Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Time and Seasonal Depression

Time is just slipping by. I've had a couple of reminders lately just how quickly time can slip through our fingers. There are only about 3 weeks left until J and I move, and we have barely gotten started on the whole packing things up process. I will say I took the first initiative this past weekend by going through all of the clothes in my closet and putting in plastic bags the clothes I no longer use. We dropped them off at the Myrorna boxes at our usual recycling station outside of Coop. Myrorna, for those of you who don't know, is a second hand store where they sell all things donated to them. It's basically like The Salvation Army in the US. It's nice having an emptier (more empty?) and more organized closet now! Plus it's just that much less stuff to move when the time comes.

Another reminder that time flies is that one year ago today I began SFI. It's incredible to think back to one year ago and compare it to today. My Swedish skills then were virtually zilch, and now I would say I'm practically fluent. To reflect on what one is able to do with dedication in one year's time is really something.

On another note, it's gotten noticeably colder in the last couple of days, and thus the snowfall that occurred over the weekend hasn't melted at all. I am a champion of the idea "if it's going to be cold and grey, it might as well feel like winter and look like it too, that being snow that stays on the ground." Finally I've been granted my wish, at least for the time being.

That being said, I believe that I have something that afflicts many people here in Sweden, or the North in general: seasonal depression. I think in my case it comes and goes, even within a 24 hour period. Because we are pretty far north, during the darkest time of year in December (here in Skövde) the sun rises around 9:00 and it's down again by 3:00 (15:00). While the sun is up, most often the sky is nothing but a giant mass of anonymous grey. So even while there is what little light we get, it's most often depressingly overcast. Now, I contend that if there is cheery, enchanting snow on the ground it lightens everything up, so I've been pretty pleased with my surroundings recently. Yesterday I enjoyed immensely what little time the sun decided to show its lovely face; it was out for a good portion of the afternoon. Whenever it comes out I feel like a lizard basking in the sun because I just simply gravitate to it. It's very common here for the sun to peek out maybe for 30 minutes or an hour, and then the tyranny of the clouds resumes. It's almost like the sun is fighting a very, very slow uphill battle. We know in the end it will be victorious and all the pretty flowers will bloom in May. And then in June it will be up for nearly 20 hours of the day. But alas, until then I shall take what pleasure I can get out of cheery, here-to-stay-with-the-cold-temperatures-snow.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Is Volvo in my future?

So I applied for Volvo's Graduate Programme (note British spelling) back in December. The website I link to here doesn't tell too much, but it gives you the basic idea. I applied within the area of Human Resources, as my background lends me to that field the most within Volvo.

I had an interview this past Thursday, and I think it went really well. I walked out with a great feeling, and mainly due to the interviewer! I can only take that as a good sign. This first round of interviews was carried out by a staffing agency, probably because Volvo is far too busy to interview 400 people all at once. The interviewer, a woman named Susanne, told me that I should be quite happy to even be sitting in that seat because out of the probably thousands who applied, they pick 400 for the first round of interviewers. Yippee for me! The next round will be 200 interviewed at Volvo, and then the final cut is just 54 who get to participate in the program. Within that 54 there are only 3 positions available for Human Resources. I am not going to hold any hopes up and be super disappointed if I don't get in, but I'll try my best!

For those of you who don't know me so well, I majored in Philosophy in college, and minored in English and Sociology. I have a background, however, that I think lends greatly to being able to work within HR. Besides, this whole program is so that Volvo can train its "Graduates" about the company and rotate within different areas/jobs, so I think I have a fair shot. Susanne told me that I was there because they think I have such an interesting background (keeping fingers crossed).

What's also great about this program? Volvo's official company language is English, so I think I'd fit right in ;-) However, my Swedish is just fine to be able to interact with Swedes on their own basis if needed.

On a side note, and possibly one sounding silly to many, it was somewhat fun to travel by train all by myself on Thursday! The interview was in Gothenburg, actually the company was inside the train station so that wasn't too tricky. It was just kind of fun to be out and about alone on the trains (no poking fun, people! This was my third time ever riding trains in Sweden, for those of you who take public transport all the time). Also as an American from the Midwest, we're not too big on public transport anyway, so even though I've lived in Sweden for well over a year now, I still get a kick out of the awesome (to me) public transport. I think most of all I enjoyed the different scenery.

In other news, J and I have one month under our belts to start wrapping this apartment up. We begin our move to Gothenburg in just a month's time! I can feel the winds of change. So not only will I be hoping for Volvo, but I'll be applying to other jobs as well, any that I feel capable of.

Last but not least, I made my debut appearance in a Swedish newspaper last week! An SLA (Skaraborgs Allehanda) news guy managed to corner me in the city library this past Monday and asked me in rapid Swedish if I would answer a survey question, and so I obliged. They even posted a terrible picture of me they snapped after I answered their question. I'd appeared several times in my in Ohio newspapers over the years, but now I've had my first appearance in a Swedish one as well! I didn't know if they actually WOULD put in the paper, but sure enough the next day I received several texts/SMSes from friends and people in school saying "I saw you in the paper!" Naturally, I went out and bought a copy for myself to see the damage. Not a great picture at all, but what can you do.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Snow, homework, and hoped-for routine

I thought I would post some shots of the snowfall from yesterday. Although not very exciting, and many of you have seen these views before, they might be the last chance to see anything out of these apartment windows.

I was so excited to see snowfall that wasn't just flurrying that didn't stick to the ground. It started out that way to my dismay, but ended up as a sizable amount. Here are two from today showing the result.

I've just finished with some last minute homework I was assigned before leaving to the US back in early-mid December. As stated in my previous post, school starts up again tomorrow. It's been a nice, laid back week since returning to Sweden. It will be wonderful to get back into a routine, even if it will be upset by our mid-late February move to Gothenburg. I just look forward to normal sleeping hours. =)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back in the Saddle...Well soon enough.

J and I arrived back in Sweden last Friday, after a 36 hour ordeal. Here's the rundown:

1) Air Canada changes our itinerary from an 18 hours and 15 minutes journey to a 22 hour journey. Instead of waking up at 8am or so, we wake up at 4:30am.
2) After a 9 hour layover in Toronto, which is not very far from my hometown in Ohio, we take off an hour late due to snow and ice.
3) Nearly 2 hours into our transatlantic flight we're told we must turn back to Toronto due to some failure in the plane, nothing to worry about, but it's unlawful to cross the ocean with whatever failure the plane had.
4) After arriving back on the ground at 10:30pm or so, we're told the plane will be fixed and we'll take off again at 12:30. (By this point I was so tired by getting up so early and waiting in an airport all day, I just wanted a hotel. Logic won out and I decided to stick it out just to be able to get home).
5) Boarding was to happen at 11:50. We don't board until 1:00 or so.
6) Take off at 12:30? Take off at 2:15.
End result? 36 hours home #1 to home #2.

Luckily they re-scheduled everyone's connecting flights in Frankfurt while we were in the air, and the rest of the traveling was smooth sailing. Lufthansa was great. Air Canada, although very nice and apologetic, I will never fly with again. Too many strikes, sorry. One thing they failed at majorly was keeping us informed. In my exhausted state I was nearly hysterical with frustration and anger. The staff was also not helpful when we asked about getting a hotel instead; they were just concerned whether we needed our baggage off the plane or not.

Sorry for the rant up there at the top, I guess the world isn't always peaches and cream! I've decided I won't fly Air Canada again, and not only because of that whole ordeal. I just don't like the routes they take. They like to go, from Gothenburg, to Frankfurt, Germany which is about a 1hr 40min flight. My KLM alternative is to Amsterdam which is barely over 1 hour. On the other end of things, the Air Canada flight then from Toronto to Columbus is in a tiny 2 prop plane which is bumpy as hell if there's any wind whatsoever (making my tummy very unsettled) and that flight takes about 1hr 30min. On the other hand KLM goes from Detroit to Columbus, on a nice jet, and takes only 25 minutes. Sorry Air Canada, but you lose.

As it's Thursday evening, I still feel jet lagged. I've just been so off this entire week, so I apologize for not posting any time sooner. It's been nice to have the week off to get settled back into the Swedish way of things. My Korta Vägen program starts again this coming Monday. I hope I'm ready to be in school again. Having nearly a month off has spoiled me. I have, though, been reading a book in Swedish this week. Since I missed the last 2 weeks of the term, and furthermore a big group project, my teacher assigned me the task of reading a book and writing a summary on it. Easy enough for me, as I already love to read, and also enjoy reading in Swedish.

I hope everyone had wonderful holidays! Happy New Year!