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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.

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.



Nu är det sommar 2007 June 7

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Outdoors, Social Life, Swedish Holidays, Weather.
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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.

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


Bringing Thanksgiving to Flogsta 2006 December 11

Posted by @jennyjenjen in American Holidays, Food & Drink, Home vs. Sweden, I miss..., Social Life.

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


Rainy days, an expensive night out, and familiar friends 2006 October 3

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Miscellaneous, Social Life.
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It’s been rainy here in Uppsala for at least the last week, making for an interesting commute to town every day, through puddles and mud and the like. It’s a good thing I found a rain coat last week, and I think it’s the best purchase I’ve made the entire time here; it’s not very fun trying to balance an umbrella while riding a bike, and being soaked all the way through anyways. I’ve been told by my corridor mates that the weather will be like this up until early December, when the snow arrives at full force.

Up until Saturday, I had only run into one friend who had studied in Colorado as an exchange student from Uppsala. I had been keeping in contact with my friend Peter, who had studied at CU last year, so it wasn’t a surprise that we’ve been able to be in contact since I’ve gotten here. However, there are students from past years from Uppsala with whom I became friends, and I hadn’t seen any of them at all. That is, until Saturday.

Saturday was full of a few unexpected occurences, good and bad. Fellow Coloradoan Bergin and I went out to Norrlands with our new friend and co-worker David, a German guy who has been living in Sweden for the last four years. We were planning on seeing Eskobar play live, but even though we paid for a ticket (a whole 120 SEK – almost $20 US! Cheap for a concert but expensive for just cover!), we ended up having to wait to get in by order of the ordningsvakt (security) because the place was too crowded. After numerous tries to get in, we ended up not even seeing the show! We’re going to try and get our money back this week, but anyway, we weren’t very happy and decided to try and enjoy the night even though the concert was a bust.


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

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

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.


Working at Värmlands 2006 September 25

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Social Life.

On Friday I worked at my student nation, Värmlands nation. Fridays are Klubb 054, the one night a week we open up the dance floors and bars and turn the place into a big bumpin’ club. Work at the student nations is more about fun than it is about pay. Although I didn’t receive that much money for the time I worked that night, I got much more of an experience than I ever expected.

I arrived around 4:00pm to help set up for the night. The girl who runs the wardrobe (coat check) situation wasn’t there yet, but one of the kitchen managers (köksvärd) was there, Elsa. So I helped her cover the tables for dinner and get the placesettings ready. She conversed a lot with me in Swedish, which is a really good thing, because that sort of thing gives me more vocabulary for ordinary things that I might not have known before. I also met two other exchange students while helping set up, both from Italy.

When we all sat down to eat before the night got started, I met the two guys I’d be working with in wardrobe, Asif and Mobi. They’re from Pakistan and have been in Sweden for a year. They had worked wardrobe before, so they showed me the ropes, or at least the ropes they’d been taught before. I later found that there are many ways to operate wardrobe, and it’s a lot more entertaining yet complicated than it seems.


Life at the Student Nations 2006 September 11

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Helpful Hints, Social Life.

At Uppsala Universitet, every student must join a student nation. The student nations are named after regions of Sweden, and Swedish students usually join the one that represents their background. However, for international students, we choose based on a whole other set of reasons!

Nations are basically places where students can congregate for activities and such. They were once looked down upon as promoting the more mischevious Those activities nowadays mostly consist of drinking, clubbing, and fika (conversation over a cup of coffee and a treat or two). There are also all kinds of clubs, choirs, and sports organizations at the nations. We spend anywhere from two to four nights at the nations, dancing sometimes but usually just socializing. I think that’s just because we’re international students and can get away with going out every other night.

clubbin at Snerikes oooh party at Värmlands
Left: (L-R) Ashley, Kerstin, Julia and Timo; Right: Uh, is that me? Um, not sure…

After some deliberation, I chose Värmlands nation. It was either that or Snerikes (Södermanlands-Nerikes), but since so many other exchange students I knew were joining Snerikes, I chose Värmlands. But as a member of a nation, you can go to any other nation’s activities, too.

One of the most fun parts of nation life is the gasques. A gasque (gask) is a formal dinner filled with three courses, plenty of drinking (snaps/schnapps, beer, wine), and lots of singing! I recently attended a run-through of what a gasque is like. We learned plenty of drinking songs, how to toast properly, and what the setup of your table looks like. It was a lot to remember, but as we were told by the organizers of the meeting, you might be too drunk by the end of the dinner to really know what you’re supposed to be doing. Nobody has any problem with that, anyways.

I’m attending my first gasque hopefully this weekend, if there are still spots available at the Reccegask at my nation. If not, I already have reservations to attend the International Gasque at Stockholms nation.