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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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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I was sitting on the waterfront of Strandvägen and couldn’t believe that it was 20°C and that it was in Stockholm and that spring has finally (finally!) arrived. I had a book with me but I couldn’t concentrate on it and was just discreetly observing people walking in the streets, sitting near the water, laughing, talking, eating sandwiches.
On the other side of the water was the Radisson and further on the left Djurgården and you could see the beautiful building of Nordiska museum. So I was sitting there and when I was closing my eyes all I could see was the red color of my eyelids. And all I could think of was: “I love Stockholm, I don’t want to leave!”. It’s almost the end of my Erasmus year and all my international friends are leaving in a couple of weeks.
A woman was standing on my right side, several meters away from me and was looking at the water. Suddenly a little boat arrived navigated by a smiling man with a big brown dog on the bow of it barking. The boat moored in front of the woman, she jumped on it and they went away.
People on the waterfront didn’t even glance at them and I thought that I have had never seen anything so special turned to be such a casual thing and that Stockholm is special because of these small things. So here what I’m going to miss about you, Stockholm.
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In North America we think we take our coffee seriously. Whether you brew your own at home or pick up something at the local Starbucks, it is a morning staple for most people. Cafes on every corner are common, offering coffee to go to suit a more fast-placed lifestyle.
But, the truth is, us North Americans know nothing about coffee drinking. In Sweden, it is more of a cultural practice, a time-honoured tradition, and a social entitlement that brings people together.
The coffee habits I have observed since I have been here still amaze me to this day. A typical day of coffee drinking can include, coffee at home before leaving for work, coffee when arriving to work, fika break mid-morning, coffee after lunch, fika break in the afternoon and even possibly a coffee after dinner.
Coffee is an institution in Sweden. Photo By: Pixelthing (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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It is definitely strange that I live in Sweden, but I haven’t really experienced most of the tourist attractions the cities have to offer. As soon as someone comes to visit I start to look differently at all the familiar places around. What I usually walk past everyday becomes more foreign and exciting.
This weekend I am having a friend come visit from Canada. We met in university and have been traveling around together ever since. We even did an exchange together in Växjö only a couple years ago. While she has been in Sweden before, this is her first time in Uppsala. So, I am determined to show her all the best that Uppsala and student life has to offer.
The Uppsala Cathedral. Photo By: Haegglund (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Read more » >>