Sunday, October 16, 2011

Busy weeks and more reflection on Swedishness

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. Again, I make the excuse of being a busy bee. Nothing of huge significance has occurred since my last post, so don't worry.

This past week was completely exhausting for me. On Thursday J got up really early to travel to Gothenburg with some coworkers to do some work at the company's office there (it's a nearly 2 hour drive from here in Skövde). J had to give a presentation (or something like it) to that office on Friday as well, so he decided instead of wasting nearly 4 hours in traveling time he would just book a hotel and stay over Thursday night in Gothenburg. First of all, I realized that this was the first night in Sweden that I had/would ever spend alone. I was rather intrigued by it and thought that I should react in a stronger way than I did, but I'm a big girl. And anyway, this Friday was J's birthday and we were having family over, so on Thursday I practically ran around like a chicken with my head cut off I was so busy with chores and things.

After school let out at 4pm or so on Thursday, I had a meeting scheduled with B, the Swedish woman I meet from time to time to have fika and some good ol' English conversation (I really do enjoy talking to her, she's eccentric for a Swede, which is actually a good thing! Very open to chatting, and rather interesting to learn about). So after that I got home around 5:15 or 5:30. I chatted with my mom for a good 45 minutes at least on Google's chat function, then slurped down some leftovers from a previous day in the week. After that I had to run to the store to grab a last couple of things I needed to make a cake for J's birthday. By the time I got home it was 7 or so. I wrestled with making homemade icing for the cake, and all in all the cake took about 1.5 hours to make. The following is a picture of the cake recipe I followed (my cake was decorated differently with white/dark chocolate leaves):

The middle layers were whipped cream and bananas, the top icing was dark chocolates melted with butter, sugar, and milk. My icing wasn't thickening for a long time, so I decided to try the handy trick of adding a tiny bit of powdered sugar. Tada! Fixed and beautiful. I don't know why I didn't think to take a picture of my very own cake. Alas, it'll have to wait until next time.

After I finished making my cake, J called around 9pm (right after I had begun to finally clean the apartment, right around 8:45). So we chatted for 15 minutes or so, and then it was a race to see how quickly I could clean what I wanted to clean. If we were going to have family over, the apartment was well overdue for a good cleaning! All in all, I finished at 11pm. By that time I was totally spent, and when I woke up on Friday it was as if I never took a break. But it was great to pick J up from the train station after school and bring him home to give him his birthday gift. I decided since I have broken several of his beer glasses over my time here, and others have as well, I'd replace the set with 6 beer glasses with his favorite beer etched on the glass, Carlsberg. He liked them very much and had no idea at all what his gift was at first. "Never underestimate the sneaky, sneaky," I said to him. Now who can name that movie? ;)

This weekend has been super lazy and very appreciated. Today I believe I will begin studying hardcore for the körkort (aka driver's license). Tomorrow I have Riskutbildning 2, or halkkörning, or for those of you who have no Swedish, it's basically driving around on a course while they make you go certain speeds on dry and then wet tracks to show you how cars become more dangerous when they're in bad weather.

They make you try and dodge obstacles, and make you go around bends fast and then have you slam on your brakes. I hear from everyone who's ever done it that it's a bunch of fun. Then on Thursday I have on driving lesson just to get a bunch of perks and tips on what the driving testers look for. On Friday I have the driving theory test, and the following Monday I have the practical driving test. Wish me luck that I pass them both, otherwise I'll be extremely grumpy and out of about 1500kronor! Getting a driving license in Sweden is definitely not cheap.

And now it's time for a bit of a rant. I've been driving for 8 years, I happen to drive pretty well I think. I've even been driving for just about a year now here in Sweden. Why? Because Sweden allows Americans to drive in Sweden on their American license for a year after they relocate here. THEN, one must do all the things that Swedish teens must do, or anyone who hasn't had a driver's license, in order to get a Swedish license. Apparently our American licenses aren't up to standard with the Swedish standards. Which, okay, it's easier to get a license in America, yes. And many Americans, I admit, are horrid drivers. BUT: do not allow me to drive for an entire year without having to get a Swedish license if in the end I have to do all the steps as if I was a teenager again and know nothing about driving. I understand since they have different rules here (ridiculously idiotic right of way rules if you ask me), but should I really have to do the whole shebang all over again? Especially after having driven here for a year already? Just absolutely silly, I say. So I'm going to try my hardest and best to pass both tests the first time (many do not, as Swedes are so extremely strict for the tests; for example, if I don't drive eco-friendly enough, I may end up failing the test although my driving was perfect). I really don't want to have to take the test a second time, or pay for the fees a second time. The theory test is only 220kr, which equals about $33. Not too bad. But the practical driving test, just to take it, costs 1100kr, which is about $167. Ouch.

So please wish me luck in my driving adventures this week! And Happy Fall everyone! Just a note of an interesting nature: yesterday J and I were out in the little mall downtown yesterday to pick up a couple of things when we walked by a new party store. I was so elated to see the entire place decorated with black, orange, green and purple Halloween balloons, as well as spider webs and skeletons. I had no idea Halloween had caught on here in Sweden enough for a store to decorate itself like that. But wait, there's more! We walked by the kids' toy store and the staff in there were dressed as a witch and a devil! And the store had plastic pumpkins and spider webs and the like, too. It was like a little taste of the US. You Americans who are reading, enjoy Halloween extra for me this year! I've really missed the fall traditions this year. I asked J if they had any apple orchards or pumpkin patches for people to go to around here, and he said "No?" in a confused manner. Maybe they have them in southern Sweden, but it's just not a tradition here to go to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch to drink apple cider, pick apples/pumpkins, and ride the hayride. Oh well, maybe next year.

Happy Halloween!


Ben said...

Good luck with your driving tests!

And yes, I agree, it is crazy that an experienced driver has to take a stictly judged practical test again. A theory test - because of different rules - and maybe just demonstrating that you can handle a car should be sufficient. But then this should have to take place BEFORE you were allowed to drive a car in Sweden...

OhioGirl said...

Happy Halloween to you too! I totally agree its crazy to expect experienced drivers to take the practical test again - good thing I live in the city and don't plan on driving any time soon, because I don't think flirting with the examiner would get me through like in high school ;-)))))