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.