Axelle’s Experience

My name is Axelle, I am 16 years old and I live in a little town near  Lyon, in France, called Meyzieu. I live in a small house with my parents and my twin sister. We speak French at home, but I study English and Italian in High School.

When I learned that we would host a Swedish pen pal I got really excited and didn’t hesitated a second to agree! I thought it would be a great experience to discover a completely different culture from mine and learn more about Sweden that I only knew by name.

I was a bit anxious about the first days of common life with a new person, but Linnea and I got directly along. She is an adorable person, respectful, caring and open-minded. So, we talked a lot about politics, school systems, the way we see the world and other subjects to share our different point of views. It was really interesting, and she made me, and my sister, discover another vision of the world.

Thus, I realized that Swedish students have an almost friendly relationship with their teachers, while still having respect of course, opposed to ours  that is way more distant and “cold”. I also  noticed our very different eating times. While we only eat tree big meals a day, Swedes reduce  portions and add snacks several times a day.  It was certainly the most striking differrnce in our everyday routine.

By the way, my sister was also kind of a part of that exchange. She lived with Linnea and learned to know and appreciate her as much as I did. She also spent time with the whole group. My parents enjoyed Linnea’s company, talked as much as they could with her .

At the end of this eventful and funny week, I realized how much I  had become keen on our group, and especially Linnea of course. So, when the moment came to say our goodbyes for seven months, I found myself crying like a baby at the idea of not seeing her for so long! The following week was actually weird not seeing Linnea every day. But, we promised to keep in touch and text each other every week.

So, I look forward to  discovering Sweden and  seeing all our new friends again. And, thank you Linnea for becoming such an important friend of mine, can’t wait to see you!

Linnéa’s Experience

Hi, my name is Linnéa and I am one of the Swedish students. I am 18 years old and live in Sweden in the little town Köping. I speak fluent Swedish and English.

When I first got the request about this exchange I  said yes right away, I thought that it would be a once in a lifetime experience, and it sure was. I and Axelle started talking and we got along right away. We both noticed that we share the same values and both were really excited about this journey. When it came to actually meeting Axelle and her family I was a bit nervous. But after our hello hug at the airport, I felt at ease immediately. Already the first night with her family we went into deep conversations about school systems, cultural differences, and just life in general. That night I fell asleep with a smile on my face and just pure happiness and gratefulness to be apart of this exchange.





     Axelle, I and her twin sister Nelly.

The one thing that we noticed that was a big difference was our eating routines. They ate few, but big meals and I am used to eating more often, but smaller meals. Another thing was the way we welcome each other. In Sweden, we are a bit more reserved and just say a simple hello or a handshake but they gave each other cheek kisses, which I think Is lovely. Another big difference was the school system and school overall, which I think is one thing we all recognized. It felt like the French school was a bit more strict while our school suddenly felt quite chilled. The towns differ too. Köping is a much smaller town while Lyon felt like a much bigger town, with big malls and other tourist attractions like museums. I definitely fell in love with the town of Lyon.

When we first got to know that we would be spending a week in France with the family it felt like a really long time, but when it was time to leave, a week suddenly felt way too short. I will forever be grateful for this experience. And Axelle, her sister Nelly and her mom and dad will always have a special place in my heart. Without knowing it they gave me so much and taught me all kinds of new things and I will always be grateful for their warm welcome and just the love they gave me during the week. Nelly and Axelle were just two foreign names for me but now they are the names of two of my best friends. They are both so lovely and as they would say, the definition of sweethearts. It was really special to get to know someone in this kind of circumstances and it developed a special bond that I have with no one but them. I can’t thank them and their family enough, and the same goes for the rest of the group of course.

I miss them and can’t wait for Axelle to come here to Sweden to show her around while of course face-timing with Nelly at the same time.

Love, Linnéa