The residents of Steamboat Springs are a happy bunch of folks.
At the end of a three-week stay in Steamboat, Swedish exchange student Emilie Lf--quist said what surprised her most about the trip was "that people here are so nice, even if you don't know them," and nearly always stopped to smile and say hello.
"We don't do that in Sweden," student Sara Holmberg said.
The two eighth-graders are part of an exchange program that brought them here Feb. 22, along with six other students from the Swedish city of Sollentuna, about 15 minutes from Stockholm. They stayed with the families of eighth-graders at Steamboat Springs Middle School, who will fly to Sweden for a three-week trip in April.
Swedish teacher Anki Gus--tafsson coordinated the ex----change program, in its 11th year, with middle school counselor Margi Briggs-Casson.
"It has been great fun," Gustafsson said Tuesday, praising the "very nice atmosphere" in town and at the middle school. "Everyone has been so gracious, and the students have had the trip of a lifetime. I know most of my kids don't want to go home, and neither do I."
The group was scheduled to leave Steamboat at 5 a.m. today to catch an 11:20 a.m. flight out of Denver International Airport.
During their time here, the Swedish students and their Steamboat hosts packed in numerous activities. Student favorites included ice skating, tubing and skiing at Steamboat Ski Area. They also enjoyed a visit to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
Sara said she already has plans for when her Steamboat host, eighth-grader Charlotte Letson, crosses the Atlantic next month.
"I want to show Charlotte the city (of Stockholm)," Sara said.
"And shopping malls. They don't have big shopping malls in Steamboat," Emilie added.
Steamboat student Dylan Pivarnik said he "can't wait" to make the trip, a sentiment echoed by his classmates.
"I've been saving up since the summer," Mia Quick said. "I'll probably miss my family, but I'm excited to go."
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