Sunday, December 9, 2012

Another photo post

As requested by a previous comment, I've taken some more photos.  The first one right below was taken downtown while J and I were out running some errands yesterday.  Talk about insane amounts of people out Christmas shopping.  Anyway, this is a hotel that was very neatly decorated.  I just had to get a shot of it.

The picture below is my lovely kitchen window.  I see the most "happenings" from this vantage point in our apartment.  The shot below it is if I go up to the window and look out to the left a bit.  Our building is angled that way towards the street so it's pretty difficult to see the other way up the street.

Below is if I look straight out our kitchen window.
The view below is out of one of our living room windows.
Looking the other direction from the window next to it (they both sit in the corner of the room, so one facing one direction and the other facing 90degrees in the other direction).
So these last 3 shots are like starting from left and going right when using the 2 windows.  This last shot is our "backyard".  The little deck there is for everyone in the building to use.  There are only 8 apartments I think, it's a small building, kind of like the one across the way there.
I apologize for the crappy quality of the shots - I used my new phone.  I wanted to test out the camera, but it seems you have to spend the insane amounts of money to get a decent camera equipped on a phone.  I have the brand new Samsung Galaxy SIII mini.  It was just released a couple of weeks ago from Samsung and is amazingly fast and I do love its performance.  However, it does only have a 5 megapixel camera.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Photo post

I cooked Thanksgiving dinner this weekend in Tibro, as previously mentioned.  J was a great help in the kitchen!  Without further ado, here is the result!
Salad, green beans almondine, candied carrots, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, lingon bread, turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potato casserole.

Dessert was a pumpkin pie I made, as well as strawberry flavored jello.  The cake is a princess cake, brought by one of J's aunts from a previous party.  Everything was tasty!
As it was December 1st, it seemed appropriate to see some snow on the ground, however little.
I love how my mother-in-law decorates her house.  Every time we are there there are new decorations out, depending on the season.  I loved all of the Christmas stars.

Everything was a success!  All the dishes turned out just as I had hoped, and everyone enjoyed the delicious food.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday season

No, we ended up not going anywhere last weekend.  Today, however, we are heading to Tibro so that I can cook Thanksgiving dinner all day and have a bunch of the in-laws over for dinner at 7pm.  Yesterday I felt totally unprepared as I hadn't nailed down a menu yet.  I got that straightened out, though, and then made a grocery shopping list.  Now I have a game plan and feel much better!

By the way, happy December!  It's currently -5C (23F) outside according to my phone.  I can believe it since when I look out the window, all the cars in sight are completely frosted over.  I will say one thing - my job has become somewhat of a mini version of cold hell since it got cold this week.  The beginning of the week started off with 5 - 7 C (40s F) and that was totally fine.  But now it's been hovering around the freezing mark and that hasn't been too fun at all.  Plus with all the wind that this lovely town never seems to get rid of, I become an icicle out on my routes!  Luckily I have some more appropriate clothes being ordered for me by my boss so I can be properly attired.  Still, though, brrrr!  I'm so happy it's the weekend and I get to cook a once a year, delicious meal today!

It is Christmas season though, and I see all the cute little julstakar going up in the windows in the neighborhood.  Most homes have these in the windows under the Christmas season.  You also have many julstjärnor (Christmas stars) being hung in the windows as well.  I hope to convince J soon to get one, as I think they are so pretty!  Soon enough we'll put up our lovely fake tree, too.  Hooray for the holiday season! Come back soon, as I'm sure I will post some pictures of our delicious feast this evening!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November, November

Dreary, grey November is here.  This is my third November in Sweden although I've only lived here for 2 years.  I moved here in November 2010, so there's your answer.  When the darkness comes, as it is doing now, I don't mind it much.  I've actually tried to embrace it, and I think I've done well at it.  It's a neat happening as it's so different from my native Ohio.  Sure, it gets dark earlier in Ohio during the winter, but probably around 5pm at the earliest.  Here, it's currently getting dark around 3:30 or 4 at the latest.  In December, it will be dark an hour earlier or so.

What really gets me, at least right now, is all of the grey dreariness.  The sun almost never shows its happy, smiling face during November.  When it's daylight, I would rather see the sun for the few hours that it is up instead of just the giant covering of grey clouds that never seems to go away.  Half the time it's raining, too.  Blah to November weather!

Luckily, being an American, I have Thanksgiving to look forward to!  No, the Swedes don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but I make sure that a few Swedes celebrate it each year, at the very least.  I simply cannot let Thanksgiving come and go without cooking and celebrating it!  The food is just too good to pass up.  This year we'll be going back to Tibro to J's parents' house and cooking for them and a currently unknown amount of guests.  We'll have Thanksgiving on Saturday, December 1st, but better late than never! His parents are going to invite some aunts and uncles and cousins and we'll see who shows up.  At most I think it should be around 12 folks so I shouldn't be too bombarded regarding cooking!

Yesterday J and I went to the big ICA Focus here in town right next to Liseberg.  It was our first adventure there.  I had heard, however, that they have the biggest American food section of any store so I had to go.  It wasn't marked at all as the American section, but it very clearly was!  It had Hershey's chocolate sauce, American candies like Reese's, bacon bits for salads, Swiss Miss hot chocolate, French's mustard, Jell-o and the list goes on and on.  I was so tempted to buy so much of it, like the mac n cheese, but everything was so expensive due to being imported.  The reason I needed to go there was to purchase cranberry sauce and pumpkin puree.  I got both!  We also happened to buy a box of strawberry jell-o to share with the family (I love sharing the little bit of American "culture" that I can share).  We'll see how the cranberry sauce is...it's canned.  Last year and the year before I made my very own cranberry sauce from frozen berries as I couldn't find sauce anywhere, but this year I thought I'd go a bit more traditional and lazy (the way I'm sure many Americans are regarding cranberry sauce).  Now that I have my pumpkin puree I can make a pumpkin pie for dessert.  Yay!

Last week J and I sold our 2008 Opel Astra and bought a barely used 2011 Opel Astra Kombi (or station wagon in English terms).  Neither of those links are the real cars we had/have, but they look exactly like them.  2008 isn't very old, only 4 years, but the inspections had begun on the car which of course cost money (the first 4 years of a car's life it doesn't need inspected in Sweden to be roadworthy).  But also as a car ages you have to spend more money on maintaining it and J is not one for needing to spend money on a vehicle.  He'd rather have a newer one and have lower costs on it.  This new car, after all is said and done now, costs actually just about the same or even very slightly less than our old car.  The insurance costs less, it's better on fuel consumption, and actually the loan costs about the same.  So yippee! says I.  In case you don't know me personally, I am very, very fond of cars.  As you can see in the pictures, you can tell how much of an upgrade the new car is.  Opel has really come along these past couple of years.  It's got 140hp instead of the 116 our old car had, and it has 6 gears.  It's a much nicer ride, and is quite practical with all of its loading space.  All of the extra technological features also feel luxurious to have.  So far, we are loving it!  We're even considering a road trip possibly next weekend just to take it out.  J has been to Skövde and back, but I've only gotten to piddle around town with it.  I'd like to see how it does on long distances.

I'll try and get some pictures up of the real car!  Perhaps next weekend if we do go on a road trip we'll take a ton more pics and then I'll have some more interesting picture material to post again.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day!

I just got home from being out in the lovely couple degrees above freezing (and raining) weather for my mail job.  Suddenly I am super pumped about the election!

Sadly I can't stay up all night and watch the returns as I would have liked to have done, as I am working again at 7 in the morning tomorrow.  I will, however, get up just a bit earlier than usual and see the results (at least the ones so far).  I also plan to at least watch a bit tonight as I'm sure there will be something to watch before going to bed!  I'm very happy that even in Sweden the US election results and commentary will be playing here on SVT1.

One thing that I have enjoyed and am glad about is how engaged Swedes seem to be in American politics.  Of course, this is for purely selfish reasons as I actually have had people at work to talk to about politics and the election a bit.  It doesn't surprise me, in reality, but it's somewhat of a pleasant surprise for lack of better words.  In the US we never talk about other countries' elections.  That just never occurred in my experience there.  But here I have a few people at work I've talked to quite a bit about politics and the election and this and that.  It's also quite fun to answer their questions about things they aren't so sure on.  They do, though, seem pretty informed as to how the whole process works compared to their own.  Kudos to the Swedes for being internationally well-informed!  I know this is just from my tiny little perspective, but from what I've seen it seems the Swedes I've met are much more in tune with the world than most US citizens.

I will be holding my thumbs the entire evening and probably when I wake up tomorrow morning!  If any of you readers are in the US right now and are citizens, please go vote! Every vote counts!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Interesting...

Just a small side note.  There is something I've noticed lately and I wanted to comment on it before I forgot about it.

Whenever looking at myself in the mirror, say when brushing my teeth in the bathroom, I don't only see myself in the mirror anymore.  I have a theory that this is born of the distance I've put between myself and my home.  Whenever I look at myself in the mirror, I see not only myself, but I see even moreso my parents.  At first I thought nothing of it.  I attributed it to "growing up", you know being an adult, and seeing more and more of my parents in me.  Now, though, it happens so often (several times daily) that it just now got me to think differently about it.  I think that because I so rarely see my parents, I've begun to see them in me.  I'm not accustomed to seeing their faces anymore.  If I saw them regularly like when I lived in the US, I wouldn't at all see them so often in myself.  I never used to, anyway.  However, I truly do resemble both of them when I look at my face.  It's not just that, though.  When I look at my hands I see their hands, too.

My question to you other expats out there:  has this occurred to any of you?  Or is this just some little oddity I've found in myself since moving abroad?  I'm quite interested to hear you what you have to say!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Great Catching Up Part 2

I figure that I have kept you all (yes the many millions of you) waiting long enough!  I just have to muster up the energy to post and this morning I seem to have woken up with it.

The wedding day, as I'm sure most wedding days are, was a bit hectic and pretty much a blur.  The first thing on our plates was for my mom and I to meet up with my good friends M and W so they could keep us girly company while we got our hair and makeup done.  I decided to go with M's hairdresser, and she did not disappoint!

After the hair and makeup we picked up my bouquet, J's bouttoniere and I also ordered smaller corsages for both my mom and J's mom.  It's apparently very rare to order corsages for the mothers here in Sweden, so they didn't at all turn out like those giant American style mother-of-the-bride corsages.  I was happy about that, though!  We headed back to J's parents' house, got dressed for the big day, then commenced a photo shoot!  We did not hire any professional photographer as everything happened rather quickly, but we also have the good fortune of knowing a couple of friends who are quite wonderful at photography and have their own awesome cameras with all the attachments.

Before you knew it, it was time to head to the renovated bygdegård where J's brother and fiancee operate their catering/show business.  At 18.00 (6pm) is when the mingle began, so J and I had to wait in his brother's house until 18.30 (6:30pm) to sneak over to the main building for the ceremony.  That was the only nervewracking time for me.  I just couldn't stand the waiting!  I'm not at all one to be the spotlight or center of attention, so it was driving me a little bonkers to sit there waiting to be the center of attention walking down the aisle and all that jazz.  I just wanted that part to be overwith!

When the time came, however, it was absolutely magical.  Everyone who set up the wedding for us (thank you thank you! to J's mom, dad, siblings and all the rest who helped!) had surprised us with bubbles as we walked into the area where we were having the ceremony done.  As it was evening and dark outside, the place was lit up with wonderful mood lighting, and with the bubbles it was instantly magical.  The ceremony we chose to do once in English and again in Swedish so that everyone attending would surely be able to understand.  Even then, it only took about 10 minutes tops.

Long story short, the meal commenced and then some show tunes by J's brother and fiancee and of course some speeches ensued.  J even surprised everyone (including me) with singing to me "Your Song" by Elton John!  It was a perfect day and night.  As stated before, the only thing that could have been better was if more of my family and friends from home were there.  Here is just a tiny, tiny taste of the whole experience.






There you have it!  I think each photo explains itself.  The night ended with just a few of us left (it was, after all, a Wednesday evening).  J and I headed to our hotel by the lakeshore and that was that!

The next day followed with meeting back up with J's family and my mom at J's parents' house (I should now say my parents-in-law), opening wedding gifts, running around Tibro collecting discs and cards loaded with wedding pictures, and finally heading home to Gothenburg.  By the time we got home we were tired out!

The last 3 days of my mom's visit were nothing super exciting the way the whole first bit was with being in Stockholm and preparing for a wedding and all.  We showed her around Gothenburg, took her shopping in the lovely Haga area, and even took her on a ferry ride from Klippan all the way to the other end at the Lipstick building.  She really enjoyed it!  Early Monday morning I took her to Landvetter and we said our goodbyes.  It was rather a whirlwind and went by so quickly!

As far as my life since...well that will have to continue in another episode of The Great Catching Up.  A sneak preview - it's not all that exciting, just life back to usual!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Great Catching Up Part 1

Life has been busy!  I know it's been nearly a month since my last post, but I have been up to a lot!

The week before my mom came to visit I came down with a severe cold, so as not to worsen it I called off delivering mail (as running around in chilly, rainy weather would truly only worsen an already bad cold).  I took that week to do preparations but also, J needed me to do a ton of testing for the program he develops so I did indeed end up working that week.  It all worked out for the good!

I drove to Stockholm on Friday the 21st and stayed with a friend in Stockholm that night so that I could get up early and pick up my mom, aunt and uncle from Arlanda early in the morning.  The Stockholm trip went great!  My mother loved it there (she had never been to Europe before and had always wanted to see Scandinavia, it was truly a dream come true for her).  My aunt and uncle very much enjoyed it as well.  We did a good amount of touristy things like walking around and taking a bunch of pictures in Gamla Stan.  We also visited Skansen (yes, we took the trolley/tram/spårvagn there), the Wasa museum, visited the royal palace and rode on a boat tour around Djurgården (the island in Stockholm that contains Skansen).  Alas, we did not do the Skyview on Globen.  Here is a little taste of Stockholm!





The second picture is a water view of Östermalm, the posh area of Stockholm where many famous people live.  The third picture is a popular square in the midst of Gamla Stan - we sat and had a lovely fika under the orange awning there.  The fourth picture is of the Nordic Museum (Nordiska Museet) as seen from Skansen.  The final shot is one of Gamla Stan, again from the water.

Monday evening my mom and I said farewell (until Wednesday evening) to my aunt and uncle and drove back to Tibro where J's parents live.  J came to Tibro the following day.  It makes sense on the way from Stockholm to Gothenburg to stop in Tibro to visit J's parents, but that wasn't the only reason!  There's something I haven't been outspoken about, but now that it's all said and done, I can out it now!

Back in August J and I decided to get engaged!  But why this?  When we found out that my mom was coming to visit, we decided that we should get married (as we'd talked about getting married for a while but we weren't in any rush, and had no immediate reason to).  As it would mean very much to me to have my mother at my wedding, we decided to get married while my mother visited Sweden.  So!  On September 26th, J and I tied the knot!  We're now very happily husband and wife.  I would have wished to have more of my near and dear from the U.S. attending, otherwise the wedding could not have been more perfect.  More on the continuation of my mom's visit and the wedding later!  To be continued...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A visitor!

I'm so happy and excited!

My mom is coming to visit me...this Saturday!  Actually, her brother (my uncle) and his wife (my aunt) are coming along with her, but they will only stay in Sweden for a couple of days as they'll be heading further into Europe.  So I get to see several family members!  I'm just so excited!

The thing that excites me most about it is just the fact that finally some people near and dear to me from home (my original home) are finally going to see with their own eyes my "new" life here in Sweden (can you really call it new after you've been living somewhere for nearly 2 years?  The newness has faded a bit - although, when you compare it to living your first 20-odd years in your home country, it still could possibly count as pretty new). But I digress.

They will be landing in Stockholm bright and early and I just know they'll be tired, but they will most likely just have to suffer through a day to get their body clocks on time.  It'll be nice to meet them in Stockholm as the whole week will start off as a vacation kind of for me, too, in the pretty east coast city.  I'm excited to do some more touristy things there, as the past times I've been there have mainly been to visit friends in the area, so we didn't exactly go on boat canal tours and the like.  I have seen some of the city, but I would love to see more.  Then we will stop by in the Tibro area in the beginning of next week, and we'll end up in Gothenburg area for the last few days of her visit.

So the clock is ticking!  Tomorrow J and I leave for the Skövde/Tibro area, as he has a meeting in Skövde in the afternoon.  I've made a date with my friend M to hang out while he does is work stuff.  It'll be nice to see her!  We never just get hang out time anymore.  If we see each other, it's generally for some event or party or other where it can't really be just the two of us getting some good time in together.

Then we'll be sleeping over at J's parents' house in Tibro, as on Friday I'll be driving to Stockholm, and his parents have graciously offered for me to use their car instead for the trip.  I am very grateful for this, as our little car just wouldn't fit 4 people with several bags of over-the-sea luggage (I will be picking up my mom and aunt and uncle from the airport in Stockholm).  Why do I need to leave on Friday?  Well their flight gets in at 7:35am on Saturday and there is just no way I'm getting up at 1am to drive there on Friday night/Saturday morning!  So I'll be staying the night with a couple of friends in Stockholm that J and I rarely get to see.

Hopefully sometime in the near future I will have great new photo material to be posting on this blog.  I know I've had a serious lack of pictures, but I just haven't really had the chance to be taking photos, and running up and down stairs while chucking people's mail in their doors isn't exactly the opportune time to be taking some shots.  I'm hoping my mom's visit will provide enough pictures for several posts!

I'm hoping to persuade my family members to go up into the Skyview on Globen in Stockholm.  The views are supposed to be spectacular.



Would any of you go?  Or have any of you?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Words in Swedish

Yes yes I know I know I've been fairly silent the past couple of weeks.  I attribute that to being quite busy working and being busy socially and so forth on the weekends.  A little over a week ago I was in Skövde for my friend M's birthday party and spent the night over at her and her husband's place.  J didn't tag along as he was sick.  This past weekend was filled with shopping and visiting J's sister for her birthday (Happy Birthday today, C!).  This coming weekend I have a good friend from Skövde coming to visit, W.  So she'll be hanging with us this weekend.  Then next weekend and the following week I will be completely busy, but that is yet a secret to be revealed as to why!

I get to work all this week and all next week.  It was lovely to find that out on Friday.  With my current job I usually get to find out the day before if they need me to work.  So it's nice to know what I'm up to for 2 weeks!  Another fun fact - I just got a call from J's company (I'm still listed on their roster as an hourly paid employee, so they give me odds and ends here and there).  Apparently they want me to help out/look into recruiting employees from the US again (remember, I did that back in the first half of 2011 for them).  So thaaat will be interesting, he was wanting to book a meeting but as you can see, I'm pretty fully packed.  We'll see what happens.  That's a quick nutshell of what's been going on!

I actually wanted a theme with my next post, but thought I'd start off catching up on what's been consuming my life lately.  I have, however, been compiling a little list of Swedish words that I think express certain concepts much better than in English.  Some of the words, actually, simply do not exist in English.  I find myself popping Swedish words into my conversations with J (although we do speak Swedish much more often now, if it's just what comes naturally.  Sometimes I'm so stuck into Swedish mode it's easier for me to just prattle along in it rather than switching modes to English).  But what I'm getting at here is sometimes I want to express something, and I actually find that a Swedish word covers it much better than any English equivalent.  So here's my list:

1.  Hinner (conjugated verb), att hinna (infinite form) - loosely translated it would mean "to manage in time".  You would say "Vi hinner inte" or "We don't have enough time" or "We won't manage" (in regards to time).  I think it's such a succinct way of saying something that we have to put into several words.

2. Orkar , att orka - my loose translation is "to muster", but who ever says "I can't muster the energy for this".  No one really uses that word in English anymore, not in daily use.  But "orka" is used all the time in Swedish.  I find myself using it quite often when English feels lacking. "Jag orkar inte!"  meaning "I can't muster the energy!".  They also use it when talking about being pretty full.  If you think you can't cram down that last piece of cake, then you "orkar inte".

3. Duger, att duga - to be good enough.  I think it's just nice that they have a single verb for something we need to create a phrase for.  "Det duger att du har fått ett G för att fortsätta på den nästa nivån".  "It's good enough that you get Pass in order to continue to the next level".

4. Kvittar, att kvitta - loosely translated it basically means "makes no difference".  If something "kvittar", then it makes no difference, or doesn't matter.  "Det kvittar vem som vinner" "It makes no difference who wins".  Again I find it efficient to have a single verb for an entire phrase in my own langauge.

5. Gäller, att gälla - to apply to something, when something applies, pertaining to, concerning.  This one is a bit tough, but yet again a single word for something more complicated in English.  On parking signs, for example, there may be times where you have to pay a fee to park there, and the sign will say "Gäller vardagar" or "Applies weekdays".  That seems simple and directly translatable.  But the verb is also used in other situations, such as "När det gäller barn, så måste man vara tålmodig" or "Concerning children, you need to be patient".  Or "Det gäller livet" "It's a matter of life and death".  It's a word I rather like in the Swedish language.

6.  Trivs, att trivas - directly translated it means "to thrive".  But no one says that either, not in the way that Swedes use it.  "Trivs du på ditt nya jobb?"  Directly translated "Do you thrive at your new job?"  But what they really mean is if you're happy and you really enjoy and feel at home in your new job.  People asked me many times when I first moved to Sweden "Trivs du här i Sverige?" or "Do you thrive here in Sweden?"  meaning that they wondered if I like it here and am doing well.

I suppose the words that I find in Swedish as "better done" would all be verbs.  It's succinctly putting into one word a whole meaning that we, in English, need to use entire phrases for.  Another word I find interesting is the verb "brukar" which in English is translated as "usually".  In Swedish, brukar is a verb, or a help verb.  We say in English "I usually wash the dishes after dinner".  In Swedish it's exactly the same, except it's a verb and not an adverb.  My dorky language-loving self finds that fascinating.

One last thing regarding my opinion of Swedes being more efficient at saying what they mean in less words, would be a commercial I heard on the radio the other day.  Some really loud, annoying sound was the beginning of the commercial, and then they say "Förlåt, vi ville inte skrika sönder din radio"  which translated would be "Sorry, we didn't want to break your radio by screaming" or at least that is the best translation I can do.  If I translated the words directly, it would be "Sorry, we did not want to scream broken your radio".  I think their way of putting the words together more efficiently gets the meaning across that they didn't mean to break your radio by screaming so loudly.

Maybe it's just me that finds the differences between languages so fascinating, but this is a blog about living in Sweden after all, and I thought I would put a bit of Swedish theme back into it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

So it's harder than you think

Ok so this mail carrying is harder than you think.  It's not all sunshine and loveliness being outside in the day frolicking around with butterflies.  Don't get me wrong, I still really enjoy the job, but it's tough on you!  Running up and down 3 flights of stairs in every single entryway (and trust me, there are hundreds of entryways on a daily route) really kills you!  If you're not used to running up and down stairs every day for several hours on end.  I think I'll purchase some knee braces because they're definitely taking some beatings, and rebelling at me for it.

Yesterday I was given, apparently, what is known as "slaktrundan" which I didn't know until I returned from it.  Slaktrundan, translated, is The Slaughter Round.  Each of us has a different round each day, of course.  Apparently I got the short stick yesterday.  No, what really makes a round difficult is not having done it before.  You have your map to go by and you have to figure out where to go on top of figuring out how certain buildings work.  It's amazing how seemingly stupid some buildings were built.

Two buildings in the very beginning of my route yesterday were built, I must say, in the stupidest way possible.  There is an elevator, but it only lets you off on the 2nd, 5th and 8th floors of the building, though it has 11 floors.  Then off the elevator is a main hall with maybe 4 apartment doors.  Then there are 2 stairwells that go off of the main corridor, the right side and the left side.  Off the stairwells are 2 apartment doors on each floor.  How stupid can that be? So you have to run up and down the stairs on both sides of the building.  It's an unnecessary extra amount of work and time for us mail folks.  I spoke to a girl around my age yesterday in the building who clearly lives there, and she was totally in agreement with me about how stupid the building was.  She suggested there should just be mailboxes down in the lobby.  You know, where the resident can open it with their own little key.  It would save us a ton of time and frustration.

But once you know a route, you can zoom through it much more easily and quickly.  Currently I have one favorite route, simply because I've done it twice and now it's just easy as pie to do.  It also has no "springtrappor" or "run stairs".  You know, the buildings that have only 3 floors and you have to run up and down them to deliver the mail through the door slots.  My favorite round just has some highrises where you take the elevator to the top then run down all the stairs to deliver the mail.  Then it has a ton of row buildings, but they all have boxes on the ground floor so it's just go in, shoot the mail in the right boxes, go out and repeat.

Enough of that.  Today I have the day off, as yesterday morning I was feeling dizzy/slightly feverish when sorting mail.  Then, when out on my round, I only finished 3 of the 5 boxes of mail I needed to deliver and I was just completely worn.  I'm not sure why I felt so poorly even from stepping out of bed yesterday, but I did, and it reflected in my performance on the round.  Not to mention it was the slaughter round.  I feel bad having not finished it, but I did my best.  I guess I should really start doing some strength-training at home so I can build up muscles even more so that I can have even more stamina!  It's only been 2.5 weeks though so I know I'm still adjusting.

It's almost September, can you believe it?  Where has 2012 gone.  A lot of changes have happened since the year started.  It's almost strange to think about our previous home in Skövde.  It's where I spent well over a year living and yet it seems like we've always lived here in our Gothenburg apartment.  Life in Gothenburg is utterly different from how life was in Skövde. There, I never worked, and studied.  Here, I've taken a distance course but it was never studying daily at school like I did in Skövde.  I also have worked here, a lot, you could say, at least in comparison with in Skövde.  I worked with J a ton from March through to June or so.  Then I had that week-long stint as a personal assistant, and here I am as a freshly made mail carrier.  My, how life can change so quickly!  Began the year in Skövde, moved shortly thereafter to Gothenburg, and have worked 3 different jobs since, while acquiring Swedish B certification.  I wonder how much more will happen before the year ends?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Who knew that I would love being a mail carrier?

Still loving the new job!  The variation of tasks, the exercise, new and friendly people, as well as friendly people who talk to you as you deliver their mail.  For me it's completely enjoyable!  Today was my first day going out on a round on my own.  This week there was a much larger amount of mail.  Last week when I went out with the girl who was training me, we had maybe 3 boxes of mail and then that was split between us.  So I was only doing 1.5 boxes of mail last week.  Today I had 4 full boxes of mail to deliver all on my own!  It took me a lovely 3 hours and 45 minutes to do, but I got it done!  Needless to say, I am beat today.

I love this new feeling of being physically exhausted at the ends of the days.  I haven't felt like that in a long time (thanks to not being so active, for shame, I know I know).  It's just so wonderful!  I know it may sound a bit weird to enjoy being tired but compare it to that happy tired feeling after a good workout.  So overall, no complaints about the job, I enjoy the variety, and I even almost look forward to going in whenever I do.  That's not supposed to normally happen when you go to work, right? ;-)

Not much else is new in Gbg.  This past weekend a couple of childhood friends of J's were in town attending a music festival, so we got together all Saturday afternoon since the show they wanted to see wasn't until the evening.  It was nice meeting a new face and seeing another face I hadn't seen in a year or so.  The four of us enjoyed an afternoon sitting out, eating lunch, and drinking a couple of beers at Halta Lotta's.  It's apparently become our favorite go to little pub.  It's the nicest one in our area and has good prices.  The weather was just beautiful this weekend, probably around 70F and sunny as could be.  Sitting outside enjoying good company was the ideal way to enjoy the good weather.

Yesterday J's parents stopped over and took us out to lunch.  They were in town for a birthday party and of course to visit J's sister's family as well.  It was a nice weekend with some visitors from out of town.  It's always nice to see familiar faces!

I have an eye appointment this coming Friday with the optician.  Last year I went to a friend of ours in Tibro, since he's an optician, but now we live too far away for it to be convenient.  So I'll be trying a completely new place here in Gothenburg.  Every year my eyesight gets just a bit worse to where I need to get a new prescription for my contact lenses.  I may even get new glasses...but it feels like I just got new glasses because I got my current ones just last July.  I usually wait two years to get new glasses because it just feels like money going down the drain since I get a new prescription yearly.  I can really notice the difference though with my current prescription, how my glasses don't help me as much as they used to.  I have a coupon for a nice chunk off of 6 months of contacts, so maybe I'll break down and get the glasses along with the contacts.  Contacts are first priority, though.

I don't really have much else to say!  I just had to exclaim a bit more about how pleased I am with the new job!  I was afraid of another fiasco like my previous job, but happily it's been completely the opposite.  My biggest fear has always been language in Sweden, I just hate when I can't understand my surroundings.  Even though now I've passed Swedish B, I still had a bit of insecurity about not being understood by Swedes.  Things have, however, gone swimmingly!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Exhaustion

I apologize for not updating yesterday, as it was my first day at my new job.  I was just so utterly exhausted yesterday after I got home from work I could barely do anything other than lie on the couch and watch the Olympics.  I also was incredibly stiff/sore, which I am today, as well.  When you're not used to riding a bike laden with mail and running up and down stairs for several hours in a day, you feel it in your body!  Not to mention being on your feet for 8 hours a day.  It's been a few years since I had such a job, and I can tell that those years have come and gone!

That being said, so far I am really enjoying the job!  I love that you work along with people and yet on your own, and I love being out and about for a few hours a day very clearly getting good exercise.  You also know you're performing a service for people that is somewhat crucial (less nowadays than before) to society!  Who doesn't love getting a piece of mail?  (Well besides a bill or something else possibly negative...but hey you wouldn't know the good side of life without the bad).

I've also learned the ropes pretty quickly (dealing out post is much more complicated than you'd think!) and feel comfortable in the job which is just of utmost importance to me now after my last experience.  I guess I've dodged having an uncomfortable job up until recently - I suppose I've been pretty lucky.

J is in the kitchen currently making a rhubarb crumble pie which I am excited about!  We've only had one rhubarb pie so far this summer and I think that was way back in May.  We're about due for another delicious rhubarb treat!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

No more school!

Yesterday I downloaded, answered, and turned in my examinationsuppgift, or examination task, directly translated.  It was the final test for the Swedish B class I've been taking all summer.  This morning I had a meeting with a teacher and gave a little 5 minute speech, and we also discussed my overall grade.  She was a substitute, as my real teacher is on vacation, so this is the third teacher I've had in my little 10 week course.  In any case, she was super nice, around my age, and had even studied in Wisconsin and visited Iowa, so she was familiar with the Midwest and knew where Ohio was.  It was nice meeting her!  What's better is that overall in the course she gave me a VG - väl godkänt, or "well passed," you could call it.

The grading system goes like this: IG (icke godkänt, or fail), G (godkänt, pass), VG (val godkänt, well passed), and MVG (mycket väl godkänt, very well passed).  I always joke to J that Sweden has a Harry Potter system of grading since it seems like they just put some random letters to grade you.  But once you learn what they mean it makes more sense.  So I'd say in the American system I probably got a "B" for an overall course grade, so I'll take it.  Also, if I'm not mistaken I think they're introducing a new grading system next year or so.  Perhaps I'll report back on that matter.

I'm just glad to be done with school!  The course seemed like an annoying buzzing fly all summer since it is indeed summer and the entire country just about shuts down for the season.  Every other week I had assignments due so there was just enough lull time to almost forget I was actually partaking in a Swedish class.  But I did give it substantial effort, and it paid off.  Luckily nothing was too difficult for me at all, which I take as a good sign.  The teacher earlier today was extremely impressed (not that I picked up on it, but she actually told me) with the fact that I've lived here not even two years, have really only been studying Swedish for 1.5 years, and yet I've mastered the language so quickly.  I always tell people who are impressed that when you move to a new country and have nothing else to do (as you're not really job-worthy) and you have the will, you can learn the language pretty quickly.  Plus, I like languages, so that's really helped me, too.

I have now until Monday as a mini-vacation.  On Monday I start my new job.  How time flies!  I can't believe today is August 1st already.  In just two weeks or so J and I will have lived in Gothenburg for 6 months - half a year!  Sometimes it seems much longer that we've been here, and sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday we moved in with killer ice on the sloping hill of our street.

I've been really wanting to go chanterelle mushroom picking lately.  Maybe I'll just venture into a nearby wooded area by myself today and see if there are any to pluck up.  Last year my friend M and I went on an adventure near Skövde and it was a blast.  I wonder if as much fun can be had mushroom hunting by yourself?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hooray for good days!

I'm going in later today to the office where I had the interview on Monday so that I can sign some papers and get put on their roster!  In other words, I got the job! Hooray!

I have a feeling I will be much more secure and happy in this sort of position as mail carrier than as my personal assistant fluke back in June.  I start two weeks from now.  Hopefully, finally, I can begin to make some sizable amount of money.

Yesterday was the best day I've had in a really long time.  J decided not to work, so we got up and went shopping downtown beginning at 10:30, and he ended up getting himself a new acoustic guitar.  I helped him pick it out - it is worlds better than his old one!  He said he picked out and bought his old guitar back when he couldn't even play chords, so it's no wonder he didn't really have any know-how back then.  But he just wanted a cheap guitar to get started on so it has served its purpose.  While in the guitar shop (Gitarren) yesterday (thankfully it was pretty much silent in there) I got a call from the woman who interviewed me on Monday asking if I was still interested in taking the job.  Absolutely!  So we made an appointment for me to come in later today and sign some papers and do all that boring stuff before you can start working somewhere.

It was beautiful and sunny yesterday, not a cloud in the sky, and it was actually up around 25C (77F).  After getting home from being out and about, I suggested we go swimming at a nearby swimming spot that I've heard a lot about, but never had a chance to check out.  We actually hadn't been swimming at all here in the Gbg region so it was our first time.  We decided to ride our bikes down to Härlanda tjärn and take a dip as it was pretty hot-feeling yesterday (for Sweden, anyway).  Google Maps said it would take about 15 minutes to ride there, but they didn't take into consideration that the entire way there is uphill from where we live.  It probably took us closer to 25 minutes.  The way home, however, was super quick!  The water, to me, was cooold, coming from Ohio where it gets up to 35C (95F) pretty much guaranteed every summer, and where pool waters warm up to 26C (80F) with no problem.  The water in Härlanda tjärn was probably around 20C (68F) and so at first it was a huge shock.  It did feel pretty good after a bit, though.  J kept saying, "It's not cold. This is probably about as warm as it will get."  We probably only swam for about 10 minutes (plenty, when the water is that "refreshing") due to the fact that there was a snake swimming our way in the water.  We hopped out as quickly as we could.

We rode our bikes home, quickly showered and then headed to one of our favorite little pub spots, Halta Lotta's, that is about a 15 minute walk from our place.  We had a lovely dinner with dessert then finally headed home to stay in for the rest of the evening (it was nearly 9pm by the time we got in).  It felt like a true vacation day!  The best part was that we spent the whole day seeing different parts of Gothenburg that we'd never really seen before.  So we indulged a bit, but that's okay.  I deemed our eating out as a celebration dinner for my securing a job that I think will be great for me.

Just before bed, I began the 5th book of the Sookie Stackhouse series (books that the HBO show True Blood is based upon) that I'd bought at the Science-Fiction Bookstore we had visited earlier in the day.  Nothing is better than ending a great day reading a good book!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer happenings and an interview

A lot has been going on with J and I!  I meant to post on Friday but then I got called in to do some testing and manual writing for the very part time job I do with J and his software program, so posting got put on hold.

Not this past weekend, but the weekend before, J and I and some Swedish friends made a trip to Norway!  A friend of their lives there with his Norwegian sambo and they invited a group of us to come stay for a weekend since they'd recently bought a house.  It was lovely where they live, it's on an island outside of Kristiansand, Norway.  Although, when you look at the map, it doesn't seem that far from here in Gothenburg, it took nearly 10 hours to travel there.  First, we drove 2 hours up to Strömstad, then we had to wait a little over an hour for the ferry from Strömstad to Sandefjord, Norway.  You have to get there at least an hour in advance, and you line up your car in the rows.  The ferry ride itself takes about 2.5 hours, and then there are 3 more hours of driving, possibly 3.5, left in Norway to do until you get there.  Phew!

The ferry ride on the way there made the 3 of us girls in the travelling group sick.  It was so incredibly windy that day, and the boat was hitting the waves just in the wrong way that when you looked out the windows you saw water, briefly land, then high sky.  Repeat.  It made my stomach feel as if I'd eaten something rotten.  Luckily one of the other girls had a stomach settling chew/gum type thing that numbs your mouth.  It settles your stomach a bit while making you focus on the fact that you can't feel your tongue or cheeks anymore.  Needless to say, I was very happy to get off the ferry.

The weekend was wonderful!  There were a total of 9 of us and it was a perfectly sized group.  Since they live on a little island, we went down to the water and fished a bit, grilled, played a game called kubb, watched a movie in a big school theater, and played sand volleyball.  It was a blast!  And something I definitely needed.  It was good to see our Swedish friends that we rarely get to see, and also to get out somewhere new and out of my little hole of Gothenburg.  It was beautiful and sunny all weekend too!  J and I slept in a tent outside and as it got down to 9C or so (48F) at night it was a bit chilly!  We had thermal sleeping bags, but I literally had to zip mine up to where only my face poked out.  J made fun of me saying I slept like I was in a sarcaphogus.  It's pretty true!

This was the spot where we went fishing and grilling.  Above is the view out to the water and other islands/mainland around the area.  Below is if you turn to your right/around.  Those were little summer boathouses people stay in for their summer vacations.  Many of them were also out enjoying the sun and grilling.


This past weekend we went to the big horse racing event outside of Skövde in Axevalla with J's dad, some relatives, and our friend O.  I got a sunburn, but that can be expected.  I'm happy to finally be getting some sun and not look like a phantom!  We spent the evening at some friends' house in Tibro and spent the night with J's parents there as well.  His sister's family was there, and his brother and sambo came over for lunch yesterday.  It was nice to have a big family lunch.  We drove home yesterday afternoon.

J and I have complained about not having a single whole weekend in Gbg since the beginning of May.  We're hoping this upcoming weekend will finally be some total down time for us.

This morning I had an interview with Bring Citymail as a letter carrier.  It went really well!  Basically you're a mail person but riding a bike.  You sort all the mail first for the morning and in the afternoon or starting late morning you go out and deliver the mail.  It's not Posten, which is Sweden's equivalent of USPS.  It's a smaller, more efficient (they cut out a middle process) way of doing mail.  It's also less personal mail and more company/bills/advertisement mail.  I will know by Wednesday if I'm hired, so I'll be sure to get back to you all!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, to me!

This past Saturday was my birthday!  It also happened to be the day that we threw my friend M a bachelorette party, as she and her Swede are leaving today for the US and will be married by this time next month.  In short, it was a fun and busy weekend!

We threw the party in Skövde and had a blast with it.  We had a friend pick M up from her house, and then we led her around town for a little over an hour on a quiz/mission thing.  At each stop (which she had to figure out herself where she was supposed to go by us giving a clue) there was another person waiting for her to give her a question about her man.  So that way it was a surprise for her about who was able to come to her party.  If she got the quiz question right, she got a "prize" item to wear, and the same for if she got it wrong it was her "punishment."  It was hilarious to see her all dressed up with a cat tail, cat mask, hot pink boa, and all sorts of other silly stuff.  By the end of the mission we were smack in the downtown mall with tons of people gawking and staring at the loud gaggle of women laughing, and the one looking outrageous.  Even the bus drivers going by waved at her.  After that, we made a taco lunch at her house, went to the Skövde Arena for some relaxing spa time, got ready at her house then went out for a nice dinner and some dancing afterwards. All in all, a fun day with girl-friends!

They even surprised me in the middle of the day with birthday cupcakes, flowers, and a gift bag!  It was so sweet of them I did not expect it at all.  The flowers were bright and happy.

On Friday night, J surprised me a day early for my birthday as he knew I would be gone all day (my train left at 8am Saturday morning).  When he came home from work he rang the doorbell which is just odd, who rings their own doorbell?  So I opened it expecting his hands must be full for whatever reason, and I was right!  He surprised me with a giant flower arrangement (it must be nearly 3 ft. tall).


All of the lilies have bloomed now, or at least are opening.  They smell absolutely wonderful, and still look just as healthy!

He proceeded to tell me "Oh, you have 25 minutes to be ready, we have to be at Redbergsplatsen at 6:00."  So I got ready, assuming we were taking the tram somewhere for dinner, and I was right.  He had chosen a Greek restaurant over in Linné by the name of Kalimera, and the food there was absolutely delicious.  I suppose he has paid attention when I've said just how much I love Mediterranean/Greek food.  Sadly we were in a rush (well we had practically an hour and a half to be there but it took them nearly an hour to get us our food), so we couldn't relax and enjoy it as much as we might have liked to.  J had reserved us tickets to go see the new Spider-Man movie, as it was the "only good one" playing.  I didn't have super high expectations, but I ended up deeming it much improved over the movies from 10 years ago.  I rather enjoyed it!

By the time we got home it was 11pm, I had to pack for the next day (I stayed the night at M's place Saturday night) and I knew I had to get up just past 6am on Saturday.  Needless to say I was exhausted heading to Skövde and throughout the day but as stated, it was a ton of fun.

Now I'm trying to be good and focus on writing a paper that isn't due for my Swedish class until next Friday the 20th, but I had to take a break and write a catch-up post.  This weekend we'll be traveling to Norway to visit some friends in Kristiansand, and then next week it seems J is going to take the week off work, so we may decide to travel elsewhere on a mini vacation, depending on if we can find something decently priced.  That would be why I need to get back to writing this paper!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, America!

Today has been such an odd day.  It's my first Fourth of July away from home, not being in the USA.  Last summer I made a three week trip to the States from June into July, so I got to celebrate as usual with fireworks, friends, and family.  Today has been pretty anti-climactic all day as it's just been another day here in Sweden.

In the late afternoon I decided to make something of it and go to the store to get some cookout/grill food!  On my way walking to the local food store, I walked by a man whom I felt I immediately knew was another American - I just had a feeling.  When we got up close and passed one another I saw his shirt was red, white and blue and had "USA" embroidered on the left side of his chest.  I nearly opened my mouth in passing to ask if he was another American, as wearing that shirt couldn't have been coincidence.  After nearly two years in Sweden, though, I kept my mouth shut out of habit.  It put a smile on my face the rest of the way to the store, though, knowing that in all likelihood I'd passed another countryman out to celebrate (he had a bag full of food, as well, no doubt for cooking out).

Here is evidence of my 4th of July "feast," as J dubbed it.  We'll definitely be having leftovers tomorrow for lunch and/or dinner.


I had one more PBR left in the fridge from our Midsommar celebrations, so of course I had to drink American along with our dinner.  J opted for a Smirnoff, there in the background.

I decided to make a new recipe for the baked beans.  It included 2 cans of Heinz baked beans (I was glad to find some cans of them!), ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  I also fried some bacon, crumbled it, and mixed it in.  They turned out great!  I ended up buying an engångsgrill (one time grill) since the only one we have is electric and we can't really use it anymore.  It's really just for balconies.  As you can probably guess, you use it just once and then throw it out.  It worked well for our burgers and hot dogs.  J complimented me on our fine dinner!  I enjoy sharing American culture whenever I can, which I feel happens all too rarely.

Later I may even convince J to come outside with me and light some sparklers.  We have some leftover from the New Years celebrations this past year (Swedes use sparklers then, not in the summer!).  Since I don't get to view any fireworks, at least we can play with some sparklers, right?

Happy Fourth of July to everyone!  Happy Birthday, America!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Developments

So I ended up telling my employer I didn't want the job.  When she hired me she said to let her know if it wasn't my thing, and I wish I could have told her sooner but I kept on, trying to see if it got better.  In a nutshell, the idea of having someone so dependent on me, and only on me, for entire stretches at a time was just about terrifying.  The thought of doing it alone beginning next week had me so anxious that I haven't been able to sleep the past couple of nights.  Doesn't sound very me, right?  For those of you who know me personally I'm just about as laid back and calm as they come. "I can take care of this" is practically my motto.  I guess I've learned a thing or two about myself in the past couple of weeks.

As for my previous post, it was written on a good day (and of course there would have been good days in the future, too), but also it was written on a day before a lovely 4 day weekend/break from the next time I had to go in.  I know that had an influence on my super good mood.  But I took it as a sign that my disposition had changed so drastically within the past, not even, two weeks.

This morning was spent in decision-making-agony and finally calling not only my employer, but the household where I was a personal assistant to let them know that I wouldn't be coming in today, and why.  I hate letting people down and I have terrible feelings of guilt when I do.  I also feel, at least a little bit, that I've let down J since I optioned out of a job willingly.  But I've spent a chunk of the day job-hunting and writing cover letters for jobs more up my alley.  So here's to hoping!

It's beautiful and sunny today, and around 70F.  Rather nice weather, especially compared to yesterday.  Yesterday was dreary and rainy and just awful.  It truly was a terrible, blue Monday.

This weekend J's parents are coming to visit, and believe it or not, that will be nice.  Most people probably dread their in-laws coming to visit, but as stated previously, I enjoy his family.  Who knows what we'll get up to.  J's sister and brother-in-law are out of town for the week so we're stopping by daily to feed their cats.  Whenever we're there they're usually pretty unsociable, but perhaps that's because there are usually a ton of people there when we are there.  It was nice to "see a different side" of them so to speak. Truly, though, it made me miss having a pet.  J and I are definitely getting a dog some day, when we're allowed (our current place doesn't) and when we have a little bit more room. =)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On the upswing

Today was the best day yet at my new job.  It was my fourth day there and each day I'm getting more and more comfortable with Mr. Dane's accent.  He speaks Swedish but occasionally, possibly, a Danish word slips in that I don't get, or it's just the overall pronunciation that might be difficult for me.  In any case, today he told me not once, but twice "Vad duktig du är!"  It doesn't translate too well into English, directly it is "How good you are!" but a better way of explaining it is that you are good AT something.  I was rather pleased knowing that he is happy with how I'm doing things, and that things come easier with each day.  I was feeling pretty low/unsure about it (the job) last night and this morning when getting up and ready for the day, for reasons I can't truly pinpoint.  But after today I'm way up on the bright side again and thinking this job will be a good experience for me, for however long it lasts. =)

Random updates: This past Saturday I met up with a couple of new Swedish girl-friends and sat out at a pub drinking some beer and wine for several hours in the evening.  It was so great to get to know some new people and just really enjoy sitting outside in downtown Gbg.  It's a really lovely town when you get downtown.  If you haven't visited, I most definitely recommend it!

I will be seeing two of those friends again on Friday/Saturday (one gal won't be there) due to Midsommar celebrations!  Today J and I went out and bought a popup tent for a fairly cheap price, just to see if it really worked.  We also bought some new outdoor sleeping bags, pillows, and self inflating underlays.  We tried it all out, and it's fantastic!  He was really psyched for the fact of how lazy you can be with the tent.  It literally pops up out of its container without any need for assembly besides staking it to the ground to make sure the wind doesn't blow it away.  Hooray!  Definitely looking forward to my first Midsommar (last year I was in the US at this time), and especially because it will be on the west coast, which I have never been to either!

Tomorrow: No assistant job, but I will be working alongside J for at least the morning since he says he has some massive testing for me to do.  It feels like ages since I've done work with the program he develops.  It'll be nice to mix it up a bit.  I also plan to do a good chunk of schoolwork tomorrow, meet up with an old acquaintance for a fika date downtown (old Korta Vägen friend who just recently moved to Gbg), and of course ready ourselves for the trip on Friday.  That of course includes a trip to Systembolaget!  I can't recall if I've ever talked much about Systembolaget before in any detail, I may have to devote a post in the near future to explaining it to those of you unfamiliar with the idea of state run alcohol sales.

So that's that!  Or, "Det var det" as Mr. Dane tends to say quite often.  Happy Midsommar to all!

P.S. - I love that it never truly gets dark currently.  So wonderful.  The catch?  The days start getting shorter after Midsommar. Booooo.

Monday, June 18, 2012

And now for a little bit of anxiety

Although I am truly grateful and happy to have finally gotten a job from my own exertions, I now have a blooming case of anxiety about it.  I've never done a job like this before in my life, where someone else's day and perhaps even life is in my hands.  Not only that, but I've realized when I get going on my own, I will literally be the only one working at "my job."  I've never worked completely alone before.

Through the rest of June I will be training alongside someone, but as early as tomorrow I'll be doing everything myself.  At least when working with this particular other assistant.  She will be there, but she wants me to do everything myself (I feel that one night of 2.5 hours and one day at 5 hours is not very much prep time!).  I am feeling some legit levels of anxiety just thinking about it.  There is just so incredibly much to remember, but that I know will just come with time and repetition.  What worries me is the language barrier, if there is one or that you could call it that.  While I'm doing just fine so far, I fear that once I truly am left on my own I may not understand what the man I work with is saying and/or wants.  You see, he is Danish.  Danish is not Swedish, although they are quite closely related.  He has been living in Sweden for several decades, but still doesn't speak Swedish very closely to the way Swedes do.

I had to let that out somewhere!  Poor J will probably get tired of it quick, although he's told me several times now that I'll be just fine.  I try to talk myself into saying that it's just how it is with all new jobs, the anxiety of being new and unfamiliar with routines and not really fitting quite into the picture yet.  Of course there's that and I expect it.  So I guess I'll just have to take things as they come.  I can only do my best!  I did feel today though that I was getting used to how he speaks and understanding more and more.  Okay, I feel at least a tad bit better now having put my slight fears down into words!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A job!

I've gotten a job!  A real one, on my own, without having J hook me up with something through his company.  Happy Face makes another appearance! (he appeared here first on my blog)  It was a very fast process.
 



Friday afternoon J and I were practicing putting up a tent we've borrowed from his parents (more on that in a bit) when I got a phone call.  It was an unfamiliar name, but because I had applied to a few jobs recently I figured I had to get over my scaredycatness when it comes to answering the phone and answer it.  So I did.  It was a woman calling about a personal assistant job I had applied to the day before.  Personal assistants in Sweden aren't personal assistants in American English terms.  They don't run around doing tasks given to them by an executive at a company.  Personal assistants here do a wide range of things due to the field, but basically they help anyone who can't function properly through the day whether from a sickness or an accident that might have lamed them.  In this case, it was an older gentleman who has MS and so can't move really at all.  He needs help with basically everything, from moving around to washing and so on.  She asked for an interview Saturday (yesterday) morning and so I went.  It ended up not so much an interview (there were no questions of "So, tell me about yourself").  It was more "Here is how the day is and what we do.  Could you start ASAP?"  So of course I jumped on it!  They needed someone pretty immediately to be a sommarvikariat, that is, a summer replacement.  However, she also gave me the fall schedule of times that would need to be filled in and so it seems like as long as it goes well in the near future I'll be welcome to stay on!

I just got back home after my first short 3 hour shift. There is so much to remember, but it doesn't seem too scary.  It's not super difficult or anything and there is no major medical care that needs to occur.  What I'm still happily reveling about is the fact that I now have a job and operate completely in another language!  It's crazy to look back and see how far I've come compared to just a little over a year and a half ago.  Back then, I was afraid to even go to the store by myself and had to really push myself to go out and make myself get used to it.  Now I can perform a job purely in another language!  Commence patting myself on the back....now.

The tent?  Well this next coming weekend is Midsommar (midsummer) in Sweden and it's their huge summer holiday.  They celebrate the longest day of the year which here in Gothenburg is 18 hours of daylight, give or take a few minutes.  "Night", though, is never night and it never truly gets dark out.  There is always a mid-dark blue in the sky and it most definitely begins to get light around 2-3 in the morning.  For Midsommar we've been invited to the lovely west coast, as I may have mentioned previously.  Because the summer home isn't so large and it has about 12 places for people to sleep, and 19 of us have been invited, J and I have opted to borrow a tent and camp out in the yard for the evening instead.  That is why we were practicing putting up the tent, and also it was to see if we both would actually fit in it.  J is not at all a short person, I'm even a bit worried that he won't really fit very comfortably in it.  We will see!

So I just wanted to write a quick update, although it's not all that short.  I should get to bed pretty soon as I have to be back tomorrow morning at 8am for more learning!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Is it really June?

So June has finally come around, but sadly it doesn't feel like it when you consider the weather.  That entire week of 25 - 27 C (up to 80F) two weeks ago in May very well could have been the Swedish summer, come and gone.  Nowadays it's only been around 12 - 14C (50s F).

Yesterday, though, was the Sweden's National Day and so everyone had the day off.  It was mostly sunny here in Gothenburg so there were definitely some people outside grilling and enjoying having a day off in the middle of the week.  J and I have been discussing that phenomenon lately, as I've realized in the US we just don't have that occurrence.  Our holidays almost always occur on "the first Monday of September" (Labor Day) and thus people have a 3 day weekend instead of having the work week kind of ruined/split up by having a holiday based on a date instead of a first Monday, or last Thursday of a month.  Lately there seem to have been a ton of "red days" (holidays, where you don't work, in other words) right in the middle of the week.  The 17th of May was a red day, and that occurred on a Thursday.  So what happens?  At least half of the Swedish work force decides to just take Friday off as well and make a nice 4 day weekend.  I'm all about taking an opportunity, relaxing, and making a nice 4 day weekend out of something.  But J has made a solid point when we've been discussing - he can't get stuff done at work that he needs to get done because lately he hasn't been able to count on people to be there.  He has a kind of job where he can't just up and take days off like a common office job would easily make possible.

Nevertheless, yesterday was Sweden's National Day, but we (J and I) didn't really do anything to celebrate it.  We relaxed and enjoyed the day for part of the day (hooray for getting to sleep in) and then I used the day to play catch up on my schoolwork and he used it to play catch up on some actual work work.  It seems to be somewhat of a debatable topic, Swedens National Day, as I read a letter in GP sent in by a reader on Tuesday who was complaining about how Sweden isn't anything to celebrate until there is equality for all in the country.  That's to put it in a nutshell.  For Swedes, they just never had to fight or win their independence from anyone so it just seems to not be much of a deal here at all.  Before 1983 the 6th of June was just known as Swedish Flag Day.  That year, however, the Swedish Riksdagen (Sweden's version of Congress) deemed the day to be called Sveriges Nationaldag (Sweden's National Day).  You would think since then they would have it as an actual red day, or a day off from work, but no.  Only since 2005 have Swedes been able to have the day off from work.

From what I can gather it seems as if they are still trying to figure out how to celebrate the day, as there just aren't really emotions tied to the day the way other countries are about their own national days.  As an American it is quite strange to see a country handle its own national day so nonchalantly.  We, of course, go all out with our grill parties, game playing and last but certainly not least, fireworks.  But I don't think you need to have gone through bloody wars to celebrate your country.  No place will ever be perfect, there are some parts about the US that I prefer to here, and vice versa.  That being said, Sweden has quite a good international standing, some would argue it has one of the best health care systems regarding the fact that all have access to receiving healthcare, and I could sit here and list things on and on that people would say is good about it.  The point is, just take a moment appreciate where you live if you choose to stay because there is a reason you're choosing to stay.  How many people a year come to Sweden to get away from a worse life in their own home lands?  Sweden isn't all that bad, and I hear a lot of criticism and complaints coming from its own native citizens.  I encourage constructive criticism, otherwise how would anything ever improve?  But I suppose as an outsider looking in, coming from another top country, there is still a lot to be happy about and celebrate about Sweden.  Why not have a day to celebrate and appreciate the country?

On a completely different note, J and I have been busy bees lately regarding weekend activities and it seems it won't ever stop until halfway through July!  A couple of weeks ago we went to Skövde to celebrate a friend's birthday.  This past weekend we went to Tibro to celebrate a dear couple's wedding together with them.  By the way, it was my first time to a Swedish wedding and I found it rather lovely.  The ceremony didn't last way too long by the priest being long-winded, and he wisely didn't try to win the crowd over by being excessively cheesy in his jokes.  Sure he threw some jokes in there but they were short and actually funny!  I suppose that's Swedish succinctness for you.  There was the traditional wedding march, but with that came the bride and the groom in together down the aisle.  There were a couple of prayers as a normal Christian wedding in the US, and a couple of church hymns sung as well.  But I liked the hymns because as we got through them they were basically just singing about how happy and glad it is when it's spring and summer time with the trees and flowers blossoming.  Who couldn't be happy about that?  Well besides those of you with terrible allergies, at least the blossoms are beautiful!  The ceremony lasted about 30 minutes and then it was outside to throw rice on the newlyweds and off to the reception.  During the reception we sang some weddings songs in traditional Swedish we-have-to-sing-traditional-songs-that-everyone-somehow-learns-growing-up-for-every-single-occasion fashion.  I still find it delightful and charming that Swedes somehow have these songs for what seems to me every occasion.  My first encounter of this was my first visit here back in the summer of 2010 when J took me to a kräftskiva at his parents' house and they had made their own pamphlets of songs to be sung while drinking schnapps shots.  It was delightful.

This is a picture of the church where the wedding was held.  It was built in 1839, so really it's a relatively new church.  I enjoyed the architecture, the inside was simple yet still had a beauty to it.


This coming weekend it's back to the Tibro/Skövde for a third time in a row!  This time we're in for a kusinträff, or "cousin meet" if you want to be literal about it.  J's dad's cousins all wanted to have a big get together since it's been so long that they've all seen one another.  I like J's family though, they're a bunch of fun and jokesters, so at least it's not something to dread the way traditional family reunions seem to be, in the US anyway (or am I alone on that?).  Then in the upcoming weeks we've been booked by J's parents who want to come down to the GBG to visit us here, also there is a big Midsommar celebration in the middle there where we are invited to a summer house located out on the west coast about an hour and half drive from where we live, and my birthday/good friend M's bachelorette party will be coinciding on the same day in the beginning of July.  Lastly, we've heard about a get together a couple of our friends in Norway are wanting to throw in the middle of July, so there could be a good chance for me of finally getting to see that lovely country, as well.  Talk about a full plate!

J says he may have me work a bit today as well, but at least that will be from home where I won't have to spend time commuting back and forth (when I take the bus, or buses, to work it takes about 50 minutes each way, whereas a car ride takes about 15).  As I'm a bit behind on my schoolwork, though, I think I'll be getting to that!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Congratulations Sweden!

Congratulations Sweden and Loreen on winning Eurovision Song Contest 2012!

Now I've never been one to follow and love the likes of American Idol, but I find Eurovision to be something quite different.  Oh sure, it's pop songs and would seem very much the same as American Idol but I think I love it because it makes you feel connected to the rest of Europe.  You know that 40-50 other countries are sitting down to watch the exact same thing that you are and root on for their own country's contribution.  What is more, I really enjoy seeing what songs each country has to put out there because it tells you a lot about their culture, even if, as said, it's "just pop songs."  This past Saturday night I was at a friend's birthday barbecue, but a couple of us would go inside every now and then to check in on the competition.

I had a really good feeling about Loreen this year as I absolutely loved her song and had rooted for her ever since she won Melodifestivalen back in March.  Immediately you could hear how strong her voice is; and to be able to have such stage presence as just one person belting out a song like that is quite a feat.  This time around in Eurovision with her song "Euphoria" she won with a huge margin of 113 points.  A new-found friend of mine (my friend M's downstairs Swedish neighbor) and I decided that next year in 2013 we will most definitely want to go see Eurovision!  The thing is, for those of you unfamiliar with it, the country who wins has to host the contest the following year.  Last year it was Azerbaijan who won, and so this year's contest was held in Baku, Azerbaijan.  I've heard (and after having quickly read it on a few blogs) that it will be held in Stockholm at the new Friends Arena that is set to be inaugurated in the end of October this very year.  What perfect timing!

As a newbie to all of this (after all, it's only my second year knowing about/watching Eurovision), I find it very exciting that Sweden won.  The last time for the country to win was in 1999, so it may be just that long again before Sweden could win.  I would love to take advantage of the fact that the contest is coming here next year.

Here is the winning song!