Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Eighth Day is the Busiest

I've been so busy here in Sweden that I can't believe eight days have gone by. Time sure does fly! I worked at one of the nations, Ostgota (the two Os actually have the two dot thing above them, but whatever). It's a very beautiful nation, both the architecture and the inside.

On Saturdays, they have lördagsfika. I worked there from 10 to 5:30 from preparation to clean-up. I really liked the other people I worked with. They taught me how to make tea trays, chai tea, hot chocolate, and their special dish called the day after. It comes with bacon, half a hamburger, spicy chicken salad, eggs, and salad (lettuce, spinach, cucumber, tomato, onion, cheese) with a homemade sauce, It was a pretty popular dish and I had one myself; it was very good.

The people I worked with were very nice. We played the radio during clean-up and danced around in the kitchen. They tried to teach me how to pronounce some Swedish words. Swedish is a very fast language, but I think I will pick it up pretty easily once I start taking the class.

Although I can't get paid for working (you have to be a resident of Sweden for at least a year), I did get free food and a coupon for another free meal. So when I'm broke, I at least won't starve. The others went out for after work drinks, but I went on to an orientation event.

Gotlands Nation had a Crash Course in Sweden and the Swedes at 6, along with fika. It was very helpful and I met a guy from Germany and a couple of guys from Hong Kong. There are two pretty big Asian groups here, one from HK and the other from South Korea. I learned a lot about Swedes and the two guys who did it made it funny too. After, we sat and talked some more and then I went home.

The eight day is the busiest. Den åttonde dagen är den mest trafikerade.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Movie Night

I've been in Sweden for one week now. Happy Friday my dear family, friends, and other readers. Today, I mostly hung out with friends and continued my binge of Orphan Black. Amanda and I met up and walked around a park. It's been snowing here a lot! Slipping on ice is not fun, but I love watching the snow fall. On the ground, it glistens and sparkles. Honestly, the snow is so pretty, I almost don't mind the cold. I also live with the knowledge that I can get coffee anywhere, because Swedes love their kaffe.

Amanda and I went to Ostgota for "After School" which is their Friday meal in tapas style. It was pretty cheap, about 35 crowns (which is like 4.50 USD) and I got two chicken and red pepper skewers, half a quesadilla, and bread with mozzarella and basil cheese on it. The meal takes place in their basement which was really cozy with candlelight and quotes etched on the walls.

Later, I went to a movie at Uplands called  "Ronia the Robber's Daughter." It was a very cute movie about two children, a girl and a boy, who are belong to neighboring tribes/clans, but meet and become friends. It's based of a book, like most good movies. After, they invited us newbies to the jazzbar for a drink, but it was crowded.

I ended up running into the girls I had brunch with earlier this week. We headed over to Smalands nation and enjoyed some drinks. I got a vodka cranberry mix which was the perfect drink to end the week with.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hanging Out and Game Night

Every since arriving in Uppsala, I feel as though I've been doing things and going places and been very busy. Even though I didn't have class today, I had a pretty full schedule.

At 12, I went to the open house at the Uppsala Student Union. I hung out with a girl from my religion class and some of her friends; they are all from the University of Illinois. I also met a girl from Switzerland who was lovely to talk to. Amanda came about an hour later. The union served coffee, tea, cookies, and mulled wine. It was yummy.

The student union is sort of like an honor council; it deals with student rights and responsibilities. Afterward we went to the main university building for orientation. There was also a fair with booths from all of the 13 student nations. I still don't know which one I will be joining, but I really liked Ostgota and am going to work at there on Saturday during their fika time. Hopefully, that will give me some insight on it if I will want to join. It's not a requirement to join a nation, but there's not really much point to social life if you don't.
You can learn about Ostgota here:

Amanda and I went to Uplands Nation for fika and board games which was fun. Fika has been one of my favorite things about Sweden. We met a girl from Sweden, Alma and an exchange student, Melissa from Turkey. The three of us went back to my dorm and ate sandwiches for dinner. I binged watched Orphan Black and then went to bed after they left.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Beer Tasting

I went to my second class of the term today, Victorian Things: Victorian Literature and Material Culture. This is my first class on the topic, so I've very curious to see what I will learn. Both of my classes are small, only about 12 people. My religion class is entirely exchange students, but my Victorian Literature is a Master's level class; I am one of only three undergrads in it. I think the course will be a lot of reading and independent work, but I am excited to study in the archives of the library. You can see the syllabus and the reading list here:

After class I went to the grocery store and to an outlet clothing store across the street and bought a sweater. It snowed today and it was not fun walking to class in the snow! In the U.S. school would be canceled, but in Sweden the cold doesn't bother anyone. So I just have to suck it up and walk though it. However, the snow flurries are very pretty.

At 17:00, Amanda and Cassandra and I met up and went beer tasting at GH nation. The nation is known for it's pub and has 200 beers. We tried five beers: a "normal" beer, a fruity beer, a sour beer, a light beer, and a stout. The only one I liked was the light beer which is a zodiac. It was still a fun night. We met two Australians from Sydney, Lucy and Richy along with a girl from South Korea and a girl from Finland. I don't feel like I've met that many people yet, so it was nice. Everyone is busy getting adjusted to living in a foreign country. I'm hoping to meet some people tomorrow at the open house/orientation the university is having.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Religious Life in Sweden

Today I went to my first class, Religious Life in Sweden. My classes are all in the English Park campus. which is really close to where I live and to the library. For my class, I will get to go on field trips and listen to guest lectures. I have two presentations, one one some aspect of my faith and another on an aspect of religion in Sweden. Overall, I think it should be a very interesting class. Sweden is a very non-religious nation, but 70% of people are members of the Swedish Lutheran Church. I am very curious to find out why this is, and how a church can be both secular and Christian. It's quite a paradox. There are a lot of Syrian refugees seeking asylum in Sweden, and it would also be interested to study Islam in Sweden, especially in light of the recent bombings.  I am planning on going to the library and checking out some books on the subject.

One of the interesting things my professor taught us this week was about a study he and some colleagues did on the 4 elements of connection to God/the universe/spirituality. They are (1) a move away from technology and stimulation to disconnecting, usually involving nature, (2) a release from scheduled time to exempt time, "own time," (3) a temporary escape from other people's demands and expectations into a protected space of solitude "alone time," (4) a shift from self-responsibility to passivity and receptivity "not doing anything." They did their study in a small town a few miles north from Uppsala, and I will definitely have to look at it. I found it really interesting, because I agree to it is easier to connect to God outside of organized church. You do not have to go to church or religious services to believe in and worship God.

My religion class meets once a week on Tuesdays from 13:00 to 15:30. There are about 10 kids, including me, but everyone is very nice, and we are all exchange students. After class, I met up with my friend Amanda and we went to the center of town and walked around the shops. I bought a Swedish/English dictionary at a bookstore. Swedish courses don't start until Feb. 9th; the university gives us the first three weeks to adjust.

Since both of us were hungry and cold, we went to a really cute cafe and randomly bumped into Cassandra. I got a chai tea and a almond paste, whipped cream, apple filling pastry made with some type of Swedish named dough. It was delicious. I want to try every type of pastry they have there. Especially chocolate balls.

Afterwards, Amanda and I went back to her housing, which is in the middle of nowhere, Eklundshofvagen. She does live in a rather charming red house and has her own bathroom and kitchenette. However, I like my location and room much better. We hung out and talked for a while and then I went back to my dorm.

Here's to my first day of class as a foreign exchange student!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Smart Phone, TGR, and Swedish Dinner

After getting lost yesterday on the bus, I realized how important it was to get a phone, especially a smart phone with a map. I bought the cheapest one, an Android, has a good map, camera (so I can post pictures now!), alarm, and lots of other features. The place I went to is called Telia and it is the major phone service provider in Sweden. The university gave all the exchange students a SIM card. I also have a Swedish phone number (+46 area code). I have never had a smart phone before, so I am going to be very careful not to lose of break it.

Then I went to TGR and bought a few things for school, such as notebooks, pencils, and a pocket calculator. I am always trying to convert currency in my head, but I think it will be nice to have a calculator. 1 USD roughly equals 7.84 Swedish crowns. 700 crowns is about 100 USD. Shopping is a little weird, because the number is always higher, but it's about the same price or less. Jasmine told me the only really expensive things are alcohol and clothes. Also, in Sweden you don't get shopping bags for free; you have to buy them. I bought an IKEA bag, but it's a little big for grocery shopping, I brought a smaller reusable bag from home. 

After that, I walked around Uppsala a lot. TGR is close to stora torget (the main shopping square). I walked from there back to where the Upplands and other nations are. I went inside the large cathedral building and on top of the pink castle. Both are gorgeous. Then I found the building my classes are in, the English Park campus, and walked around a large cemetery called St. Angars kyrka. I took a different way back to my dorm from there through a residential neighborhood. 

Back in my dorm, I took a nap and then went to one of the nations, Gotlands, for pub night. I met up with Amanda and we hung out with a bunch of Asians. There is a large group here on exchange from South Korea. The meal was mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, and Swedish meatballs. I didn't really care for it, but Amanda and I shared a blackberry cider, which was sweet like a jolly rancher. All of the nations have their own pubs/restaurants and some type of fika during the week. I will keep going to more events for the exchange students, and then choose which nation I want to join on Sunday. 

I walked around. Jag gick runt. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My First Fika, Trip to IKEA, and Taking the Bus

Today was a pretty eventful day. I met up with my buddy, Jasmine from Stockholm, and this other girl, Jiune (June) from Korea. We went and had fika at a cozy Swedish cafe called Storken. Coffee or Kaffe in Swedish is about 3 USD. There's not really any good translation into English for fika, but basically it's when you go and get coffee and hang out with other people. Jasmine pointed out a lot of places on my map, karta, and it was very helpful. I now know where book stores, second hand clothing stores, and TGR (a store that sells school supplies and random nick-nacks) is.

I went with Amanda and Cassandra to IKEA, which the Swedes pronounce with an E, rather than an I. I had never been to an IKEA before, so it was very exciting. I was told you can buy basically anything at IKEA, and it's a huge store so I believe it. We did the walk through of the room designs and then bought our bedding. I bought a nice wool blanket, that was expensive, but I think it will keep me very warm. My dorm room is cold. I also brought with me a micro-fleece blanket.

To get to IKEA, we took bus 13, right? and IKEA is the last stop and one end. Well, Amanda and I missed our stop and took it all the way to northern Uppsala. We got to see some more of the town, but it was dark out, since the sun sets so early. Luckily, the bus turned around, and we were able to get off at the correct stop. Then we walked to central station, where I walked back to the dorm from there. It started snowing as I walked! It was a long walk, so next time I will take the bus.

Taking the bus is very easy in Uppsala. There are two types, green and yellow. I'm not really sure what the yellow buses go, but the green ones are the city buses. It costs 20 crowns to buy a card, and then 20 crowns for each bus ride. I bought a card and loaded it with 200 crowns (which is roughly 25 dollars and will get me roughly 10 rides). I don't plan on using the bus that much, since I can pretty much walk every where. However, Amanda lives far away from everything, so she will have to take it more often. I don't have class tomorrow, so I will do some more walking around the city.

For more information on buses in Uppsala see here:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Grocery Shopping

Orientation at Uppsala doesn't start until Monday, which is also when classes begin. People at the welcome reception yesterday said the weekend was for people us to go grocery shopping, which I did indeed. Everything is in Swedish--street signs, building names, items at the grocery store. So I did my best at the store trying to figure things out. 

I purchased tomato soup (in a bag), bread, ham, cheese (that kinda looks like swiss), a bag of salad, dressing (in a packet), and a small bunch of tomatoes. All of the instructions to cook are in Swedish! 
Here is it for the soup: 
SE kastrull klipp upp förpackningen och häll soppan i en kastrull. värm på medelhög värme tills soppan kokar.  
which translates to: 
SEE saucepan cut open the package and pour the soup in a saucepan. heat over medium heat until the soup boils. 
I think I will be using Google translate quite a lot, and 

The major grocery store supplier is called ICA and the one in my area is Luthagens Livs. It's about a 10-15 minute walk, and it has everything. I also bought a plastic container that I can stick a sandwich in my backpack. 

I walked around Uppsala, which is beautiful. All the buildings in Sweden are very colorful--yellow, pink, orange, and red. I walked around the cathedral which is just stunning. I felt like a total tourist as I stared up at it while Swedes walked around it like it was an every day thing. 

I got a little lost, but ended up at the library! The Carolina Rediviva, which is just as beautiful as I knew it would be. The perfect place to get lost to. I got to see most of the buildings that the Nations have and the river that runs through the city. 

After that I came back to my dorm, ate lunch, and looked up course schedules. The courses I am taking are: 
Religious Life in Sweden
Literature and Terrorism
Modern American Drama: Staging Differences 
Victorian Things: Victorian Literature and Material Culture 
Basic Swedish

I am ready to learn some Swedish after hearing everyone talking it today. I am slowing learning how to pronounce the name of my building, Rackarbergsgatan. "Gatan" means street in Swedish and all of the streets end with it; it is pronounced "gotten." 

I don't speak Swedish. Jag talar inte svenska. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

First Impressions

The shuttle bus took us from the airport to the Upplands Nation at the university. Sweden is a really beautiful country; it's very colorful. Those picturesque red and yellow farmhouses you find on the internet really exist. The landscape was filled with green pine trees and covered in a light snow. It was about 30 degrees, which our driver said was fairly mild weather for this time of year. I hope it doesn't get much colder!

At the Upplands Nation, I was able to check in with my contact person at the International Office, get a temporary student card, set up my internet, and get my class schedule. It was very helpful and I talked to some more exchange students.

Since I couldn't check into my housing until 1 and Cassandra and Amanda couldn't until 3, we decided to take a walk around the block and see if we could find anything to eat. There was a cozy Asian place, a bakery, and then a cafe called Ofree Stoll. We ate at the cafe and I ordered the special which was grilled chicken with curry sauce, rice, vegetables, a small salad, and a drink. I tried my first Swedish drink called Julmust. It's mostly a Christmas drink, but it tastes kinda like a mix between coke and berries. I really liked it.

The cafe was a really nice respite from all the hustle and bustle. We sat by a window and people watched. I noticed that people in Sweden are economical--they walk, they bike, they own small cars, they take public transportation.  They also don't really seem bothered by the weather!

We hung out at the cafe for a while and then went back to the nation and checked in. There were shuttle services from the nation to each housing site, but the waiting times were at least an hour, and since my dorm is close, I walked. It must have been such a sight to see me pulling along two bags. Earlier, I had seen a guy carrying all of his stuff, and I joked "wonder where he's going?" Turns out the same place I was! It didn't help that I had to carry all my baggage up the stairs, step by step.

My room is on the fourth floor, which is the top floor. I live in the corner room, so it's a little bit larger and nicer than the other rooms. While I originally thought that I would have a sink and a toilet, I found out I only have a sink and share a toilet and a shower. The bright side is I have a comfy couch in my room. I got settled in and unpacked and tomorrow I am going to further get adjusted and go grocery shopping.

I think I picked a really great place to study abroad at and I'm really excited for all my adventures. I'm figuring things out as I go.


After 11 hours of flying on a plane, I made it to Stockholm Arlanda Airport at 7:00 AM. I am hence waiting for the shuttle to go to Uppsala. I met up with my friend Amanda and another girl, Cassandra who was on her flight. There are many exchange students arriving today. I am very excited, even though I know I have a lot to figure out. 

Here's a picture of the three of us in the airport as we watched the sun come up: 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Departure Day

The day is finally here that I will leave the U.S. and go live in Sweden for five months. When I woke up at 7:30 this morning, I realized that I will be there in 24 hours. I'm excited and nervous too, but I know it will be a grand adventure.

I've looked up some very basic Swedish words that you can find here:

My first impression is that Swedish will be a very hard language to learn. When I get to my basic Swedish class, we'll have to see how I do!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I have been so excited for so long that I am going to study abroad in at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden.Tomorrow, the 15 of January, I will embark on my journey. I will land in Stockholm in the early morning of the 16th, go through orientation, and begin classes on Monday the 19th.

I stumbled upon this little gem of a Swedish word that describes perfectly how I feel: 
Resfeber: The restless race of the traveller's heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together; a travel fever that can manifest as an illness 
Hear the pronunciation here: 

While I have manager to avoid getting sick in my long pre-departure phase, I am both ready and nervous. This is my first time living abroad and there is so much to learn. It will be a wonderful growing experience. 

That's about all I have for now. I will be writing every day so feel free to
follow the blog and keep up with my adventures as I journey in and in and throughout Sweden.