Tag archives for winter

The Swedish countryside: perfect in all seasons

Before I first came to Sweden I associated the country with blue and yellow Ikea, the world famous Eurovision sensation ABBA, meatballs (even as a vegetarian I know these are good homey Swedish food); I associated Sweden with Phoebe in the American sitcom “Friends” playing a Swedish masseuse but maybe more serious and something I aspire to win one day: the Nobel Prizes (yes I intend to win them all :) . However, during my first trip here I experienced a side of Sweden that for me is one of the best aspects of Sweden.

Sweden has a population of around 10 million people. The main cities are Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo. However, a large part of Sweden is the countryside, the rural aspects that are not only people but deer, moose, fox, hares, owls and all sorts of other fascinating creatures. To me the Swedish countryside could easily be a place I could call home!

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Winter Holiday in Stockholm

First off, I would like to introduce myself as a new blogger for Sweden.se. I am an American studying a Masters in Toxicology at Karolinska Institute. Hopefully more than that you can learn about me from my blog posts :)

Today I would like to talk about my holiday vacation in Stockholm. Unlike most of my classmates I stayed in town to enjoy the city like the Swedes do. The Jul celebration (Christmas) here was done a little differently than it would have gone in the US. I arrived at my family’s house here around 3:00 and spent time with everyone until the Disney Christmas special came on. This is the first Jul tradition celebrated here. This hour long special takes clips from several Disney movies (usually the songs), dubs it over into Swedish, and puts it all together. The younger kids sit and laugh throughout it while the adults talk about if they are alright that they changed the special this year. Ok, that last part is not a yearly tradition, but I’m sure there is always something to talk about. After that, everyone sits down at the dinner table and get’s ready for the meal. This is the second tradition. The common food items include: salmon with dill, potatoes, meatballs, sausage, and to drink there is glögg, julmust, or beer. Then comes the third tradition. Everyone gathers around the tree to open presents. Once everyone has dispersed to enjoy what they have gotten the night is concluded.

Jul Dinner – Photo by: Kazem Behbahani

 

The first and third tradition are different that what is custom in the US. There is not one single Christmas special that everyone watches. There are several that people can choose from to watch, if any. Also, kids are supposed to wait until Christmas morning to open the presents. Santa Claus plays a bigger role in the US. He comes by Christmas eve to drop off presents from everyone so if the kids don’t sleep well at night they might scare him off and he might not give them their presents. Even though there might be Santa Claus imagery in Sweden, it doesn’t seem like kids are led to believe that story which I found interesting.

A few days after Christmas I had to get ready for New Years. This was very similar to the US. Then again it is difficult to mess up staying up and enjoying fireworks. I had dinner at a friends apartment. With several people showing up, we introduced ourselves and got to know each other as best that we could before dinner. Once we finished eating, we split up into groups and took a quiz of some of the major events of the past year. We didn’t know there was going to be a small prize but it was fun to see how passionate people got into it. We were half an hour to the new year. We all bundled up and headed out to a local hill where you could see most of Stockholm. Because there is not as much legal trouble buying fireworks in Sweden as there is in the States, once New Years came you could see fireworks going up all over the city. In this way I enjoy New Years here than back home. We spent almost an hour looking at the show over Stockholm. People from our group then split up and went either home or to different parties.

Now it’s time to switch gears back to school. Hopefully this term is as fun as the last one!

These little things I love about you

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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How not to get cold in Lapland, meet a Swedish film director and get drunk in Uppsala.

After spending the first months in Sweden discovering the city of Stockholm, I really felt the need to see other parts of this big country. And, trust me, there’s a lot to see!

At the end of November my friends and I went to the Swedish Lapland, a trip organized by the Scanbalt experience. What I will remember from this trip is the amazing feeling of freedom and of being at the end of the world. The 18 hours and around 1, 400 km by bus frightened me, but at least I thought I would see a lot of swedish nature out the window. Fail: there was only 4 hours of light and then we were plunged into darkness. The home-made sandwiches, the music from the iPod, the failure of reading a book and ending up having a headache and the half-sleep resulted in a sensation of floating in the space. When we arrived at 7 a.m. I had the feeling of being in a dream: everything was unreal, the white landscapes in semi-darkness, the red houses of our hostel, the mines of Kiruna that looked like a giant black boat.

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Winter: the comeback

Incredibly enough, it’s snowing again. Can’t believe only two weeks ago it was 10 degrees and the sun was shining! Well, it’s the joys of Swedish weather I guess. Unpredictability.

But as Swedes say:

“Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder”

“There is no bad weather, only bad clothing”