By Jocelyn Forrest, Sophomore Student from British Columbia, Canada

(Editor’s Note:  In May and June, Jocelyn traveled to several European countries to see and learn about new places and to reconnect with current and former Castleton students along the way.  She wanted to reflect on her experiences by writing a series of stories for the blog.  This is Jocelyn’s first of three stories.)


Earlier this summer, I began my five-week European trip in Sweden, and I immediately fell in love with the country. The Swedish people are very kind, classy, and gentle. It is a nice change from the more outgoing and “loud” nature of us North Americans. Everyone dresses very nicely there, at all times. What they consider pajamas, we consider a normal day outfit such as leggings and a loose t-shirt. The majority of the clothes worn in Sweden are navy blue, black, grey, or white—-in other words, you don’t see a lot of colour. Most of the vehicles are made by Volvo, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, or Volkswagen- even their semis are Mercedes Benz. There are no trucks and not many “not nice-looking” cars there.

I love Sweden, and I blame this on my newly acquired addiction to coffee, thanks to Fika. A Swedish tradition, Fika’s basic meaning is: “to have coffee“, often accompanied with something sweet.  It is more about socializing than drinking coffee. It happens at least 2 or 3 times a day and, trust me, the Swedes are shocked if you turn down Fika or even a coffee. I barely drank coffee before my trip, maybe one or two times per month. However, by the time I left Sweden, I was used to drinking at least one or two cups per day, which is a big change for me. I really like the concept of Fika in that Swedes will take time out of their day to sit with their friends, relax and talk, no matter how busy they are or how many things they have on their mind. I think this practice needs to be incorporated into North America, as we have a tendency to rush through our days and invite unnecessary stress into our lives. As a result, we pick up something quick from a fast food place before returning to our hectic day.  We do this despite the reality that in fact, we do have time to sit down and socialize and still keep our day intact.

I could go on and on about Sweden, but I will stop here so I can write about and share with you my experiences in two other wonderful countries–Switzerland and Norway. Stay tuned!