Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I hate to gloat, but it must be done: it is pushing 100 degrees in DC today, with a Code Red Air Advisory, while I am hanging out in my apartment (getting ready for International Students Potluck, oh my god just imagine the heady eats that will be there) in jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt with the windows open. It's perfect October weather in August. Speaking of my apartment, here's a glimpse into the Haack Shaack:

not featured: of montreal and gossip girl posters

I've been considering hanging the Gothenburg arms on this wall, but am a bit concerned that it's too much too soon. It could be cool or it could be obnoxious, like wearing a band's t-shirt to its concert (the  band, not the t-shirt). 

Glorious. Other recent glorious things: teaching 70+ international students how to play beer pong and flip cup in the dorm hallway last night, this amazing mosaic in the main university building,

and THE QUAD (well, actually, since the campus is spread throughout the entire city, there are many quads and parks and fun sitting/chilling/ratting places, but this one was the most quad-like).

Please note the sculpture and Zen pond.


This chocolate-vanilla-hazelnut granola that I am currently eating might just be the most delicious cereal I have ever tasted. It's like Nutella in a spoon. Also, I accidentally bought whole milk at the grocery store because, you know, Swedish is a bitch sometimes, but it is only making things that much better. As Jack Donaghy would say, it's synergy. I'm never looking back.

Zoe, don't think I'm not bringing you back a box.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Alive and Well

Greetings from Sweden! Sorry it's taken me so long to update; between settling in, galavanting across northern Europe, and meeting people and exploring Gothenburg, I've had very little downtime. My first week here has been great, though. Gothenburg is absolutely gorgeous. I did some superficial exploring the first two days here, but yesterday I saw the large majority of the city during an exchange student orientation activity. We were divided into teams and sent on a wild goose chase through Gothenburg, answering trivia questions and trying to barter useless items with locals, but it was good to see the western and northern parts of the city that are a bit further from the university. I also met some really cool people, and last night we went out to the bars in the more student-oriented part of town; I had no idea so many Swedes had mohawks.


(more pictures on Picasa)

On Monday, I made a trip to the Netherlands. Look who I found there!

Leiden was real swell. There were many canals, many bike rides along the Dutch countryside, many fine beers, and many many many servings of risotto and pasta from some very friendly Greeks we met at a bar.

The Greeks were very much into dancing, and very much into making Thomas join them. Anyways, I'll post pictures of my apartment once it's fully decorated. Major indecision regarding the placement of posters and pictures. I love love love having my own apartment, though. It's glorious. Like, right now I am wearing only a robe, sipping on some tea, and listening to Taylor Swift ad nauseum; that's actually a lot like dorm life, but still.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fact-A-Day Pt. 7

T-1 Day FACT

Gothenburg, a major port city with an extensive network of waterways and industries, was designed by Dutch architects and originally had a vast system of canals that rivaled that of Amsterdam. The canals have since been filled in, but the city remains very much dependent upon the ocean, especially for seafood. Feskekörpa, fish market, translates literally to "fish church;" the daily fish auction at 7 AM is considered a tourist attraction. As someone with a severe case of ichthyophobia, I'm a little worried about the ubiquity of fish (starting in late August, there is a Crayfish Festival, a Fermented Herring Festival, and a Salmon Festival), but also eager to finally conquer my fear. The first attempts, going to APO semiformal at the National Aquarium, proved relatively successful, so who knows? Maybe I'll be a seafood fanatic come June.

BONUS FACT: The streets of Gothenburg are heated from underneath to prevent egregious buildup of snow on the roads. This seems a lot more efficient than throwing salt on the roads at the first signs of winter weather.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fact-A-Day Pt. 6

T-2 Days FACT

My new coat and backpack arrived yesterday. They are super cute, and I am super excited to rock them with my new boots. Super super super super super. Fortunately, it won't be long before it's cold enough to justify wearing them. With a little assistance from my dad, I captured the ensemble in what is likely to be a very common scenario while abroad:

"Hey, has anyone seen my passport?"

EDIT: The old lady on the right sidebar and I match. That was astoundingly accidental.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fact-A-Day Pt. 5

T-3 Days FACT

In January in southern Sweden, the sun rises at 8:47 AM and sets at 2:55 PM. Gothenburg experiences, on average, 0.9 hours of sunlight a day during the winter months. I am surprisingly okay with this, and will instead rely on euro pop for warmth and energy:

Mmmmmm, saccharine-sweet pop music and coconut-based drinks. Happy place.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fact-A-Day, Pt. 4

T-4 Days FACT

November 6 marks Gustav Adolf Day, a commemoration of the death of Gustav II Adolf at the Battle of Lützen in 1632 (I finally learned how to type accents on a Mac! I am very pleased with myself). Gustav II Adolf, grandson of Gustav Vasa, who made the Lutheran State Church the official church of Sweden, oversaw the the acquisition of Baltic territories, establishing a glorious kingdom. He also okayed the death penalty for those who converted to Catholicism, which was much less heady. He ultimately met his demise two years after entering into the Thirty Years War, back when those who made the decision to go to war actually had to, well, go. The Swedes celebrate Gustav Adolf Day by eating a chocolate or marzipan medallion of the fallen king; there is also a statue in Gothenburg of Gustav pointing to a spot on the ground in which he declared, "The town will be here," and it is a place of much dancing and celebrating every sixth of November.

Heady, right? I'm waving my finger out my bedroom window and proclaiming that it is the future home of Haackville, but my minions are a bit slow on the statue-erecting.

This is a really, really spotty and abridged recounting of Sweden's glory days, but I have a really poor sense of history thanks to European history teacher in high school who only talked about China, spent 20 minutes a class saying "um" (we did the math), and was overall just really, really really dumb. Like, probably dumber than those AXOs who recounted their mixer to us one night on the LA Quad:

"It was a mixer, you know? Like, a tossed salad. Tossed salaaaaaaaad!"

Vegetable Amalgamation, or Greek Social Function?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fact-A-Day, Pts. 1 and 2

Yesterday marked one week until my arrival in the land of lingonberries, and the idea that I'm going to be gone until June in a country, nay, KINGDOM whose language I can't speak and about which I know pretty much next to nothing is starting to hit pretty hard. I'm extremely excited to go, of course, and I think these pre-trip jitters are healthy and natural and my mind's way of making sure I don't get there feeling super cocky and end up dead in Estonia after running away with some fisherpeople I met at the Gothenburg Medieval Week (this exists, I jest you not); nevertheless, I've had a few restless nights with concerns ranging from the serious (will I come down with a bad case of Seasonal Affective Disorder?) to the not-so-serious (are backpacks acceptable in Sweden, or am I going to look silly?), and I figured that learning a little bit about Sweden, Swedish, Gothenburg, etc., will ameliorate my worries a little bit, because knowledge is power and a mind is a terrible thing to waste and all that jazz. Thus, I bring you the Fact-A-Day.

T-7 Days FACT:

The "swedish sin" stereotype is not a joke.

From Swedish: Phrase Book and Dictionary (Berlitz Publishing, 2003):

Vil du komma hem med mig?
Would you like to come home with me?

Jag är inte beredd på det.
I'm not ready for that.

Jag tar p-piller.
I'm on the Pill.

T-6 Days FACT:

I will be living in Helmutsro, a student apartment located 10 minutes south of central Gothenburg. It's, um, not very aesthetically pleasing from the outside. That's quite alright, though, because it's not like I went abroad for the gorgeous architecture of my host university's dormitories- LettsAndersonCentennial looks like a mental hospital, for god's sake- but it will kind of feel like Soviet labor camp barracks sweet Soviet labor camp barracks, especially with the snow. No complaints, though, since I picked it for its proximity to main campus, free laundry, and large number of students living there:

Also, I'll have my own apartment for the first time, complete with kitchenette and shower, which is very exciting. According to the floor plan, they must be doing major renovations:

since my room is currently flooded with rum.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Brat Pack

I know this has been mentioned ad nauseam, but I hate packing. Hate hate hate hate hate. It's a combination of my two least developed skill sets: thinking ahead and spatial reasoning; I always end up standing awkwardly in the middle of my room, staring at the floor, hoping the throbbing headache means my attempts to pack using only my mind are working (one day I will think "socks!" and the correct number of socks, not an odd number like last winter break, will magically float across my room and into the suitcase, I just know it!) . Will I need these stilettos? Does a coffeepot fit in a suitcase? These are all questions to which I do not yet have the answer. I finally bought some boots, a coat, and a backpack, but I honestly think I'm going to end up throwing underwear, a toothbrush, and Swedish dictionary in a suitcase and hoping for the best when I get there. The parental units implored me to make a packing list, but I keep getting distracted. Here's how it's gone so far:

This peach pie looked more delicious in real life, I promise.

Marie's amazing Mad Men paper dolls

Foreground: Zoe
Background: James River in Richmond

Madison's going away party. I feel nauseous just looking at these pictures. BLEH.

All signs point to me living out of a very small knapsack and peddling baked goods on the street for the rest of my life.