Last week I went to the Gothenburg City Museum in downtown.. uh.. Gothenburg close to the central Brunnsparken transportation hub. I had been to the museum a couple of other times in the past, but I wanted to make a special visit to check out the new exhibition ‘Gothenburg from Above’, which is a series of aerial photos taken over the past 10 or so years by Swedish photographer Lars Bygdemark. Entrance is free if you’re 25 or younger and still a very affordable 40 kronor if you’re older.
The museum is actually housed in the 18th century Swedish East India Company’s former office and warehouse building. It is also just across the street from the impressive and historic Chalmers house (the past residence of the guy who founded the university in 1829).
Once inside, the museum actually starts with a primer on the origins of human life in this part of Sweden from thousands of years ago. It quickly moves on to the age of the Vikings which is obviously a focal points for a lot of visitors. When the average person thinks about the Vikings, there is a tendency to gravitate towards their legendary ships and weaponry, but the museum does a nice job of also providing some context to everyday life and artifacts in addition to a summary of their history and an outline of the main points of the Norse belief system. One of my friends who visited the museum with me is a blacksmith who marveled at many of the pieces in the museum. According to his informed opinion, the quality of the work exceeded his expectations based on the available technology of a thousand years ago.
A Viking relic. Photo: B. Seward
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It’s easy to get stuck in a rut from the same old daily routine, and I do my best to avoid this feeling of monotony by exploring different areas of the city outside of my own neighborhood. Gothenburg has over half a million residents, so it’s quite easy to find new places to explore and activities to occupy myself.
Last weekend I visited the eastern neighborhood of Majorna (and technically Stigberget too). From every indication, this area is continually gentrifying with an increase in businesses, cafés, families, and (inevitably) hipsters.
Leaving home, on the tram. Photo: B. Seward.
The first stop on my journey was Fabriken, which is probably the coolest store that I’ve come across in Gothenburg. It’s basically a vintage store with items scavenged from flea markets, old buildings, and other unique places all across Sweden. Some of the stuff is a little pricy, but the curation of items is second to none. The owner was friendly when I stopped in, and she had a dog who helped her watch over the store. Any place with a dog receives bonus points from me!
Outside the vintage shop ‘Fabriken’. Photo: B. Seward.
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My experience with the Swedish language is a topic that I could probably write a book on. I’m not saying it would be the most compelling or best-selling book in the world, but I think I could come up with enough material to fill a couple hundred pages at this point if my life depended on it. I wrote more about the mechanics of the language in an earlier post, but here I’m going to focus more on some of the linguistic quirks I’ve noticed both from others and myself during my time in Göteborg.
My first observation is one of the most surprising to me: some days I feel like my English is deteriorating more than a little bit, which I was honestly not expecting. I sometimes forget words that I haven’t used in a long time, and I also tend to unintentionally appropriate speech patterns and sentence constructions that aren’t very common in the US.
Unrelated but delicious. It’s semla season in Sweden. Photo: B. Seward
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Now that I have officially finished my requisite master’s coursework and have just started my thesis, I feel like this is the perfect time for me to reflect back and offer some of my impressions of the Swedish university system and general classroom atmosphere here at Chalmers. I personally believe that my feelings and opinions are held by a lot of international students, but keep in mind these are still just one guy’s experiences at one specific university.
Anyway… one of the very first things I noticed upon arrival over a year and a half ago is that the hierarchical/organizational structure is very flat at Chalmers – and at most universities in Sweden I would assume. It seems like there are typically only a few levels of administration between the average professor and the university president.
Chalmers – “Avancez”. Source: http://www.chalmers.se/en/
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I was going to try to come up with some well-argued rationale for centering this entire entry on food, but then I realized that ethnic food, from the perspective of a non-Swede, is in itself intrinsically interesting. This makes a trite or forced analogy unnecessary. So with that, I’ll get straight into it.
Over the past year plus that I have spent here in Gothenburg I have sought out some tasty, yet inexpensive places to grab a quick bite to eat; I’m on a student schedule and budget after all. Apart from the reliable and surprisingly affordable dining options in the Chalmers Student Union building, I have found a couple of delicious and uniquely Swedish places. Yeah, you could always take the easy way and pick up a generic pizza or kebab – as I have done quite a few times myself – but the places I list below are worth the extra effort in my opinion.
First up is the only food truck in Gothenburg – or at least the only food truck that I’m aware of in the downtown area. Strömmingsluckan has a simple concept: fried herring, potatoes and lingonberries. This is about as Swedish as you can get, and it tastes great when you add some mustard and horseradish to the herring, which oh by the way is full of tiny but edible bones (I ate the bones at least).
Fried herring with Dijon, horseradish, lingonberries, and potatoes. Photo by B. Seward.
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