Interrail: Day 2

Day 2: Saturday the 22 of November

Malmö 6:20 a.m.

The air in the train station was crisp and cold as we left our Swedish train and our Swedish friend (who desperately skipped out of the train in order to have a cigarette) making our way inside the station. Next train would leave at 6:42 a.m. to Copenhagen. Emma and Inga proclaimed pasty faced that they needed fresh air leaving Emmi and myself behind to guard the backpacks. I shortly proceeded to terrorize a particularly grumpy looking Emmi with my camera, gladly holding on to the fact that I am a very energetic morning person.

As soon as the girls met up with us again we made our way to the Ö-train, the metro that would take us to Copenhagen. The train was very nice and silent indeed and though the girls tried to find some sleep on the one hour train ride, I entertained myself by looking out the window at the awakening landscape that flashed by us. Snow still clad the ground though I had first been quite certain that we had left at least the winter landscape behind us in Stockholm.

A slowly rising sun tinged the sky a watery dark blue, growing gradually lighter as the minutes carried on.

At around seven o’clock we left the train at the station named Kobenhavn H, slightly insecure if whether or not this was the right stop seeing as how we had been told to leave at the Central Station.

Luckily as we noticed as soon as we had disembarked the train, H seemed to stand for Central Station.

Crossing between the simmering bustle of the central station we made our way to the Hamburg-Basel train. To get to Frankfurt we had to make a switch in Hamburg after some eight hours traveling. This train would actually take us onto the ferry that would take us over the sea parting Denmark from Germany, something I was very much looking forward to because at the moment, a train driving into a ferry seemed to me as the utter epitome of awesomeness.

The german trains are rather comfortable and we quickly made ourselves at home, every one of us picking out our knitting to entertain ourselves. The hours flew by as we watched the landscape slowly turning from grey into the vivacious green of a Europe not quite having come into the right season yet. We munched gladly on slices of bread coated by a thick layer of peanut butter, and I think we finished two bunches of bananas in the first few hours of our traveling. For some reason I kept making foolish mistakes with my knitting so I made little progress on my wrist warmer during those first few hours, but modern youngsters as we are, despite all the knitting, our laptops came up about an hour before arriving at the ferry.

Emmi lay stretched in front of me on two seats, fiddling curiously with my new red Ipod, Emma sat with her headphones on, writing something on her laptop and Inga was sitting a bit further away, contemplating by herself, her blue eyes glittering as she gazed into the distance.

A well needed break reached us as we arrived in Trelleborg. The train rolled casually into the ferry. There was some scuffling and before we could say “Germany here we come”, we had left the train and stood in the middle of the unsettling chaos of the ferry crossing between Denmark and Germany. The crossing takes only just about an hour thus the thing to do seemed to be to cram into the duty-free shop and buy as much alcohol as possible. The girls and I slowly made our way through the throng of people until we managed to squeeze our way out onto the sun-deck.

The sun was shining bright and windmills brimmed the edges of the land we were leaving, slowly waving goodbye to us with their long white arms.

The wind ruffled our hair rudely, but the fresh air is wonderful and filled my lungs with the peace of the dark sea and the gentleness of the rolling waves. The feeling of absolute freedom at that exact moment was nearly overwhelming, in a non morbid nor insane way I felt I could toss myself off the edge of the boat and sore high up amongst the blue and the vastness of the sky, all worries dissipating like tendrils from a dying flames.

“Coffee.” Emmi said gruffly and peered through heavy eyelids at the sea.

“Tea.” I replied, suddenly recalling the craving after my morning cup of tea.

With no more said than that the four of us shifted inside the ferry, queued for a few minutes at the dingy restaurant oozing with the smell of fried things and bad meat, then carrying a small bottle of Innocent (100% fruit, nothing else added!) and a cup of peppermint tea we met found us a cosy less noisy corner of the ferry and drank our coffee and our tea in tired silence.

Below us people were still running to finish their shopping in the duty-free store, and I expect the four of us were some of the only ones to be happy when the speakers announced in a heavy german dialect, that the ferry was docking in Leipzig and that all passengers traveling by car or train should return to their respective places. I hadn’t even had time to sip my tea so I carried it back to the train, smiled for a second at the bizarre sight of a large train, surrounded by cars in the middle of the ferry depot before getting in and back in my seat. I finished knitting my wrist-warmer and began a new one, green to match the purple one I had just made.

The landscape changed drastically before us. The north of Germany was flatter than Sweden, and dazzling green. It could very well have been summer to my northern senses, but the others thought it resembled spring more.

At 12:15 p.m. we arrived in Hamburg from where we ran to catch our connection to Frankfurt which was to depart at 12:24.

Once more we managed to find a secluded seating compartment that we immediately besieged, leaving our heavy backpacks and all our things all over the compartment in a messy, squatting fashion.

I set up my laptop and the following 2 and a half hours were spent watching the film depicting Frida Kahlo’s life. We watched the movie in silence, sighing now and then whenever the conductor on the speakers would disturb us with his loud german.

Frida is a movie I surely must have seen to many times, if that is possible. Frida Kahlo is one of my greatest heroes and influences in my life and in my paintings as well. When Emmi, Emma and I visited the Museum of Modern Art I stumbled upon a rare find in the museum shop, a 2009 calender featuring Frida Kahlo’s paintings. It was very beautiful, and I held this treasure of the new year in my mind as the last seconds of the movie flashed by.

“I hope the ending is quick, and I hope to never return.” Her final words. I sigh. Mexico lingered in our hearts and Emma brought out her laptop, proclaiming that she had no intention to leave Mexico before playing Lila Downs as loudly as possible on her computer.  I fiddled with some photographs on my computer, attempted to write and once more I found myself

 confounded by the speed of time. Emma was hysterically making phone calls to all kinds of family members and after having spoken to someone, I forget who, she announced that we would meet her sister and her brother in Frankfurt. They were in the city centre working in the stall owned by the farm that Emma lives on and if we wanted to we could leave our heavy backpacks with them and have them bring them out to us on the farm.

Emma grew up on D somethingorother, the biggest Biodynamic farm in Germany. From what she had told us the farm was like a small community, half a dozen families at least living there permanently and some 100 people working there from the outside.

We arrived in Frankfurt at around 5:00 p.m., by now the tire had begun to hit me and my morning alertness slowly abandoned me. Leaving the train and stepping out into Frankfurt was more than confusing. I think we might have taken the metro somewhere but I was so thoroughly confused by the masses of people that surrounded us.

It struck me then as we struggled to walk to the city centre that I might never be able to leave in a city again.

The peace and calmness of Ytterjärna had infected my whole body and seeped into my blood. What could there possibly be to long for in the city? Stress, discomfort, restricted and tiny spaces, commotion and noise, causing my head to spin relentlessly as we trudged along. The first thing that struck me as we left the subway and came out into the open was a strong unpleasant odor of meat. The marketplace had stalls selling all kinds of vegetables, meat, pastries, etcetera. We found the Dottenfelder-Hof stall in the middle of the market and I was glad to see the many biodynamic cheeses, breads, pastries and yoghurts they had to offer. Emma surprised her siblings by storming into the stall, though I dare say their reaction was not the best due to the many customers that began to form a queue when Emma rightfully stole their attention. Emma’s sister and brother bore slight similarity to Emma but seemed to contain the same bubbling spirit as Emma. We left our bags in the Dottenfelder-Hof van and left the market hurriedly.

Emma seemed full of energy to be back in the city and she quickly led us to H&M in order to buy herself a proper winter-coat. I however was filled with resentment to be back in the city. It was no doubt fascinating and exciting to be in a new place, and the fact that I can only speak a handful of german words only spiced up the adventure, but the big city held me in a state of discomfort and I longed intently for a warm fireplace, a cup of tea, and the simplicity of the countryside.

Inga and I waited outside H&M both of us feeling slightly overwhelmed by the extreme shift in environment. (Also, I found it suddenly quite impossible to enter the store as an unexpected loathing towards H&M boiled up inside myself.) We found ourselves pressed against the display of H&M so as to not bump into anyone.

Emma got herself a brand new burgundy winter-coat and we immediately set off. She proceeded to leading us around some of the sights of Frankfurt, apologizing for the fact that Frankfurt unfortunately was quite an ugly city. Dodging between people and traffic we crossed a few streets, (or Strasse I suppose) saw some houses and entered one of the biggest churches in Frankfurt. It was pretty.

Then we set off towards the metro, missed our connection to Bad Vil...something and thus found ourselves back at the marketplace next to the Dottenfelder-Hof stall. We received a sesame pretzel, helped them carry some boxes to their van before waiting another few 15 minutes before the train arrived that would take us to Bad Vil... something. While waiting we studied the difference in how people dressed in Frankfurt, comparing them to the youth in Stockholm.

“Everyone in Stockholm dresses so, woah,” Emma said, gesticulating violently. And I suppose her observation was quite correct. Swedish people are one of the biggest slaves to fashion in the world. I did not think about that particular aspect of Swedish fashion, mostly I do my best to avoid following the trends as much as possibly can.

Finally the train arrived and we hurried inside along with a mass of germans all trying to score a seat. Emmi found a seat but the rest of us had to stand up. A man standing in front of me had a big black dog with a lock for his mouth. I swallowed and looked in a different direction. Now time seemed to run slowly as opposed to how it had been acting all day up until now. I eventually got to sit down and fell asleep dreaming about a biodynamic farm, a calm life on the countryside and a ma-....

Emma woke me from my dreams with a start. Time to get off.

I found myself simply following the stream of people that rapidly poured out of the train station. The air outside was very cold but there was little to no snow on the ground. Emma’s father greeted us the second we stepped out of the station. Without having met Emma’s mother yet I was quite sure that Emma looked more like her father than her mother.

The five of us squeezed into a two door blue car of some kind and drove off into the darkness of the countryside. A colourful sign announced the farm, we turned left off the main road and drove down a wide tree-brimmed road.

Through the dark, Emma’s farm unfolded itself before us. It was definitely big. Large houses with lights glittering in the windows loomed over us and from what I could see most of them were a couple of stories high and very old.

We passed by the café and the dairy shop as we were ushered up a few stairs and into Emma’s family’s house. Well inside we were greeted by Emma’s mother, grandmother and her sister’s boyfriend. They all proceeded to greeting us in english, taking turns to shake each of our hands.

Candles were lit in the house and from a distance I could see that the dinner table was already prepared for our arrival and completely covered by various dishes and food.

The house was very beautiful and reminded me deeply of a house I had stayed in when I was England a few years ago. It had that same pleasant waldorfy touch to it, though I might add that Emma’s house was much tidier and cleaner. Candles flickered in the living room, adding a cozy warm light to the space along with the colourful textiles that hung on the white walls of the house and the pillows that lay scattered in the living room and on the kitchen sofa. We proceeded to washing our hands before sitting down at the table. Salad, olives, bread and dried tomatoes were offered to us, and we ate with much glee and satisfaction.

Though I do consider myself a fan of peanut butter, eating a nice salad seemed like the best possible replacement of what we had been eating previously. My stomach always gets quite upset when I fall out of my eating routine. Usually I eat a big breakfast, lunch, a fruit, supper and something before bed. Now because I had been traveling that routine was utterly shattered, thus I was very happy to get a proper meal at last.

We spent the remainder of that evening listening to loud discussions in german, myself struggling quite desperately to recall some bits of what the german I learn in school. Emma’s family was absolutely lovely, bringing cakes and biscuits, making sure all the time that we were happy and full.

At around ten o’clock us four travelers were finding it exceedingly difficult to keep our eyes open, thus Emma led us across the farm to the guest lodging. She had reserved a few rooms for the YIP’ies and Emmi, Inga and I squatted in a cosy loft, not finding the strength to make our beds but simply dragging out our sleeping bags and collapsing in them.

I fell asleep to the sound of a rooster singing outside our window along to the pleasant sounds of the countryside.

Interrail Diary: Day One

In YIP we have finally reached our Initiative Week. This is a week open for interpretation basically. We don't have anything decided on the schedule that we must attend to and can if we wish, devote this time completely for our project. Half of YIP decided to use this time to in one way or another, go to the Goetheanum. Most the YIP'ies are hitchiking to get there, but a group of girls, including myself, Inga from Norway, Emmi from Finland and Emma from Germany decided to interrail there, which is to buy a global interrail pass which allows you to go almost anywhere in the world with a train, and you don't have to pay anything extra, just jump onto any train you wish. I've been trying to keep a traveling diary, but I'm really behind on my writing so bear with me!

Here is the first entry, more will follow.

Day 1: Friday the 21st of November

The YIP commune was pretty much in complete chaos during the afternoon. Most YIP’ies were leaving for the Initiative Week, and most had not packed their things yet nor sorted out how to get to their respective airports, train stations, etcetera etcetera.

Through the turmoil I could sense a great deal of emotional distress, that including myself too, but I figured that the general calamity of things was only worsened by the emotionally heavy week that we had all endured.

Through the stress of things to do, realising I was supposed to clean the kitchen upstairs and the stairs on the left side of Tallevana I barely managed to bid my farewells to my fellow YIP’ies and any sort of conversation in the afternoon was wholly impossible due to the chaos.

During supper my despondency began to lift however as I managed to arrange a ride for myself and Inga to the train station at Södertälje Syd. Henning, the utter stereotype of the Swedish man (though he is actually german) agreed to driving us there.

The train from would arrive at Södertälje Syd at 11:30 p.m. and bring us to Copenhagen at around 8:00 in the morning.

Following supper we still had a few hours to go before leaving to Södertälje, thus I decided to alleviate my troubled mind that I indulge myself to some creative work.

Several pots of tea later and two pieces of toast with peanut butter and raspberry jam Henning arrived and Inga and I scurried to get our bags. The lingering YIP’ies carried our bags to the car and we parted with many a hugs and with huge snowflakes singling softly to the ground we disappeared from the Seminar in a flurry of white snow. Henning, announcing that he was feeling as he said, “a bit retarded” proceeded to sliding and swerving consciously with the car on the icy motorway.

I closed my eyes and contemplated my choices in life and what the devil I had willingly gotten myself into.

At 11:30 p.m., still alive Inga and I hurried towards the train, spotting a fervently waving Emmi from inside one of the wagons.

 Emma greeted us and helped us with our backpacks and within a few seconds the train was moving and our journey began.

Emmi and Emma had gone to Stockholm after a hasty decision made during the hectic afternoon. They had caught the train from the city centre at 11:00 p.m. and had already made themselves at home in a secluded part of the seating section in the train.

An elderly arabian looking man sat opposite to me and in a corner there was a pasty looking Swede.

The arabian man avoided our presence throughout most of the journey, and I had a sneaking suspicion that found us remarkably obnoxious, if not downright odious. The Swede however seemed to find our company rather enjoyable up until the point around 1:00 a.m. when we shallowly started discussing the looks of some of the boy’s, or men, in YIP.

Hugo (he presented himself after a few hours, I don’t recall myself doing the same) was doing his military service and drank coca-cola. I made a mental note to disapprove. The night passed on without any particularly interesting discussions, mostly brainless comments of the week and our expectations for the oncoming days. Initiative Week was a well needed break in the habit and stress of things.

We fell asleep at some point after 1:30 a.m. lulled to sleep by the violent rocking and moving of the train. Emma and Inga unpacked their sleeping bags and slept on the floor whilst Emmi and I squatted on the empty seats. At four in the morning I found myself staggering out of the compartment before collapsing on a whole row of empty seats. The entire wagon was pretty much abandoned.

Two hours later I awoke with a hefty cramp in my neck and, waking the girls with my commotion as I entered the compartment again, we readied ourselves to change trains.


One week with Japp van de Haar

Everything we know comes from somewhere. Every picture is given to us by something already existing. The more information we receive, the more we can see. The more concepts we are taught, then the things we can see in life get richer and richer. Information is development. The more we know, the more we can decide what our own concepts are, our own concept shaped from the many different concepts we learn.

The future is not understanding the world, but to do the things you do because you love to do it, whether you educate or take care of people, farming or whatever: to do your work because you love to do it. That is the future. Through all our development in science and in our intellectuality we have lost the contact to the inner self, to doing things because we love them.

Through the love of humanity, in that source, science, spirituality and politics can all come together. In the source of love we can combine those three aspects of society that have become so separated in our time.

Sleep is only a small death and death a long sleep.



Quotes of the day:

"Time is a matter of where we are living now." Japp van de Haar

"Every part of an organism is a microcosmic picture of the whole organism." Reinoud Meijer

Todays conclusion:

You can only develop inner freedom if there is a danger of not being free. Our generation stands alone, there are no deities to guide or steer us. We must find it in ourselves. The spirituality of the future comes from the inner self.

You know you're a YIP'ie when...

... You wish the day had at least 30 hours... (extra)
... Buying a MacBook is the second most important thing next to world peace
... Going out for a bit of fresh air means it's time to smoke
... Not sharing your teabag with at least one other person means you're being unenvironmental
... Hitchhiking becomes the climax of your weekend
... The delivery of honey becomes the climax of the week



Being in an environment where there are around 25 languages going around is extremely good if you want to become a more patient person. I’m sitting in the kitchen in Terrakotten, trying to pretend I am a clever person by sitting in a very relaxed manner in the sofa, writing with my laptop on my lap. In fact I am very annoyed, though I know it is childish to be so. Two germans seem to be engaging in a very interesting conversation with each other, apparently oblivious to the fact that I am sitting right beside them. The fire in the fireplace crackles in the distance, followed by the all so familiar hissing from the kettle. I drum impatiently on the keyboard, suddenly very uplifted by the presence of a fourth person, breaking the heavy german of the place.

“Does anyone have a mac? I need the charger.” A pause. Then a low giggle. Most of the YIP’ies have nothing but Apple merchandise, thus it takes no more than a slight scuffling and exchanging of cords before our guest leaves the kitchen. I am offered tea, complaints of the lack of cups and teapots are uttered and the discussion reverts into german once more. I do like chai tea though. I do.

A third german joins us, exchanges a few german words, ruffles her red hair, giggles, laughs and runs off.

I await eagerly to see in which language the discussion shall continue. And I am not surprised to hear that it continues in german. But it’s okay. Even though I am an exceedingly nosy person I accept the fact that people must be allowed to speak their native languages. After all, I speak swedish nearly whenever I get the chance. And one must get used to it really. I only speak three languages, thus in a place where there are at least 22 languages that I don’t understand one must simply learn to accept that nosiness is never appreciated and that people always prefer their own country over others... I suppose.

Luckily a finnish joined, a dane and then a new zealander, and once more the discussion has become international!



Among these group of amazing people, I am immediately fascinated by the take on honesty that arises during our midday discussions. Our facilitators posed a question regarding honesty and being honest in relation to corporations. Immediately the discussion flares up regarding ideals and morals, strong individuals arguing about things that bring light to my heart because I love, love this definition, this relationship that we immediately see between honesty and ideals. Of course, maybe in itself it was not quite what our facilitators were looking for, but in any case it brought interesting thoughts to my mind, and a spirit of solidarity and understanding of exactly how high our ideals are among this little group we have here in Ytterjärna.

We have vegetarians, social workers, voluntary workers, people who carry the Weldschmerz upon their shoulders. We complain about too little organic vegetables at the shop, stay up all night just to make sure that the right president is elected in the US, make day trips to the local (though not quite so local) second-hand store to buy clothes as opposed to other shops that might actually closer to our small isolated, little society. We work for sometimes eleven hours a day, and then go to a lecture, then have a meeting, constantly keeping in mind these projects, these ideas, our ideals that must always, always grow and improve and be polished in the back of our heads.

I wonder, how many people like us exist in the world?

Why have things been going in such a downward spiral for so long if people like this actually exist in the world?

I know, know in my heart and in my soul that there are others out there who look at honesty and see high ideals and trust. Why is it so hard to get mobilized?

I know I am being negative, I am exaggerating to enhance the importance of my point. There are indeed initiatives that make a little more difference every day, but there must always be more. Do more. Perhaps the ideologies have died along with Trotskij and Allende. Perhaps they have been replaced by something else, something broader. This is the era of idealism.

We might lose everything in the world, our clothes our homes, our families, our money and all things material. But I sincerely hope that we may never lose our ideals. That there as inch within us that can never be taken from us. An inch. Of idealism. 


A few months later

So it's been some time now since the 22nd of August. I got me a laptop in the beginning of this week, thus I have just begun to taste the freedom of unlimited access to cyberspace.

Something rather spectacular happened this tuesday. I was writing on my laptop, but unfortunately I had no access to the internet at that time. Here follows a YIP account of the american elections.

It's 12:54. Of the twenty people that started the night only seven remain. All the americans (four) one german and two swedes. The american elections drag by and poor Henning and I are trying desperately to translate the important things out of the swedish programs. Chips, coffee and cigarettes try to keep us awake as we cross our fingers, furrow our brows and hold our breaths, cuddled up in blankets, checking the news continuously on the internet, hoping that the elections might be over soon, that the one we're rooting from might come out victorious.

The discussion switches between explanations of Obama and McCain's different policies, how much body mass Pamela Anderson has that is still real, and if whether or not Obama might have voted for himself at the polls.

The television flickers on.

Documentaries show the history of american elections. Black people, middle-class, senior citizens and couples arguing over their political differences. We strain to listen, tired from a day of listening, our brains already jam-packed with information. Nevertheless I think the feeling in my stomach is shared by everyone as we tiredly, though eagerly await the results from the next state. 

What will tomorrow bring us? We ponder.

I play with the thought of how I will bike into town, buy the newspaper and bring it back to my friends, cut out the biggest article I can find about the result of the elections and frame it, regardless of what the actual outcome might be.

Because in either case, it is a remarkably historical election.

I scratch my dreads.

I ran back to my house a moment ago to get supplies, tea and milk, and a small snack. People were still awake in the kitchen discussing something and upon my arrival I am immediately met with the question of why I am willing to stay up until five in the morning swedish time, to see who might become America's next super president, 2008.

"I'm so worried about another election scandal," Yarrow murmurs and puts a few pringles into his mouth.

"Oh, who brought milk?" Santje asks excitedly and smiles in my direction, suddenly having noticed the jug of biodynamic milk that I brought back fro the house. "May I have some?"

"I didn't bring it for myself," I answer her, not lifting my eyes from the screen.

"You just asked the vegan if you could have some of the milk." Silas adds and finishes the pringles.

A news report flickers onto the television and I strain to listen though I fear the attention span of my persistent friends is diminishing.


Our american organiser had a great idea. We took a laptop and started streaming a live feed of BBC's election night. Clever. Henning and I can have a rest.

Thoughts are becoming more inconsistent, discussions quieter.

Obama 103 - McCain 49

Too much tea is making feel a bit ill, but I struggle to keep my eyes open and my weary brain focused. Why am I doing this?

I became a news addict some time ago. I'd get Sweden's thickest newspaper every day, read it from page to page at breakfast, watch the news three times a day and have a news site as my starting page so that I could check the headlines every time I opened the internet.

News and world events are my thing. Social science was a favorite subject of mine in school and I do love keeping updated. Surely this moment is one of the most important in the Western world, and I for one, to feed my addiction, am keeping myself awake, listening to the familiar, british accent of the Brits on BBC.

Now Obama only neesd 51 more elector votes, and it's only 3:04 AM.

Good times.

I play with the thought of what would happen if McCain is elected as president. Goose-bumps travel down my spine. Surely, I think in vague confidence, surely the americans know better than that, than to choose another republican, one who's what, 79 years old? Not that I discriminate the elders, but I would say that a big problem with american politicians is that they have so far been heavily affected by a "Cold War Mentality". Us against Them. America as the facilitators and savors of the world. This mentality is followed by the Bush-doctrine. Attack is the best defense.

Change is a big word in the campaign, and for an obvious reason. Change is vital. The politicians of this big, influential country need to get with the time. The Cold War was a long time ago. We can't base the belief-system of a leading country upon war-mongering and non-solidarity ideals. We are all citizens of the world after all. There is now us and them. Only we.

Maybe I'm being my typical latin drama queen, but I do think that one candidate has a greater chance of achieving this than the other. I am fully aware of the fact that by this time next year I am bound to be complaining about the americans and whomever their president might be, but I suppose those are my US-conservative-negative belief-systems that I so far, see absolutely no reason to be rid of.

I hate being proved wrong. But this time I actually wish that I am wrong. Please, show me that you can change. Don't continue doing this, everybody makes mistakes, but the world is going trembling on the brink, and all the rulers of our nations must be in the loop together, working TOGETHER to make things nice and comfy for all of us. Humans, animals, plants and amoeba, unite!


August 22nd: ARRIVAL

The Youth Initiative Program (YIP) is an international folkhighschool program based at the Rudolf Steiner Seminar in Ytterjärna. 40 young people from 18 different countries have all come together to participate in this brand new social entrepreneur education. During the course of one year us YIP’ies (myself included) will study and live together, sharing all the different parts of everyday life with each other. During the mornings different speakers have been invited to give lectures over one weeks time and in the afternoon the participants go out on so called ”community engagements” in the community of Järna. For more information go to, www.yip.se

My name is Amanda Huircan-Martinez and I graduated from Umeå Waldorfschool in the spring of 2008. I started at the Waldorfschool in class 7 and immediately fell in love with Steiner and his pedagogy. Following this train of thought I applied to become a waldorf class teacher after my graduation, but due to several unexpected events the course for 2008 was cancelled and put on hold for an unknown amount of time. Thanks to Janecke Wyller who works at the Seminar and most of the staff members of the YIP office, I somehow found myself in Ytterjärna on the 22nd of August, unsure and afraid.

Janecke picked me up from Järna station early in the afternoon, the train was late and I was feeling flustered because I had made her wait, and also tired as I had been forced to wake up before 6 in the morning in order to catch the early ferry from Visby, Gotland. It was a beautiful sunny day and much warmer than I had expected coming off the windy island of Gotland. Woolen stockings, legwarmers and three layers of clothing added to my discomfort as Janecke helped me push in my heavy bag that was supposedly containing all my possessions (clothes and shampoo) into her white car. Our first stop as we set out from the train station was Saltå By where I was due to a meeting with Gerard and Monica. Little more than a week before my departure from Gotland I had been reached by the news that CSN (the Swedish department for student grants) had deemed me unqualified for the higher education grant. Apparently if one is under 20 years of age and studying at a folkhighschool you don’t deserve as much money as everyone else. This meant that I could not afford to pay for my YIP studies (6500 SEK a month) but thanks to the hardworking YIP staff things sorted out any way. The Saltå Foundation were going to support the Youth Initiative Program with a rather large sum of money, but after some negotiating, they decided they would sponsor a student instead, me. That sum of money along with the couple of grants a young student like me was eligible for covered just about the fee for YIP.
With all this in my head I attempted to enjoy the quiet journey out into the countryside, trying desperately to awaken my sleepy brain cells as I gazed out into the green countryside of Järna.

“The first thing people tend to notice when they come here is the sky,” Janecke told me as we approached Saltå By. “There is so much sky in Järna.” Those words have stuck with me ever since, for it so true that the horizon seems so very wide and the sky so much vaster than most other places I have ever visited. I grew up in the north of Sweden, close to the coasts where there are no mountains or even hills to obscure the view. Yet as I stepped out of the car and looked around myself I could not help but marvel at the immense blue dome that stretched as far as I ever could dream to see. There is so much sky in Järna.

Monica and Gerard met us at the parking lot. Together they guided m

e through the area whilst Janecke took a walk around the mill (Saltå Kvarn). Saltå By can be compared to a Camp Hill, though the Camp Hills of Sweden tend to differ slightly from the common concept. Usually Saltå is called a curative home and a farm. There are student housings for youngsters who in one way or another need particular help in their studies at their Waldorfschool, as well as in life. Apart from that there are also groups of adults who work on the farm, tending the greenhouses, the animals amongst other things and it was with them that I had been designated to work with.

Once the tour was finished and I had had a short talk with Monica I met up with Janecke once more and left, this time for Ytterjärna and the Seminar. The blue magnificent building of the Seminar can be seen at a far distance, and as we got steadily closer to it the same feeling of nervous expectation that I had felt the first time I had laid eyes on the place four years ago filled my stomach. Soon enough I found myself in Tallevana where I had time just to dump my bag before speeding of at Janecke’s heel to the White House and the YIP office. It was strange to finally meet with Rose and Sussie and all the people I had simply been in contact with over the phone for several months. Finally I could add faces to their voices.

Rose, Sussie, Pernilla, Reinhoud and Annie met me outside the White House, all genuinely glad to see me after all the hubbub that had been involved in my coming. I hugged Rose especially hard, thanked her a ridiculous (though absolutely necessary) amount of times for everything she had done to secure my coming and thus I finally found myself in the place which was to be my home for one year.

Slightly confused and dazed by all the new faces and new impressions I stood in my room, alone with my large bag of personal belongings. The room was refreshing, light and airy with white curtains, pale peachy walls and white covers for the beds. For a moment I pondered who my roommate was, knowing only that her name was Elsa and that she was apparently spending some time in Trosa with her family. Oh, and I knew that she was German but a lot of the YIP’ies seemed to be, unsurprisingly enough. The day continued from there on. Many new faces and names were introduced to me, of which I remembered few at first. Inga from Norway had been one of the first to arrive, and Ana from Ireland arrived around the same time as I, thus shared my confusion upon arrival. The weekend dragged by as we all waited for YIP to begin on the 25th, Monday. It felt like being in summercamp. We ate most meals together, went out for long walks in the countryside and in the forests and sat by the campfire at night, singing songs and watching the stars.