Monthly archives: February 2013

Climbing

With the extra time we may have around classes, it’s important to keep myself busy. I decided to pick indoor climbing. The last time I tried to climb was when I was 10 years old. I don’t think my efforts at that time lasted more than a few days. I thought that this time I should give it more of a chance.

There are many routes to take here – Photo by: Kazem Behbahani

The name of the place that I climb at is at klättercentret. It is located in Telefonplan, one of the suburbs of Stockholm city.  This company has a center in Solna, which is closer to the universities. MF, the Karolinska student union, sometimes hosts climbing events at the Solna center. I travel a little further because I hear that the climbers in Telefonplan can be friendlier. While so far I’ve only been to the one center and not the other, I can certainly say that they are very friendly and welcoming.

My first attempt at climbing went well :) – Photo by: Alex Julner

The first day I went it cost me around 150 kr to climb for as long as I wanted and for the shoe rental. Relative to how much everything else costs in Sweden this price was not too bad on a students budget. They offered normal climbing walls (with harnesses) and bouldering areas. You need to take a class to use the harness, or have what they call a “green card”. Since I didn’t have that I have been going bouldering. For anyone who hasn’t done that before, there are walls up to 5 meters high with several different angles and turns for you to maneuver around. If you fall there’s are thick pads covering the floor to support your fall. Trust me, I have fallen on my back trying to grab a rock at the very top and have walked away without a scratch on me.

The bouldering area – Photo by: Kazem Behbahani

After that first day I loved the experience so much that I decided to get a monthly membership there. The price of that with the KI student card was around 350 per month. I now go around once or twice a week so I get the most out of the card. I think the strongest reason pushing me to continue to go though is because of my friends in class that motivate me to go with them. I suppose that is true of any hobby that you decide to pick up. It is possible to go by yourself but what happens when you lose the drive to continue? For most people the hobby that once interested them withers away. I can say this has happened to me before. All the more reason to drag friends into your hobbies! :)
If your’e ever in the Stockholm area and want to try out some climbing, check these guys out: http://www.klattercentret.se.

There’s never a bad time for a history lesson

Saturdays, ah glorious beautiful Saturdays! A day for lie ins, for cooked breakfasts, for doing nothing (or doing everything), for simply watching the world pass by or for learning about bygone days.

I love the cold! Really I do! Photo: Oscar Eriksson.

Yesterday Oscar and I walked out to Djurgården, one of the fourteen islands making up Stockholm, that homes amongst several famous museums, the Royal Hunting Grounds! I love to walk! I love nature! I love being out in the cold! I love looking at glistening snow! I love pin drop silence! And I love to talk (a lot)! Our walk through the hunting grounds was just that! I’m always curious about what I see! The number of times I asked “Who is that statue of?” “What’s that building over there?” “Where did that come from?”…I’m sure, Oscar, if he wasn’t the nicest person I know, would have asked me to stop talking! Thankfully he didn’t and so I continued asking question after question! What we ended up with was a bit of a history lesson…

What’s that building over there? Well I learnt that it is called Kaknästornet – a sort of television tower. Photo: Oscar Eriksson.

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The Importance of Fika

Anyone who has ever written about life in Sweden from a foreign perspective has surely noted the predominance of the coffee culture present here, but I’m not going to let that stop me from adding a few of my own comments on the subject. First of all, going into my transatlantic move I knew that Swedes have a reputation for drinking a ton of coffee. I didn’t think much of it because I know plenty of people in the US who drink a lot of coffee, including my parents and a few friends. For me, the big difference is not the fact that Swedes enjoy coffee, but rather the ways they prepare it and the lengths that they go to make sure they get it.

Fika technically means ‘to have coffee’ in Swedish, but the word carries a much higher level of importance than just the act of drinking coffee. From what I’ve observed and experienced, it’s more about the entire act of dropping everything you’re doing to meet up with your friends, coworkers, classmates, etc. to socialize while drinking coffee. If it’s a special occasion or you’re feeling particularly Swedish, then you’ll probably be eating some type of sweet roll or cake too. It’s pretty typical to fika at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon, so it’s a deeply ingrained tradition during the Swedish work day.

At my department we essentially have unlimited access to espresso and coffee. The people in charge of making these crucial decisions have chosen to devote a large amount of time and effort (and money) just to coffee, and I think everyone really appreciates it and is probably more productive/happy because of it. Concerning the regular coffee, we exclusively use a French press (aside: does everyone refer to this object as being French, or is this an exclusively American/English term?).

French press. Photo by Wiki user Leland.

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Jympa is fun!

Earlier this year I decided to make that all important new-years resolution, to get into shape! I signed up to a local gym through the KI (thus with a discounted rate) and knowing that I’d committed myself financially I sure had to make the most it!

Taking Jympa to the Stockholm waterside. Photo: Anneliese Lilienthal.

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Fettisdagen/Fat Tuesday

I don’t believe I’ve written it here before, but I know I’ve said it in real life more than anyone cares to hear: traditional Swedish food is, in my opinion, bland. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s not necessarily bad, just a little too straightforward and often lacking in the seasoning department. HOWEVER, before all of the locals start gathering up their torches and pitchforks, I should mention that the one big exception to this rule for me is dessert. And the best part of dessert is that Swedes are normally great at creating excuses to eat it. Aside from the standard daily afternoon coffee break (fika), there are holidays with specific desserts assigned to them. Last week was Fat Tuesday (Fettisdagen), and semla is the dessert of the day (and entire month it seems in reality). The semla is a cardamom-spiced bun with marzipan and whipped cream on the inside – basically a Scandinavian take on the donut. The semla is probably my favorite Swedish pastry to date; in my opinion, it’s slightly better than the standard cinnamon bun and definitely better than the Lucia-inspired saffron buns.

My semla. Photo by Brett Seward.

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