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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.
10 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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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!

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

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Food & Drink, Helpful Hints, Language, Social Life.
9 comments

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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Finding a bicycle 2006 August 29

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Helpful Hints, Language, Swedish Lessons, Transportation.
4 comments

On my second day here, a German exchange student named Kerstin arrived. The next day we were sitting watching television when we decided to go look for a bicycle; Uppsala is a pretty pedestrian-friendly city, and a bicycle is a must-have for any student (or really, anyone at all) in Uppsala. It was a Saturday, and there would be flea markets and the shops would still be open, so we ventured to town on the bus and got off in the city center.

After picking up some newspapers at Pressbyrån and then finding a place to get some coffee, we sat down and looked through newspaper advertisements for anything about used bicycles. We found a neat place called Saluhallen, which I’ve visited quite a few times since my arrival. It isn’t the cheapest place in the world, but it’s not bad, either.

Saluhallen
Saluhallen in Uppsala

We called one man who we later figured out lived way too far north for it to be anything less than a hassle to visit, but that was all that was good in the newspaper advertisements. We were beginning to get a little frustrated when we picked up a free newspaper that was sitting at the table, Uppsala Tidningen (which turns out not to be that bad of a newspaper; it reminds me of the Colorado Daily, but better). It was then that we discovered two advertisements for damcyklar (women’s bicycles) and herrcyklar (men’s bicycles), both with the same number; so, we figured we’d check it out.

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Arrival in Sweden and the First Few Days 2006 August 29

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Helpful Hints, Language, Transportation, Travel.
1 comment so far

After three flights and more than a day and a half without sleep, I arrived at Arlanda Airport just north of Stockholm at about 2:00 pm. I had no problems with getting my luggage, although to fly from Manchester to Arlanda I had to check my carry-on that I had with me from Denver to Chicago and Chicago to Manchester. My luggage came out near the beginning, so I was all ready to go right away. After freshening up in the restroom quickly, I headed out to catch the bus to Uppsala. I actually missed the first one that was there (and the driver wasn’t going to stop for me, oh well), but waiting an extra 15-20 minutes was no hassle after having traveled over 14 hours.

Right off the bat, I was speaking plenty of Swedish. On the bus ride to Uppsala, I met one of the people who was coordinating the international student activities, a student who was an exchange student himself in the States. He told me how to get to the offices I needed to get to once I arrived, but it ended up being unnecessary as I needed to hail a taxi to help me with all the bags I had once I got there (later, I found that one of my friends coming to Uppsala had brought more than I had, and what I had was virtually nothing compared to his luggage!).

After getting to the international office I quickly found out that it was closed. (Ugh! The hours discussed in the booklet were for the following week, and since I’d arrived early, didn’t apply to me.) I left my luggage with a receptionist next door and headed to the Studentstaden office to get my key. If I were to do it over again, I probably would have been better at reading my acceptance packet (there are so many different resources for telling one how to get along when you arrive, but the best instructions to follow are the ones that come in the acceptance packet!). I should have left my luggage at Västgöta Nation while I went to Dragarbrunnsgatan 42 (the Studentstaden office) to get my key, then check into the international office.

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Sending off my passport 2006 July 26

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Helpful Hints, Language, Pre-Departure.
2 comments

Today I sent off my passport to the Consulate General of Sweden in Los Angeles. The instructions for getting this taken care of are not provided very well; I didn’t know that I needed to enclose a $17 money order for the cost of sending it back, nor did I know if I needed anything else enclosed (that is, until I called them to make sure I had everything straight). Just to be safe, I also printed a copy of my confirmation email from migrationsverket.se to go along with my money order, passport, and two passport-sized pictures.

I had been really worried about my visa application because the decision e-mail I received went into my bulk e-mail and was poorly translated in the first place. I had thought that Migrationsverket said they would not translate a decision at all, but apparently the decision was translated into English. The poor translation said that my application had been “proceeded” – which I first thought said “processed” – instead of “granted” or “allowed,” which is the proper translation of the word they use in their Swedish decision (att bevilja). It kind of irritated me. I also didn’t realize how quickly a response would come; it was most certainly less than six weeks.

I’m worried that they will be picky about the picture, but it looks pretty good according to these standards set forth by Migrationsverket. It’s important to get it all done in just one try, not playing hit-or-miss with sending it back a few times (and wasting that $17 every time).

I’m nervous with my passport in someone else’s hands. Let’s hope it gets back soon.

Speaking Swedish… every day 2006 May 30

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Language, Pre-Departure.
5 comments

One thing I’m nervous about when I arrive in Sweden is my Swedish skills. I’ve taken a few years of Swedish here at the University of Colorado, but I am unsure that I will be able to function very well when I get there. My teachers have recommended that I take the higher-level courses in Swedish, and that requires I take a placement exam when I arrive in Uppsala. Most students who take such courses are European students, and as an American student, they cannot tell from my course listings where I should be placed to best suit my needs.

Although many people in Sweden speak English, I am not going to let people speak to me in English very often; perhaps only when I get stuck. It’s an amazing thing to be able to speak more than one language fluently, and it’s been my goal to get at least three or four languages down. I have taken college-level courses in French and I studied German in high school, not to mention the fact that half of my ancestry is Filipino and I understand a lot of Tagalog. However, I’m nowhere near as close to fluent in those languages as I am in Swedish.

I am the only student going over from Colorado who has learned any Swedish in an academic setting. I’m going to help the others learn some Swedish over the summer so that they aren’t completely lost when they get there. One person is probably going to learn faster than the others, one does not seem to care to learn, and the third is going to be a great student. Since I’m not going to be teaching them more than a few basics, I’m not sure how much it’s going to help my own studying, so I am going to start an intensive online search for grammar-oriented books that will hopefully help me out a lot for the exam.

The good news is that I am not going to have many problems with going grocery shopping or filling out forms. I’ll be able to understand the majority of that kind of stuff. It will be kind of fun to be the American who speaks a language most Americans probably can’t fathom ever learning. That might blow away some stereotypes when I get there.