, candy and whatever. America in a nutshell.

I'm gonna get my average butt out of bed and grab myself a cup of coffee. Liquid life, needed in times like this. I just found out that my sister arrived home to Sweden after traveling Europe for quite a while. Thank you for returning safe and alive.

A sudden scream stole my attention for a moment. If you were to put a stranger in this home, that person would probably find the shouting from downstairs highly questionable. After 87 days, I'm used to this, I know that they're just watching the Royals play, and that the screaming only indicates happiness.

I wish y'all a splendid evening, good bye.