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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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Hello from London 2007 March 26

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Language, Travel.
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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.
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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.

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.
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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.
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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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Flying RyanAir 2006 December 20

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Christmas Break, Helpful Hints, Transportation, Travel.
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One of the great things about my plan to spend the year here in Sweden was that my family planned on meeting me in France to spend the holidays. Upon first consideration, it was a good idea considering I would be able to share some of my travels with my family. It would also make the entire year a little easier for me; I would see my family and have an escape from Sweden for a little while, but I would not suffer some extra detachment from home upon return from Colorado had I decided to just go home for the holidays.

Sometime in the fall, I booked my flights with RyanAir. Though it’s possible to get flights with RyanAir for only a few cents plus $25 or so in fees, I took a flight that cost roughly 1,000 SEK or about $130. That included my one-bag allowance for checked items.

I’d heard a lot about RyanAir in terms of it being somewhat of a flying cattle car. It was my first experience with RyanAir, so I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to the flight. It turned out that, yes, it felt a bit stuffy and crowded in the plane, but the flight experience itself was not too terrible. There was one pretty dreadful landing, but everyone was safe so no harm done. There were no free refreshments, but what usually comes free on a plane (chips, soda) were not terribly expensive.

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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.
7 comments

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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Arrival in Sweden and the First Few Days 2006 August 29

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Helpful Hints, Language, Transportation, Travel.
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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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