A big part of the reason I wanted to come to Sweden was that I knew I had family roots here. I knew I had some distant relatives living in southern Sweden. They have visited our family once in the US, and my grandfather has visited them several times. Once I arrived in Sweden, they messaged me inviting me to their home. It was honestly really comforting to know that I had a family – albeit distant family – who cared for me while I was abroad.
Earlier this semester, I ended up getting an invitation to the baptism of my cousin’s new baby. Of course, I couldn’t miss this opportunity so I ended up planning a trip to visit my relatives for four days. They live in Småland, about a three-hour train ride south of Stockholm. I arrived in Växjö (which I still have no idea how to pronounce) on a Thursday.
That Thursday, my cousin Lina picked me up and brought me to her sweet farmhouse where I would be staying. On Thursday, I went to a museum focussing on Swedish immigration with Lina, met her children (including baby Jonathan!), and had dinner with her brother and his family. It was a great first day.
The next day was equally exciting. Lina and I went to Ikea and the Ikea museum. I love Ikea back in the states and it is has been on my bucket list since I got here to visit the real deal: a Swedish Ikea. Getting to combine the store and museum was great, especially since I got to try the famous Swedish Ikea meatballs!
Saturday was the day of the baptism. I was a bit intimidated because the entire service was in Swedish, and most of the relatives spoke in Swedish too. But, it ended up being really fun and it was exciting to meet Swedes who aren’t from Stockholm. At the end of the day, Lina, her oldest son, Casper, and I baked kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls) which are a traditional sweet here in Sweden. They were delicious!
My fourth and final day with the relatives was a busy day. Lina and her family live on a large dairy farm, so I woke up early Sunday morning to help milk the cows. It was definitely a new experience, but, I don’t think I’ll be milking many cows in my future. I was still happy to try something new, of course! After breakfast, we went to a family reunion. I was able to meet with several distant relatives, visit the church and cemetery of my relatives, and eventually, we had a family lunch with a walk through the town our relatives are from. It was a very busy day! By the time we got to the Alvesta train station to say our farewells, I was completely exhausted and ready to get back to Stockholm.
It was really a special experience to get to go back to my Swedish roots and connect more with my family here. I am looking forward to the next time I can see them!