By Stephen Hauser
Patrik Sjoberg’s journey to Eastern started with a mouse click.
Specifically, his journey to America started with a Facebook app.
Sjoberg’s life was forever altered in August 2008, when he tagged a picture of a blonde haired and green-eyed girl, on the Facebook application Social Me.
Sjoberg, a 24-year-old freshman spent the first 22 years of his life growing up in Gavle, Sweden, in the suburb town of Valbo. The Internet was his only connection to America.
“A picture of a random person on Facebook would show up, and you could make up your own tag for them,” Sjoberg said embarrassedly. “She then sent me a tag saying she was interested as well.”
Ashley Marie Davis, 20, junior, from Fairfield, Ohio, was the girl behind the picture that caught Sjoberg’s eye.
“He commented on my picture and for some reason I sent him a message; it was the first and only time I ever sent a strange dude a message over the Internet,” Davis said.
One initial message spawned another message, and a couple months later, it progressed even further.
“We started talking on AOL instant messenger and then progressed to having video chats using Skype for a long time,” Sjoberg said.
Once they seriously began talking, their number one objective was to find a way for Sjoberg to fly over to America.
“I never actually managed to find a job that would pay me well enough to buy a plane ticket,” Sjoberg said.
After seeing how desperately their son wanted to fly over to America, his parents did something that blew his mind.
“I knew how badly my son wanted to see Ashley, so I did the thing he least suspected,” said stepfather Anders Sjoberg. “We gave Patrik $2,000 to buy an plane ticket to fly to America.”
Sjoberg was speechless by his parent’s gift.
“Oh, I was more then surprised to be honest, I can’t even begin to explain,” Sjoberg said.
Sjoberg finally landed in Davis’ arms in the middle of February 2010, when he stayed with her for two weeks. Despite being in America for only fourteen days, Sjoberg was surprised by the little things Americans were doing for him.
“People over here are so friendly towards foreigners, and the simple things like people holding the door for you and saying thank you,” Sjoberg said.
Sjoberg said his second visit to America, three months later, would be for a much longer stay.
He spent the next seven months living with the Davis family. While living in the Davis household, Sjoberg would experience a lot of things for the first time in his life.
One of the newest things that Sjoberg would experience would be going to church with the Davis family.
“It was a pretty cool experience to see what a real religious Christian family lived like,” Sjoberg said. “A lot of people call themselves Christians, but I don’t think they go to church in Sweden.”
The Proposal and Engagement Life
On the afternoon of June 11, 2010, Sjoberg brought Davis to her favorite park in Fairfield, Ohio.
“The park is my favorite place to go and relax, and to just get away from it all,” Davis said.
While at the park, they decided to play a game that they used to play when they were first trying to get to know each other. The game involved taking turns asking each other random questions for the other person to answer.
“His last question that day was will you marry me,” Davis said. ” He pulled out the ring, and I about heeled over.”
Since they have been engaged, the two of them have had to work on one main issue: Sjoberg’s lack of emotional expression because of his childhood upbringing.
In June 2011, Davis and Sjoberg made the 4,340-mile journey back to his homeland of Sweden. Davis did not have any expectations for the trip. However, she desperately wanted to make a good impression in front of his friends and family.
Davis said she was intimidated about meeting Sjoberg’s family.
“They were there when we got off the plane, and I gave them a hug right away,” Davis said. “I was so afraid I would talk too fast, or say something they wouldn’t understand, or just say something downright stupid. I’m pretty sure I looked like an idiot because I hadn’t slept for like 24 hours, but somehow they ended up loving me anyway.”
The most intense experience that Davis encountered throughout the trip was when she met Sjoberg’s biological father.
“He was a man of few words and rarely spoke to me or in English,” Davis said. “I thought he hated me, but apparently that was just how he was. He ended up inviting Patrik and I over for dinner one night and it was very nice.”
Despite for being engaged over a year, they have not yet started making wedding plans.
“We won’t be getting married until after both of us have graduated from school, that way we can afford the wedding,” Sjoberg said.