Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Since moving to Gothenburg I've generally found the people here to be nice, even noticeably nicer than Skövde's citizens. Skövde people mostly keep to themselves and don't really try to interact or socialize with strangers whatsoever. I have, on several occasions experienced the opposite here in Gothenburg.

Just last week while at the local ICA I had some bottles to turn in to get some store credit (woohoo it's like the 50s in America where you get money for returning bottles/cans) I needed get past this this man with a cart and a small child, who were also returning some bottles. Like a good Swede usually does, I attempted waiting just a bit at first, but that kid was putting in those bottles ultra slowly. Not to mention they had an entire large paper sack full of them. Eventually I ventured to say "Ursäkta mig..." (Excuse me...) to be able to get by, and the man smiled and warmly said "Javisst!" and stepped immediately to the side to let me by. This action very pleasantly surprised me, since I'm still used to the silent/ignoring treatment I usually received during my time in Skövde. Recap of why I was so pleasantly surprised:

1. I was recognized for saying "Excuse me."
2. He was pleasant and smiling.
3. He stepped out of my way immediately!

In the US that interaction wouldn't have even registered in my daily life as something to think about and appreciate, but moving to another country does that to you. Now when I visit the US (all of 2 times since moving here), I always notice at the store and just in public how smiley and friendly people are. Of course there are the ones that are just doing their job and have robotocized it (is that a word?), but there are others who are genuinely friendly. In any case, I appreciated the friendly attitude.

Today, however, I ventured to ICA yet again to pick up some more chow. And, of course, I decided to go right around 5:30pm when everyone else is there just after work and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. )As a side note which is a bit important: at the stores here you can scan your own groceries with a little gun-like thing so that if you have a membership card, you can skip the real line and just check yourself out. Pretty sweet. Of course, they check you randomly to make sure you're not stealing, and then you can be on your merry way.) As I take my time (since I had two full bags and no J to help me with it) at the checkout place, and there are 4 self checkouts, I notice a person just slide in right next to me, clearly invading my personal bubble, to check themselves out. I thought, okay, I was being slow, I get it. But as I leave I see that there was another one completely open. I got pretty irritated that they couldn't wait just 10 seconds for me to gather my stuff and vamoose, especially since there was a different checkout completely open.

So I guess you have to just roll with the punches. One shopping experience is met with an open and friendly Swede (the type of which I'm not yet used to encountering), and the other kind of Swede that pushes and is silent and doesn't say excuse me or even acknowledge your personal existence. I guess I got my hopes up in the few good encounters I've had with friendly, mannerable (is that a word, either?) people here in town, and was brought to abrupt reality at my earlier ICA expedition today.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Glad Vårdagjämningen! Or, Happy Vernal (Spring) Equinox!

Today's Google homepage shows a cute little picture of all things spring-y, like flowers and butterflies and the like. Which actually is quite exciting! I didn't even think about the fact that today, the 20th day of March, is actually so far along in the year that it's the vernal/spring equinox. That's a big step here in Sweden! Everyone yearns for and awaits the sunlight with much anticipation. In the US I barely noticed the passing of any sort of equinox, no one ever really made a big deal about it. But here, Swedes seem to treasure every minute more of sun they can get. I have completely jumped on that bandwagon, too. The one thing I absolutely love about Swedish summer is how the sun never goes completely away, even at the "darkest" of night there's a blue/orange dim light on the horizon. The sky never gets truly black, it gets to a dark, beautiful blue. I guess I'll let the not-so-hot Swedish summers pass since the sun does stay up from just about 4am to 11:30pm on the longest day in summer. At least here in Västra Götaland.

That's all I really wanted to rave about! The return of the sun being officially marked by days like today. Although as I stare out the window it's most definitely an ugly, completely overcast, unanimous grey outside. With threats of rain. I guess if it rains I'm alright with that, it gives a reason for the overbearing grey. Oh well. Speaking of spring, I've noticed some lovely flowers popping out of the grass outside of our building door. I've seen some daffodils (påskliljor) although those are in some pots so clearly not naturally occurring. However, I have seen some native snowdrops (snödroppar). I decided to run out and grab a few shots of them since I just had to share them. They are the first sign of spring here in Sweden!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Everyday Life

Last week J and I went back to Skövde for 2 days, spending one night in a hotel. He had a lot of work there to do at Volvo and whatnot so I decided to tag along to be able to socialize with some friends. Again today we go back to Skövde, for the same reasons. This time we'll be staying two nights! It's funny how an old hometown can almost feel like a vacation spot (for me at least!). I should hopefully get some more time to see some dear friends, as well as do some work, too. J just left to Vara with the car since he had a meeting there this morning, so I opted to take a train later today to meet up with him there in Skövde. Oh the wonders of well working public transit (some may dispute that, here in Sweden with the SJ [Sveriges Järnvägar] problems and Västtrafik issues here in Gothenburg, but in comparison to where I'm from, public transit is fantastic).

The job is going well, this is my second week in. So far it's become a little bit of a routine to spend pretty much most of the day with J at the office here in Gothenburg on Mondays and Tuesdays, then it seems like he has meetings and work to do in other towns so I fill the rest of my 20 hours working on my own. This suits me just fine as I do need to learn what I'm doing, but then I also like to just buckle down and really get done what needs to get done without being interrupted. So far it's worked out well. As of now my contract is temporary for the month, and at the end of the month we'll see where it goes from there. It is nice, though, to ease back into the working world. Speaking of which I am still applying to other jobs. One of which I will do after this post.

Spring has been teasing us with temperatures up to 12C (about 53F) and the sun has been shining. It's still a bit nippy out, especially in the mornings when you have to scrape the windows of the car to get the frost off. I wouldn't say spring is quite here yet, as we could most easily get a snow storm out of nowhere still. But I'm beginning to hope! I've most definitely enjoyed not wearing my heavy winter coat and big boots lately. Taking 5 minutes to bundle up before going outside does get tedious after several months!

If I feel inspired, perhaps I'll even take some shots around Skövde this week as I never posted too many of them, and really it is a picturesque little town. It's almost as if I can appreciate the town more now that we don't live there anymore.

Oh and P.S. - Happy Birthday to my mother who turned 50 on Monday! =)

Friday, March 9, 2012


Our internet and TV service have both finally been fixed! How nice it feels. I finally have been able to post the photos I took well over a week ago!

This is the building we've moved into.

Spring is around the corner! Tiny buds I noticed walking by a bush.

Our "backyard." It's a communal little "uteplats" or "outside place" literally translated. It will be great for grilling in the summer.

Scary looking pedestrian bridge going over the E20 from our neighborhood. I haven't dared to cross it yet.

Construction of a "pretty" wall between our neighborhood and the E20.

The main street running through our neighborhood; our street branches off of it.

I really was drawn to this handrail in a tiny oasis of a park in our neighborhood. The tiny park is used as a stepping platform between the main street and the smaller street well below it. Did I mention that Gothenburg is a very hilly town? It's due to the rock hills/mountains throughout it. I think the rock is granite.

It's so strange to encounter such lush green-ness in the middle/end of winter. Now that it's March it doesn't seem so strange, but we definitely got a tangible amount of snow just yesterday! For the green to survive really is something.

The new E20 bridge that begins right at the end of our neighborhood. It's almost unbelievable how much we aren't disturbed by the highway although I can see it practically from my kitchen window.

We've come to really enjoy our little area here in Gothenburg. It's a wonderfully green and calm area, with just about everything needed quite close by.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Still No Internet

I was so excited to finally be able to get some more pictures up on this blog, and then of course our internet had to stop working. And it still hasn't been fixed! What's more is that tomorrow I'm riding along with J to Skövde for the day and to stay overnight into Thursday. His job has him going to different Volvo plants, so we'll be visiting our "hometown"! It will be so strange to have to stay in a hotel there.

The bad thing about going to Skövde for two days is that most likely that promised technician to come out to our apartment to fix the internet will most likely show up during that period of time. I really hope that doesn't make it to where we have to wait another "3 to 5 days" until another technician can come out to fix our internet that "shows it should be working." Sigh. It's amazing to realize just how much something that is untouchable can make one feel so much more connected to the world. I think now living in another country, the internet is even more important to me than ever in order to stay in touch with those nearest and dearest to me. And also to know what is going on in the rest of the world.

I am, however, excited to be back in Skövde for two days, believe it or not. "What, I thought you were excited to move to Gothenburg because there was so much more there for you to do?" Yes, you have part of it right. But I've also got a couple of fika and lunch dates with some friends that I already miss! So that will be great to be able to catch up. When you live in the same neighborhood as someone you get used to being able to pop over and say hi or decide on a lunch date just about whenever. A couple of weeks away from that makes it feel like a lifetime since you've seen that friend!

As for the job update: This week I've officially started working 50% time with J at his new office here in Gothenburg. I've already started helping him shop for some necessary items around the office and start some translation work, as well as begin learning the (complicated) program he, well, programs. I've been hired for 50% for a month's time, and then we'll evaluate and go from there about any further employment. My job description would be something known as a "spindel i nätet," a "spider in the web." What Swedes mean by that expression is that I do several things here and there. My primary tasks are to create a testing protocol for the program and to translate from Swedish into English the ground course material and user manual for the program. If we end up getting to it after that, J also wants be to handle the user ticketing system. That put into English: users complain about bugs in the program, I would then investigate and report back either to the user or to J to fix the problem. That part would only come, though, after I completely familiarized myself with the program and after I've created the testing protocol (which, of course, would greatly help with the bug-investigation bits). Completely different from the administration role in Vara, yes. So far it's been enjoyable getting to get a peek into a completely different work field. It's also been nice to work again, even if it's just part time.

It's also nice not to spend nearly as much of the day at home in the apartment. I like it here (in this new apartment), but I've discovered this past year and a half that I easily get cabin fever. Maybe discover isn't the right word, as I remember having experienced that living in my own apartment alone before I moved to Sweden. I think when I don't have school or a job or something full time to do to feel productive and out in the world, simply put, I just don't like it. Even just having been here a couple of weeks I quickly felt the onset of cabin fever. It would seem this week that I, happily, get to evade that plague. Let's hope for a full time job sometime in the near future!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy (belated) Leap Year!

Only once every four years does February 29th occur. So Happy (belated) Leap Year! Or Skottår, as the Swedes say. I tried to post this actually on February 29th but for some reason blogger just would not upload my pictures, so I thought I would wait each day and try but to no avail. A couple of days now, however, we haven't had "real" internet, as I'm using my phone as a wifi hotspot currently to be able to get online. J's cousin's internet that we had been using was cut off and for some reason our service isn't working - a technician will be out sometime this coming week.

I spent Leap Day feeling productive by cleaning the apartment a bit, as it's finally manageable to be able to clean rather than just feeling like there is clutter everywhere. Everything is just about put away now. Hooray! I also finally got around to repotting several of my plants, as they've desperately wished for more growing room. I did the laundry, and went on a lovely walk in my new neighborhood. I couldn't pass up the chance to get outside when it's so beautifully sunny, as well as warm outside! It was 8C (about 46F) and it felt like spring just arrived. A few weeks back it was bitterly cold with temperatures reaching -10C or so I recall in Skövde. I was delighted to switch out my winter boots for Converses and my parka for a spring jacket. On Thursday I decided to try my luck at the local public transportation and go shopping for some jeans, and I succeeded! Coming from a Midwestern city in the US, public transport was never the way to get around. You basically need a car to survive where I come from. Thus, I am proud of conquering the bus/tram system here.

The weekend has been nice and relaxing. Yesterday I saw a friend from Korta Vägen was in town (he posted it on Facebook), so J and I decided to meet up with him and have a couple beers. It was nice to go downtown and see some of what there is to offer. Having lived here for a couple of weeks now, we still haven't gotten around to really exploring downtown. It's pretty near the top of my agenda, though! Today has been spent watching cross country skiing just about all day, while I read my Göteborgs Posten. I decided to order the paper for a month for only 30:-, which is about $4.50. New customers can try it for that cheap price. At Högskolan i Skövde I could get the paper for free every day on campus, so I've missed being able to read it. After the end of this month I'll probably be hooked again, and be forced to pay the much more expensive price for a subscription.

As for the cross country skiing, we turned on the TV this morning and watched the Vasaloppet. It's a 90km long race on skis. Very hardcore. What's different about this race is that any person can enter it, even you and I! Most people take around 10 hours (or so I've heard) to complete the race, but the people who win usually do it in around 3 hours and 30 minutes. They do cut people off who can't make it within a certain amount of time, though. It's not just a Swedish race either, many from nearby countries like to come and give it a shot, as well. I noticed today that many Norwegians were on the roster in the top 15 or so racers. A neat thing to watch the first weekend of March every year.

I thought I would finally get some pictures up of the new area, especially since it's been a while that I've had any sort of photo documentation of my life. As stated, however, that will unfortunately just have to wait until I have real internet again and am able to upload some pictures!