Tuesday, March 25, 2008


We headed home for two weeks of Canadiana culture on Friday. The thing that always surprises me about coming home is how little things change. The same friends, the same sights, the same activities. In some ways it is comforting, you know you can always go home. In other ways, it makes me appreciate my experiences elsewhere that much more. I can now truly appreciate all the good things about Vancouver, while at the same time, revile in the things that I find burdensome or ugly. For instance, I have truly come to appreciate the ability to walk to most things (or at least ride my bike). The fact that I have driven something like 5 hours since I returned here, and that is just driving to people's homes, not some long distance journey, has made me appreciate the closeness of things in Sweden that much more.

I also appreciate the high-density housing. Every time I come home it pains me to see more and more houses built up the hillside. It would be so much better if we modeled ourselves after the Swedes and lived in apartments (with courtyards mind you) rather than in single family homes. Imagine how many more people we could fit into a smaller space, and how much more efficient a public transit system we could have if it didn't need to get stretched across such great distances.

Ok, enough raving though. There are plenty of great things about Canada too. Friendly people, everyone speaks English :) and bbqs!!!

I had the strange experience of walking with someone who was speaking quite loud, and thinking "man, are they ever speaking loudly, everyone is going to know that we are English speakers". Only to realize that it didn't matter because everyone spoke English here. As bizarre as that might sound, I definitely find myself speaking quieter in Sweden than I do here, so that I am not instantly labelled as a foreigner, although perhaps my clothes give me away :).

Well, I'm off to work with my dad.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fika med kompisar (with friends)

So something that Swedes love to have is Fika. Fika is a noun but also a verb (at least in Swedish), you can fika as well as have fika! Pretty much it means to imbibe in something edible and have coffee (kaffe) (or tea (te) or hot chocolate (varm chocklad) or whatever strikes your fancy). But the important part is that you must do it with friends. Well, I had not been doing a lot of fikaing (?) as (sad I know) I had not made many friends who didn't work during the day. But the tides have changed. I have met two fantastic girls in my Svenska class, both Americans, both foodies, and when we get together we talk nonstop. It is fantastic! And what a difference some girlchat can make to your perspective on life. If you are at all interested in Swedish food, you should check out Jessie's website. She even posts photos...www.everyplateisapicture.blogspot.com. Fika has now become a weekly part of my life, and one that I look forward to a great deal! So let's hope it continues.

Now for another interesting fact: Swedes are addicted to "godis" or candies. There are the most amazing candy stores here, with bins full of candy. You mix them all in a bag and then just pay per the weight. Luckily, most Swedes walk a lot or ride their bikes, and so their health is not adversely affected by the vast amounts of godis they consumer. We have not gotten into this habit yet, but I'm sure it won't be long until we are having godis cravings. We plan on bringing some special Swedish godis home with us....salty black liquorice. Not really a fan, but I'm betting my father-in-law will be!

Hej då

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Be careful what you wish for...

Well, I had been slightly worried about the lack of work, but then, javisst (of course), there is an avalanche. Phew! My voice is going to be tired from all the phone calls. But at least it means extra dough for the expensive trip to Canada.

Today, it is beautiful and sunny and everyone is in a good mood. I've been doing laundry which is actually a fair bit of exercise. The laundry room is around the block, but under the building, so you walk through all these crazy tunnels to get there. B. has to duck a lot so he doesn't smoke his head. I really like the group laundry concept though. It seems to work really well. Only problem with the new place is the lack of an iron and board, so we had to get an iron and will be using the dining table as a makeshift ironing board.

I've also been making semlor which are sweet buns that are filled with almond paste and whip cream. We treated Robi to some during his visit - but this is the first time I'm attempting to make them. Traditionally they were only eaten in January and February up until Shrove Tuesday (the buns are also called Fat Tuesday Buns). But now they seem to appear in early January and there are still semlor in every bakery you go to.

So my Swedish fact for the day: The Vasaloppet, the largest cross-country ski race in the world, was just completed last weekend. Over 50,000 people participated in the race and every year they race 90km in a day. Now a brief history lesson, in 1520 Christian II of Denmark, invaded Sweden and killed the ruler of the time, Sten Sture the Younger (Sweden, Denmark and Norway were united at this time under one crown in the Union of Kalmar). He granted full amnesty to the follower's of Mr. Sture, but he was really just tricking them as he then arrested 82 of them and tried and then massacred them in what became known as the Stockholm Bloodbath. The spot of the Bloodbath, Storatorget in Gamla Stan still exists. This started a rebellion under the leadership of Gustav Ericsson Vasa. The link to the race is that this rebellion almost never took place. Vasa had not been able to gather enough supporters so he was fleeing for the Norwegian border when two very tired skiers caught up with him to tell him that the people had changed their minds!!! Now this legendary journey is recreated every year in the Vasaloppet race.
An aside: back in 1520, the skiers only had one pole, how long do you figure it took for the two pole concept to catch on?

Gustav Vasa became the King after Sweden exited the Kalmar Union in 1523. He was crowned on June 6 which is now the country's national day!

Jag måsta tvätta nu, så hej då!

Saturday, March 1, 2008


I should have said that "we made" since B. made it too!


Uppsala Apartment

Hey All, For those who aren't on Facebook here is the video I made of the old apartment...I guess we'll have to make a new one soon....

I'll try to post to this blogspot more frequently. I started out with great ambitions but have been lazy...