Monthly archives: December 2012

A Week in the Life of…

Hej hej, a Swedish hello to you all.

Merry Christmas and Gud Jul.

I wrote this blog a week or so ago but have just made some additions, I hope you enjoy this retrospective blog: A Week in the Life of….

Monday 10th December

Monday morning….always a bit difficult to wake up but I had some very interesting lectures lined up. With my medical background I was looking forward to hearing about the global perspective on Hepatitis B/C, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Tuberculosis! All the lectures were fascinating, the basic biology and medicine is the same but the burden on each country of the world can be very different. It may sound simple but to me it’s a lot more than simply texts on a slide and an hour in a lecture, it’s much much more…

Tuesday 11th December

Tuesday saw a full day of lectures cancelled. The day left me with much needed time to catch up on a long list of things that was piling up even higher. I started my day by reading some background papers on my thesis. My thesis focuses on an area of HIV treatment and as such everything I read is intriguing. I am particularly taken by the media portrayal of HIV and have often left the research papers to one side and read about the history of HIV, the first cases detected and what has happened since then. It’s an interesting arena with so many people involved and so many opinions. Arguably with the global nature of HIV, we’re all involved directly or indirectly and as persons interested in global health it is even more imperative to acknowledge HIV.
Towards the end of the day I made the adventurous trek out towards the Karolinska, to meet my colleagues for some group work (another interesting area, which I’ll talk about in another blog) however, for now there was another plan, an impromptu surprise for Nieves, a group member who’s birthday it was. We all planned to meet in one of the famous KI wooden huts to surprise Nieves with a traditional Princess torta…the plan included me on the phone to the birthday girl, explaining to her that the group work had been moved to a wooden hut and that she should rush down to start the work! But little did Nieves know that waiting there were her global friends…we were all treated to a much shocked but very happy Nieves! With this global class there is always something fun around the corner!

Grattis! Photo: Naieya Madhvani.

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Nobel Day

Monday, December 10th was Nobel Day in Sweden, and I was fortunate enough to attend the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony at Konserthuset in Stockholm. Here’s my proof:

I promise I didn’t steal this picture from someone else! Photo by Brett Seward.

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Winter is not coming…it’s here…

Blanketed in snow, Stockholm is a beautiful sight.

It all began around a month ago when we had our first snow fall. Suddenly snow not only fell but it became the subject of every conversation, everywhere you looked there was some mention of snow: newspaper  headlines, classroom natter, simple chat on public transport and of course facebook was swarmed with snowy updates! Since then the temperature has been steadily dropping, much to the fear of us that have never experienced double digit minus figures…I have been told that in the past the local temperature has even dropped to a staggering -37C, yikes!

The first blanket of snow in the Swedish countryside.

Last week things took a turn. I woke up to a mystical sight: at the level of my apartment the air was cloudy, for a moment I stood and wondered, why is there fog at this level and then like a light speck of snow it struck me, this isn’t fog, this is very fast falling snow, a snow blizzard of sorts. Unlike other ferocious weather conditions, a snow blizzard can seem serenely quite, what you see from the inside is somewhat deceiving for as I walked out in this slight Armageddon I was faced with a hill of snow (which of course I walked straight into), wind was whooshing this way and that and I could barely see ahead one metre let alone any further. But oh what fun it was…I felt like a little child fascinated by the simple things in life…snow!

The fountain outside the Nobel Forum as snow continues to fall.

Nightfall sets over Stockholm and the mountains of snow reflect shadows….this one is of a tree.

With the snow comes many changes,the landscape looks cotton wool white, people indulge in heartwarming food and drink, including the famous glögg (mulled wine) and everyone looks two or three sizes bigger wearing all sorts of winter clothing, many donning a pair of traditional Lovika mittens!

With all things I write I like to tell you a little about them, so:

Glögg is a delicious pre-bedtime warmer. When glögg season arrived I decided to buy a bottle of glögg from a local supermarket, I rushed back home eager to try my first serving of the season. I poured some into a tea mug, much to the dismay of my Swedish friend – aghast by what I was doing he exclaimed “Naieya, what ARE you doing?” I was slightly startled and began to explain what I was doing. “No! You don’t have that much glögg, you drink glögg in a small cup and not a whole mugful!” And so I learnt, in Sweden, glögg is served in special small cups, to which people add almonds and raisins and enjoy with a ginger snap or two.

Glögg brewing over a candle with small cups ready and waiting.

Lovikka mittens, during my first winter in Sweden I was given a pair of these mittens as a present and told that these were traditional mittens and to look after my pair well. I never learnt where the name Lovikka comes from. However having done a bit of reading I can share with you my knowledge: Lovikka is a Swedish town where one day in the 1800s Erika Aittama knitted a pair of mittens for a local woodsman, the man was unimpressed and returned the mittens to Erika; Erika clearly eager to rectify this, washed and brushed the mittens to create the Lovikka mittens you might see on the hands of those in Sweden today! (Thanks to Heart of Lovikka for this history lesson: http://www.heartoflovikka.se/shop/about-heart-lovikka-i-9.html?language=en).

My very own Lovikka mittens. Photo: Oscar Eriksson.

And now a final word on the landscape. The carpet of snow is a welcome change to the dark and short days. It brightens up the day and things look and feel a lot more fun! Christmas feels closer especially with fir trees covered with thick layers of snow, haphazardly balancing on the branches,and if you’re lucky and trek into the countryside you might even catch a glimpse of a deer (Rudolph as I like to say).

I think I might start singing: “Rudolph the red nose reindeer….”

And with all this: glögg, mittens, christmas trees, deers and SNOW, I think I’m well and truly ready for the festive season…let the christmas songs and present wrapping/unwrapping begin…

Let it be Christmas eve so I can imagine Santa Claus gliding on his sleigh through the night sky. Photo: Oscar Eriksson. 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving in Sweden

Note: I’d been keeping this post in the hopper for a couple of weeks because I wanted to be able to introduce myself before jumping right into the thick of things. Hopefully it won’t seem too dated even though Thanksgiving was two weeks ago.

While I find myself learning about Swedish culture and customs on a daily basis, I occasionally have the opportunity to return the favor and share American traditions with my friends and classmates. So with this in mind, my classmates and I decided to prepare our own Thanksgiving dinner in our department’s kitchen. A lot of them had expressed interest in the idea by asking me what a typical Thanksgiving experience actually consists of, so I thought it would be a good idea to arrange a little party (and I’m not going to turn down the chance to eat a bunch of ‘American’ foods). I found recipes online for everyone to use, though they all needed to be converted to metric baking units, which was a little bit of a headache. After I decided on the menu, we split up into groups which were responsible for preparing the various dishes. I’m glad we all agreed to share the kitchen duties because there is absolutely no way I would have been able to handle making everything on my own.

My group was in charge of the turkey and mashed potatoes, which was a little stressful since I had never actually cooked a turkey before (that’s what parents and grandparents are for, right?). I’m much better at the eating part of Thanksgiving, but I am capable of following written instructions. So after buying a turkey for $4/lb (= 60 kr/kg; 4 times the price in the US!), we ended up with this as our final result:

Our turkey was a success – meaning it was edible and moderately tender. Photo by Brett Seward.

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Jul på Liseberg (Christmas at Liseberg)

One of the best things about being a student in Gothenburg is that there is a lot to keep you occupied when you have a break from your classes and coursework. Because there are a couple of large universities in the city, many events, parties, concerts, etc. are geared specifically towards the student demographic. I think anyone claiming to be bored here would probably have to be lying – or perhaps just a boring person.

So in the spirit of not being a boring person (and since December 1st and the cold weather accompanying it finally rolled around this weekend), I decided to go with some friends to check out Jul på Liseberg (Christmas at Liseberg). Liseberg is a sprawling amusement park in the eastern part of the city that transforms into a winter wonderland every year for Christmas, complete with ice skating, glögg (spiced wine), pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies), and thousands of lights. I could try to write a few more overly descriptive paragraphs detailing the setting, but I’ll just let the pictures do the bulk of the speaking for me.

Jul på Liseberg. Photo by Brett Seward.

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