Top to Bottom

We lay on a blanket at the edge of the grass, just a few feet away from the small sandy shoreline. The wind was constant but it was gentle, and we fell asleep there, still drugged by the jetlag. I woke up to see some of the family members heading into the water, eager for a quick swim before dinner. To me, the water was the kind of cold I'd have to really have some convincing to get into, after all, we were in the far north of Sweden. But I loved that it seemed perfectly refreshing to them and that they didn't think twice before going all the way in. That's going to be me soon, I promised myself.

It was a lovely, lazy, Swedish summer weekend. Walks through the forest and along the beach, while the others picked berries for me to try along the way... picnicking and swimming around rocks and trees and waterfalls...a couple American movies with Swedish subtitles...going out in the rowboat to pick up crayfish from the traps...and then the meals, so delicious and plentiful and leisurely. Dinners that go alongside the sunsets, so they last for hours, everyone sitting around the table. I quickly learned how to say "pass the salmon" in Swedish, for sure. I even got to experience a proper kräftskiva (crayfish party), with all the traditional decorations, hats with dancing crayfish on them, and the snapsvisor (Swedish drinking songs) led by the grandfather of the family. I love seafood, but thought I wouldn't be a fan of crayfish, all that work for just a tiny bit of meat, but I was quite wrong.

After a lot more Stella Artois, smoked salmon, nature walks, and a quick trip over to Finland for a couple hours, we flew back down to Stockholm. We arrived to Sabina's house around 10 pm, with plans to rest, upload our photos, research cellphone plans, repack my things, and get to bed. But her darling sister and her friend greeted us at the stairs, drinks in hand, with these words, "Oh don't you want to come out with us? It's Stockholm Fashion Week. We're going to one of the parties."

Yeah, okay, twist our arms.

Exactly 24 hours after that, I was down in the very south of Sweden, in Lund, finally. I met up with Sarah, the other American girl in my program, with whom I'd been emailing and talking to for almost three months, a friend already. And then, to complete my journey from the top to the bottom of Sweden in less than a week, our Croatian cab driver pulled out his guitar in the middle of the street, and serenaded us with U2's "One Love."

"We're one
but we're not the same
we get to
carry each other, carry each other..."

And all of this was my wonderfully memorable welcome to Sweden.


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