So far so good! My exchange thus far has been quite successful and fun. I have been in good health and i have been keeping busy, which is nice. The only somewhat bad thing is that it has started to get cold here. The morning frost has already started and my walk to school is quite chilly, and the worst is yet to come (although this has not stopped me from swimming a couple of times this past week). So yes, besides being a little chilly, everything is great, and the cold isnt even that bad. One big thing that has happened recently in Sweden was the election, which is quite different from the election experience in the states. So, i will try to explain Swedish politics as best as i can, although it probably wont be one hundred percent correct.
Firstly, the structure of the Swedish government is different then the US govt. Firstly, they have a King, but, from what was explained to me, the king has little to no power over politics. Apparently he is just in his position for show and diplomatic reasons. However, apparently an old Swedish law states that king is allowed to break any law without getting into legal trouble, but he would most likely be removed from his position by the Riksdag. The Riksdag is the national governing body, which is comprised of a bunch of politicians who make the decisions on the national level, kind of like Congress. So, every four years, there is a national election for both the Riksdag, and local government. In Sweden there are seven major parties divided into two different sides, Alliansen (the center-right parties) which is comprised of the Moderaterna (the most popular party in the Alliansen), Folkpartiet, Centerpartiet, and the Kritdemocraterna, and the Rodgron which is composed of the Socialdemokraterna (the most popular party in the Rodgron), Miljopartiet (the green party), and the Vansterpartiet. There is also another party called the Sverigedemokraterna (Swedish Democrats) which is a party that goes back to the Nazis, and their main platform is that they want to kick all foreigners out of Sweden. Not good. For the election, people vote on both Riksdag and local government positions. The number of seats that a certain party gets in Riksdag is based on the percent of the total vote that the particular party gets, and obviously the side with the majority of seats will have an easier job passing their laws and such. For this election, the Alliansen parties won the majority, with the Moderaterna getting the majority of their votes. The leader of the Moderaterna party was then given the position of Prime Minister (or Statsminister as they say). One odd, and sort of troubling thing was that the Sverigedemokraterna (the one decended from the Nazis), won enough votes to earn some seats in Riksdag, which isnt too good for foreigners. Aside from the process of elections and government, the attitude of Swedes on politics seems to be different from in the US. The one major difference is that it seems that the majority of people care about politics and pay attention to it. For example, when people were handing out political pamphlets, the majority of people passing by actually took one and began to read it. From what i have seen in the US, most people just walk by those pamphlets without caring. Also, the youth here care about politics. For class one day we went to go visit all of these stands that the different parties had set up, and talk to the people there. I was surprised to see a majority of the kids asking questions and listening to what the politicians had to say, and also taking the time to think about who they were going to vote for. In the end, Swedish Politics were very interesting, and i enjoyed it quite a bit.
Ok, now for two quick stories...
One. I went to a hockey game about a week ago in Goteborg with another family that i was staying with for a weekend (they were great. they had two small kids that only spoke swedish, so we had fun trying to communicate while playing legos. It was great!). The game was in a big indoor stadium and the place was fairly packed. We had seats close to the ice which was very fun. The fans were very into the game, and each team had a section of extreme fans who had drums and were chanting pretty much the whole game. Our teams fans had a huge team flag that the pulled down over a section of seats about 20 long and 15 wide whever they scored. Our team was the Frolunda Indians, who were trying to copy the NHL with an American team name. In Swedish hockey, the rink is a little larger than in the NHL, and also, they are not allowed to fight, although it still happened sometimes. In the end, Frolunda won the game in an intense shoot-out that lasted a long time. It was a very fun expirience and i hope i get to go again.
Story number two. This weekend i went on an overnight camping trip with the scout troup of another exchange students host dad. John (the other exchange student) and i met his dad and the scouts at the campground saturday afternoon. The place where we stayed was wooded with a lake right nearby. There were three small wooden shelter things for us to stay in. They were about one foot off the ground, and were about two feet tall and 10 feet wide and 7 long with three walls, a floor, and a roof. So the 12 or so boys and girls who were around thirteenish i would guess stayed in two of the windshelters, and then John and i along with Johns dad, and then three counselors who were a couple years older then us, stayed in the third. The rest of Saturday we made an american football out of a plastic bag and leaves and tried to play some football for a bit. Then we played on this zipline that went through the woods which was great. After some running around we had some dinner of macaroni with meatballs, with some chocolate pudding for desert. Then when the night came we built some fires, and then John and I went for a swim in the lake which was FREEZING, while the counselors and the kids laughed from on shore. Then we warmed up and the kids went to their shelters. Then for about the next hour or so, John and I crept around the woods and scared the kids, which they thought was hilarious. Then at about 10:30 we went to bed. It was very cold during the night and despite having several layers on, it was tough to sleep without waking up from the cold. The next morning we had some oatmeal and sandwhiches for breakfast, and then headed back home. All in all, it was a very fun camping trip with the scouts, and hopefully we will get to do it again.