Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The day we spent in Uppsala

I met up with Kenley for coffee at Ostgota at 12. We have class at 13:15 until 15:30, but didn't make it today. Instead, we went to the library, the Carolina Rediviva, and saw the Silver Bible and other bookish artifacts, such as an ancient Hebrew scroll of the book of Esther and a copy of Newton's first book on the philosophy of the natural world. In addition to that, there were also medieval books and maps that had been preserved and were so beautiful.

We also went into the library and looked at the books. Stunning. Amazing. Wow. We found Kessing's collection of contemporary world events. Every week for a year, what went on in the world was recorded. These are massive volumes; I nearly dropped it after I took it out of the book shelf. In 1955, Turkey and Iran made a peace treaty. I remember being told the most boring day in the world where nothing really happened was April 11, 1954. I think it would have nice to be alive during the 50s. We found some interesting books on the history of Uppsala, which is quite fascinating. I don't understand how people study in that library; I would spend all my time looking up at the bookcases.

Afterward, we went to the university's Museum Gustavianum. They used to have anatomy classes there in the Anatomical Theater. It's a beautifully designed, but with an eerie feel. The museum also had an exhibit on the history of Uppsala and some gorgeous art work and pieces. It's across the street from the cathedral, which is the symbol of life here in Sweden. I walk past it every day, and will miss the sight of it when I go back to the States.

Photos from the Anatomical Theater:

Kenley and I 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Working at the Mjolkbaren

Working fika. It sounds like a contradiction; fika is a break from the day with your friends, drinking coffee and eating a pastry, so how can it be work?

As I've mentioned before, all of the nations are very similar but do their own thing too. Uplands has a pub, pea soup and waffles on Thursdays, and a jazz bar on Fridays. Some of the nations have breakfast, others have lunch or study fika. Ostgota Nation runs a mjolkbaren (translation: milk bar, pronounciation: mo-olk bar en). I really liked working Lordasfika on Day 8, so I tried it again today. 

Everyone at Ostgota Nation is incredibly kind and friendly. I got to work with a couple of Swedish guys, a Finnish girl, and a California girl. The last one is actually in my religious life in Sweden class, and her name is Kenley. She's a really interesting person with her views on the world, different issues, history, and her love of traveling. I consider her my California soul sister, and have enjoyed getting to know her. 

At Ostgota you can order a waffle bar (which you make yourself and can top with fruit, jam, whipped cream, and caramel or chocolate syrup) or a sandwich or a salad. We spent from 10:30 to 12:00 preparing food and getting ready. The busiest time is from 12 to 2, and after that it calmed down. I ate lunch with Kenley and the Finnish girl. I ate waffles with whipped cream, blueberries, and baked chicken. Pretty much, you get a free meal while you are there and then you get a food coupon for another free meal that you can use at leisure. 

I don't have class on Mondays and will probably work at the mjolkbaren then. It's a long shift from 10:30 to 5, but I like doing it. I am trying to find things to fill my time; although, Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens is taking up quite a lot of it. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Recentiors Gasque

I'm an official member of Uplands Nation. In honor of the new members, there was a gasque yesterday. It's a formal dinner party with pre-dinner drinks, a three course meal, and an after party. I wore my black dress with heels partly and boots partly. My friend Amanda helped me with my makeup (mascara, eye shadow, and eye liner oh my!) and curled my hair.

We met at the nation at 15 having missed the dk. DK means you show up between 15 and 1530, but most people show up at the later time. They took up along with the drums and flags to the main university building where we gathered with all the other nations. They had a three hour long ceremony where the president of Uppsala University and other officials gave speeches all in Swedish. The university orchestra played and the Norrlands choir sang. I loved that part of it.

Afterward, we went back to Uplands and had pre-dinner drinks for an hour (maybe?). I changed into heels at that time and managed not to fall over in them at all during the night. I wore my boots for the after party, because no way was I going to dance in heels! It was nice to see some people I met at the sexta. I also met several new people, including a girl named Anna (yes, like in Frozen!).

I choose not to drink alcohol and said so when I registered for the gasque. At the dinner, I was given a nice alcohol free apple cider. The appetizer was a fried potato with avocado, tomato, and onion. The main course was a rice circle with green beans, carrots, and mushrooms in a sauce. Desert was jam with vanilla pudding.

The thing about a gasque is that it's not really about the food. It's a very social event and you sing a lot. I was given a red and gold songbook that I will always have. I couldn't understand most of the songs, but I'm at a place where I've learned the alphabet and most of the vowels to be able to pick up on the pronunciation. I also found a song about the lovely cafe I go frequent Ofvandals. Songs are lead by the song master and the song apprentice.

After every song, you toast or skål (pronounced skool). First, the person on your left, then the person diagnoal, then the person across from you. You drink and then reverse it. It took me a while to catch on to it, but I got it by the end of the night. It got harder when the made us tie our hands together (which actually wasn't a problem for me, since I am left handed and was sitting on the end).

Some of the songs were hilarious. At one point they we did a charade song where we had to be a ballerina, a car, and a horny cheetah. We did a congo line and went out to the garden before desert where we sacrificed a member of V-Dala in a Viking-esq ritual asking for the sun to come back. Uplands dispises V-Dala because they built a really ugly white building right next to Uplands and it blocks the sunset. The nation's choir and jazz band also played during the night.

Afterward, I danced with my new found friends and fellow members. It was so much fun. It was the first time I felt really really really happy since being in Uppsala.

You can read more about how a gasque works here: http://www.uppsalastudentkar.se/international-students/life-uppsala/useful-links/going-gasque

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Walk in the Neighborhood and Meeting a Black Cat

20 Friday 2015.

Sweden is very different than the U.S. and so if my college life here. In many ways, it is the opposite: unstructured, carefree, relaxed. The only stress I have is that which I put on myself, like which nation to join and where do  I want to travel in Europe and when. 

Whereas back in Miami I worked 20 hours a week and was in class three hours a day and spent five hours a week in CRU, a Christian organization, here I have two classes for one term (10 weeks) and then classes for the second term (10 weeks) and Swedish which runs from mid-February to the beginning of May. Swedish meets twice a week for two hours, but my other classes only meet once a week for 3 hours. 

I do have school work, for any one who would ask me if I study. Mind you. Since Swedish started, I've been practicing a lot. I also have to read an 800 page book called Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens for class. 

Fika goes not exist in the U.S. It's a break in the day where you go and hang out and drink coffee or tea and eat a pastry. I skyped my roommate back in the States, and she asked me how long fika lasts. I told her it can last from an hour to three. She was like "woah." In Sweden, we have time here. Time to enjoy other people's company without having to rush off somewhere. 

I don't always know what to do with my time since I seem to have so much of it. Sometimes I think I take it for granted that I am in Sweden. I miss the first few days I was here when everything seemed new and exciting. Today, I went out to find that again. 

I went on a walk through the neighborhood I live in, which is mostly residential. I made a friend out of friendly black cat and discovered a forest. It's called Stabby Backe Forest. I didn't walk on any of the trails, because they were icy. I stuck on the exercise/jogging path. There was a field called Tavlan Plats covered in snow and trees surrounding it. I saw a lot of people walking their dogs and pushing strollers. 

It will be a very pretty place to go in summer when the snow and ice melt! The path was supposed to loop around somewhere, but I didn't find it, so I just took Tuindsgatan and walked until I got to Ringgatan which has very pretty green, pink, and yellow buildings. From there I took Sysslomansgatan (the street where the grocery store is on) back to my housing. I always wanted to know what else was in my neighborhood and now I do. 

I also met a black cat with yellow eyes. He was very friendly and fat. I watched him eat grass, cough up a hairball, and claw up a tree. We sat and listened to the birds chirping together on a empty play ground for kids. He was a funny cat. 

Most importantly, I discovered my sense of adventure again.

Later in the evening, I met up with Cassandra at Palmero, a pizza place across the street from Uplands nation. She was in a four week condensed course and took her exam this morning, so we got dinner to celebrate. We had a nice time catching up. I got a marinara pizza with mozzarella cheese and a berry cider. I finished my Friday night reading Our Mutual Friend. It was the perfect end to the day. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

That One Time I Worked in a Jazz bar

I worked in a jazz bar. Once and only once. Last Friday.

At Uplands, in order to be able to work behind the bar, you have to do three floor shifts. I thought it would be fun to work at the jazz bar; it wasn't.

It was a nine hour shift from 5 pm to 2 am. The only redemption of the night is that I got to eat french fries, got two food coupons, and found 100 krona on the floor and kept it and used it to buy myself chocolate the next morning.

My work consisted of taking orders to the kitchen, taking them upstairs to people, clearing dishes and bottles, and at some point sitting at the door checking IDs and nation cards. For a nine hour shift, it was exhausting. I didn't even get to enjoy the band!

At one point, I met some people who were hanging out and drinking, a girl named Louise and a guy named Ulfrik and their drunk buddies. Louise was a doll and Ulfrick convinced me that I should quit my job, sit down, put my feet up, and have a beer with them.

I wanted to quit. I didn't, because we were already short staffed and there was only one more hour left to go. Sometimes we try things and then don't like them. It happens.

I don't think I will ever work at the jazz bar again. Ever. However,  I will work fika at OG and maybe work in the pub at Uplands two more times so that I can bartend. If I do it, I will pick a Monday or Wednesday night when it is less busy.

My mom told me I experienced the hard work of being a waitress. I would much rather spend my Friday nights at the pub eating nachos and drinking cider.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fat Tuesday

As I have written about ever so often on this blog, I have fallen in love with the Swedish pastry, semla. It's a dough ball filled with almond paste and topped with apple butter and whipped cream (and a dough cookie on top). It's traditionally eaten on Tuesdays and it is a seasonal pastry from the end of December/the beginning of January to the day before Lent. Interestingly enough, I have asked several Swedes if this is true and they ask me what Lent is and give me confused looks.

Anyways, the history behind Fat Tuesday (or in Swedish fettisdagen) is that in 1771 King Adolf Frederick died of a heart attack after a luxurious and extravagant dinner of lobster, caviar, saurkraut, smoked herring, and champagne. For desert, he ate fourteen semlor. (Semla is singular; Semlor is plural).

While semla are still traditionally eaten on Tuesdays, February 17 is a special Tuesday because it is the day before Lent. Back in the days, semlor were traditionally given up and Swedish culture still honors the tradition. I wish semlor weren't seasonal, but they sure are good!

I suppose I will have to start trying out other Swedish pastries now. As you know, I spend my days getting fika, lunch, eating pastries, walking around, and hanging out with people. Of course, I also go to class, cook (minimally), and grocery shopping. I'm very much enjoying living the Swedish life. As I wrote on one of my other posts, Americans steryotype Swedes, but those have been dispelled. Even if I never fully understand Swedish culture, at least I'm getting closer.

To read more about Fat Tuesday and Semla check out these web pages here:

Key Facts: http://lundianstudentescapes.tumblr.com/post/111176470810/lets-celebrate-semla-day

The History behind the tradition: https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/the-semla-more-than-just-a-bun/

How to make Semla: http://www.thelocal.se/20150123/how-to-make-the-swedish-semla-bun

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Comedic Adventures and Swedish Pastries

Hey Hey, so I have some funny things that have happened to me since I have been in Sweden and thought I would share them. 

The arrival story:

On the day I arrived, after lugging my heavy suitcase up four flights of stairs, I walked into this guy in my corridor's room and freaked out when I saw him, because he was a guy and I expected to live with all women. My reaction was "oh my gosh, it's a guy. I'm living with a guy!" He was just like "oh you must be the new girl. This room (pointing) is yours." 

Cassandra, Amanda, and I ended up cracking up laughing in room and the ridiculousness of me having to take my luggage on a 20 minute walk to my housing and carrying it two-stairs at a time. 

So I live in a corridor with three guys. We share a kitchen. I have my own room with a big window that gets a lot of sunlight. I bought a pink plant and have somehow managed to keep it alive. The bed is comfy, and I have my own couch which I talk about a lot. 

The bedding confusion story:

You know how in the States, you have a comforter, right? It's one piece. Here in Sweden, it's two pieces: a dueve and a dueve cover. It's slightly more practical, because you only have to was the cover and not the whole thing. 

When we first went to IKEA, I had no idea and bought what I thought was a normal sheet and pillow case set. For some reason, in my head, the dueve was supposed to the mattress pad on my bed. Later, when I struggled to fit the cover on it, I realized I had gotten it mixed it! I went back to IKEA a second time and bought the correct thing. 

Now I know! 

Amanda's adventures:

One day when I met up with Amanda, she told me she had had two random encounters. A woman dressed in ski gear started talking to her at a bus stop, walked away, came back ten minutes later, and got on the bus with Amanda. 

She also passed someone who was locked into their building,  because they had forgotten the code. She had to help him get out! 

Besides having fun and going to class, most of my day involves getting fika or coffee or lunch and hanging out with people. The food in Sweden is so good, especially the pastries! My favorite right now is the semla. It's a dough ball filled with almond cream on the inside and topped with apple butter jam and whipped cream. They only serve it until Lent, so on Tuesday I will go and get my last one at the nation. 

There's a cozy cafe that we go to at least once a week called Ofvandals. We went there on Valentine's Day and I had rubharb pie and a shortbread cake with orange flavored filling. 

On the weekends we go to one of the nations. Most of the nations have study hours during the week, but have special brunches on either Saturday or Sunday. Today, Sunday the 15th, we ate lunch at Kalmar nation. I had a sandwhich with mozarella, lettuce, and tomato along with a fruit and oat smoothie and a desert made with bananas, coffee pudding, nuts, chocolate chips, and whipped cream. I know it sounds like a weird combination, but it was very tasty! 

We walked past the cathedral, along the river, and through Stora Torget. Even though it was cold and windy today, the sun was bright and the sky was blue. On our way back, we got fika at Uplands. Amanda got carrot cake and tea; I got a fruit pastry and kaffe. 

Every pastry I have tried in Sweden has been delicious. I am going to try to learn how to bake, so that I can do so when I go back to the States! 

I found out that I can send photos from my phone to my Google drive account, so here are some! I haven't taken photos of everything that I'm eaten, but sometimes I remember and take a picture. I will take a picture of semla on Tuesday and share it. 

In terms of what I've been eating, I think I am getting enough food. What I eat isn't so different from the U.S. I've had traditional Swedish meatballs once and every Thursday I get pea soup and waffles. Every Wednesday, I get lunch at Varmlands nation with Kelly and Cassandra. One week, it was pastra and salad. Another week it was lamb stew. I also go to the pub once a week on Fridays and get cider and nachos. 

Everything at the nations is fairly inexpensive, and is much, much cheaper than going out to eat. I figure I spend about 100 USD a week for living expenses (excluding rent). Pea soup and waffles is 35 krona, Varmlands lunch is 55, and the pub is around 100 krona. A pastry costs around 20 krona. 

But I don't just eat at the nations. I go grocery shopping every week and a half or so. For breakfast, it's yogurt and granola with dried fruit and oats and nuts. I usually eat a sandwich or salad for lunch. I make pasta for dinner most of the time. Tonight, I had whole grain crackers with butter and jam on top, chamomile tea, and an avocado. Groceries range from between 20 and 40 USD. 

Before I came here, I associated Sweden with the following: blond, attractive people, snow, cold weather, and the northern lights. I also knew a couple of other facts: Sweden is famous for their coffee lots of people speak English, and the sun sets at 4 PM. Coming here made me realize how little I know. Not everyone is blond. In fact, I think I've met more brunettes than blonds here. Snow is not really the worst thing in the world. Rain is. You get used to the cold. The first two and a half weeks it hovered around 32 degrees F., but when it warmed up to 40-45, it felt like warm weather. Maybe it's because I'm an arrogant know it all American that I had these stereotypes, but the truth is that I do not have Sweden all figured out at all. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The sun

So I really haven't been able to figure out how to download photos from my phone to my computer, but I did get a couple. So it's not Stockholm, but here are some pictures of the sun in Uppsala.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mixing Drinks and Eating Waffles

As I mentioned in my previous post, my life is getting settled here in Sweden. I don't have class on Mondays, but I had to read a book for my class called the Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. After getting reading for the day, I went to the KB library for a few hours. Then I read on my couch in my room (I love having a couch by the way).

At 6 PM, Uplands had an introduction to working at the nation for new members. We got to meet the pub masters, the kitchen masters, the rental and club hosts, ect. They showed us the kitchen, the pub, and the jazz bar. One of the bartenders showed us how to make five drinks, which I really was not found of any except a vodka, rum, and club soda mix. I want to work at the jazz bar, mostly because I think it would be fun. I would also like to bar tend for one of the club nights.

Besides that, I will mostly work in the pub and bake for the Sunday fika. One of my favorite pastries is called semla. It's a dough pastry filled with almond paste and topped with whipped cream. Swedish whipped cream is the best I have ever had. Along with Swedish coffee.

Back at my home university, I worked a lot at the career center. I wasn't that involved in campus life, and I wanted to earn money. Also, I'm not the type of person who goes and joins every club and does everything, so work helped me do more than just go to class. I also got to meet so many interesting people there (shout out to you if you read this!)

The nation fed us waffles with jam and whipped cream for dinner, which I appreciated. I got to meet a couple of other people in the nation, which is always good, and free food is the best thing ever. Afterward, Amanda and I went back to my dorm and hung out. Then I continued my reading and she went home.

Just another day in Uppsala.


Here at Uppsala, things are becoming less chaotic and more routine. I start Swedish on Thursday so I will have class from 4-6 TR. I have Religious Life Tuesday from 13 to 15:30 and Victorian Literature Wednesday from 10:15 to 12:30. I usually go to the Karin Boyle library in the English Park campus and study there or sometimes get fika. On Wednesdays, I get lunch at Varmlands nation and on Thursdays I get dinner at Uplands which is always pea soup and waffles with jam and whipped cream. On Fridays, I go to the pub and get a drink (usually a cider) and nachos. On Wednesdays, I have Bible study at 19:00 and then usually go to bed right after.

It's nice to finally have some structure, and to feel more adjusted to life abroad. You, dear readers, probably wondered why I didn't post much during weeks two and three. There were some interesting things that happened in my classes, but mostly I tried to stay warm and not starve. It snowed a lot here, and I was tired a lot. The first week I was here I woke up at abnormal hours in morning, like between 4 and 7, so my body took time to catch up on sleep. 

My friend Sam and I had a conversation about how we feel that each day we are here we get stronger. There is truth to that. The day I arrived it took everything I had to carry my suitcase up four flights of stairs. Now I know where the grocery store is, and I remember to bring my reusable bag! I bought my first smart phone and learned how to use it. I know when and where my classes are. I know how to take the city bus, and will figure out how to use the regional ones. I have taken the train to Stockholm twice now. I've learned a collection of 20-30 words in Swedish, and I will learn more. 

I'm determined to make the most of my time here and to enjoy life. I'm a much less stressed out person here. The scariest thing that happened was getting lost with Amanda on the bus back from Ikea to central station. The biggest decision I had to make was which nation to join. 

There are some things which still have yet to be settled. I have to go to the Migration Board and get my residence permit card. I have to figure out all the details of my international travel plans. I have budget and not run out of money, because I don't like being hungry. I am type of person who obsessively plans before I go, but in coming here I didn't do that. I do believe that if we don't plan for the future, we won't know what to do when we get there. However, there is also something to be said for living in the present moment each and every day. 

That's my goal here in Sweden. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

My First Sexta

As you all know dear readers, I joined a nation called Uplands, which is the region in which Uppsala is within. It actually consists of three regions that joined together. It's fairly common for the student nations to be more than one region and to be joined together, for example Gastrike-Halsinge, Sodermanlands-Nerikes, and Vastmanlands-Dala. Today Uplands had an activity day for new members along with an informal dinner called a sexta.

At the beginning, the hosts also gave us some information about the organizations, such as the nation's journal, the orchestra, and the book circle. The student union also came by and gave out some information about what they do. Then there was fika with tea, coffee, and cookies where we talked and got to know each other.

The hosts took us through a tour of the nation's house from the formal dining room to the library to the study room which doubles as a jazz bar on Friday nights to the pub/restaurant in the basement. Uplands has a very cozy house and they play board games on most Sundays which I look forward to going to. Since Uplands is the closest nation to me, I will most likely go there a few times a week during study hours.

We played a couple of weird games, such as the foot game and the evolution game. The foot game is where you stand in a circle and put your foot next to someone else's and they have to move it and it continues until someone cannot move or falls over. The evolution game is where you play rock paper scissors against each other and try to evolve when you when. You go from amoeba to bunny rabbit to tiger to ape to human to superman. In order to win, you have to reach superman. If you lose, you devolve back into the previous stage.

After games, they paired us up and gave us a quiz to do so we could learn about the nation. We had to find different paintings and objects in the nation's house and take pictures with them. Also, Uplands' rival nation is V-Dala. V-Dala built a ugly, white, sterile house right next to Uplands and it blocks the sunset. One part of the quiz was to take a picture of our hatred for V-Dala so my partner and I took an Uplands sign and stood in front of the V-Dala nation and frowned. We actually won the quiz game, so I am now the proud owner of a Uplands key chain and tote bag.

Following that, we set up for the sexta which was a dinner of potato and vegetable casserole with raspberry pie and vanilla custard sauce for desert. It's tradition to sing and skool (cheers and then take a drink) during a sexta. We had songbooks, and even though I couldn't read most of the songs, since they were in Swedish, it was still very fun. We sang quite a few songs and talked together during dinner. It's been so long since I have had a good meal with other people.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Stockholm II

My friend Amanda and I went to Stockholm together today. It's very easy to take the train from Uppsala to Stockholm and it takes between 40 minutes to an hour.

After getting to Stockholm, we walked around Gamla Stan (Old Town) for a while. The last time I went it pretty much snowed or rained the entire day; however, today it was bright and clear skies with the sun shining. We took some pictures of the old, colorful buildings and the cobbled streets and pictures of the harbor. I still haven't quite figured out how to get photos off of my phone camera, but I am working on it.

We stopped and got lunch at a pretty cafe in a cellar. I had coffee with bread and soup and a cheese sandwich. Then we went to the Royal Palace and toured the historical part in the basement called the Tre Kronor museum, the royal apartments, and the treasury. Each part was very cool, but I loved the royal apartments.

It was interesting to learn about the history of the palace. Throughout the centuries different parts of the palace have been rebuilt; the outer walls have been there since the 1200/1300s. In the 1600s, most of the palace except the north wall was destroyed in a fire. It took nearly 60 years to rebuild!

The architecture of the palace was beautiful and walking through the basement made me long for a simpler, older time. I saw old parchments that were letters from kings from various other nations (one from Napoleon!). Seeing the cursive writing in gold ink on faded paper made me nostalgic for a time in which I have never experienced.

I would most certainly recommend going to and touring the Royal Palace (and don't forget to see the changing of the guard!). A large part of the royal apartments is the Bernadotte apartments which are very beautiful in design and contain paintings on the walls and the ceilings along with sculptures and other pieces, such as clocks and furniture. It was my favorite part, although the treasury which shows some of the crowns, swords, and scepters was also nice to see. One of the scepters had the drawing of a world map on it, which my friend and I found particularly creative. There are also the state apartments where the formal dining and conference rooms are currently located, but used to be private chambers for the kings in the past. Similarly are the guest apartments.

Even though I am not the type of person to spend a lot of time looking at one thing for a long period of time, it was worth taking a glance at the rooms that house the different orders, medals, and costumes. At the end, is the hall of state which is a large white room containing the silver throne where Parliament would meet with the king. I don't know much about Swedish history, but I did try to piece together some things, such as the fact that Sweden adopted the English system of knighthood, and on display was a letter from Queen Victoria!

You can check out more about the Royal Palace here: http://www.kungahuset.se/royalcourt.4.367010ad11497db6cba800054503.html

Thus concludes our day in Stockholm. We went back to Uppsala, took the bus from central station to my place, made pasta and then went to the Uplands pub. Amanda got pear cider, while I ordered an English cider known as the green goblin. So far I think it is the best drink I have had.

Pictures will be coming soon!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Photos from Stockholm

Are coming as soon as I figure how to get them off my phone and onto my computer.


Despite the snowstorm that was today, my corridor mate from South Korea, Sam, and I went to Stockholm for the day. We took the SJ train from central station to Stockholm and it took about 40 minutes and cost 81 krona one way. We left early in the morning, because it's a also a 40 minute walk from Rackarbergsgatan to Uppsala central station. The train was very easy to take and the Swedish countryside was beautiful, all covered in snow.

We went on a free walking tour that was about 2 hours long and very interesting. We walked through the shopping district, which is called the Queen's Street, named after Christina who was actually not queen for very long, because Sweden was Protestant at the time and she converted to Catholics and got kicked out of her country. She ended up going to Rome and is buried in the Vatican. The oldest H&M along with three others are on that street. I ended up buying water proof boots, like many Swedish girls wear! 

The tour also took us to PUB which, despite its name, is actually a department store, the first in Sweden. PUB is simply the initials of its founder. Greta Garbo worked there and starred in a swimsuit commercial. She was later picked up on and went to holly wood to become a movie star. She ended her career at age 36, but lived in Manhattan until she died at age 84. You can read about her here: http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0918.html 

Close to PUB is the Swedish concert hall, the blue building. It is here that five of the Nobel Peace Prizes are given out every year on December 10th. The statue is of Orpheus playing his harp and one of the muses apparently wears the face of Mozart. We tried several doors, but the building was locked.

We also stopped by the place where the prime minister was killed. He was a very hated man and he and his wife couldn't contact their body guard and decided to walk home one night from the cinema. Turing a corner, they were both shot. His wife survived and identified a known drug addict as the shooter, who confused on his death bed (but he was also a notorious liar). The murderer remains unknown, but whoever finds him will get a reward of 5 million dollars. 

At the red building, in the 1900s, two robbers entered the bank and held up several hostages. One of the hostages, a young woman, called the prime minister and asked him to pardon the two men, who said no, he couldn't do that. The conversation was recorded and it sounds like a girl arguing with her dad about dating a bad boy biker dude. She ended up being the maid of honor at one of the robber's weddings. Her case has been made forever famous, psychologically known as Stockholm Syndrome. 

We ended the tour at the park which contains an ice skating rink and is across the bridge from the royal palace. We watched the changing of the guard and got to hear some Swedish drum-and-trumpet beats and learned what they mean in the Swedish army. It was very cool. When I go back to Stockholm, I hope to see the inside of the Royal Palace. There's a total of 600 rooms! 

Since most of the museums closed early on Sunday, Sam and I decided to go to the Modern Art Museum. Most modern art I look at and think "I don't get it. What's the point of that? I could have made that? Moving on." However, some of it was very cool and I took lots of pictures. I do greatly appreciate art. 

One cool part was Design S which had models of different houses in Stockholm. It also had a bright green room called the ArtDesk which has workshops for kids where they can do arts and crafts. 

Sam and I got hungry, so we ate at the first McDonald's in Sweden. Did you know that Sweden got a Micky D's before Great Britain? Well, it did! We also sang songs to the movie Frozen...let the storm rage on! 

After dinner, we took the train back to Uppsala. It was a very long and cold day. Hopefully, next time the weather will be better. 

That concludes my first trip to Stockholm, Sweden. What an adventure.