Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Fika Vard Life

Since I've come back to Uppsala from Gothenburg, so much has happened. I can't believe there' s less than a month before I go back.

 Sweden been a wonderful experience, and I am so glad I made the decision to come study abroad here. Part of me loves it here and doesn't want to leave, but another part of me is ready to go home and be with my family and my cat again.

In Sweden, I decided to become a yes girl (within reason). One of the best things I said yes to was becoming a fika vard (fika host) at my nation, Ostgota nation. I've gotten to meet a lot of really great, really nice Swedish people.

I'm at the nation a lot, which is why I haven't been blogging that much. I started this fika vard gig back at the end of February. Here's what I've been up to:

1. Landskap (formal election for officers, positions, awards, and scholarships) and a Sexa (informal dinner) afterwards

The whole thing is in Swedish and it is a very formal affair, but it was very cool to watch and learn more about how the nation runs. Each nation is run entirely by and for students and it takes a lot of work and dedication.

One of the fika bosses ran for a scholarship, so I was glad that I could vote for her. The second landskap of the semester is a lot bigger and a lot longer I've heard, but this one was only about an hour and a half to two hours. I felt completely unqualified to vote for anyone, but the only real position we had to vote for was the second curator. There will also be a new fourth curator, but she is the only one running. Most of it is that if you run for a position, you get it and people just affirm you into it.

The sexa is free for all the new members, which I am. It's tradition for the newly elected to buy rounds of drinks for everyone else, so I treated to a cider, a snaps, a vodka cranberry, and something called a skinny bitch. I passed off most of my alcohol to my fellow fika vards, but I did have fun trying them all.

Everyone I know says Ostgota is one of the best nations to work at. We do work, but we have a lot of fun too. I went on a delicious pub crawl with the other fika vards and the KLV (the klub workers). In my group was Victor and Linnea (who I met at the Dammidaggen), and Sam the KLV and Kristin one of the Saturday fika hosts who I met the first time I worked on the eight day. I've come really far from then.

We went to all of the different nations that were open on Tuesday, and then ended up dancing and drinking the night away at the Snerikes nation club. One of my favorite parts of the event was all the different people on the crawl (or runda as the Swedes say) met up at V-Dala and we took a blueberry whipped cream shot. It was delicious. We also sang a snaps song together and then had a skål (cheers).

Since I attended the dammidagen, I volunteered to help out at the hermiddagen, the gentleman's dinner. I was in the decorating group, but then I ended up serving. It was a lot of fun and I bonded with some of the other girls at the nation. The theme for the party was birth to death, and we each dressed up in costumes. I'm a professional business woman; the girl in the middle is my teenage rebel daughter, and the last girl is her daughter from a one night stand. Three generations.

Here is a from working the fika:

my fellow fika vards, Frederic, Alex, and Tess

Monday, April 20, 2015

Oregrund, Sweden

April 20, 2015

Took the bus and headed to Oregrund today. It's about an hour away by bus to the east and is a small, quiet harbor town. It was recommended to me by my friend Kenley. There wasn't a lot to do in Oregrund, but it was very lovely.

It is also the jumping off point to and from Graso Island. I have photos of the barge but did not make the voyage across the strait myself. A lot of people from Oregrund and Graso Island commute further inland for work.

Right on the sea, Oregrund is colder and windier than Uppsala, but it is beautiful. I went there mid-day and walked around the harbor and the town.

I went to the only coffee shop open, the Konditori, which was the only place with people. The town was so quiet. The coffee shop was a pretty pink building with white chair and tables and flowers inside. I got a coffee and sat and read my school book most of the afternoon.

I didn't really do much in Oregrund, but I did really enjoy getting out and being by the water.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Västerås, Sweden

April 10, 2015

Today, I went to to Västerås, a town about 1.5 hours west of Uppsala by bus. It is the fifth largest city in Sweden (Uppsala is fourth) and is one of the most industrial.

In fact, the first thing I noticed when I got off the bus was the giant ABB power plant. It's a huge building, Across the train tracks there were even more factories, but I didn't walk that way. Instead, I wandered through the lovely Vasa Parken and snapped that one mandatory photo of the castle in Västerås. It's a pink square building without adornments at all. It was where the King Erik XVI was imprisoned when his brother King Johan III overthrew him and took control of Sweden. It is this King Erik's statue that stands in the Vasa Parken.

I followed the river and walked past the Town Hall or Stadshuset as the Swedes call it. It's a beautiful white, gray, and blue building. The bell tower contains 49 bells that all go off at noon every day. It rings throughout the whole town, and while not a spine chilling experience, does have a nice ring to it.

The river leads to the Västerås cathdral where the tomb of King Erik XVI rests. It's my favorite cathedral I've been to so far in Sweden. It was so religious and so old. There were many graves that were buried in the floor of the church. I was walking on gravestones. The church was beautiful.

I wandered through the cathedral district and the old town, Kyrkbacken, which is the only remaining part of the town from the 18th century before a huge fire destroyed most of it. It's very medieveal with small, colorful houses and flowery backyards. The houses are labeled as to what type of people lived in them before in the old days. The labels are mostly in Swedish, but I did come across this cool literary gem:

Afterward, I went and ate lunch at a Coffeehouse by George. The only person in Västerås that I met who spoke English was the travel information center, so I had to order a salad in Swedish. For the first time. It was a nice lunch and the weather was warm.

The last place I made it to was Anundshög. It is an ancient Viking burial mound outside of the city. To get there you can take either bus 1 or bus 12 to the last stop and then walk 2 km across farmlands and follow the road signs. It's a completely different world than the city, and there's something really freeing about walking along the road in the middle of nowhere but knowing you are going somewhere.

Anundshög is a special place and very much worth visiting. They have a lot of hiking trails out there and a few other sites (like a labyrinth and a cathedral), but since I went at 3.00 I took the bus back after watching the sunset, so that I could make it home before nightfall. A lot of parents bring their kids out there for picnic lunches, especially when the weather is warm like today.

Västerås reminded me a lot of home, industrial city with a river running through it and farmlands on the outskirts.

I would like to go back one day.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Swedes call it Göteborg

It's international name is Gothenburg. It's a city on the west coast of Sweden, and it is my favorite so far. I took the train from Uppsala to Stockholm and then from Stockholm to Gothenburg. I was only there for a couple days, but I greatly enjoyed my trip.

I left early Friday morning, slept on the train, and then went and had lunch at a really pretty cafe called the Eva Paley in Gothenburg. 


I walked around part of the city, through some University of Gothenburg buildings, and saw the Vasa Church (where I stepped inside to hear some organ music) and the Oscar Frederick's church. I saw the sunset from one of the high points of the city, the skansen kronan, a former fortress, and it was so breathtakingly beautiful. 

On Saturday, I took a walk through Slottskoganparken and the outdoor zoo there. I loved the zoo. It reminded me so much of home with peacocks running around everywhere. I have a magnificent photo of one male peacock who was so arrogant and beautiful. 

After my walk through the park,  I went to the Saturday market in Haga and bought a cinnamon bun from a street vendor. There were a lot of interesting pastries that people were selling, along with clothes, candles, herbs, teas, and soaps and other random items.

I visited Poseidon. I find it interesting how the Scandinavian countries connect to Roman-Greco mythology: Helsinki has Aphrodite, Gothenburg has Poseidon.  The statue is right in front of the konstmuseum which is a big building with very little art inside of it but is apparently world famous. I did enjoy the Segel Gallery ("the pink floor") which had some beautiful paintings, but most of the modern art fell flat for me. If I don't know what it means, how am I supposed to find beauty in it? Or is the point that there is not meaning other than the beauty of the art? But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Philosophy aside, I became a science geek and went to the natural history museum. The museum is impressive with its collection, but also eerily fascinating, because where did they get all these things. It reminded me of Mr. Venus's shop in Our Mutual Friend. I visited it after the zoo, and it was weird to go from living animals to the dead.

In my tour of the city, I walked past many university buildings, the Dutch church, Haga kyrka, the kronor building (which is one of the oldest buildings in Goteborg), and the Gustav Adolf square. I also went to the fish church and walked along the river.

I also wandered through another city park that had a palm house with roses and flowers. I love spring and was very happy by the flowers. They have started blooming here in Sweden.

I loved Gothenburg and want to live there one day. I love Sweden, and I can't believe I only have eight more weeks left in this amazing country. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Gavle, Sweden

It was back in February, at the end of the month, when I went up to Gavle. It's an hour north of Sweden, and is very Eastern European-esq in its architecture. It was a very pretty city, although cold at that time. I went with Kenley for a day.

We actually ended up having to take a detour to Tierp and visited a very lovely white church there and got coffee and a pastry at a cafe while we waited for the next train.

Kenley and I wandered around Gavle's famous park, the Boulgonerskogen park, through part of the town, and through the University of Gavle campus. 

My pastry and coffee. I do indeed love sitting at a cafe, and there is nothing better than fika. 

This was one of the churches we stumbled across

The back of the next picture

A church turned concert hall/night club

A hotel! Can you believe it! 

the Gavle theater 
one of the many pretty buildings we passed

another beautiful house. Don't you just love the architecture? 

The angels in the park! 

A bridge named after either the queen or king of Sweden. I don't remember which one. 

Views from the river 

Gavle was a beautiful town. I am definitely going back there when it is warmer!