Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This past Sunday J and I decided to make a day trip to Göteborg (or Gothenburg in English) to visit his sister's family and to see Liseberg at Christmas time! It's an amusement-theme park in the middle of the city. It's not something to miss at Christmas time, they decorate it with so many lights and have many little shop-stands. They sell anything from glögg to little straw julbocks to freshly made fudge or hot candied almonds. It was quite a delight!

Here are some pictures starting with the drive there followed by the park itself.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Tree, Hockey & Meetings

Last weekend J so kindly allowed me to get a Christmas tree (alas, a fake one). I don't think it occurred to him to get a tree at all, so we compromised on getting a fake one. I haven't had a real one since I was a smaller child, and would have liked to have one, but as J so logically pointed out - they make more of a mess and don't last nearly as long as fake ones. We were both excited to buy everything new - it had been so long since either of us had new decorations to put on a tree. One thing I'm sad about - they don't seem to have stars for the tops of trees that light up. Take what you can get, I suppose.

After we went shopping last Saturday for the tree and its decorations, we were in somewhat of a hurry to get moving and pick up a friend in Tibro, then drive down to Jönköping to pick up another friend and go to dinner/a hockey game for HV71. We were starving, however, before we ever got on the road, so J suggested going to a local gatukök - to look at the link you'll probably need Google translate, or use Google chrome to read what it has to say. Directly translated, the word means "street kitchen." They're kind of like a larger hot dog stand, where some of them you can go inside. They also offer things like burgers and fries. We both got a french hot dog. So good! This is one thing I think America misses out on - the street kitchens. They're great for a quick bite to eat.

Dinner and the hockey game followed by a pub after was a fun night - we had dinner at a Lebanese restaurant. I must say, I really do enjoy middle eastern food. There is so much flavor, in exactly a good kind of way! The three guys left it up to me where we should eat so I asked what was around and chose the Lebanese. We all enjoyed it very much! The hockey game right afterward was much more entertaining than the first hockey game I went to the day I arrived here back in November. A lot more happened and kept you on your toes, but alas, HV71 lost. Let's hope next time we go they win! The local pub was called Pipes of Scotland and the atmosphere there is great. It's a good imitation of what I would imagine walking into a Scottish pub would be like. I was the designated driver for the night, by the time we finally got home around 12:45am I was tired! The trip there is nearly an hour and a half, so I had driven there and back in one day. It's a good thing I enjoy driving so much!

Tuesday I had a meeting with the head teacher of SFI (Swedish for Immigrants). She basically filled me in on how the class works and when I would start - which is January 24th. The initial class is only three weeks long which is the basic intro. After three weeks they give a test and decide where to place you after that. There are three different levels, and she told me that since I have so much education already I would most likely be put into the most advanced class. Let's hope I catch on quick! Also, another sweet deal with SFI is that if I pass the course within 12 months of beginning it, I could apply for the SFI bonus which would be 12,000:- (which is SEK, Swedish crowns, approximately $1700). It would be lesser amounts if I would be placed in the middle class or the lowest class. She told me, however, that I should talk to Arbetsförmedlingen because they often place those with higher educations into Swedish classes at the university here in town. J and I went later in the day to speak with them, and I am currently waiting on my specific case handler to contact us. So we will see about that avenue.

This weekend we may travel to Göteborg to visit J's sister and her family, as well as visit Liseberg. They decorate it each year with Christmas stuff, so I hear, and is a real delight to see. I kind of get the idea of the zoo lights at home in the Columbus Zoo. We're just trying to figure out if we would go by train or car, and also whether we would go Saturday or Sunday. It's looking like Sunday may be the better choice since Saturday there is snow in the forecast. We will see!

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's December!

As of yesterday, I have officially been living in Sweden for one month!

What with all the getting adjusted to living in a new country, I've not thought much about the holidays. Now that it's December, I'm finally starting to realize Christmas is around the corner! J was talking to his mother on the phone the other day and she asked what we wanted for Christmas, and my face went blank because I haven't even thought about it. The decorations are going up everywhere (especially in everyone's windows they have these candelabras). The snow and wintry atmosphere really helps, too. The Christmas spirit is quite alive in Sweden. It's quite beautiful.

As I type this there is a man on our balcony glassing it in. Our balcony has just been a normal open balcony, but other random balconies in our three building complex have giant sliding glass windows. It kind of makes it more like a patio. I think it will really help keep the cold out, and maybe we can even enjoy the balcony in the winter. We'll see! It's quite a loud process.

Last Saturday was a blast and a hit! My Thanksgiving dinner was a success and quite tasty. The concert over in Vara by The Soundtrack of Our Lives was really enjoyable! They are a great live band. I felt bad for one of the guitarists, he is so energetic, and he stood partially up on one of the monitors (or whatever you call them) and ended up falling down on his backside off the stage! I was embarrassed for him, but he got up in good grace smiling, although holding his rear end ;-).

Tomorrow we're going to a hockey game with some friends. J's team is HV71. Don't ask me how they name their teams. I guess Sweden is always logical and not whimsical like Americans and our Minnesota Vikings ;-) or anything like that.

Earlier this week we got a call from the head teacher for SFI (Swedish for Immigrants). I have a meeting with her on Tuesday about the course. She informed J over the phone that the next classes don't start until mid-late January. I'm happy that is moving along though, at least. I feel that learning the language is key to really being able to participate in society here to my fullest. Hopefully that meeting will be informative and prepare me for learning Swedish.

Speaking of speaking and participating in society - for some reason I hate having to make Swedes speak English to me! I feel like it's a handicap. Yesterday the gas light came on in the car right after I dropped J off at work and I was on my way straight from there to the next town over because a friend had invited me to come spend some time with her. I asked him via Google talk what all I had to do to get gas here. I hadn't done it yet - maybe they have a crazy system for all I knew! So he told me I had to go to a pump labled "Kassa" (cash) and not "Kort" (card) since all I had on me was some cash. I automatically went into the cashier to prepay for the gas, as it is my habit since in the States practically everywhere is prepaid for gas. Too many people ruined it for others by pumping and driving without paying. The lady looked at me and asked in Swedish if I had already filled up my tank. Of course I didn't understand, so I said "I'm sorry.." and she translated it into English for me immediately. I thanked her for her help and ran out to fill up the tank and came back in to pay when finished. I thanked her again and she was really warm and smiled and said bye bye and everything! I'm so used to J speaking English to me, but it still comes as such a pleasant surprise whenever I'm out and about (or J is with me) and the Swedes hear us speaking English so they automatically switch over. They have such a good grasp on it, but sometimes it's like I almost forget it since I normally only hear Swedish.

I've never been a Harry Potter fan, or rather I was never one of those who read the books and couldn't wait for the movies to be released, etc. I enjoyed the movies for what they are whenever I could get around to them. That being said, I'd only watched four, and now there are seven out. So J downloaded the remaining movies and we watched them, and this past Monday we went to see the latest one. Talk about dark and creepy! I always thought Harry Potter was for kids or pre-teens, but apparently I'm mistaken. J's got me started on reading them now, so alas, I suppose I have finally fallen into the Harry Potter fad.

On Tuesday I had a horrible sickness, I think it was some 24-hour stomach flu or such. I won't go into details, but I can say I was utterly immobilized and I couldn't keep any food or liquids in whatsoever. Wednesday I was feeling almost mostly normal, and yesterday I felt fixed. All I can say is I'm glad it didn't last any longer! That was the sickest I've been in years.

As I mentioned above, yesterday I drove to Tibro (the next town east of here, where J grew up and where his parents still live) to visit a new friend. I had so much fun! It was one on one girl time, we went out into the super cold wintry landscape walking her dog. We didn't do much at all, but I really enjoyed it. I'm so glad I've been invited on "dates" by some of the Swedes. It makes me feel accepted and that I belong. I don't say that as if I never felt accepted and belonged, because I always have, I'm just thankful that I do have the pleasure of feeling that way.

I believe my rambling shall come to an end now. And here I thought this post wouldn't be very long because I didn't have much to say! Here are some pictures of the drive between Skövde and Tibro. Don't worry, I focused on the road always, I just snapped a ton of shots randomly from my phone hoping to find some that might turn out okay.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Parties & Friends

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving!

This past Saturday J and I hosted a party to basically celebrate my arrival in Sweden. We invited a bunch of friends and it was a bunch of fun! J created a music trivia challenge and divided our guests into three different groups. It seemed to be a hit, some people got pretty competitive. It was fun to see how much people knew, especially the American stuff that I thought they would have trouble with! It was nice to get to know some of his (and now my) friends better.

This past week there has been yet another big snow storm. It snowed continuously Tuesday and Wednesday. These aren't too beautiful, but I took these when doing laundry in the basement yesterday to capture just how wintry it is already.

I'm no stranger to snow, but I'm not used to November being so much like the heart of winter.

I'm still enchanted by all the snow, though, so I'm glad that I'm still appreciating it! Maybe it's because I don't have to drive to and from work with all the crazies in Ohio that I can appreciate snow again. I often drive J to work, and it's never a problem to drive. The Swedes have much better heads on their shoulders when it comes to driving in "bad" weather. (But wait, there is no such thing as bad weather!) They also do a fantastic job at continually clearing the roads. Living in a smaller town in a country much smaller than the States probably also helps the road conditions. You simply don't need to fight for road space.

Tonight I had my first social activity all on my own! I mentioned a few posts back a woman whom I befriended at J's uncle's birthday party. She is a friend of the family. She and I got together for fika at a local coffee shop. I had a bunch of fun! It was so nice to 1) have one on one with someone other than J (don't get me wrong, I love my Swede, but a fresh face is always nice!) 2) to have a female friend and 3) simply to have social interaction! It was also nice to be able to make a friend all on my own doing - J had never met her before, even though she was at his uncle's birthday party. We had coffee and a dessert and just chatted away for a little over an hour about anything and everything. It feels great to be making progress on the social front.

This coming Saturday I am going to be cooking a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner for J and two other friends. I'm excited to share some American culture! I'm so used to learning about Swedish culture (and they seem to have so much more culture than America), so I'm excited to be able to give them a taste of something so traditionally American. After we eat, we're going to Vara (a town about 45 min drive from here) to see The Soundtrack of Our Lives. They are a Swedish band J introduced me to back in the spring, and I really enjoy them. I'm excited to get to be able to see them live.

After coming back home from my fika date, I truly realized how happy I am with life. Some might see dropping a life one has always known to pick up a completely new and foreign place overwhelming and frightening. And I can agree that yes, there will certainly be challenges along the way. But I feel like I'm living my life to its fullest and should have no regrets. It feels great to have taken such a plunge into an amazing opportunity. I still have times where I think to myself as I look out our window "That is Sweden out there!" I'm excited to learn a new language, culture, and fit into life here. I'm also so happy to have found someone who is worth moving across the world for. I don't regret a single bit of it. Sure, I'll miss home because home is always home, and I definitely miss my friends and family, but there is a new life with new friends and family to be made here, too. I guess on this Thanksgiving day, I'm thankful for the opportunities that have come across my path, and that I have actually been able to seize them. Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Quick Follow Up

Last night J and I ran some errands downtown after he got off work, and I couldn't help but to snap a couple of shots of the "stad i ljus" celebration I mentioned in my previous post.

Some trees that were constantly changing colors. The picture doesn't do them justice, but pretty nonetheless.

Here is the Julbock lit up in the dark. :o)

Happy weekend everyone!

Friday, November 19, 2010


In Sweden, you can definitely tell when Christmas time is near, or practically here. Obviously, the Swedes don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so there is nothing really keeping them from decorating between now and Christmas. As I've gone around town the past week I've noticed more and more public decorations going up. The street lamps have these lit up shooting stars coming off of them.

Below is the Julbock (Yule Goat in English) that I discovered in the middle of a square downtown while out walking yesterday.

The Swedes traditionally put these up in any sizable town. The Julbock is an old Scandinavian tradition for Jul, or Yule in English, which used to be a pagan holiday and now has been Christianized into Christmas. They still call it Jul, though.

All the stores have all their decorations out, and for the first time since I can ever remember I'm not bothered by it. Why? Like I said, here they don't have Thanksgiving, so it doesn't feel like they're cheating! I still hope to celebrate Thanksgiving next week, and even bought a turkey at the store last night (I was surprised to come across a section of them, I thought they would be difficult to find!). But since I know the Swedes don't have a big holiday like Thanksgiving in between Halloween and Christmas, I'm not bothered like back in the States when people start in on Christmas in November. It's actually quite nice to not be bothered by it, and not feel like I'm cheating to already be getting into the Christmas spirit.

Yesterday, J told me, was the start of "stad i ljus" (said like stod ee yoos) here in Skövde. The town puts up all sorts of light displays to be seen in the dark. If you go to this link you can see a slide show of my town at night and the lights that they've put up. If you click on the "Promenadslinga" link below the slide show you can even see a .pdf map of how you can walk through the town to see the different displays. The picture of the Julbock above is at number 2.

Here is another random picture of a neat building in the park across the street.

Looks wintry around here, hmm? I'm adjusting to the grey, cold, and darkness. I read somewhere we've been losing 6 minutes of daylight every day. That means that since I arrived here in the beginning of the month, we have lost 102 minutes of daylight. That's nearly 2 hours!

It's begun to flurry and snow a bit again today. It's supposed to snow all weekend too, and the high won't even get up to freezing. Hello winter!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Shopping, Family and Moose

It's a rainy, cloudy Monday. See? Sweden isn't that different.

What all has happened since Wednesday? Nothing too crazy and exciting. My current project (since I'm unemployed as of now) has been to redecorate the apartment. J has set me the task saying it needs help/he wants it redone anyway. What else better to do! So often times during the days I'll tidy up around the apartment then set out, either on foot or taking the car, to the stores shopping around for ideas. My next target will be Hem & Hobby (if you could guess, Home & Hobby).

On Friday I was out and about when J said he was tired of the office, so I went and picked him up around 3pm or so. We were going to go back to shopping right away (I wanted his opinion on a few things) but he said it might be smart to go back to Skatteverket (the tax office) to apply for social insurance through Försäkringskassan, the Swedish social insurance agency. The point of that insurance is, say once I'm employed and I get some terrible flu for a month, well then Swedish social insurance would kick in after 2 weeks (my job would pay for the first 2 weeks, Försäkringskassan would pay for the rest, 80% salary mind). Here is a link to their site if you would like to know more.

After we went there, then J suggested we go to the bank since I now have my personnummer and at least get me access to his bank account. Long story short, we ended up opening an account for me so that once I do gain employment, I'll already be all set up to receive paychecks! Or direct deposits, most likely. After all that, we finally went back to shopping. And didn't end up getting anything...although we did get some really great ideas. We're pondering a futon (sounds somewhat crappy, I know, but it's actually neat and would be good for guests to sleep on) for the computer room.

The weekend was filled with family. J's sister and 2 nieces were in town visiting/staying at his parents' house. On Saturday we were invited over for lunch. I must admit J's parents know how to make some great food. I'll have to learn a thing or two from them. J's little nieces are adorable. One is only 6 months old, whereas the other is nearly 3. The baby is one of the best babies I've ever encountered, always happy/never fussy and easily amused. I applaud their mother for being able to handle them both at the same time without help (their dad stayed in Gothenburg taking care of some things).

On a side note: we saw 2 moose in J's parents' backyard! They have several apple trees, and apparently the moose like to come around in the late fall/winter time since the apples are ripe around then. We saw a mother and baby. I hoped to get a picture of them but the trees were in the way and they weren't too terribly close to the house. J's dad said often times the moose get drunk from the apples (since they've fermented) and end up sleeping in the backyard. Such wasn't the case on Saturday.

Sunday was Fathers Day here in Sweden (they like to put some time between Mothers and Father day, unlike us Americans). So J bought a lottery ticket (well, horse race betting, it's huge over here and his dad loves it) and a movie theater gift card. Fathers Day isn't such a big deal here, no cards or anything. So again, we visited the parents and sister/nieces on Sunday, and had lunch as well. I met J's mormor (grandmother, his mother's mother). Come to think of it, the Swedes make much more sense when they have labels for relatives. Instead of simply aunt, uncle, grandma, and grandpa, they literally label who they're talking about. If we say grandma, we English speakers ask, your mother's side or your father's? Well, in Sweden, mor is mother, far is father, bror is brother and syster is sister. So...a mormor is mother-mother, which means grandmother...on your mother's side. Or say farbror, well that's your father's brother, aka your uncle. But you know specifically who the person is talking about! I think it's a really neat way of labeling family.

I think that catches us up pretty well. The snow is gone, thanks to several days of rain. It's not too much of a loss, I know there will be plenty more in the near future. That's all I have to say about that!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


To continue from yesterday's post, it snowed the entire day yesterday. It was quite a snowstorm! We had no idea it was supposed to snow quite so much. So this morning, I took a couple more pictures because I am simply too enchanted by the snow. I'm sure a couple months down the road it will be extremely old, but for now, I can enjoy it.

The trees are so pretty when the snow sticks to them. I'd say there is a good 10 inches of snow on the ground. I must say the Swedes hop on the roads pretty quickly to clear them, unlike in the States.

Last night for dinner I made Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables and gravy (or brown sauce) for dinner. We also had lingonberry sauce or jam with the meal, a specifically Swedish food. I have been craving it for months now since the last time I visited and was so excited to have some! I had to document this incredibly typical Swedish meal.

I joked with J saying that he had to wait for his American to arrive to cook him some Swedish food.

We also went on a long grocery store shopping event last night, and bought some candles to make the darkness not seem so enveloping. Our picture window in the living room is so charming, now!

On another note, I've been battling a cold for the past week, it simply will not go away. I feared that traveling in 4 different airports, on 3 different planes might cause me to contract some sort of sickness.

Good news! Yesterday I received my person number, so I'm a legit Swedish resident now! I exist. To the government here, now, at least. So I can actually register for things...and stuff. We went and filled out a piece of paper so that I can get into SFI (Swedish for Immigrants), but they say it may take up to 3 months for me to be able to begin learning. I guess I'll have to kick my own butt and make myself start learning on my own. Eep! I should be up for the challenge.

Hope all is well, wherever you readers are. =)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's Winter

We woke up this morning to this!

I definitely live in a Nordic country. I looked out the windows watching people riding bikes, in the snow, to work. In Sweden they have a saying "there is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices." I've seen first hand how they truly believe in it!

J says the snow is wet. Maybe we'll build a snowman, or have a snowball fight later? Doubt it...he didn't seem nearly as enthused over the snow as I. Besides, we've decided we need to go shopping for more snow gear.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Week One

Hi everyone! Or should I say hej allihopa?

For those who may not know me, I'm an American woman living in Sweden as a "love refugee" - I moved here to be with my Swedish boyfriend (Jimmy, J for future reference) and have been here for nearly a week now.

Where do I start? Comparing life this past week to my last few weeks in America is like turning at 180 degrees. I was busy and nonstop in the states trying to get everything that needed taken care of done before my flight, not to mention working full time. Here in Sweden, I can relax. No job so far. Maybe it's also just the lifestyle here - Sweden appears much more "laid back," for lack of a better expression. Sweden can seem bustling, but it doesn't occur in a crazy rush or so...aggressively? as in the States. As I've already said to J, everyone here in Sweden "plays nice."

So what have I been up to? Just settling in and adjusting, so far. I've been filling my days with cleaning, cooking, and shopping (laugh all you want!). I can't register for SFI (Swedish for Immigrants, a free course for immigrants to learn Swedish) until I receive my personnummer (person number, a lot like a social security number, basically your identifier here). We went and filled out some paperwork last week to register my existence here, so hopefully sometime this week or next I should receive my personnummer.

Apparently weather is a big deal to me compared to some people, so I'm also adjusting to the northern climate. I'm definitely not used to the sun beginning its descent so noticeably around 2pm, only to be dark by 4:30. And remember, it's only the 8th of November. Daylight length will only continue to decrease! Today's high temperature was only about 3C, so about 37F. I went out for a walk around the area earlier, and it definitely felt like winter.

On a walk down the street

Further down the street

Taken in the park across the street

Although I discuss all the differences, I have really enjoyed living here so far. The people are much more reserved than in America, but they're perfectly polite. Or, if you get Swedes drinking and dancing, they definitely open up! This past Saturday, one of J's uncles had a 50th birthday party. To my standards, this wasn't just a normal party. There were about 60 people (mostly family, some friends - Jimmy has a rather large family). The party had dinner and entertainment (Jimmy's brother does these events for a living - catering and show music both, they have their own buildings for the events). It was really fun, and well into the party (it lasted from about 6:30pm -1am) suddenly many people gravitated toward me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being conceited! Suddenly I found myself surrounded by several people all at once asking me questions. Completely opposite from the well reserved Swedes I encounter in every day life thus far. I find it quite endearing, I get this mental image of shy crustaceans coming out of their shells from time to time.

In any case, a friend of the family invited me to go with her and some friends on a "bath date" this coming Thursday. I'm assuming this is something like a spa. She has yet to contact me, but I don't want to push her. I'm just happy to be making connections, having not even been here a week!

I could ramble on and on, but I've already spent quite some time setting this page up and figuring out what to write about. As soon as I figure out how to place pictures on here, I'll be sure to post some. Look for more updates in the near future!