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 =)