the sweden files.

View from Johannas Window, Tomegapsgatan, Lund

Hej, alla! Nu bor jag i Sverige. For the next 8 months at least.

Yes, it is cold here. Yes, it does get dark quite early. Yes, people don’t look you in the eye or smile when they pass you on the street and every student has their own room.

But you know what? This is gonna be great. I’m in a country with 8 million other people who are as shy and reserved with strangers as I am. And you know what else: I’m gonna have to get over it.

As mentioned before: I have my own room. It is huge and overflowing with furniture that reeks suspiciously of Ikea. There is a bed, a bedside table, a bookshelf, a couch (yes!) a coffee table, and a desk that is likely about as big as my family’s dinner table back in California. I’m sitting at it right now, in fact, cursed by the 3 am jet lag wake-up. So I am here to briefly provide you with a few things you’ve probably been waiting for (because you all hang on my every word, right? )

1. How was the flight?

Fine. It was 11 hours of sitting in one spot, which is in general, not agreeable. But on-demand video technology has vastly improved since the last time I was on a transatlantic flight, and instead of craning my neck to watch a horrific little film entitled “She’s the Man” projected on the cabin wall, I got to watch “Julie and Julia” on the seatback in front of me. Then it was four-plus hours of half-waking half-sleeping. And periodically peeking out the cabin window at the remarkably clear stars and noticing the odd difference in their positions when not seen from the Western US.

Soon dawn with her rosy fingers [blatant hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-club literary allusion] appeared over the massive cloud banks below. I watched the window for any sign below, even just a sliver of land, of the Emerald Isle, but alas, found none. After breakfast on the plane I picked up my reading of “Far from the Madding Crowd” by the venerable Thomas Hardy. They served tea- I had one taste of it and realized it was PG tips (England’s Number one Tea) and my experience was instantly better.  Soon we descended through the cloud bank and Merry Olde Engelond materialized below. My head was filled with pastoral visions of obscure scholars turned stonemasons, grim but beautiful milkmaids with mud hemmed dresses, thriving corn-markets with many bright faced merchants, sturdy farmers cutting hard soil, women tending to great fires upon the heath, and men of great power who are haunted by their pasts. Whoever can name all the Hardy novels I just alluded to wins my undying affection.

The flight to Denmark was mercifully short. The country of my ancestors soon appeared below, like a thin film of land spread out on top of the sea. And in the distance, Sweden.

British Airways still is holding my poor bike hostage. They messed up and have to ship it to Lund (free of charge!). It is almost a blessing, not having to lug that thing on the train, I mean. I met Johanna at the airport, and in her great kindness she led me to Lund. Tack så mycket Johanna!

2. What is it like in Lund?

The center of Lund is a medieval city, which means that to a Californian, it looks like it could be located somewhere in Disneyland. Except it’s not: it’s real. And there’s snow. The streets are cobblestone, there are half-timber buildings and a Gothic cathedral. AF Borgen- what I’m taking to be the Sproul Hall of Lund- is a freaking castle. But there are also modern buildings. The strangest thing for me however, is the disturbing lack of homeless people and drugged-out people who think it’s still 1967. I asked Johanna if there where any hobos…and she had even forgotten what that word meant. Even though it is a foreign country and I have to be on guard about safety, I already feel much much safer here than in Berkeley.

3. What are Lundians (don’t quote me on that term: I just invented it) like?

Don’t know many so far, but they seem nice. And Badass. Who ride bikes in the dark over icy, cobbled streets with nary a care in the world? Lundians do. Also surprisingly, when I have spoken Swedish to people in the stores they have answered me in Swedish instead of realizing my inadequacy and switching to English. If I start in English, they speak English. Very accommodating. Also today I had a conversation with a Greek exchange student that invovled English, Greek, Spanish, French, and believe it or not, Swedish. Fantastisk! A couple of the American exchange students disappointed me today in the typical way, asking questions such as: “What’s the minimum course load?” and “What is the policy on skipping classes?” and “Is it possible that if all my classes end in March, I can simply skip the second half of the semester?” Except not all eloquent-like an everything.

4. Where do you live?

Mitt Rum-My room

Parentesen. A pair of semi-circular grey buildings just south of the city center.  Warning: major let down ahead. I walked up to my building to find that there is a gudförgätnat tractor outside my window, and that it appears to be hard at work upturning massive piles of frozen dirt. Skit! I thought I left that behind in Berkeley. But guess what I didn’t leave behind? A very co-op-y feel with some trash in the hallways, late-night baking, midnight party music, and a certain unmistakable odor wafting down the hallway. Home at last?


More on Lund to come later. I’ll also be posting on the Daily Cal’s travel blog (I’ll probably work on it tomorrow), So look out for that.


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7 Responses to “the sweden files.”

  1. Monica Says:

    O Arielle
    I don’t know if you’re the kind of girl who reads blog comments…
    Still, you should know that this little entry made me extremely happy!
    I love your room, and I even recognize the red suitcase in the middle.
    ooo update
    Sherman is getting Noah’s bagels for free!

  2. Alia Says:

    1) I always feel more important when people comment on my blog instead of Facebook; I can only assume you are the same.
    2) Your room is awesomely Ikea. Sweet couch!
    3) Love your description of the town; when I read it I imagined snow falling.
    4) To the start of a grand adventure!

  3. Joyce Says:

    Arielle! glad you got there safe!!
    I love your blog (I can picture eveything you’re saying in my head)!!
    Thank you for the pictures! (Black sofa in your room looks so comfy <3)
    I hope you have a great time there and be back safe!!

  4. Corinna Says:

    Dearest Arielle,
    I am so glad that you made it safely! You make Lund sound wonderful, and I will, without a doubt, show up at your doorstep sometime in the next few months. So glad that you enjoyed merry olde … you must come for a longer visit and perhaps see a bit more than Heathrow (i.e. ME! I don’t care if you see anything else 😉 )
    Enjoy enjoy enjoy!!!!

  5. strandsten Says:

    pg tips forever! I very much loved Lund when I was there (less than 6 hours alltogether) tis charming in a wonderfully swedish way. Can I come sleep on your couch? and lovely to hear about the town and your adventures so far. Oh! And when you feel the need to see something very very different, come here! I have a bunk bed you can sleep in.

  6. nana and pop pop Says:

    What a writer you are! We loved your narrative, we could picture being there with you. You room is sooo spacious and despite the tractor you are probably loving it. WE miss you already but are so happy that you have this opportunity. Will keep following this blof for updates. Love you, Nana
    ya sure! I wanna see you ride that skinney tired bike down those icey cobbly stone streets Ya!! Be Careful!! I like the Ikea room set up. A lot better than some of the places I lived in at Bradley university. we sure do love your Blog, Keep up the good work, Love pop pop .

  7. tales from the road: CA to Geneva « the daily saga Says:

    […] actually been the case with EVERY SINGLE PLACE I’VE LIVED in the last three years. I remember my disappointment when I discovered in Sweden I had moved away from the Stadium construction in Berkeley only to live […]

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