Nils Lind is a long way from home – but in some ways, it doesn’t really feel like it.
The 16-year-old Rotary exchange student, who arrived in Flin Flon two weeks ago, will attend his first-ever high school classes in Canada at Hapnot Collegiate on Sept. 5.
Lind originally hails from Karlstad, a small city about a three-hour drive west of Stockholm. The city sits on the shore of Lake Vanern, the largest lake in the country. Much like Flin Flon, the city is surrounded by forests and lakes.
The similarities between his home and his new surroundings has minimized any culture shock for Lind, but they aren’t exactly the same – he’s already spotted one key difference between the countries.
“It’s actually super similar to Canadian culture. Canadians are more friendly. I guess Swedish people are more reserved,” he said.
“Everyone is super nice, compared to Sweden. You get lots of help from people.”
On his trip into Canada, Lind missed a connecting flight west from Toronto, arriving a day late in Manitoba. He said that people, including a flight attendant and Rotarian, were helpful in finding him accommodation for a night and tickets for another flight west.
“Everybody helped. In Sweden, I think people wouldn’t help you like that. That was super nice,” he said.
Some exchange students coming to Flin Flon are shocked by the cold winters. Lind is unlikely to be shaken – in Karlstad, temperatures can sometimes drop past 30 degrees below. Geographically speaking, the city is located further north than Flin Flon – Lind pointed out that temperatures back home were actually colder than Flin Flon, even during a recent spell of rainy weather.
While he hasn’t been in Flin Flon for long, Lind said he’s already earned compliments for how well he speaks English.
“I guess people are used to exchange students who know almost no English,” he said.
Lind speaks three languages fluently – Swedish, English and Spanish. He learned all three in school in Sweden, adding that he’s open to strengthening his English and possibly learning a fourth language, French, while in Canada.
“I really hope to develop my English more, so I can speak with the right grammar and the right...just the right words.”
While abroad, Lind hopes to make new friends and take in new aspects of a culture that is both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.
“Sweden is kind of similar to Canada in terms of things you do, like skidooing and seadooing and stuff like that. I’ve already done that in Sweden, but I enjoy it very much so I think it will suit me good,” he said.
An active athlete, Lind is interested in participating in high school sports while he is in Flin Flon. A fan of Chelsea in the English Premier League, he’s already joined up with Hapnot’s soccer team, adding he plays tennis, golf, volleyball and other sports back home.
“We go swimming in the summers – in the winters, it’s sometimes too cold to do stuff outside. Sometimes we go skating on outside rinks, and there’s a lot of skiing in the winters. Downhill skiing is one of my biggest hobbies in the winter,” he said.
“Volleyball, basketball...any kind of sport he can get, he’s going for,” added Shylo Peters, exchange coordinator with the Flin Flon Rotary Club.
While the main goal of an exchange term is for the student to experience different languages, customs and cultures, there is a fringe benefit for Flin Flon students – they get to learn about Swedish life from Lind.
One similarity between Canada and Sweden is a key tenet of the culture of both countries – multiculturalism. Over the past forty years, Sweden has attracted and embraced immigrants from around the world.
Lind said that he has seen that Canada handles newcomers in a similar way to Sweden – encouraging adoption of local customs, while maintaining close-knit communities.
“We’ve taken in lots of refugees and people from other countries. I’ve heard that people call Canada and the US a melting pot – I guess Sweden is more like Canada, it lets people hold on to their original culture,” he said.
While in Manitoba, Lind will take part in multiple Rotary events. On Sept. 14, he’s scheduled to head to Camp Whitney to take part in a cleanup at the campsite. Toward the end of the month, Lind will join other Rotary exchange students in Neepawa for a meeting.