Tuesday, June 26, 2012


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!