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On my return to Greeley 2007 July 4

Posted by @jennyjenjen in American Holidays, Family, Food & Drink, Home vs. Sweden, Language, Politics, Social Life, Travel.
9 comments

Well, I’m back. Back to Greeley and trying to get back into the swing of things after leaving Sweden.

I got into Denver on Friday after catching the daily 8:00 am Frontier flight out of Chicago Midway. I weaseled my way out of excess baggage charges by switching things around in my luggage and carrying a few things instead. My parents weren’t at DIA when I arrived (somewhat disappointing, but I’m over it); my brother called me not long after I picked up my baggage to report the existence of a speed trap right outside of DIA. How they knew that, you can only guess…

Anyhow, we had lunch at one of Denver’s best Vietnamese spots, New Saigon, and picked up some Asian foods from the market nearby. It was nice to return and do something like that. We finished up the day with a little shopping and a visit to grandpa in the nursing home.

Greeley has changed only a little since I left. A few more buildings have gone up and minimum wage in Colorado was raised (hooray!). So if I end up not being able to find a decent summer job (which is so far furnishing little result), it might not be that bad if I get stuck somewhere like Blockbuster (again) or something in that line.

I’ve spent the days since seeing some people around town and learning how to adjust in the American world again. It’s kind of neat to have American money in my wallet again. I do find myself having to pause and think a little more when I’m interacting with people; I realize that after a year of living in Sweden has given me different social habits, like pushing through busy streets without saying “sorry” or answering my phone by stating my first name. I’m sure that will fade after a while, though.

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A Tribute to Magoo, 1999-2007 2007 June 15

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Family, I miss..., Miscellaneous, Off-topic.
4 comments

Magoo and Me

Just two weeks ago, I had been getting ready for a big night at my nation. It was the last club night and I was working in the kitchen, and later we would hit the dance floor and party like fools. It turned out to be a great time with my friends and a great end to the school year. The next day was a little painful (bright sun, quite the headache!) but as I cycled home from a friend’s place, the sun was so warm and the weather so beautiful that I could not be any happier than I was in those moments. It wouldn’t last long, though.

By then, it was Saturday afternoon and when I got home I rang my father. He was a bit concerned because my dog, a 7½-year-old Chinese Shar-Pei named Magoo, had developed a sore spot on his leg and was not eating again, although they had changed his food. He was becoming rather thin and they decided that it was time to take him to the vet.

On the next Monday, the vet examined Magoo. He was in a bit of pain, as I could hear over the phone when I called my father. It was unbearable to listen to. The vet figured that it was an infection, especially since Magoo also had a fever. I told my father on the phone my concern that this was something much, much more serious than a simple infection. I was, for the first time, really afraid that something was very wrong with my dog.

You see, Magoo had been “my” dog. Although I went away to school almost four years ago, I went home enough to see Magoo and spend some good time with him. It still wasn’t as much as I would’ve wanted, though, and had been used to while in high school; Magoo, having in the beginning slept in a dog crate, starting sleeping upstairs near all of us and then soon by my door. Soon thereafter I let him sleep on my floor in my room. He listened to me a lot and followed me around a lot. When we first got him in Chicago seven years ago, I was the first person to see him at the door. And I played with him and stayed by him constantly. Although he belonged to our family, I’d like to think that Magoo and I had the strongest bond.

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Nu är det sommar 2007 June 7

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Outdoors, Social Life, Swedish Holidays, Weather.
1 comment so far

It’s definitely summer in Sweden.

In mid-May, we were hoping that summer had finally arrived. Unfortunately, it hadn’t; there was nearly a week of rain and wind and the sun seemed to be teasing us. But as soon as June arrived, so did summer.

That’s part of the reason I haven’t been blogging much lately. The other reason is that my computer is basically out of commission and I am using Ashley’s computer. It had been so difficult to keep it on power for a while, so I just didn’t use it as much. Now it’s just sitting on my bookshelf since it pretty much can’t be fixed until I get it home and get my father to look at it. Good thing he works with computers!

Unfortunately, that means very few – if any – photos for a while. I’ll probably be writing without them, though, as I will be in Sweden for two more weeks with not as much to do. I have some school assignments still left, but everything should turn out well (I hope).

Yesterday was the Swedish national day. It’s not really celebrated that much, actually. Everything is closed and people spend their time leisurely. I didn’t, though; I was part of the crew that cleaned the nation, and spent something like 9 hours cleaning. We managed to get some time in the sun, though, as lunch was on the lawn across from the nation and we had pizza. It was nice, really.

Sadly, though, most of my best friends have left. The Frenchies and my neighbor Cecilia have all left, and a few more will leave this weekend. I’m trying to relax and enjoy the rest of my time with them.

I’ll be here only two more weeks. After that, it’s off to Dublin for a short vacation, followed by a week in Chicago. I’ll be home in Colorado before July. It’s gone too fast, that’s for sure.

Hello from London 2007 March 26

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Language, Travel.
3 comments

Although I don’t have a lot of time right now, I just wanted to post quickly about London. I am currently sitting at a computer in a somewhat shady hostel in Piccadilly, charging my iPod (it’s worth it!) and getting my fill of news and information before I set off for another few days without Internet.

I haven’t gone much further than Piccadilly and Soho for the moment, but we’re taking a London tour tomorrow (I should get some sleep soon!) and it will include such places as Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.

Oh, and “we” means my IMCS class! IMCS stands for International Media and Communications Studies (errr… my brain isn’t functioning right now, but I believe that’s correct). I enrolled in the Organization and Communication course, and this trip is part of it. We’re being led by one of the finest and most entertaining professors in the faculty, and we have quite an interesting list of places we will visit related to communications:

  • The Travel Channel
  • Reuters Television
  • The Guardian
  • London South Bank University
  • British Film Institute

Unfortunately, we were highly let down when MTV cancelled on us. I was really looking forward to that!

Anyhow, it’s time for me to get going. I am still working on finishing posts about France, but I’ll have plenty about London as well. Stay tuned!

Unpublished: An Update Full of Goodies 2007 March 17

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Academics, Travel.
Tags: ,
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Editor’s Note: I found this at my MySpace blog (!!) and decided it was really, really worth publishing. I’ve backdated it (although it is currently January 7, 2013). Here you go!

So I’ve been pretty busy lately. It’s beautiful in Sweden right now; around 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoons and not much warmer, but not much colder even at night. The skies have been mostly clear and the sun has been shining.brightly over Uppsala.

Every day I am reminded that I must return to Colorado in June. Every time I open my wallet, fold my clothes, check my email or even glance through my phone. I’m leaving soon.

I know I have three months left, but I really don’t feel like I’ve been here that long and I’ve been here just shy of seven months. How will three months make this trip feel complete?

I took it easy last weekend, getting over some weird head cold that just persisted until I gave in and spent most of the time sleeping. It was actually quite nice just to stay in and hang out with the corridormates, that is when I wasn’t adding to my amazing pyramid of used tissues. I’m still not feeling that great right now, but tonight there’s a St. Patty’s Day party and I will be there.

*     *     *

I’m going to London at the end of this month, but I’m kind of scared to go with the group of classmates in the IMCS program. I really like them, they’re wonderful, but wow – nights out with them are extreme! I’m not quite that much of a party girl; I like some other kind of stimulation when I go out at night, whether it be great conversation, a good band or perhaps a movie or art gallery. That, or I will just people-watch and not have that good of a time. We’ll see how it goes; maybe someone else will be somewhat sane like myself and not go completely nuts. Who knows, though, you only live once!

We will be visiting Reuters Television, the British Film Institute, the Travel Channel, and the Guardian. I think there’s another destination, but I’ve forgotten. Anyhow, I’m quite excited. We’re all upset that MTV canceled on us last-minute, especially since most of us changed our flight plans for it. Oh well.

*     *     *

I have a test next week. My instructor was hilarious during our discussion about the exam yesterday.

“I am giving you the home exam on Monday,” he said. “You will have the week to do it.”

“When is it due?” someone asked.

“Friday, hmm,” he replied.

“But what time is it due?”

“Oh,” he said. He looked up at the ceiling quite briefly. “Well, um, in the afternoon.” The class laughed a little. “How about four o’clock?” he asked hesitantly. Nobody really replied. “Okay,” he said. “Well, I guess, five o’clock.”

That’s Swedish academia. I love it!

*     *     *

That instructor I mentioned above – he’s a cool guy. His namd is Peder Hård af Segerstad and he is well-known in the European academic realm of communications and journalism. He’s written some quality stuff.

Of course, the Americans snicker at his name because it looks like, well, “hard.” It’s really pronounced something like “hoarde.” Nevertheless, there is a Facebook group called “Peder Hard makes us hard… working students.”

He’s such a nice, middle-aged guy who you expect to have only the most polite, proper things come from his mouth. However, that’s not the case with the least proper, polite people as an audience. Anything he says, while in good nature (or sometimes as close to good-natured can be) can be construed quite differently when it’s the IMCS crew as an audience.

Yesterday, he was giving us a rundown of his ‘pocket-sized’ guide to effective communication, a manual neatly laid out in two-and-a-half pages with plenty of bullet points and italicized items. During one section, he was trying to explain that sometimes one cannot just make bread by reading the recipe and following the instructions. To really make bread, one must have a certain involvement and knowledge.

“I can read a recipe and try to follow the instructions,” he said, “But I can’t make bread, no I can’t.” It was getting amusing just there, and we started asking him if making bread was a monthly hobby of sorts. He laughed, nodded, went along with it.

But this is where Peder Hård gets funny. Just when you think the joke’s over.

“I can’t make bread,” he said. “But perhaps, you know, some illiterate Greek woman out there, maybe blind, maybe deaf, she can make bread.” He proceeded to make bread-kneading motions with his bands and kind of bobbled his head from side to side. “Maybe it’s even genetic, bread-making.”

(Maybe it’s a “you just had to be there” moment? I don’t know, aren’t you just as bewildered as I am? That’s what’s so damn funny!)

The class cracked up. Does Peder even know how absolutely hilarious he is?

*     *     *

I will soon have a new post at my demonforeveryday site. Check in soon! I’m writing it right now. Subject matter? The usual. And if you’re wondering, things are okay with him right now; not bitter at all. Things are actually wonderful if you don’t count the fact that we are trying not to make my departure more painful than… well, everything else. It’s getting tempting to just abandon the fact that I am leaving and dive right in. I guess that was what made things difficult the time before. You would think that things would go well when both parties agree upon most everything. You’d think that loving each other would be enough for things to go well. Apparently, it isn’t.

Don’t make me leave! 2007 March 12

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Miscellaneous.
2 comments

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been pretty busy; I have three courses at once, so I spent a lot of my time reading and attending class. I will be going to London at the end of this month and Helsinki sometime next month. Before I leave Europe, I probably will have spent a few days in Berlin.

I’m working on the Paris series and I have decided that I am going to back-date all of my posts; everything about France will be posted under the date it actually happened, or if I summarize it’ll take place after those several days. It makes it easier to get through everything, and I’ll just write a summary of the entire trip in one post.

I am enjoying my time here so much that I have discovered I don’t want to leave. I have definitely settled in here; I’ve figured out what I like about Sweden, what I definitely do not like about the United States and what at home I can live without. I know it will be nice to get back home and see my family and friends, but I will have left a lot here that I intend to return to at some point.

Of course, I hate thinking about that already. I know I’ve got three months left here and I’m going to make the best of it.

Back from holiday 2007 January 11

Posted by @jennyjenjen in American Holidays, Miscellaneous, Travel, Weather.
2 comments

So, everyone keeps asking me where my posts and pictures from France and Spain are!

I’ve got them, and I’ve got plenty to say, but I haven’t posted anything yet for two reasons: one, it’s time-consuming; and two, I’m kind of lazy coming off of holiday.

All right, and I’ve got other things to do. Things like cleaning my room (a never-ending chore), laundry, and finishing papers. I’m also kitchen bitch this week. Those sort of things that are easy to put off, and I told myself I can’t do much else until I’ve gotten that finished wth. Yet, here I am, typing away on the computer…

I will say this, though: it was absolutely magnificent to see the sun so high up in the sky for so many days in a row. There were a few overcast and rainy days in France, even some foggy and icy ones too (when we were in Bourgogne), but overall, I got more sun there than I’ve gotten in a while. Not to mention the 18-degree (Celsius!) weather we had on the coast in Coulliere, near Perpignan. It was fantastic!

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Christmas Break, Day 3: Versailles & le Louvre 2006 December 22

Posted by @jennyjenjen in American Holidays, Christmas Break, Helpful Hints, Travel.
1 comment so far

I went to do some of my own errands on the northwest edge of Paris on the morning of the third day. I made it to my destination on time (thanks to the wonderful metro system!), and after that I met my parents and brother outside the Notre Dame de Paris.

Notre Dame de ParisIt’s only slightly confusing getting to the Notre Dame from the metro stop nearby. Not many guidebooks do a very good job of it, as a girl I had met on my way there had discovered. She was also a visiting tourist, studying in Lyon. After walking around a little while and trying to figure out where we were, we finally got there and spent a while taking some pictures while waiting for my parents.

Last time I was in Paris we visited also the Notre Dame, so after just a few pictures and eating a quick lunch (mom and dad brought baguettes with them) we were on our way to Versailles. It’s easy to get to Versailles; just climb aboard the RER train and take the C line (it’s yellow) towards Versailles, which is the last stop anyhow.

This was our first visit to Versailles. Our last trip was too short for a trip to Versailles, which is definitely worth a good afternoon visit. It’s far enough outside the city that the train ride provides ample time for a snack and a chapter or two of a book.

For those of you unfamiliar, Versailles was once the capital de facto of the French kingdom and home to le Château de Versailles (or the Palace of Versailles). Its history as a château begins in around 1624 as a hunting château, and later became the property of Louis XIII. From there it was built up into a massive palace.

Versailles
The sprawling palace of Versailles.

On the way to the palace from the train station, one encounters several tourist traps (like a few souvenir shops and foreign men trying to sell knock-off watches and such) as well as a sea of cobblestone. The men selling knock-off watches are very good at detecting tourists who will stop and listen, and if you silently walk past them without looking them in the eye they’ll leave you alone.

an elegant staircase
Left: the palace is full of elegant staircases. Right: a hall of sculptures near the front of the palace.

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Christmas Break, Day 2: Paris & le Métro 2006 December 21

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Christmas Break, Helpful Hints, Transportation, Travel.
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After a good night’s sleep, we spent the next day figuring out what we would do the rest of the week in the apartment on Rue du Chemin Vert. We also spent a few hours walking around the outskirts of Paris for a quick appointment. I had the address and spent the a little time the night before figuring out which stop we needed to take on le Métro.

I’ve got to say that one of my favorite things about Paris is le Métro.

le Métro
One of the infamous signs for the metro.

The Parisian underground is definitely the best way to travel in Paris. It’s quite nice to go on foot most places, but impossible to get across more than one quarter in a timely manner. It’s definitely worth figuring out which metro plan is best for you when you visit; should you get separate tickets, or perhaps a pass? When we first came to Paris, we bought the Paris Visite card for one day. This time, we bought the five-day tickets. Since my parents and brother arrived before I did, they had already bought one day; but my father went and bought me one the day after I arrived. It was a great deal and we didn’t have to use any other mode of transport getting around the city. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I have read that if you are within the Paris city limits then you are never more than 1,000 meters away from a metro stop at any given time.

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Christmas Break, Day 1: Arriving in Paris 2006 December 20

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Christmas Break, Transportation, Travel.
2 comments

Paris before sunset
An apartment building on rue du Chemin Vert across from our window

So, as previously noted, I took a flight from Skavsta Airport to Beauvais airport just outside of Paris. I left at 5:10 in the morning to make it to the airport a few hours before my noon departure, just as instructed for all passengers so that everything can be ironed out without risking missing a flight. I arrived at Beauvais just a little after schedule, and my father’s friend Bertrand was waiting for me. Bertrand and his wonderful family live only 20 km from Beauvais, and he does his flight training there. He offered to take me to a train station from where I would take the RER into Paris and Le Métro to the apartment we were renting in the 20th quarter (20e arrondissement) of Paris. I used Bertrand’s phone to briefly call my parents at the apartment; they had already arrived in Paris.

The ride over to the train station was a little bumpy; I get rather motion-sick, and it had been months since I’d ridden in a car for any longer than ten minutes. It didn’t help that the flight had some interesting turbulence and a bumpy landing. Nor did I get much sleep the night before. I felt a little better with some orange juice and a snack at the train station. We tried calling my parents again, but nobody answered. We assumed everyone was probably sleeping, but since the stop was so close to their house and I had their address, I figured it would not be too difficult to just find my way over there.

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