Sunday, April 27, 2014

Working towards summer

Spring has come to Sweden in full blast!  I read in the newspaper the other day that this weekend in Gothenburg, it has actually, officially become summer due to the median temperatures in the area averaging at 10C for a specific number of days (10 days, I think?).  I suppose the mild winter and early spring (which came in late February) has caused an early summer =)  You notice that everyone is enjoying the lovely temperatures and sunny skies.  The grills have come forward, it is Sweden after all.  All the flowers are in bloom as are all of the trees.  Sadly, for allergy sufferers like my J, the pollen from everything has them sneezing, coughing, sniffling and just plain tired.  Luckily for myself, I've been spared of all of that as I have yet to come across something in this life that I am allergic to.

Life has been trucking along as usual.  Work, work.  My official vacation this summer will be (according to the Swedish way of operating) weeks 24, 25, 26 and 27.  In "American speak" my first week off is the week of Monday, June 9th and then I go back to work on (my birthday, sniffle) Monday, July 7th.  That's 4 whole weeks of paid vacation! Woohoo!  I'm very much looking forward to my vacation as it will be lovely to get away from all of the hard work, but mainly because I will be travelling so much!  From June 10-17 I will be in Samos, Greece with J's family, celebrating his dad's 60th birthday.  It'll be great getting to a beach and catching the rays and just being able to relax.  Then it's home to Sweden for a couple of days, and on June 20th it's off to visit the U.S. of A.!  I'll be home for roughly two weeks.  I'm extremely looking forward to going home as the last time I visited was for 2 weeks in March 2013.  It's been well over a year since I've seen my friends and family from home! (Besides my brother, of course).  I figured it was now or never since I hope to begin university studies (yet again) this fall - more on that in just a bit.  I will be travelling by myself this summer as we couldn't afford for both J and I to visit, but that's okay!  I'm paying for this trip out of my own pocket, so our vacation savings won't be touched.  Our big hope is to be able to visit home again this Christmas!  I haven't been home for Christmas since 2011, so I am really hoping that that plan will work out.

So, university studies!  Roughly translated I want to study Environmental Science with a focus in social sciences (I've already applied to get into the program, I'll find out sometime in early July if I've been accepted).  The program is 3 years long and results in a bachelor's degree.  But wait, don't you already have a bachelor's degree?  Why yes, yes I do, in Philosophy with minors in Sociology and English from the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio.  Sadly, though, I'm not really using that degree to obtain any sort of career-like path, so I've decided to somewhat start over.  Luckily, university in Sweden is free (at least tuition is) since all universities are state run and funded by tax money.  You can even apply for student aid money, some of which is simply a grant which doesn't need to be paid back, and the rest of which count as student loans that you do need to pay back.  The good thing about the student loans here are that they don't have ridiculous interest rates like student loans in the U.S.  J pays off his student loans each month, and they cost only about $100 a month, which is a completely reasonable sum to pay monthly.  We've worked very hard over the past year to pay off most of my student loans in the U.S. from my Philosophy degree, and we've shrunk my debt down to 1 remaining loan from 3.  Everything seems much better now, as I don't need to siphon off my salary here nearly as much to send over to the U.S. in order to pay off those loans.  In any case, I am super excited to start studying again and begin working towards a career.  Yes, as the program is a bachelor's degree program, it will be taught in Swedish.  I am very confident in my abilities now, though, so I believe I will do just fine.  I'm a teeny bit nervous about paper writing, as it will be quite proper writing in contrast to the every day speak that I'm used to, but I think I'm up to the challenge.  I have almost no doubts about getting in, as my "merit value" (based on your high school grades plus you get extra points if you've taken certain classes, e.g. foreign languages) is 22.42 out of a max of 22.50.  I'm just looking forward to my summer vacation, putting in a month and a half or so of work, and then beginning my new path!

Here's a shot of an item I found in the store the other day.  I still get a kick out of finding items with the title "American" slapped on them just to make it seem more exotic, as if cola is a strictly American item anymore =)

Saturday, March 1, 2014


So I've been hibernating, regarding the blog, all throughout winter.  I just have not had any motivation whatsoever to write anything on here!  Luckily, the winter has been surprisingly mild.  We have had very little snow.  We've also had very little freezing temperatures.  My home state of Ohio cannot say the same!  It seems we switched winters, this year.  Even though it's been mild, it still gets depressing having only a few hours of daylight each day, and that daylight only consisting of a constant greyness with no hope of seeing the sun any time soon.  Luckily for me, as I was watching the news last week, the weather man said that it's now officially spring in the southern half of the country!  Yay!  They determine seasons here based on temperature averages, and not based on dates the way we do in the US, following the equinoxes.

So last time I posted we had just ended the summer, and I was settling down into a heavy fall and winter workload.  That's a quick sum up of what I've been up to!  Fall came, with lots of working and mail-slinging, as did the winter time.  I will say I caught quite an evil cold in the beginning of January which knocked me out of working for a week.  I rarely get colds where I actually need to be home, but something was going around the entire country because I knew several people with the same symptoms.

I do, however, have several highlights to mention regarding my hibernation.  First of all, I am now a Swedish citizen!  In the beginning of November I had officially been living here in Sweden for 3 years, and so was eligible to apply for citizenship.  Moving here on a "sambo visa" (aka relationship visa) makes it easier to become a citizen, you only need to wait three years.  If you come on another sort of visa, work or student related, you need to have been living here for at least 5 years, if I recall correctly.  Anyhow, I forked out the 1500 Swedish crowns for the fee to apply, and settled in to wait the 10 months that the website said it would take for them to process the application.  Surprise!!  One week later I received a document in the mail stating my citizenship was granted!  Woohoo!  A few weeks later I took my butt downtown (during my super evil cold of death) and applied for a Swedish passport.  I received the passport 3 work days later, that easy!  I am now a dual citizen of the USA and Sweden, with passports from both countries.  Not bad, eh?

Another super highlight of my winter - my brother came to visit for two weeks in January!  I took a week off of work so that we could do some fun stuff together.  I showed him Gothenburg, of course, and we also took a train ride to Stockholm (my mom loved Stockholm so much when she visited, I figured it would be mean not to take brother there when he'd made it all this way).  The sad part was that I was still recovering from the evil cold of death, so I don't think I was as fun as I could have been.  It's just hard to trek around a cold, windy city like Stockholm (at least this time of year), when you're coughing up your lungs as well as blowing your nose every other minute.  I really do think he enjoyed himself, though, as I did!  It was just great having another family member able to come visit and see my life here in Sweden.  I have, after all, been living here for about 3.5 years now.  It was about time.

Today I've got to clean and get the apartment ready for a little get together (pre-party, you could say) that I'm having before heading out to my new favorite thing to do on the first Saturday of every month.  On these Saturdays I like to go out with my girlfriends from work to a place called Röda Sten (the Red Stone) which by daytime is actually an art gallery.  They open up their small restaurant area, though, on these Saturday nights as a club for a dubstep artist group called Dubstep Bastards.  If you have no idea what dubstep is for music, here is a link to Wikipedia for a quick explanation.  Back in August I happened to be going out with said girlfriends, and we ended up at Röda Sten.  It was love at first sight (or experience?).  Dubstep, I think, can only truly be appreciated if you experience it live.  We haven't been since November, so I'm really hoping the Bastards bring in some really good artists tonight (they always invite guest artists in).  Here's a video of one of my favorite artists / songs:

You've gotta stick with the song, it always takes a little time for it to get going.  I won't be surprised if you don't like it.  As I said, you've almost got to experience it live to really enjoy.  Or at least just have really loud speakers, with a lot of strong bass.  If your speakers are fritzy, you just won't get the point or experience.  There are so many different kinds of dubstep, too.  I've really enjoyed the reggae kind of dubstep, some people like the video game kind.  It's up to you!  If you do some searching, I'm sure you'll find out what I mean.  If you already are familiar with the genre, good for you!  It seems like it's really catching on in the US, as when we were watching Breaking Bad while my brother was here, he was like "Oh yeah, that Bonfire song is super huge and popular now in the US!"  The most well known US dubstep artist is Skrillex.

Okay, I'll stop going on and on about dubstep now.  Time to get cleaning!