Hej alla! Jag heter Amelia Napiorkowski och jag är från Chicago. I am a junior Sociology/Anthropology and Scandinavian Studies major. I am here to tell you all a little bit about my experiences abroad and our last week here in Mora. We’ve been in Mora for five weeks and are currently on the train to Stockholm!! (Which I am very excited about.) Because we stay in Mora for the longest time period during the trip, we have all had time to settle down, which has set in feelings of homesickness. I miss my family and my pets. I miss Gustavus. I miss American food. (We get lots of meat and potatoes.) I miss the city. But all this has brought the group closer together. Because the times you remember more often are the good ones, and when we’re back home we’re going to miss eating meat and potatoes.
Last Sunday we watched the Vasaloppet! It is the oldest and longest ski race at 90 kilometers. It was so fun to cheer on some of our friends from the folk school who were in the race. I have never seen so much blue and yellow in one place! It was so exciting and full of Swedish pride. And although Norwegians won for the men, and a Polish girl won for the women, we saw many Swedish friends finish strong (there were also some Americans-I even met another Chicagoan there!)
This week everyone has been busy with Swedish class, studying for our Nordic Politics three-hour final, and preparing a presentation and paper. During the five week period we were given an assignment to research a topic of Swedish history or politics that interested us. Everyone’s presentations went great on Thursday and we all got to learn about a variety of topics from the Vikings to Sweden’s current welfare system. As a farewell to Mora, we had a “Sweden American Potluck Party” this Sunday. We invited all of the friends we have made here in Mora and enjoyed the nice weather, food, and company (as well as wonderful violin folk music!).
This trip meant a lot to me because I thought I would be learning about my heritage and the culture of Sweden, as well as improving my Swedish language skills. However I never realized I would learn so much about my own country being abroad. I have had the chance to meet some amazing people during this trip who have challenged my thinking and taught me things about myself. One of these people is a man from Syria named Aziz Denno, who told us about the Syrian revolution. I think many of us were shocked by the images he showed us because we didn’t know about everything that is going on in Syria. I admired him for telling us his story. Having an insider’s view gave me a very different outlook on the conflicts in the Middle East. The people in Syria dream to live like we do, with the opportunities and freedom we can take for granted. I never realized that the Syrian people desperately want and need our help in order to survive. It was an eye-opener because I think it is important to remember how lucky we are to be given this opportunity to learn about cultures and countries outside of our own, and I believe with this knowledge we must use it. So many people I’ve met have reminded me how grateful I am for the opportunity to be on this trip, attend Gustavus and live the way I do in America. During Fika today, Yuhei sang “Take me Home, Country Roads” as Mora Folkschool gave a heart-felt goodbye. It was a fitting song because we all faced homesickness during our time in Mora, but it was just as hard to leave it. It was so great to see the friends we’ve made wave goodbye as we left the train station (one student even ran alongside the train!) As excited as I am for Stockholm, I will deeply miss the people I have been blessed to meet here in Mora.