As my departure date for Sweden gets closer and closer I find myself getting incredibly excited and giddy! Last week I started packing. Knowing there may be some things I cannot find in Sweden, I’m stocking up on vitamins, lotion, contact lenses… all of the essentials. At this point- about a quarter of my suitcase is spoken for. I’ll have to be very selective about the clothes I bring with me. At the moment I am finishing up my online classes so that I don’t have to skip my sophomore year while on exchange. This means that lots of my days recently have been completing assignments and exams. I have to admit – not having a real summer to unwind and relax has been really difficult, but I’m sure it will be worth it in the end. And after I finish my assignments I usually go over some Swedish and start to organize what I’m bringing to Sweden and where it will all go in my suitcase. I have been talking to my first host family for about a month and they’ve been so kind and helpful answering any questions my family and I have had. My host sister will be in Arizona on exchange while I am in Sweden but my host brother will be home. He’s in 8th grade. I am the youngest of 2 here in Florida. It will be neat to be the older sibling when I get to Sweden. My little brother likes soccer, so I bought an Orlando soccer shirt for him. My host mom is a professor and my host dad works at IKEA. I am so happy and excited to meet them in person soon! Recently, I visited my friend who had just finished her road trip in the U.S. and a vacation to Europe. We caught up and she told me what some things are like in Europe when I talked to her about my preparations for my exchange. Later that day she introduced me to her new kitten Leo which I was absolutely elated for. I love cats and who doesn’t love a kitten, but because my brother has allergies, I’ve never been able to be around cats. Trying to get time in with my friends before leaving has been hard with all the school work- but it’s very important to me. I will miss them so much. And I hope we can keep in touch. Today was a big day – my flight plans were finalized. My flight goes from Florida to New York, where I have a 7+ hour layover. From there it’s off to Copenhagen, Denmark where my host family will be picking me up. It’s actually better to fly into Copenhagen than it is to fly into Stockholm. My parents surprised me with a treat for the layover in New York. We will be spending the layover at the iconic TWA hotel. It was once a terminal in the airport, since converted to a hotel/resort. Should be a fun way to kick off the exchange. I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped me get here. I’m going to miss everyone. I will miss my family, friends, my dog, my books and my room. But I know that it’s only temporary and I cannot wait for all the new and amazing experiences, meeting new people, and making new friends. I can barely wrap my head around the thought that two weeks from today, right now, at this exact time, I’ll be getting ready to board the plane. I will be starting what will likely be the hardest, best, and most rewarding year of my life so far. Hej då!