On the morning of April 15th, we departed from our hotel in Uppsala for a relaxing morning train ride to Växjö. That afternoon, we congregated at the main square before meeting our families, while some of us had fika at a nearby cafe. Matt and I would be spending the next five days with Stefan and Linda Erdahl. Stefan is the executive for Växjö’s EMTs and stopped to chat with just about everyone we saw on our way to their house. Linda grew up in Arkansas and taught there for several years before moving to Sweden and continues to teach students at the fourth grade level.
That evening, we had an afternoon fika outside in the warm sunshine. Dinner was a special treat with Mexican stir fry. Matt and I were both very happy to have real spicy food for a change.
On Wednesday, we had the pleasure of meeting two Duluthians: one, Monica Sandberg, who works with the Duluth Model, an organization to promote healthy relationships, and her husband and young son, Jasper, who were visiting for awhile. After so long with just the ten of us students and two leaders, it was nice change of scene to travel with a young family.
After the long drive on the beautiful highway, letting Jasper borrow one of my brochures to put stickers on (yes, I remember the “Are we there yet?” days), we arrived at Kalmar Castle, where the Kalmar Union between Sweden, Denmark, and Norway was formed in 1397. The view from the castle was spectacular and made me think longingly for my hometown, Duluth.
We ate lunch at a restaurant, and Monica, Chelsea, and I had a lovely chat about Duluth over a plate of herring and cup of coffee. After lunch, we visited Ottenby Fågelstation on Öland, where the birds come to rest, are captured in netting similar to hairnet material and marked by “ringers” with metal bands and then released through a tube. Often they end up flying right back.
At the end of our long day, we enjoyed the late afternoon Öland landscape before succumbing to sleep in the vans on the ride back to our host families.