The epic trip to study abroad
What a trip. So many things, so many places, so many subways trains, so little time. I wanted to share our epic trip to Sweden and New York to get my oldest to her study abroad program. Get ready…
I love this question I kept getting before, during, and after our trip; “Couldn’t you just put her on a plane and send her off? Don’t parents do it all the time?”
Yep, sure do, but I’m not every parent. I’m me and I felt better sending my first born to a foreign country, where neither of us have ever been, with a little help. Now that I’m back, I’d do it all over again in a heart beat. I’m at peace now knowing that she is safe and I’ve seen where she is staying.
We left bright and early (1 am to be exact) and headed to the airport. I had found cheaper flights for both of us, but that meant not having the best flight times. First stop was a layover in New York. Not just a tiny layover…a 15 hour one. So, I decided to make the best of the situation and take a day trip into the city.
After some amazing help from a friend, we decided to use Go Air Link Shuttle. It’s super easy to get a shuttle to and from the airports and they even picked you up at your desired location at the exact time they said they would. Thanks my world traveler friend AJ!
After another nudge from my good friend, I decided to have the shuttle take and pick us up at The Met. What’s cool is that with a valid school id, Kailyn got in free. It was well worth the trip in itself.
A highlight of the trip for my kid 😉
At this point, we had been up for over 24 hours and I was starting to get delirious. After the museum, we walked around town, but truth be told, I was nervous to venture too far from our pickup destination so we ate locally and walked to Central Park.
We arrived back to JFK around 8:30 pm that night and waited for our 11:30 flight. I’m relieved we got there 3 hours early because our flight was crazy. The amount of people boarding for international flights was insane. The lines were crazy. As to be expected, I jacked up some part of our trip. I had forgotten to add baggage to our flight itinerary and it cost me a pretty penny. Two hundred dollars to be exact. I thought I was going to blow a gasket.
We arrived and we had never been happier to be off of a plane. Does anyone actually sleep well on a plane? I mean, I can sleep anywhere, but let me tell you…my bones were tired.
I’d like to pause here and remind everyone that my daughter and I are horrible at directions. Horrible. Add on that everything was not in English, it was hilarious. Alas, we did find our luggage and we also found where we needed to go for the last leg of our trip. The subway….or what they call the tram.
After a few tram changes (lol), we made it to Flemingsberg, a southern suburb of Stockholm. This is where her study abroad program is. It’s around a 45 minute tram ride from the airport but only 15 minutes from the heart of Stockholm.
How adorable is this little apartment? This is where we stayed until her “room” became available. We got there a few days early so we could get the necessary things for her dorm room (ie: sheets, a fan, etc.). She already had 2 check-on bags at 49 lbs a piece so you can imagine. Forenom Hotel.
A little tid bit for ya here, most places in Sweden don’t have air conditioning here. Well, this used to freezing cold homes was miserable for the majority of the time inside. Yes, they all have HUGE windows that open up (which we left open at night since we were on the 4th floor, but dang!).
By the time we got to Forenom, we were too dang exhausted to venture out, so we headed downstairs to the local grocery. Have you ever tried to pick out food that you have no idea what it is? No? Well, I about peed my pants laughing at us. We just had to wing it and purchase what we thought was edible with minimal consequences.
We ate, and then headed to bed after the mandatory FaceTime with our loved ones. We slept until noon the next day lol. I probably could have slept longer, but we had things to get done. 1st up…find a fan.
Oh my favorite part of our trip. Gamla Stan. The bustling, compact island of Gamla Stan is the city’s old town, with cobbled streets and colorful 17th- and 18th-century buildings. It was truly amazing.
Days passed so quickly as we shopped for college gear, ate amazing food, and took the tram no less than 20 times.
I watched her wave goodbye to me and it took all I had not to just stay. They don’t tell you about this part of parenting. Believing you’ve done all you can to provide a foundation to make smart choices, having faith they will be safe, and praying you did it right.
Back to New York
So, this was the first time in my life I had to travel alone. I took an Uber to the airport due to the tram not running at the time I needed it to (opens at 5:30 at the Flemingsberg Station and my flight was at 6:50). Yes, that Uber ride was expensive lol.
The only thing that kept me going was knowing my amazing husband was meeting me in NY to travel back home with me. We spent the entire day and night in the city and I got to show him all my favorite spots.
I had never gotten to see the 911 Memorial and I can tell you I burst into tears. It was one of the most humbling things of my life seeing all those names. Seeing it with my military husband? Something I’ll never forget.
We stayed close to the airport so we utilized the free transport shuttle to and from the airport which saved us some money for sure. After that, we took the bus and the subway. I personally love taking the subway. There is something special about seeing all the life down there 😉 Not to mention, it’s the cheapest way to get around.
It was so amazing seeing the city through my husband’s eyes. I had asked him if he had ever seen a city this big with this many people, he had not. Magical. We stopped in a local deli and since we were starving, got some late late lunch. I had plans for us to have dinner at a fancy restaurant, but we decided it was too short of a trip to waste on that 😉
We walked, walked, and walked some more. There were a few places I knew I had to take him to since I didn’t know when we get the chance to return. FAO Swartz, Time Square, and Central Park. Even though it was a long day, there is no place I’d rather be than hand holding my husband as we walked through Central Park. Dogs everywhere, people jogging/biking/running and the immense sense of community.
The next morning bright and early (4:30 to be exact), we headed back to JFK to return home. It was an exhausting, exhilarating, and emotional trip, but I’d do it again in a heart beat.
If I did it all over again…
- I’d bring a small fan. This momma gets hot.
- Double check your check on baggage. Make sure you added that onto your flight.
- Don’t bring any cash to Sweden. It’s unnecessary since most places don’t even accept cash. Just be sure to let your bank know when you’ll be abroad.
- If you don’t want to bother with out of the country cell phone coverage (it can be VERY expensive), keep your phone on airplane mode and only use it when you have free wifi. My daughter ended up getting a SIM card for when she needs internet access and is unable to use wifi.
- The cheapest way in any big city will be to use the public transportation systems (ie: subway, bus, etc.)
- I would flip for a first class ticket for a long flight. I was just uncomfortable trying to sleep on the plane.
- Don’t bother with a large DSL camera. Invest in a mirrorless camera that is lightweight. All these images were taken with a Nikon Z6.