Monthly Archives: July 2017

Homeward Bound

Alas! My travels in Sweden are coming to a close.  I enjoyed my final traditional dinner of meatballs, potatoes, lingnon berries, and pickled cucumbers last night at a dockside restaurant by the water in Stockholm.  It was lovely and yummy. Such a nice way to finish off the trip be for the chaos of the return home.

Currently I am sitting at the Arlanda airport terminal waiting on my flight for the first leg of our journey. I am glad to be going home, (as I miss my fur babies, my own bed, and free access to talk with my extended family!); however I will miss the family and friends here in Sweden. 

I will also miss hearing the language…but I will still work on learning more! Fika is coming with me! 

Returning home will take awhile.  Hopefully it will give me a little time to process all the travel and adventures I have had this month!

Tack sä mycket och adjö i nu! (Thanks so much and goodbye for now!)

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Fika: More Than Just Coffee and Sweets

Fika is a Swedish tradition of taking time in the afternoon to share some coffee (kaffe), cookies (kokkar), and cakes (kaka…I think).  Fika is so much more than a simple coffee break. It is a reminder to take part of your afternoon to enjoy the company of others while sharing drink and food.

Since I have been part of the Olson family, fika has become part of my vocabulary.  It has been explained to me and I have shared in that tradition when I am with my in-laws.  Technically, I have done something similar with my own family when we have gathered for as far back as I remember. It was more or less referred to as “having coffee”. Additionally, I think that it is also quite similar to high tea that the British practice. 

Recently, I have had the honor and pleasure of having fika while in Sweden in a few settings.  The formal fikas were with lovely china teacups and so many homemade cookies baked with love and anticipation of our visit.  The informal fikas were with pastries or home-baked cakes with freshly made cream topped with strawberries.  One has been at a picnic table on the grounds of a castle where my husband’s 3x-grandfather worked.  We have even had fika in a charming courtyard cafe while visiting a southern seaside town.

Each fika has been shared with friends, family, and many stories of times long ago.  Every moment has been special and memorable.  It has also reminded me of “having coffee” long ago in my own past with beloved family members, shared with our traditional goodies and stories.

Fika is now linked in my mind with family.  Family can be the ones you are born into, the ones you are loved into, the friends whom become loved like family, and the people you share life experiences with to create bonds. I will take Fika with me back home in my heart.  This is a tradition, I’m pretty sure we will maintain in my family in the future.  Hopefully, it will be with some of the Swedish family cookie recipes I’m hoping to collect!

If I get them, I may just invite ya over for a US southern spin on fika! Skol!

Here I Go Again

In May I had an awesome experience as I traveled to Switzerland with my Global Perspective Program study-abroad fellowship.  It was my first trip to Europe. It was amazing and I learned so very much.  Now I am off again, heading to Sweden with some of my family.  This trip will not be filled with academic appointments and learning agendas, but I’m positive I will still be in learning mode!

We will be heading out towards Washington DC for our flight out. As I write, I am at the “far-farm” getting the fur babies settled and ready to meet their care-taker.  It was a wild adventure just traveling out to the farm an hour away…perhaps I will share that story later. I would rather not recount those moments just now. We did have a nice celebration dinner last night in honor of my husband’s completion of his step one medical exam (we are all glad that is over)!

A few more quiet moments for me to take a breath before I get geared up for the second round of pack up and travel. I am hoping to do a post or two as I go along if I have internet access.  It will be nice to collect two more country stamps on my passport – Iceland (where we have a layover) and Sweden.

And, yes for the record, I did look up the University of Stockholm. They have a counseling center!  If they were not on their summer break, I would have for sure reached out to meet and tour!

Let’s see where this adventure takes me!

Test Anxiety!

Being a PhD Candidate, I am no stranger to exams, tests, or other ways to measure teaching and learning.  In seeking my professional counselor’s license in North Carolina and my national counseling certificate, I had to take a very long, comprehensive exam that covered the major areas of studies for counseling professionals. Although that was now 10 years ago, I still recall those days (and weeks!) filled with anxiety surrounding my study schedule and the exam itself.  Add to that the anxiety over the implications of failing that exam. Plus, it was expensive.

Today, I sit on the sidelines.  Tomorrow, my beloved partner, who is a dedicated medical student, will take his Step One medical exam. In translation, this is a comprehensive exam that tests on the entire content of his two years in medical school thus far.  Similar to what I went through, however, it has added bonus and layers of pressure.  Not passing this exam, holds him back from beginning his third year of medical school. The third year allows the students to have rotations in hospital and other medical settings to experience the basic areas of medicine. It lets them start their supervised practice of medicine. Yep, a lot of pressure to pass.

The extra bonus that carries huge implications are the scoring results of the exam.  Results dictate both the immediate future, as well as potential career paths in medicine.  Wait,…what?!  Yes,the higher your scores, the more opportunities you have potential for and the lower the score the fewer. Talk about pressure!  So if anyone has dreams and aspirations of being a surgeon or neurologist, they must have an awesome score.  If the score is not as high, then plan B or even plan C may be their course of action.

As a person who does go to the doctor, I appreciate the fact that doctors and specialists need to know their stuff.  As a mental health care professional, I have concerns for those who have major text anxiety, may not test well, or are not able to manage their stress in the weeks/days leading up to the test.  What does this do for their mental health and well-being with so much pressure on the performance at this one moment in time?

My heart goes out to all of these medical students.  Not only do you have to pass, but you need to do as well as possible to keep your opportunities open.

All that said, I have seen the hours and hours of time invested in study questions, drills, and pouring over materials with microscopic vision. I have seen the zombie-like looks for those over-study sessions and next day ‘study hangovers’.  I have even seen a post-exam ‘vacant’ look that comes in the days afterward.  Soon, this will be over for this year’s lot.  It can’t happen fast enough, in my opinion.

I have the utmost confidence that my husband will do well. I am his biggest fan and cheerleader.  Also, I know the heart he has to help others.  He has studied long and hard.  He only has a few more short hours to review (and pray!) and then rest before his clock starts tomorrow for the exam. My thoughts, prayers, and heart go with him.

Then the 4-5 weeks of waiting for the results begins…