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September 2022

A Frog in My Room

Yes, I did come home one day to find a frog had crept into my room. More on that later (moral of the story: close your windows).

This post is all about the new things I’ve encountered so far that have surprised me. Trying something new is the core reason I chose to study abroad. Part of that is definitely embracing the unexpected and getting out of my comfort zone! So far this perspective has made it easier to have a more positive experience, even when there is a frog in your room.

Let’s start with new foods!

  • Pickled herring: Last weekend I went to a dinner party with my host family at their friends’ house. The appetizer was knäckebröd, a popular hard bread/cracker here, topped with apple and pickled herring dressed in mustard. Pickled herring has a reputation here for being a food foreigners don’t like. I’d also heard stories from my mom about lutefisk, a Norwegian dish with a similar reputation. So I was apprehensive… but I liked it! The mustard and fish and apple was a great combination.
  • Salted licorice: This is a very popular candy in Sweden, with many variations, including some that are coated in so much salt it’s hard to see the licorice underneath. I’ve tried a few kinds of salted licorice now, including a lilac chocolate salted licorice for lördagsgodis (Saturday candy). I can eat one or two of these at a time. Not something I was expecting from candy but I can appreciate why people like it.
  • Cardamom buns: I knew about the prevalence of cinnamon buns (kanelbullar), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that cardamom buns are very popular too! I had one for a solo fika last week and it was delicious.

Another easy way to encounter the unexpected beyond trying new foods is by simply walking around the city. I’ve stumbled upon a lot of interesting things this way. 

One example is runestones from the Viking Age – as I have learned in my World of the Vikings course, Sweden has around 2,000 runestones. So sometimes walking around will lead you to one! Take these examples from Gamla Stan and Eksjö:

Gamla Stan: Runestones were often reused in other buildings
Runestone recovered in Eksjö

There have also been times where I’m trying to go somewhere but leave the metro station at the wrong exit and then get distracted by the nice scenery in that area. Who knows if I would have explored this street or stopped to look at that church otherwise?

Hedvig Eleonora Kryka in Ostermalm

Now to address the frog in my room. I came home late after a core course week class discussion and lecture and heard something moving shortly after closing the door. This something was a semi-large frog! It was then that I remembered I had forgotten to close my window before leaving. 

After having a bit of a staring contest with the frog, during which it seemed tempted to jump out of sight, I settled on using a vase and a tupperware lid to transport it outside. I nudged it into the vase and then held the vase out the window, but it didn’t want to leave! After standing there for a few minutes, I was finally able to get it close enough to the ground for the frog to hop out. Wishing our frog friend all the best, I made sure to securely close the window.

So sometimes the unexpected means a pleasant stroll around the city, and sometimes it means maneuvering a frog out of your room. Either way, each is involved in shaping my experience in Stockholm and make for great stories!

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