The new year

Mon Jan 22 2018

I didn't quite realize it had gotten to be so long, but it seems this is my first post of the new year. It's been a hectic few weeks, but at the same time I feel like very little has happened. I've sort of sat myself down in the hopes that I'll come up with something worth writing about.

I spent 12-15 January in Lappland traveling with my host family. Daniel and Johanna lived in Kiruna for a few years a while back. The story Johanna tells is that she decided that she wanted to do her residence in a place that was different than anywhere she had lived before, and after two years or so she just felt so at home there that they decided to stay. My understanding is that they moved to Stockholm when Anna was 5 and Fanny 3, so neither of the children remembers it particularly well, but the sense I get is that all four of the family have a lot of nostalgia about it.

Anyone interested should just read the Wikipedia page about Kiruna, but the short version is that it's a mining town built sometime in the early 20th century of about 20,000 people and is basically the northernmost inhabited place in Sweden. That puts it way north of the Arctic circle, so I was expecting it to be the coldest place I'd ever been, but it was about the same temperature (or a bit warmer, even) than Minneapolis, and nowhere near as cold as northern Minnesota can get.

That said, it was still quite cold, and I was glad to have all of the winter clothes I loaned from my host family. We met with some of Daniel and Johanna's friends, drank a lot of coffee, saw some beautiful sights and briefly visited Norway. It was a great trip and I had a lot of fun, but I also think that another day would not have been pleasant.

This past weekend was AFS Midstay camp, which I rate as much more successful than Post-arrival camp (which long time readers may remember from a few posts ago in November). It was more of the same talk about goals, reflecting on what's happened so far this year, cultural differences, how to make friends, etc.. I'm not sure if it was just that my attitude was better or if the camp was actually better planned and more bearable, but I had an overall pleasant experience. I don't really have much to say about the experience other than rating it 3.5 stars out of 5.

We had last Thursday off school, so I spent the day making soup and teaching Knut (a classmate) to use LaTeX for his Gymnasiearbete (a sort of High-school thesis, I guess?). Both were moderately successful: I think the language barrier hurt a lot with Knut, and the soup was delicious but I stored it with the noodles in and by the next morning they had soaked up all the broth and turned into what could generously be called a stew (which was still very edible).

Today in Swedish class we received August Strindberg's Spöksonaten (The Ghost Sonata), which I am looking forward to reading.

That's about all I have to report, and also it's pretty late and I want to get to bed, so I'll sign off here and hope to write again soon. In the inspirational words of Royce Hill, "Anything is a vape pen with a lighter and some courage."