Friday, June 24, 2011


We kicked off our summer vacation last week by spending eight days at Amanda’s family’s cabin on the west coast. The house is 150 meters from the Kattegat sea, which separates Sweden and Denmark.

The house is 220 kilometers — only about 140 miles — southwest of Falköping in a tiny summer community called Olofsbo, which is a few minutes north of Falkenberg, a town of 25,000.

Olofsbo is home to around 1,000 houses, most of which are small summer cabins, and two campsites. Houses in the front row, like Amanda’s family’s, look out onto a long, sandy beach.

Below is an aerial view I found through Google Images, with our cabin’s location indicated by the red dot:

This was my second time at the cabin and first since moving to Sweden. We spent a few days there in January 2010 when I first visited the country but that was in the middle of one of the worst winters on record.

Everything obviously looked very different 18 months later in warmer weather.

Falkenberg is a much nicer town in the summer, too.

Tonight we’re celebrating midsummer with family out on the farm and the rest of the weekend will be devoted to packing for our U.S. visit. We look forward to seeing all of you back home very soon.

Monday, June 13, 2011

High School Graduation

Falköping’s high school graduated the class of 2011 on Friday.

For whatever reason or combination of reasons, high school graduation is a monumental event in Sweden and our town is no exception.

It started with a lunch for students and their teachers on Thursday, followed by a student breakfast Friday morning before a graduation ceremony. After the ceremony, students paraded through town while embarrassing their teachers in creative ways.

The woodshop kids showed off their carpentry skills.

The parade ended in the town square, where students celebrated some more with family and friends…

… before loading onto flatbeds to be driven around town while they got drunk.

Much to the chagrin of local police.

Then there was a student ball on Sunday, where many classmates partied together for the last time. Some move out of the area to pursue higher education but a large number enter the workforce immediately — high school in Sweden is divided into programs of emphasis and while some programs are college preparatory, around two-thirds are vocational.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

National Day

Sweden celebrated its National Day yesterday, although maybe “celebrate” isn’t the most appropriate word.

Swedes save all rowdiness for Midsummer later this month. According to a survey conducted by SVT, the country’s national television broadcaster, roughly 80 percent of Swedes don’t do anything special on National Day.

While many countries, like the United States and our Scandinavian neighbor Norway, celebrate independence on their National Day, Sweden doesn’t have any such history to commemorate.

June 6 is the day Gustav Vasa was elected king in 1523, and also the day Sweden adopted new constitutions in both 1809 and 1974. The date became Swedish Flag Day in 1916 and the government first officially recognized it as National Day in 1983, though it’s only been a public holiday for six years. If it falls during the workweek it’s viewed by most Swedes simply as a bonus day off as the weather is starting to warm up.

The weather couldn’t have been any better yesterday in Falköping. The town organized a day of music, performances and free mini golf in the park.

I’ve never seen so many people out and about here.