Take Me To Sweden

Although I should definitely be packing, one of my main determinations for this trip is to use it as a writing opportunity. So I need an opening post!

My dad is from Sweden, with relatives all over the country. However we haven't visited since I was a freshmen in high school due to busy summers and conflicting school/work schedules. But finally I have a free summer (probably one of my last ones before I get a real job!) and my dad is retired...we had to make the trip. I don't remember a lot about my last visit, mostly family, driving in the countryside, eating crayfish, and getting a too-short haircut. Nonetheless, I feel like I am finally at a age where everything I see and do will make a lasting impression. For the next two and a half weeks, I want to become a part of my family's culture and heritage. I don't want to be a tourist (even though I am making sure to bring my Nikon SLR), I want to be an inhabitant. Of course this will be difficult when I don't know my way around and talk very little Swedish, but at the same time, Swedes are exceptionally nice and have always preferred me to speak in English anyways so they could perfect their own pronunciation. I think I'll survive.

My dad and farmor (grandma in Swedish) have always been big on incorporating a Swedish lifestyle into our own. My farmor used to import Swedish goods to America when she first immigrated and so the same clothes, utensils, and products were used in her house and in our own. Then they built an Ikea right next to my grandma's house and all hell broke loose. To this day my dad drives to Ikea once every other 2 weeks or so to pick up meatballs, lingonberries, mustard, pancake mix, hard bread, etc. We cook out of Swedish recipe books (except anything involving pickled herring) and we celebrate St. Lucia every Christmas. Although its not much, to incorporate and honor your own heritage's traditions and culture is such a meaningful way to feel connected to the past and the far away.

Like I mentioned, our friends and family in Sweden live all over the country. Some live on farms, some in Stockholm, some in small towns, and some in the countryside. We're lucky to have such a variation even though it does make it difficult to reach all of them in short vacation times. I would say the places I am most excited to visit again are Stockholm, the summerhouses along the water, and one relative's farm where picking gooseberries on horseback is an every day task.  I really want to try and capture this range of living on film this year too, photographing people and their daily lives instead of the just the landmarks and giant dala horse.

So I have big aspirations for this trip. I don't know when I will be able to visit again after this trip, probably not for a couple years. I'm determined to make the most of it and I cannot wait to share all that I absorb on this blog and in photographs. Probably one of my best attempts at being artsy, hopefully I can stick to it!