Holm Sweet (Stock)holm – My Swedish Homestay

It is as clear as a Midsummer’s day that the DIS Stockholm team truly put a great deal of time and effort into matching students from the U.S. with their host families living in and around Stockholm. Choosing to take part in the DIS Homestay Program has allowed me to not only become more immersed in the local culture and customs and receive a behind-the-scenes look into daily life in Sweden, but it has also enabled me to return the favor by venturing to make sense of an array of puzzling matters going on back in the States with those witnessing it from afar.

Regardless of where you choose to study abroad and who you are paired with in a Homestay, it is important to go in with an open mind as well as to be cognizant and considerate of the local customs that may not align with your own. I highly recommend going through and reading other blog pieces written by AbbySalmaan, and Caleigh about their unique (and from what I hear, very positive!) experiences with Swedish hosts!

Helping Susanne to prepare the Swedish dessert and delicacy: Chokladbollar

My host family lives in Nacka, a suburban city of around 100,000 people just east of Stockholm. Johan (my host dad), Susanne (my host mom), and Simon (my host brother) have made it extremely easy to assimilate to a brand new landscape filled with unique experiences and un(DIS)covered opportunities. I should note that my other host brother, Sebastian, is currently studying five hours north of Stockholm and is, unfortunately, not able to join us as frequently in our weekly excursions.

If you choose to live in a Swedish Homestay, there is a good chance that you will be living in Nacka or one of the other surrounding suburbs! But do not fret, taking public transportation to and from downtown Stockholm is (usually) very clean and efficient.

Attempting to pose for a picture with my host dad while extremely jet lagged (picture courtesy of DIS)

Not only have I been lucky enough to have been matched with an excellent host family who truly wants me to get the most out of my time abroad, but I also feel quite grateful to have been paired with amazing tour guides, five-star chefs, incredibly talented athletes, and genuinely kind friends. In my last article, I listed a handful of places that are worth visiting and these recommendations are all thanks to my host family’s early initiative to take me everywhere they could. And we are still checking places off the list!

Learning about Swedish history at Riddarholm Church in downtown Stockholm

While I have been successful so far in fulfilling the role of the ‘exchange student’ or ‘prolonged tourist’ in a new city, my host family has even made me feel like part of the family and informed member of the local community. These immersion-filled experiences have ranged from running and training with Susanne between her triathlon competitions to attending a rock concert with Simon to meeting other friends and families in the area including during our Kräftskiva (crayfish party) festivities, and everything in between.

Johan, Simon, and Susanne (from left to right) in front of Gamla Stan after our day touring the city and visiting the Vasa Museum

But so far, one of the most rewarding experiences I have had with my host family has been practicing with Simon’s football (soccer) team, Boo-FF. Not only do I get the chance to put my skills to the test once more during the team’s weekday practices and workouts, but I also get the opportunity to help Johan coach the team during their weekend games. Not that he needs any help, of course.

Every week, I look forward to the new and refreshing conversations I will have with Simon and his teammates during their practices and games (mostly taking place while we run laps and take intermittent water breaks). A few of the topics that we’ve been covered already, for instance, have included everyone’s favorite NFL teams, the Presidental Race in the U.S., Swedish Healthcare, NASA, and much (much) more.

Visiting the world’s largest IKEA store with my host family (obviously not pictured)

With any new experience in a new place and with new people comes a certain amount of discomfort and even anxiety. Johan, Susanne, Simon, and Sebastian (in spirit) have gone above and beyond to make me feel at home in Sweden and have unquestionably minimized some of these feelings that nearly everyone experiences to some degree when thousands of miles from home.

I hope that one day, my family and I (back home in the States) will have the opportunity to return the favor and make my Swedish family also feel at holm.

Running a 5K with Susanne and other very fit members of the Stockholm City Triathlon Club

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