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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.
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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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Julgask at Värmlands 2006 December 20

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Food & Drink, Social Life, Swedish Holidays.
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I made it to my third and final gasque of the term with a julgask (Christmas gasque) at my nation, Värmlands, on 2 December. I had unfortunately forgotten my song book and was upset at myself for that, because it’s tradition to write in each others’ song books (and as I discovered at this gasque, it’s also tradition to bite each others’ songbooks!). That’s okay, though, I had a program for my table neighbors to sign.


This was my place-setting! It’s a pepparkaka (a gingerbread cookie, except Swedish gingerbread is thinner).

This gasque was a little different from some of the other gasques in that it was a julbord. A julbord (literal translation: Christmas table) is like a smörgåsbord (literal translation: sandwich table), except that it’s designed especially for Christmas. Amongst many other goods, we had plenty of lax (salmon), inlagd sill (pickled herring; not to be confused with surströmming, which is fermented Baltic herring!), julskinka (Christmas ham), knäckebröd (a hard, typically square bread), and leverpastej (liver pâté).

Left: me and Sebbie! We were tablemates!; Right: Kalle and Andreas

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Bringing Thanksgiving to Flogsta 2006 December 11

Posted by @jennyjenjen in American Holidays, Food & Drink, Home vs. Sweden, I miss..., Social Life.
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Ashley, Bergin and I first started thinking about Thanksgiving in August. We were settled down at Djurgården for our first trip to Stockholm when we sat down to have a beer and talk about home. We talked about getting a turkey, making mashed potatoes, rolling out dish after dish of casserole and watching some American football. It came up every once in a while, especially when we were homesick. It seemed like it might not have happened with all the crazy schedules and the troubles we’d heard others mention about getting hold of a full-sized, whole turkey.

Luckily, our dreams somehow became reality with the help of Ashley’s practiced turkey-cooking skills and our combined efforts with some fellow Americans, a few Canadians and a handful of Swedes. There were at least a dozen attendees! We made mashed potatoes, green bean casserole (thanks Mom for the recipe!), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, you name it! The only thing that was missing was cranberry sauce, but that’s okay. We had a great meal anyhow. Ashley’s turkey was spectacular and she did a wonderful job organizing the whole dinner, not to mention cleaning up her corridor for it.

Thanksgiving #3
Looking down the table at a successful Thanksgiving

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Gasques: food, drink, tradition, and more drink 2006 September 29

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Food & Drink, Helpful Hints, Language, Social Life.
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I’ve attended two gasques thus far during my stay at Uppsala, and they are one of the most entertaining and unique aspects of studying in Sweden. I’ve been looking for ways to describe gasques in a historical sense, but I really haven’t found much. What I can tell you, though, is that they are traditional three-course dinners here in Uppsala, and they’re a ton of fun. And lots of drinking!

lots of booze, baby my goofy friend Mathias and me
Left: Crazy amounts of alcohol + some absorption (good food!); Right: what crazy amounts of alcohol can do to you! (just kidding! That’s Mathias and me)

My first experience at a gasque was the Reccegask, a gasque mostly intended for the newcomers to a nation. The attendees gather in front of the main university building behind their nations’ flags, and parade into the beautiful hall for a number of musical performances and inspiring/funny/mildly interesting speeches given by a variety of important people in the nation and university communities. I rather enjoyed all performances, especially the great music (some swing and jazz!) and the funny speeches (although in Swedish, I fortunately understood virtually everything).

We then headed back to our respective nations. There was a small amount of time for mingling and drinking champagne before we entered the dining hall. Seats were assigned, which in my opinion makes it more fun; you meet new people and your table mate is a surprise.

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What I miss (part one) 2006 September 26

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Food & Drink, Home vs. Sweden, I miss..., Miscellaneous.
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Although I’m having a blast here and it’s a great time, I’d thought I’d write about a few things I miss quite a bit:

  • Peanut butter. Sure, you can find it here in Sweden, but it’s kind of expensive for the rate at which I’d be using it. My mum says she’ll ship some to me.
  • The mountains. Even the hills here are sorta weak. Though, I have to admit, there are some advantages to being at this lower altitude!
  • Good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. I mean real rock ‘n’ roll. There’s really no such thing here. There are some great musicians, yeah, but it seems like there is no familiarity with “anything with a guitar.” Bergin and I were talking to a French student about music and he didn’t seem to get the fine lines between rock, folk, bluegrass, country, etc., and it’s pretty much because you can’t find too much of it on this particular side of the pond. It’s like it gets lost once it hits the UK. Of course the bigger acts are known here but it’s not necessarily the bigger acts who have the best rock. Anyways, there’s a good amount of hip hop and house at the clubs, plus some of the good 80’s stuff and decent pop, but it seems it’s either that side of the spectrum or really angsty metal music.
  • Baseball and American football. Practically nobody around here would know what the heck I was talking about if I talked about blocked punt returns, infield singles, the seventh-inning stretch or rushing yards.
  • Driving. It’s not so much being able to get somewhere by car, it’s driving itself. I’ve always loved driving and I am a pretty good driver at that. I think I would love highway driving here.

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Who goes to Sweden and doesn’t stop at IKEA? 2006 September 3

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Corridor Living, Food & Drink, Helpful Hints, Travel.
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There is no such thing as a complete trip to Sweden without a visit to IKEA. No. Such. Thing.

IKEA, for those of you who aren’t terribly familiar with it, is a Swedish home furnishing retailer that specializes in cheap – yet functional – furniture. It was founded by Ingvar Kamprad, and the name IKEA stands for Invgar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (you can read more at Wikipedia). There are all sorts of ideas behind it, going as deep as the foundations of modern Swedish society to as light as making a stylish life affordable. We were mostly just there for a little style and some meatballs!

After quite a bit of pondering about when we should go to IKEA, we finally picked a day and set off. I went with Christian, Kerstin, Timo and Katharina, all German students. We knew it was going to be a very fun trip.

ingång!
Ingången (the entrance) to IKEA

IKEA in Uppsala is located in Boländerna, which is a two-bus journey (one has to switch buses in town to get there when coming from Flogsta), so I would highly recommend visiting by car as opposed to taking the bus. We commissioned Christian for the driving task, since none of us have cars ourselves. We figured it would be less of a hassle, anyways, having to carry things back. Christian thankfully obliged.

I had my eyes on a few specific things when I got to IKEA, but there was one thing I couldn’t resist checking out first: kitchens!

IKEA kitchen another IKEA kitchen
I can’t quite express in words to you how much I love kitchens.

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