Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

From Svearikes land Engel-land they wonde

July 10, 2010

After spending a month in the wilds of Sweden, arriving in Oxford is a lot like being thrown from the woods into one of the world’s greatest centers of scholarship.

Actually, that is exactly is. Sweden, after all, is out in the boonies. Even Stockholm All of a sudden there were cars and people and the sound of strange languages (French, Spanish, Chinese, you-name-it) all around me. There were streetlights and taxis and cathedrals and pubs and portraits of Cardinal Woolsey. It was overwhelming to say the least. But it was Oxford!

But let me start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). I slew out of Skavsta airport in Sweden the night of the 3rd of July to arrive very late in London Strandsted airport, which actually isn’t in London but rather about an hour away. I did my best to surpress my fake British accent that sometimes has a way of coming out when I talk to British people, but I unfornutely failed when I uttered a very snobbish ‘Thank you’ to the man who checked my passport. Apparently my fake brittish accent is extremely snobbish. I’ll have to work on that.

I had planned to sleep in the airport that night (to wait until the busses started again) and I thought it was going to be a nightmare. Au contraire! I found a quiet corner of Stansted airport were everyone was sleeping peacefully. So I joined in the resfullness by pulling out my handy sleeping bag and making myself a little nest on the floor. The rest of the night was surprisingly uneventful. I could have been dreaming, but I even thought I heard som people speaking Swedish next to me.

At 7 Am I rolled up the sleeping bag and hopped on the buss to Oxford. the ride I don’t really remember much of, again, I was asleep. When I finally reached the Oxford station, I was greated by my friend and hostess, Corinna (Oxford student and medvalist extraodinaire), who was waving two American flags upon my arrival. It was the 4th of July afterall! We walked back up to her place in the Balliol college manor, all the while waving the flags and signing the Star Spangeled Banner very proudly. Later, we even had a water-balloon toss with another American to celebrate. It was amazing.

After dropping my stuff in her room, Corinna led me a bit around the city. We a te a delicious lunch of lentils and goat cheese (I personally was just excited to eat something that wasn’t fish or potatoes or bread). Throughout all the day’s tours, I, still big-eyed at the sheer amount of civilization after nearly six months in Sweden, was still in a daze of brown stones, medeval streets, and dreaming spires. And of course, being me, I couldn’t help but think of Jude (from Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure) sitting on a hill, looking at the lights of Oxford from a distance, longing for all the privledge of the scholarly life and above all, to study Latin. Indeed, in Oxford, privledge, as well as history, seems to seep through the walls.

And then, at 7 PM, it was time for me to hit the road again, on the train to Coventry, the working-class city that is the home of Jaguar Motors, Lady Godiva (yes, she was real) and my physics buddy from Lund, Pardis. And so I was off, after only a few hours rest in Oxford, traveling again…

I plan to recount each of my visits to different towns in England in different posts. Up next: Coventry. Then Dorchester (aka Casterbridge) and my one-on-one time with Thomas Hardy’s heart (yes, that happened). Then it will be the wierdness of Bath, and then back to Oxford (where I am now). And then, in two days, London. Look out for those posts, I will try to update as much as I can.


*Anyone who gets the reference in the title wins… well, you know what.

ode to cyclists

April 11, 2010

It’s time to face the facts:

If it wasn’t for the kindness, understanding, and unfathomably amazing mechanical abilities of the special breed of people on this earth known as cyclists, I would likely be dead on the side of the road somewhere in Berkeley. Probably Tunnel.

If it weren’t for teammates who wait for me at the top of climbs, I probably would have given up on this whole crazy obsession a long time ago.

If it weren’t for teammates who have loaned me food, water, or clothing, I’d probably have either fainted from hunger or dehydration, or lost my hands to frostbite by this point.

If it weren’t for teammates who ride along side of me every inch of the way on a route I’ve never taken, I’d probably only be just crawling into the Orinda Bart station, or worse, right now.

Or, even more likely, living a primitive, survivor-man-like existence in the forest somewhere in Santa Cruz, Tahoe, or Tilden Park, using the shards of my shattered bike frame to hunt wild boars for sustenance and trying to signal helicopters with my shiny survival blanket.

And on top of that  I’d still have my keys locked inside of my car.

Gosh, how tough life would be without Calcycling.

What’s more, I might be stuck in a ditch in såmevvhere, Sveeeden, beginning the long walk home in my increasingly impractical cleats as volvos and traktors and rednecks on atvs (apparently, not an exclusively American phenomenon) zoom by me with out a care in the world.

And that’s actually exactly where I would still be right now, all joking aside, if it weren’t for CK Lunedei. After a pothole and a backflat, (punktering) and a failed patch kit from Mikes Bikes (which led to another backflat) I soon had someone’s spare tube offered up to me. I spent several minutes then arguing the whole yes-I-am-a-girl-but-I-can-change-my-own-tire thing and the yes-I-am-a-girl-but-I-can-find-my-way-home thing. After already having forced a group of 15 or so dudes to wait for quite an unreasonable amount of time on a one-lane-two-direction highway, I finally convinced them to sätt iväg (get on the road) without me and leave me to change the tire (the second time) myself. I was getting tired of their weird Swedish pacelines anyway. Instead I got some nice ITT practice (more like dying in the wind) on the way home.

Yes, this does mean that CK Lunedei dropped me again—but this time it wasn’t my fault (blame it on the tire, typical). Even so, while CK Lunedei usually kicks my ass—today, today they saved it.

Thanks, cyclists. You rock. Tack så jätte jätte mycket.


March 26, 2010

Never did I think that Spring could come so suddenly. Spring in California is a continuation, a rainy transition from mostly light to always light, from beautiful but occasionally disagreeable days to beautiful and always beautiful days. Spring goes unnoticed, shuffled off as an awkward middle child, just another season in the perpetual cycle of sunny days.

Here, it as if as soon as the calender changed to March 20, the weather changed it’s mind. The sky today is even bluer I think, after months of cloud cover.  I had forgotten what it was like to wake up with the sun already fully shining or to watch light slowly fade into darkness at the end of the day. In winter, black fades to grey, and at “sunset,” grey fades to black. At the late hour of 6 PM, I can now watch the color of the sky fade from deep orange to dark, clear blue. Spring..våren…det är vår i luften! And just a month ago one could ride cross country skis in the city park. Smiling people are beginning to appear on every park bench, and big jackets are slowly but surely starting to go out of style. I suppose this unexpected, immediate change is the reason the is called “spring.” I never really understood that until today.

I wanted to be the first one in Lund to go running in only shorts. Unfortunately an old man with a handlebar mustache beat me to it.


But, the countdown has begun. In t-minus (does anyone know what that actually means?) 22 hours I will be on my first bike ride. CK Lundei, the local cycling club has the first introduktionsrundan ( intro-go-round) ride tomorrow. I just pumped up my tires. Dug out my shoes. Haven’t decided on the wardrobe yet (armwarmers? legwarmers? jacket?). This is a very important decision depending on the weather. Let’s just say I’ve ridden on much colder days than this in Berkeley- I’m thinking of testing out my thickened blood and ditching the armwarmers. But then again I remember my little trip down Redwood without gloves that one October morning and think…maybe I shouldn’t be so bold!


Added 20 minutes later: Nevermind! no way I can wait 22 hours. I am going now. No question about it. Screw the armwarmers. I’m riding my bike in Sweden today. Like now. YEA!!!!

misadventures, as usual

March 11, 2010

Here’s a brilliant idea:

Have a username for an account that you sometimes use as a password for another account. Have that same word as your email password (only just recently changed from the default password…) Then, get invited to a new communication tool that google is developing, and have google create your account automatically…making that same word your new username…while it is already the password to that same account. Realize this horrific coincidence at 11 pm at night, frantically change your password on your account and then go to sleep. Wake up the next morning to realize that you have completely forgotten what you changed your password to. Fortunately, you also forgot to turn off your computer, so you are already logged into your email—but only now, you can neither turn off your computer or close down your browser without being logged out. After trying all possible combinations of the usual meaningless words and numbers, become very disappointed in yourself and post on a public blog: “God, I am an idiot.”

Here’s an even better idea:

Sign up for a Chemistry class in Swedish. Spend nine hours a day in Kemicentrum for the first quarter of your time in Sweden. Waste no time in complaining loudly about it to friends and family. Learn the most important of Swedish phrases: “Hur kan man räkna ut…” (how can I calculate) “Jag fick fel svar!” (I got the wrong answer!) and “En gång till…” (One more time). Pass the test, but fear the wrath of the curve-less grading system*. Go in for an awkward meeting with the UC coordinator, expressive of your fears. Learn that your fears are irrational because your grade is adjusted to the UC scale, which means you got a B+ in Swedish Chemistry. Leave feeling very happy, and only slightly stupid that you didn’t get an A.

or try this one:

It’s at last a beautiful day, and your legs are itching for a bike ride. Make the good decision to ride your crappy commuter bike to the small town of Dalby, because there’s still ice on the road. Have a wonderful, but very cold 20 kilometer bike ride. In Dalby, search in vain for the lake you heard of. Be forced to carry your heavy bike over snowbanks, through someone’s potato fields, and past a whole gang of barking dogs. Be uncannily reminded of Idaho. End up on the back side of a quarry behind locked gates (?) carry your bike around the gates, and start back on the road. Stop for a while to sit on a bench near söderskog and eat just enough cookies to cancel out any semblance of real exercise. Go home and somewhat pathetically look at pictures of Grizzly peak on Google Earth.

Or an even, even better idea:

Stay up past midnight, not refreshing your memory on QM, no, but rather sewing a sweater that is slit down the back so it can be ripped off during one of the scenes in a over-the-top student student comedy show. Wake up the next morning with a headache, a sore throat, and no will do go outside in the weather that has unexpectedly decided to drop past freezing again.

But wait, here’s the best one yet:

Get over-confident about your ability in Swedish and sign up for a course that has the goal of finding a road map for  sustainable development of nanotechnology because your friend has been working on creating it for the past year and it looks like one of the coolest courses you’ll ever have the opportunity to take. Soon afterward, realize that not only do you know next to nothing about nanotechnology, but you still can’t really speak Swedish, no matter how much you can talk about the weather, your hobbies, or electrochemical reactions. Waste time you could be spending on improving your vocabulary by posting on a public blog: “Oh my God. What have I gotten myself into this time?”


*Swedish test taking is actually quite nice. I’ll have to post on that someday.

Semlor Recipe, in English

March 3, 2010


Hi everyone reading this! I am trying to get your attention. Well, hopefully that worked. Anyway, this post is my blog’s most-read post, probably because I think this is one of the very few Semlor recipes in English that exists on the internet. As my blog statistics meter tells me, several people visit this post each week (especially now since it is actually time to make semlor again) even almost a year after I posted it. I am curious: Who are you guys? Where are you from? Why are you making Semlor in English? Please leave me a comment, I’m interested to know 🙂 Thanks for reading, and enjoy your semlor!

Tack snälla!


Well, Fat Tuesday has long since passed. Sadly, you are technically not allowed to eat these semlor (aka fetttisdagsbullar or fat tuesday buns) any longer, as it is now fasten, or Lent. That being said, here is my English translation of the recipe, just to tempt you.


75 gram or 3/4 stick butter (or margarine for vegan)

2.5 dl or  a bit less than 1 (.85) cup milk

2.5 dl or about 1 cup sugar

25 gram fresh or 3.5 tblspn dry  yeast

7.5 or  3 cup white flour

teaspoon cardamum


300 gram or maybe 2? cup Mandelmassa (almond paste, or I think Marzipan would work too)

3 dl or 1 1/4 cup whipped cream.

Powdered sugar!

Gör så här: Do the following:

1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add in the milk and warm to “fingervarmt”, or around body temperature.

2. Dissolve the yeast in ab0ut 1/4 c water. Mix until the thick mixture is homogeneous, let sit for 10 min.

3. Add the rest of the dough ingredients: the salt sugar, cardamom and the majority of the flour. Save a little bit of the flour for forming the buns. Knead the dough until it is smooth and shiny, about 10-15 min. Place the dough back in the bowl and let rise for 40 min in warm, dry, place.

4. Take out the dough onto a flat surface. Form the buns by rolling circular shapes with your hands. They should be around 1.5 inches in diameter, but you can make them however you want.
5. Place the buns on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Let them rise for 30 minutes more. Heat the oven to 430 F (225 C)

6. If you want to, you can brush the buns with an eggwash or with soymilk. Set in the oven and bake for 10 min or so until done.

7. After then buns have baked and cooled for around 5 min, cut the top off each bun, about 1/4 inch down the bun. Pull out a bit of the warm bread-flesh from inside the bun. Add the extracted bread-flesh to a bowl with the (chopped or otherwise shredded) mandelmassa and stir them together.

8. Add the mandelmassa mixture to the empty spot in each bun. A top each mandelmassa, add a dollop of whipped cream. Set the tops back on each bun, and sprinkle them with powdered sugar, like snow.

9. Eat them, and then say ten “Hail Marys” and five “Our Fathers”. Repent, my child.

Based on the recipe from:


March 2, 2010

Today, I went running. Yes, you heard me. Running. Outside. Like out of doors. Like not in the gym. Yeah.

I am coming off a period of final exams, illness, and being in Berlin. And also a short period when a precariously ice-skating around the city park while listening to the Lord of the Rings sound track as old ladies and toddlers frolicked around me counted as a day’s exercise. No longer! I’ve been spinning and yoga-ing a lot since I’ve been home.

Leaving Berlin, I was excited to get back to Sweden, where the snow was still snow rather than disgusting slush. Where winter was still white and the stinking remains of New Years festivities weren’t materializing on every street corner as the ice melted. When I stepped of the Train in Lund, I noticed something peculiar: it was raining. För fan! Damn! There’s the end of my ice-skating dreams. Now I’ll never make the Olympics.

I forgot that my part of Sweden is, after all, Skåne. And Skåne is, after all, wet. But rain also means that the snow is slowly but surely disappearing. Some days it still snows, as if the weather can’t make up it’s mind. And then the next day it rains. And then the next day it’s beautiful, and the sun shines.

Today, we here in Skåne reached a temperature high of a boiling 3 degrees. I had to take advantage, and so I ran. I ran for a long, long time (for me)…almost 2 hours. I ran to the outskirts of town and marveled at the low-laying, patchwork of agricultural land that is Southern Sweden opened up before me. I was serenaded by cooing doves. I even saw some grass. That’s right, grass. And it was green. Fancy that!

I can sense that the day is coming when the sweet blue Specialized Allez (in layman’s terms: my bike) sitting next to me collecting dust will get to come out and see what Sweden looks like. I know for sure that day will come when I stop seeing the hard-core old man who wears bib-shorts to spinning class at the gym. He looks like he knows what he’s doing, and when he’s out and riding in the real world, then I’ll know it’s time. Hopefully that time is soon.

Våren kommer snart! Spring is on the way!


February 22, 2010

I stood on the steps of the Reichstag, and the world fell away at my feet. Berlin was dark and wet, a light rain had started to fall, and the ice that had once coated the sidewalks was beginning to melt into a grey-brown slush. Few people were wandering the streets at this hour, least of all tourists like me. A wind picked up off the river at night. Cold, I thought to myself, but not as cold as it is in the North. A gargantuan German flag whipped out on the flagpole some 20 meters distant. Illuminated from below, the colors black, yellow, and red, burned against the dreary night sky. It was beautiful. It was terrifying.

Germany is confusing place.

This week I found myself in Berlin, sort of unexpectedly. I finished my Swedish Chemistry exam on Thursday, at last. On sort of a whim bought a 60 euro easyjet ticket to Berlin to stay with my friend for a week, and, nerdy arts writer that I am, catch some of Berlinale, the famous international film festival. Before seeing any films, my friend walked me around the Mitte—the central historical and “touristy” section of the city very late at night, when it had emptied of crowds.

Here in Berlin, the air is pregnant with history. It is at once engulfing and oppressive, terrible and intriguing. It bears down on you from all sides, and even in moments of joy, one can’t help but feel that there are ghosts walking the earth.

As we walked toward Brandenburg Gate, somewhat embarrassingly, I felt tears forming in my eyes. Thousands of Berliners pass through here everyday, but just over twenty years ago it was a dead zone and people where shot here. The line of bricks in the Berlin’s streets that now marks the former location of the Wall gleamed in the rain and the headlights of passing cars.

I am just a girl from California. But for some reason, the place affected me in an unexpected way. By no stretch of the imagination can I claim to have truly felt the effects of this history. But the turmoil, the suffering, in the injustice, the division, the destruction, the construction, the rebirth has become so much apart of the collective world history, if it can even be said that such a thing exists, that I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed.

My friend who was walking me around the city led me to a small parking lot surrounded by luxury apartments, luxury apartments that once had a view of the West from the East. We stopped in front a small, discreet historical marker sign and read it. This icy little parking lot filled with little black Volkswagens, this was one of Hitler’s bunkers during the second world war. Under the parking lot was the bunker where Hitler and his wife committed suicide in 1945. The parking lot, Hitler’s Bunker, is so unmarked because Berliners felt that designating it as a proper historical marker would somehow honor Hitler in a way he doesn’t deserve. Some are even angry that this small sign marks the place. There is an itching sense of a desire to move on. Terror has to be remembered. Or does it really? What is an appropriate way to remember terror? Is remembrance truly an honor?

In Sweden we always look to the future—even the trash trucks have the words “Framtid nu” or “Future now” printed on their sides. In Germany, no matter how hard you are looking into the future, that past is always beside you—or beneath you.

Not far from Hilter’s bunker is The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It is a complacent and solemn place. Rectangular concrete slabs rise in a regular grid from the ground. At first they are low to the earth, but as one walks deeper and deeper into the monument, the monoliths grow taller and taller as the ground sinks lower. In the center of the monument, the stones, with a coffin-like simplicity, are drawfing and engulfing. It is catacombic but it is not fearful. Permeated by a sense of deep tranquility, the monument is seems pensive. Standing between two stones, the hum of Berlin is muted to the ear.

I ran my hands up the cold surface of one of the concrete slabs and for some reason, my mind drifted to England, to the pastoral Salisbury plane, to another arrangement of stones: Stonehenge. That circle of monoliths is a mystery to us even today—how it was made, who made it, and why—the answers we have to these questions are in truth nothing more than speculation.

Never forget, we say, over and over again. Never forget.

The terrible and beautiful truth seems to be that all will be forgotten, eventually.

*note: this entry was also published on the Daily Californian’s Travel Blog.

Spinning and Semlor

January 25, 2010

God, I wish this was my bike.

Yesterday, I realized I had been two weeks off the bike. Riding the crapcycle (doesn’t shift, makes scary noises, that cable that was wrapped around the pedal finally tore off) up to Kemicentrum every morning simply doesn’t count. Jogging outside is nice, but if you go too fast your face freezes off. After enduring two weeks of cycle-less desperation, I finally doled out the $72 dollars for a semester gym pass, and attended my first spinning class in Sweden. Little did I know it would be the best spinning class of my life.

I handed in my spinning ticket to the instructor a, middle aged man named Arne, and walked into an airy, open room with likely about 100 swedes on stationary bikes. So, so unlike the terribly small dungeon/raquetball court that is used for spinning in Berkeley! Even before I got on the bike, I was smiling. Can you imagine enormity of my excitement and amusement when the first song the instructor played was “Mamma Mia”? So, so much more enjoyable than having Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” and the likes blasted in your face for 45 minutes. Can you imagine how hard I started pedaling when Queen’s “Don’t stop me now” came on? And, can you imagine how good it felt to have 60 minutes of intensive exercise after almost two weeks of a semi-sedentary lifestyle? I’ll give you a hint: it felt good. Really, really good.

The rest of the day made it even better. Johanna and I visited Lena- a really cool girl from Uppsala who studies Human Ecology- in order to bake Semlor, the delicious marizpan and creme-filled buns eaten in Sweden before Lent. Lena lives in an all -female building, a place that reminded me a lot of my beloved Sherman Hall. Movie and theater posters adorned the walls, along with some cutout pictures from Pride and Prejudice, Twilight, and other girly things. I’m not usually one to out and call myself I girly-girl (I mean come on, I study physics, ride bikes, and worked as a maintenance manager), but living with all boys these last two weeks (a whole ‘nother post to look out for) has made me realized how much I truly valued the strong female community that I was immersed in at Sherman Hall. Being at Lena’s for even a couple of hours made me feel  so much  at home here.  Maybe it was the baking. Ah, yes…the baking:

Good lord, these are delicious. Maria from Malmö joined our baking party, and a couple of other ladies dropped in from time to time to enjoy a semla. I think we each ate two of them. There was a lot of good Swedish conversation, a dice game called dados, and a bit of svengelska/swenglish (the swedish version of spanglish). After semlor we watched a Swedish historical comedy about Gustav Vasa…the king who kicked out Christian the Terrible (sorry I’m in Sweden now, he is no longer Christian the Great, as he is called in Denmark.) The point of the series, called “Nisse Huld,” is to show an alternate, comedic interpretation of historical events. For example: Apparently, according to the film, the original Vasaloppet was done in the summer time. Who knew? Of course, it’s a bit harder to ski when there is no snow.

En trevlig helg- a wonderful weekend- to be sure. But it’s back to KEMI now-which is mentally trying in many ways, but still, less frustrating than Quantum. So far. There’s nothing like struggling with the language to make you pay full, direct, unwavering attention to a two-hour lecture at 8 in the morning. I’ll update you on that as soon as I master molekylar växelverkan.

Oh, and I promise I will try to be a regular Julia Childs and translate the Semlor recipe into English for those of you who would like to try it at home.

Shampoo Hilarity

January 17, 2010

Only in Sweden

You’d better believe it. The swedes love lingon (you know, those little red berries that they make the juice out of) so much that they have made a shampoo and conditioner out of it. I bought it out of sheer amusement. That, and I needed shampoo. This was this cheapest one. What is ligon berry shampoo like, you may ask? Well, don’t get your hopes up. It’s terrible. It barely works and it smells like fruit loops.

the sweden files.

January 13, 2010

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.