Monday, May 19, 2008

Sångerska om natten

B. and I talked to a few of you this past weekend, and we told you the strange story of the "Men's choral music in the night" but for those who I didn't get to tell the story to, here's a brief recap. Friday night, 3:30 am, B. and I are fast asleep, when I awake to quite a few people talking in our street. Next thing we know, 15 men are singing choral music. Needless to say we were quite confused as to why approx. 15 men were singing choral music in the dead of the night! I have to thank my students this morning for filling me in on the reason.

Apparently, the spring ball was on Saturday night (read: tuxedos and ballgowns). The custom is that the men's choirs from the various Nations (Nations are like frats but for both sexes and based on different regions of Sweden), go around to their dates' houses, and the dates of men who hire them (think sing-a-gram), and serenade them with three songs. The first is a wake-up song, then a love song, and then a farewell song. The girl to whom they are singing is supposed to light a candle in her window to let them know that she has heard them, without letting them see her. Then when they have finished serenading her, she lowers a bottle of punsch, a sweet alcoholic beverage out her window to the singers. So the "mystery of the men's choral group in the night" has been solved. Apparently, the women of the Nations also get their chance (this is Sweden after all), but they sing on St. Lucia day which is Dec.12, generally early in the morning, say 6am (women tend to be more sane). And since this festival falls during the winter, they generally enter the buildings, so you are not as likely to hear them.

A little bit of strange Swedish trivia for you!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cyklar Överallt (Bikes everywhere!)

When you first arrive at the Uppsala train station. You would think you had arrived in Amsterdam. There are bikes everywhere. Literally, 1000 people must park their bikes there at a time. I have yet to ride my bike to the train station because I worry about finding a parking spot for my bike :) It no wonder that bikes are so prevalent in Sweden, they provide awesome bike paths throughout the city and the countryside so its easy to bike around town without having to compete with cars.

It is an interesting culture - the bike culture - in Uppsala. First of all, since a lot of people living here are students, a bike is very useful because its a cheap form of transportation. You'll see girls riding their bikes to university in the shortest of skirts/shirts. You'll see a mob of cyclists travelling to the pub/bar together (although technically its illegal to ride your bike while drunk). But its not students alone who ride bikes. Older people are peddling along. People ride their bikes to work and people ride with their kids strapped to the back seat.

Uppsala is not very hilly, so most people ride a city bike. What's a city bike you might ask? Well, I happen to have recently purchased my very own city bike, so I will include some pictures (are you happy Dad?). The main features of a city bike, are a low cross bar, handles that curve towards you (so you don't end up with a sore back), a light on the front usually powered by friction from the front wheel, foot brakes - sometimes one hand brake, and only three gears.

Here are a few shots of my new bike!

Just to fill you in on what's been going on in our lives...we finally found an apartment. We are able to rent it until the end of December, its no longer in the city centre so we'll have to ride our bikes or take the bus to town now, but its closer for B. to go to work so that's good!

We are heading to Italy, specifically the Chianti region, in just under a month to meet up with some friends from SK. We will be touring around with them to Montalcino and Siena and we're super excited to soak up some Tuscan rays!

Ciao E.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sista april

Hi All!

Well, we celebrated our first sista april, and I thought I would put up a few photos of the day (and maybe a video). We were slightly disappointed by the hat waving as there was no throwing of the hats, and it was in complete silence. There were also no speeches, I guess they scrapped that a few years ago. So if you hadn't been looking at the hill, you might have missed the event entirely. We did manage to get over to the Academic building a catch a bit of the men's choir on outdoor speakers though....Enjoy! E.