Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Beginnings of a Scandinavian Adventure: Next Stop, Sweden!

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
As I write this portion of my pilot entry, I'm looking out over Pittsburgh Intl's tarmac awaiting my first connecting flight to Newark. Moving through security went well, as well as snagging some Swedish currency at Travelex, but I had, and still have, a pit in my stomach. Don't get me wrong; this is a very exciting adventure. I'm thrilled for this opportunity, but leaving my parents behind at security, knowing that I'm not returning to Clarkson with my friends right now (several of whom are graduating this semester), and bracing myself for a couple weeks of culture shock is a bit unnerving. I feel, though, that once I'm over the Atlantic my emotions will take a turn for the better, maybe even enough for a few moments of shuteye. The plan is to meet up with two other exchange students in Stockholm, both of which have the same flight to Luleå. I'm looking forward to not being alone walking up the jetway and through the concourse at the host city.

I'm also thinking about how the other students' here on this blog, Emily and Lauren, are taking to their own adventures. Emily, whom I am an acquaintance, is already in England. I'm unsure of Lauren's current status. Of course I wish them the very best.

It's about time to board.

Location: Somewhere Between Canada and Greenland
Well I would have to say that I had the first Swedish exper.... Ouch, Ouch, OUCH! Sorry about that, the woman in front of me decided to abruptly put her seat back and jam my laptop into my abdomen. Anyway, as I was saying, I've already had my first Swedish experience on this flight. To start off, I had dinner, which wasn't too bad, although I wasn't quite sure what you call a salad that has a full slab of raw fish on top of it. But like I said, it wasn't too bad on my highly Americanized palette. Then, to accompany my desert I had a cup of coffee. Now I read before leaving for my trip that Swedes do indulge heavily in coffee, and the brew I had was no exception. I'll put it to you this way for comparison sake: it made Starbucks' dark roast look (and taste) like a heavily sugared light roast. Nonetheless, after the first few sips I enjoyed it.

I mentioned earlier that I felt that things would improve for me emotionally, replacing fear of the unknown with adventurous excitement. I am slowly feeling better as the flight grows longer (although my abdomen may still be a little sore).

On a completely unrelated note: I've never seen so many blonde passengers in an airplane before (both male and female alike). I can definitely tell this flight is going to Sweden.

Location: (Finally) In Luleå
I'm settled into my room and am already making plans with my assigned "buddy" tomorrow to explore the town and see what all is available to me. The entire area here is what I expected to be like in terms of aesthesis and resources. One big difference I've come across today is how mobile phones are managed. In the US we are almost completely forced into a contract. Here, on the other hand, from my research today, most phones are sold "unlocked" and you pay-as-you-go. The phones tend to be more expensive but because I'm not locked into a contract for my short duration I don't have to worry about cancellation fees. With that being said, I'm definitely getting a phone for local calling purposes.

The weather coming through Luleå was comparable to the weather predominant in the North Country: snowy and cold. At least I won't have to get accustomed to the cold seeing as I've acclimated myself while at Clarkson for three years.

I haven't gotten any pictures yet. I've been too busy settling in today. After those three flights I needed some space. But tomorrow I'm planning on taking my camera out and about. In the next couple of days I'll report back on what I've found so far.

Wish me luck!  

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