Post part two of my travel to Åre, Sweden! Part two consists of the Rotary ski camp and being with 34 other exchange students from around the world for 5 days! It was a little hectic at times, but I made a ton of new friends and memories!
It was actually quite weird that all of the people at the camp were people I had never met before, there were 2 others from my introduction language camp from when I first arrived in Sweden. There were many newbies, people who had only been in Sweden for not even 2 months, so that could also be why! And also the fact that everyone lives so far away from me. If I counted right, there were people at the camp from 12 different countries! USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Japan, South Korea, India, France, and Italy!
Sunday morning, Jessie and I made our way to the hotel where we were staying at for the camp. The hotel is in the Åre community, the town it is in is called Undersåker, and it’s about a 15 minute drive into Åre from there. Her host dad got stuck in the ditch while driving up to the front door of the hotel, so someone had to tow us out of the ditch. It was an interesting start to our morning! We were greeted by a bunch of exchangees and they helped us take our luggage up to our room. We were the last ones to arrive at the camp besides for a few others who were arriving by train around 3.
Our activity Sunday was a walk to this waterfall that was just down the hill from the hotel we were staying at. We crossed this busy road and I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of anyone driving by seeing a group of 35 exchange students barring flags and all. It was a pretty long walk to get to where the actual waterfall was, and we had to climb over a tree and hop over a little stream to get there. The waterfall was frozen of course, because it is still winter in Sweden, or at least it still is this high north.
We arrived back to the hotel from our little nature walk around lunch time. We ate grilled hamburgers outside and then played a few get to know you games. After that we had nothing else planned to do. A group of us decided to exchange pins instead of just sitting around talking. It was so cool to get some different pins from places other than the US and Canada. Now my blazer is getting pretty full and has some cool kangaroos and koalas on it too.
The rest of the day was hanging out talking to new people. At night, some of us took a sauna. It was the most crowded sauna I have ever been in. I think we had about 17 people crammed into the sauna, and we were all shoulder to shoulder. Now that I think about it, it was actually really gross. Nonetheless though, it was fun, we didn’t have any music so we were all singing songs together and a bunch of people went outside to jump in the snow.
Monday was our first ski day with the camp! We had quite an early wake up time, as almost everyone except a few needed to go rent their skis or snowboard. The rental place was just down the street and it took around an hour and a half for everyone to get their stuff, then we were headed to Åre to hit the slopes!
The first half of the morning we had lessons, so from like 10-12. We were split up into groups by ability, I went in the advanced group since I’ve been skiing so much here in Sweden. For my group they weren’t really lessons, just like a group we skied with. Our teachers were only a few years older than us but it was fun anyways. We took a warm up and then we went all the way to the top of the mountain. We were 1,400m above the world, but you couldn’t tell because it was so incredibly foggy out. To get down from the top we took a black slope (the hardest type of slope). This was actually my first black slope I’ve ever been on and I had no trouble. I’m kind of proud of myself actually. But anyways, at 12 we met up with the whole group back at our designated meeting place.
For lunch, Jessie and I decided that we wanted Max. In Åre they have a Max in the town square that you can just ski up to from the slopes. 5 Aussies decided to follow along, which may have been a bad idea since it was a red slope and they were just beginners. It took us a while longer than normal, but we eventually made it there with everyone intact and uninjured. It was fun to have them along, gave us quite a bit to laugh at with everyone face planting in the snow and all! After eating there, we took the train lift from town and continued skiing with them on blue and red slopes. By the end of the day, you could tell that their skiing was so much better than at the beginning.
We were all supposed to meet back at the designated place at 4.15 to take the bus back to the hotel. We somehow decided that it would be okay for me and my Australian friend, Hamish, on his snowboard to take the t-bar lift together. Well 3/4th of the way to the top he made us both fall of the lift. I decided it was too far to walk up the rest of the steep hill, so we went down the slope back to the lift. The second time, we made it to the top both taking separate lifts but Jessie, who knew where she was going, was gone and we didn’t know the way back. We ended up going in the opposite direction and had to go back down the slope to the lift again. The third time Hamish fell off the lift again so I had to wait extra long for him at the top. We made it back to the bus around 4.30, only 15 minutes late!
At night, again nothing was planned for us. We just all hung out, some people took a sauna. There was a game room in the basement with a pool table and a ping pong table, so that was the hang out after dinner. But there was 5 of us that decided to go out sledding.. We found 3 mattresses (made for the snow) and went down to a hill not too far away! It was cold but so much fun! We made a train with them and actually all made it down the hill together!
Tuesday, we fortunately got to sleep in an hour! By 9.30 we were on the slopes at our lessons, the last day we would be having these lessons. We went off piste in Tuesday’s lesson and it was so much fun! They also tried to teach us how to ski backwards and do 360s on our skis. I haven’t quite mastered it yet. For lunch Jessie and I just went to a random restaurant, most people brought with sandwiches from the hotel but we didn’t want to eat sandwiches 3 times a day. I bought this amazing chocolate ball dipped in white chocolate, seriously one of the best things I have ever tasted.
In the afternoon, we took two different Australians skiing with us, Taine and Natalie! Again, they had never been skiing before so it was a little crazy to take them on a red slope, but they made it alive and we all had fun!
Tuesday night was just more hanging out. The supervisors told us we would have presentations on Wednesday night to give to the Rotary club. They told us each country needed to have a 5 minute presentation. So we got into our country groups and worked on them a little bit. Other than that nothing so special to say about Tuesday night.
Wednesday we hit the slopes around 9.30 again, but no lessons this day. The day before, Hamish apparently took his snowboard off at the top of one of the slopes and lost it in the forest. After laughing hysterically at how you can lose a snowboard, a group of us that started our morning out by being part of the snowboard search team, going through the woods to look for it. We didn’t find the board, but at the end of the day one of the supervisors found it on the rack at the bottom of the slope.
Later a different group of us decided to go to the top of the mountain. The smaller gondolas going to the top were closed, so we had to take this huge gondola that can hold 80 people to the top. It was about a 20 minute wait to get onto the gondola, and it was a little shaky to get to the top, or maybe that was just me. The clouds hung under us and we faced winds of 27km/s. With the windchill it was -35 on the top, 1,400m above ground.
Pictures from the top of the mountain below. I stole some of them from other people 🙂
Wednesday night was the Rotary dinner. About 10 Rotary club members came to the hotel to have dinner with us. Of course before the dinner we had some time to shower and get ready. The dinner was a nice 3 course meal! I sat by this Rotary guy who was telling us stories about how he went to a basketball camp with Micheal Jordan in Vegas. He was an interesting guy to talk to!
After the dinner was over, we all gave our little presentations. All of them were so fun to watch, Canada and Australia sung a song, France, Italy, and Japan did a little play, South Korea danced to Gangem Style. Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico played the harmonica and did some funny jokes about their country, India gave an interesting power point, New Zealand showed a video, and America did the pledge of allegiance.
We gave the presentations really late, started them around 9.30 maybe, and we were all exhausted from skiing. We were done with the whole dinner and presentations around 11, but we didn’t go to bed just yet. Everyone crowded around in the hallways upstairs where we were sleeping for more pin exchanging and photos. At first I started to take a picture of 5 people, but once everyone saw the picture they ran into it, and eventually we had pretty much everyone crammed into the hallway for the picture!
Thursday morning, everyone was running late, but we made it to the slopes eventually. I think everyone was all skied out, so we just took it easy for the last day.
Don’t mind me holding the flag backwards, maybe next time I should check which way it’s facing 😉
Thursday was the last day so lots of goodbyes were said and then we all went home!
It was so awesome to meet everyone and the skiing was amazing. I know I will never forget this week!