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Flying RyanAir 2006 December 20

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Christmas Break, Helpful Hints, Transportation, Travel.

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.



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


Mail from home 2006 November 16

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Helpful Hints, Home vs. Sweden.

One of the great joys of studying abroad is getting packages from home, and it manages to be somewhat pf an ambivalent thing; whereas one misses home quite a bit, it’s always nice to get a little bit of home while being away.

My aunt Jean has been sending me some cute cards, and I’ve really appreciated that. I’ve gotten once package from home before, too, which I sorely needed at the time; it included a few of my jackets! But it had been a little while since that last package, so I was looking forward to the next one.

I received a great package from home just the other day, and felt that it was momentous enough to document:

Stuff from home! Here was the bad boy. Packages usually get left at Skolgatan, apparently, although I was originally told that packages not small enough to fit in mailboxes were taken to the ICA Väst just behind Sernanders väg. One takes the slip that gets left in the mailbox and takes it to the listed location. There’s a little barcode on it and they just scan it and get it all marked up in the system (or something like that). Since I never know how big or small the boxes that come to me are going to be, I usually take the bus to go pick them up. It seems to take ten days, regardless of what USPS says, to get here to Sweden.

I had an idea of most of what was going to be in the package, but the anticipation of opening something from home was enough to keep me excited.


The Halloween Blizzard 2006 November 16

Posted by @jennyjenjen in American Holidays, Transportation, Weather.

It’s kind of a Colorado thing. Ya know, that Halloween brings the first snow.

But in Uppsala this year, Halloween also signaled the first snow, and a heck of a blizzard it was. The snow really didn’t build up until the day after, but the flakes were flying and it was feelin’ a little chilly out.

It was madness once the snow came. Busses were sliding all over the place and were constantly running late. Of course, nobody wanted to ride their bicycles nor did walking sound very appealing. The snow was blowing horizontally and visibility was ridiculously low. There were a lot of sirens that first day of snow!

Unfortunately, I didn’t take my own pictures of the first snow. I’m disappointed in myself because I’ve always enjoyed the first snow. I usually get tired of snow after a while (especially when there’s nothing you can do with it, that is, for example, we don’t have mountains here!), but the first snow is always amazing.

Here are some pictures that my friend Mike took:

snooowwww more snow!
You know you want to live in Sweden!

It isn’t snowing right now and it hasn’t snowed significantly since, but it might soon. It’s been unseasonably warm (it’s 4° C at the moment), so I’m not sure when the rain will stop and the snow will begin – for real.


Season’s first snow in Uppsala 2006 November 1

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Miscellaneous, Weather.

The first snow of the season began to fall yesterday, the last day of October. It was Halloween in the United States, and we were celebrating it anyhow.

As for the snow, I’ll take pictures tomorrow when it’s light out. I don’t know why, and it’s not like you don’t all know what snow looks like, but there is something neat about the first snow of the year.

And I carved a pumpkin last night! It was pretty neat. I’ll snap a picture of it, too. I named the pumpkin Harald, after King Harald III of Norway. What can I say? I’ve been reading a lot of history lately.

Anyhow, much to come quite soon! I’ve been rather busy, so I’ve got some catching up to do.

Corridor living: kitchen duties 2006 October 17

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Corridor Living, Helpful Hints, Home vs. Sweden.

“Kitchen duties” is a nice way to put it. In my hall, we call it something else:

kitchen bitch
That’s right. We make no politically-correct apologies.

Yeah, I was Kitchen Bitch this week. It entailed putting away dishes that were on the drying rack, taking out trash and recycling, and mopping and sweeping the floor at the end of the week. It’s really not that strenuous work at all, but taking out the trash is really disgusting – you’re emptying what twelve people are leaving in the trash cans.


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.


What I miss (part one) 2006 September 26

Posted by @jennyjenjen in Food & Drink, Home vs. Sweden, I miss..., Miscellaneous.

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.