#1 Ballard, United States
#1 Ballard, United States

“I’ve always been fascinated by Scandinavia. I come from Ballard, which is in the northwestern part of Seattle, Washington State. Ballard is the traditional center of Seattle’s ethnically Scandinavian seafaring community, and there’s a lot of Scandinavian music and food around that area. We even celebrate Norwegian Independence Day. So after I finished high school last year, I decided to travel to Scandinavia, Iceland and some other countries in Europe for a few months. I’ve always been independent. For example, when I was 16, I moved out and lived on a boat with my former boyfriend. My dad always tells me to do my own thing and that he’ll be there to catch me if I fall. So for this trip I personally financed and planned it. There’s so much I’ve already learned in the past few months. Where am I going to sleep tonight? Where do I eat? In Scandinavia and Iceland, there are many isolated places – little towns with only a few hundred people, where restaurants close early. You learn to rely on yourself. In Iceland, I hitchhiked a lot, since buses are totally unreliable. There’s only one highway and Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. One of the things I learned from this trip, is to not have too many expectations. It made me happy to just go with the flow. To keep an open mind and an open heart. I stay in touch with my friends though, we Skype a lot and I miss them. In the rest of the United States they make jokes about ‘The Seattle Freeze’, meaning we can act distant compared to the rest of the West Coast. Scandinavians take this kind of behavior to a whole new level. You can switch to an empty bus seat here and they won’t even look at you in a weird way!”