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!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Walking around town

Today is the beginning of my and J's company's "step competition."  Some of you may remember me mentioning around this time last year that J had a pedometer and was competing daily to get the most amount of steps within his company.  Well, now that I work for the same company, I'm allowed to be part of the annual competition, too!  He texted me earlier today around 5:30pm asking how many steps I had.  Because I'd just gotten home and had been at work all day (he was in Skövde for the day, I was here in Gothenburg), I had only 4,000-something steps.  Most of them I'd accumulated walking to lunch and back with the third musketeer of our gang, ahem, I mean other coworker.  J responded, and I quote, "13,614. You better start walking."  As I knew he wasn't getting home until just about now (should walk in the door any minute), I decided to go on a walk.  In just under an hour-long-walk I upped my amount to my current 10,732.  I'd say it's a good start for the competition!  The day isn't over, yet.

I'm actually quite excited for this step competition thing.  I think it'll give J and I the motivation to not be couch potatoes so much of the time!  I feel restless quite often and I think a large part of it is due to not getting enough exercise.  So here's for hoping!

I have a little batch of accumulated pictures from over the past couple of weeks.

The Feskekörka downtown in the Rosenlund area.  The other week when going to take the test at Vuxenutbildning to see what level of Swedish I could test into I had to wait outside for about 10 minutes until Vuxenutbildning actually opened.  I had the pleasure to wait outside the "Fish Church" next to the water.  If you're too lazy to read/translate the link, the "Fish Church" is a big hall where they sell fish.  The building just happens to look like a church.  The picture below is across the water from where I was standing.
I took the picture below last night when J and I were carrying all of our recycling (5 or 6 big paper bags of it) down to the recycling station about a 10 minute walk from here.  The view was far more beautiful than the camera could capture!
Above is the big field I mentioned in my last post about where people were grilling on the edge of the gravel.  That field has been filled with a traveling circus for the past couple of days.  On my walk today I went by twice, on my way out and back into our little neighborhood.  You could easily hear them tearing down the bleachers inside.

I apologize for their quality, or lack thereof.  All four of them were taken on the fly with my phone.  Isn't it ironic how society was so excited to finally have a camera "in your pocket" when they were new to cell phones since you could take a picture of something as it happened, and nowadays, it's a shame how "terrible" the quality is?  I suppose it served its purpose at least; otherwise, I wouldn't have had any of these pictures to share with you at all!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Work, friends, and more Swedish holidays

I know I haven't posted in a while but I haven't been feeling the inspiration, and I figure it's better to write when I feel the will to rather than doing so just because.  J and I have been working a lot lately.  Not this past weekend but the weekend before we worked both Saturday and Sunday.  We were basically ordered by our boss to do so.  To make a long story short we have a lot of fixing to do with the program we develop for the company and have been set some serious deadlines.  It's not that exciting but that's been what's been taking up most of my time lately.

This past Saturday, however, was a huge breath of fresh air that I really needed!  My friend M was in town, as was her Swede.  They came from Skövde to meet up with her Swede's friend, so that he and his friend could go suit shopping together.  So for the entire afternoon M was mine to (finally) go downtown and mosey around in all the lovely little shops here in Gothenburg!  J is never interested in going downtown and shopping around/looking at all the stores.  Me, of course, being pretty new here, have no friends to go hang out with to do these kinds of things normally.  Needless to say I'd been dying to go downtown shopping with someone.  It's just not the same doing something like that alone.  It was great!  I ended up getting a much needed pair of jeans and two shirts.  M definitely didn't get everything on her list, but she was happy with all of the other purchases she made.  It was also pretty nice weather, which is surprising for this time of year.  More on that later.

Don't worry, J wasn't sitting at home alone while I was out happily shopping.  He actually had a svensexa, or bachelor party, to attend in Skövde.  So I ended up having the bed all to myself that night, as well.  After M and I went shopping on Saturday we ended up at her Swede's friend's house for a taco buffet and friendly company.  It was so strange, for once M and I were outnumbered by Swedes.  Why would that be strange in Sweden, you ask?  Well, whenever we normally get together with friends we're with our "immigrant" group, that is, our normal posse from SFI.  Surprisingly enough we had a tight little group in Skövde that sprouted from that.  This time in the Gbg, though, it was a bunch of Swedes we were with!  After the delicious taco buffet we went out to a couple of bars.  By the time I got home it was 4am.  In Skövde all the bars close at 2am, but not in the big city.  It ended up being a lot of fun!  I also now have hope to have made a new friend or two. =) 

Yesterday was a "red day," or a holiday as we say in the US.  The first of May is always a red day here in Sweden, and I can't even begin to explain why.  I tried to ask J and another coworker and they just couldn't really explain it.  I do know that there were a bunch of marches downtown by several of the left-leaning political parties.  Apparently they do this each year.  Some even call it "Commie Day."  The day before, being a Monday, was taken advantage of by a majority of the population and took the day off work.  Those kinds of days where there is one work day "clammed" between a weekend and a holiday are called "klämdagar," or "squeeze-days."  I think the explanation is obvious enough.

We took the day yesterday to catch up a bit at work (only worked 4 hours, though).  Then, because it was 20C (68F), warmest day yet I think, we decided to go to Liseberg since we got season entrance passes as a Christmas gift from J's sister's family.  We were excited to finally get to use them, as Saturday was the first day it was open this year.  We were only there for about 1.5 hours, but we really enjoyed it!  As it only takes about 20 minutes to get there, we weren't worried about spending such a short time there as we'll surely be back plenty of times this season.  The weather was perfectly warm and sunny and yet there were hardly any people there.  This somewhat surprised us as it was a holiday and the weather was so beautiful.  My hypothesis is that it was around dinner time and everyone was at home grilling out.  On the way back home we walked by a big gravel field (I think it's used for soccer) that has a lot of green grass around it and I saw several groups of people sitting precisely on the edge of the gravel.  I thought it odd at first and then realized they brought with them small portable grills and set them up on the gravel, while sitting comfortably on the grass nearby.  What a smart idea!  I told J we need to do that sometime.

Monday evening was another celebrated day in Sweden called Valborg (apparently Walpurgis Night in English).  The big event on April 30th of each year is the lighting of massive bonfires.  The fires can look like this.

We didn't end up doing anything on Monday night, though, as we were waiting for our arrival of Linas Matkasse (Lina's FoodBag).  It's a lovely way of avoiding going to the grocery store, while also eating healthy recipes.  It's delivered to our door every other Monday evening between 5 and 10pm.  You receive all the ingredients for 5 meals (4 portions each meal) and the recipes with directions for each meal.  So, for the two of us, it ends up being 10 meals each.  Handy for lunch and dinner!

Now I would like to do some catching up on reading my newspapers, as I have a daily subscription to GP.  =)