Thursday, October 21, 2010


Today's weather update:

Currently 37°, feels like 24° when you include the wind chill. Speaking of wind, there are gusts of 40 miles/hour rattling my window. And wall. And general apartment building. Oh yeah, and did I mention that it snowed this morning? H&M sells these leggings* that look and feel like someone wrapped a chunky knit cardigan around your legs, so I may have to invest in a pair those some time soon.

That said, I think it may be time to fire up the heating towel rack!

*In Sweden, leggings that look like pants are referred to as "treggings." Trousers + leggings. This sounds even stupider than jeggings, which I didn't think was possible.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

California Gurls

Abigail Breslin is featured in this month's issue of Bullett, which I only mention because she's one of two celebrities I served at Starbucks (the second being Wolf Blitzer, who ordered a venti skim latte and tipped pretty generously):

She definitely looked a lot different two years ago when she ordered a quad venti vanilla latte (I agree with her friend's sentiment in that, like, Abigail, you're 13, do you even know what a quad venti latte is? Because it's six shots of espresso and I hate to condescend but like, you only need that much caffeine if you've been in the library for the past 18 hours or have been partying for the past 18 hours or OH I DON'T KNOW have been working at Starbucks since 5:30 AM. Just saying. I don't think I was even allowed to order a Frappucino when I was her age.) and a bottle of Ethos water for her dog. But still, it's pretty cool being one degree of separation from the rich and famous. And Wolf Blitzer. Did I mention Wolf Blitzer?

This post thus far has nothing to do about being abroad, so I'll add that I'm making a concerted effort to neutralize my various accents. Since being here, I've gotten pegged with some bizarre American accents, most notably Midwestern and southern Californian. The professor who asked me if I was from the Midwest actually taught at Gustavus Adolphus college, which is 15 miles from my dad's hometown of Mankato, Minnesota, and it's actually kind of scary that he could pick up that faint trace of an accent. When I was headed back from the bar tonight and talking to Katrijn while waiting for the tram, a Swedish girl noticed my accent, and asked me where I was from in the States. Turns out she had lived in Santa Barbara for two and a half years, and she thought my accent sounded very Cali. I vehemently denied this, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my speech was peppered with "RIGHT????" "like, you know?" "oh, yeah, like, whatever, like, absolutely" and "oh my god totally." This awful filler + drawn out consonants and dropped final consonants is a recipe for disaster, and over my dead body will I once again be mistaken for a West Coaster. You all have permission to slap me if I slip into the dreaded Valley Girl dialect and start talking about how awesome roller blading is and what a great day it is for surfing. The weather is great for a day at the beach! 60 degrees and sunny, AS PER UJE. NO SEASONS ALLOWED.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Spooky Scary

If there's one thing I'm going to miss dearly and deeply while I'm abroad, it's Halloween. It's my second favorite holiday (first being April Fool's day), and while I haven't really gotten homesick yet, the idea of missing Halloween makes my heart hurt a little bit. Fortunately, Jessica, who is also from the States, shares the same sentiment, and so she threw a pumpkin carving partay last night!

I had never actually carved a pumpkin by myself before, only watching my dad do it when I was a little kid and too young to wield a knife, so my skills only allowed for the most basic of shapes. Jessica got way more ambitious with the H&M logo, but all I could manage was a Swedish flag. Still pretty heady, though.

Not too shabby for a first-timer! We also had a veritable autumnal (not to mention sustainable, since we used the entire pumpkin, END ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES PLUG) feast; I roasted pumpkin seeds, the Germans made pumpkin soup which was oh my god delicious albeit extremely rich, and Jessica made apple cider:

apple juice + cloves + cinnamon sticks + all spice + whipped cream
Apparently in Sweden there's a bit of resentment towards the commercialization of Halloween's, as they have traditionally celebrated it as more of All Hallow's Eve, the night before All Saint's Day. Swedes would honor the dead and visit cemeteries during the day, but now it's slowly becoming all about dressing up and getting candy and drinking heavily and, well, sorry! I'm considering throwing a massive Halloween party in my apartment next week, complete with a beer pong table and orange jungle juice*, since I'm afraid that no one else is going to celebrate appropriately. If nothing else, we'll have amazing jack-o-lanterns.

* American frats have a reputation here despite, well, not existing in Europe. I told someone about my plans for the frat-esque party and they replied, without missing a beat, "So, who's bringing the roofies?"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When in Rome

How to look like a Swede:

1. Marimekko striped shirt (H&M is also acceptable)

2. Black leggings

It's worth noting that I found this picture (thanks, Google Image) on the blog The Christian Fashionista under a post titled "Can I really make it modest?, part 1." I don't really know WJWD, but I do know that his list of approved activities would not include wearing leggings.

3. White high-top Chucks or black boots

4. Leather jacket (this is imperative*)

If the caption didn't say so, I would never have guessed this was Natalie Portman. Swedishly well played, Natalie. Also, ugh, let me know when you're no longer perfect.

5. Godlike punctuality

6. Resistance to cold weather

It is 35 degrees outside, what are you thinking?

* If nothing else, I am bringing back a leather jacket and a jar of lingonberry jam. So delicious.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grattis På Födelsedagen!

Last weekend was Maxime's 21st birthday, but his girlfriend flew in from London to visit him (everyone now: awwwwwww), so we delayed the festivities until this past weekend, throwing him a wildly successful surprise party:

SURPRISE! He seemed really genuinely shocked and delighted. Mission accomplished. We made it a veritable Swedish celebration, with a Swedish flag, Swedish souvenirs, Swedish elk brew and this peculiar Swedish culinary practice of putting mashed potatoes on hot dogs. I was at first repulsed by the idea, but it really wasn't half bad, although a bit difficult to eat. I ended the night with a good deal of potato on my dress.
Jasmien showcases the Swedish flag, noisemaker
I'm still mad at that Hard Rock for not letting us in because we were under 25
Swedish Elk Brew may be 7,5%, but it still tastes like water, a true sign of Swedish beer
the unjustifiable amount of hot dogs we had reminded me of APO semiformal
nom nom nom, korv och potatis
Pardon the Hallmark Moment, but it was heartwarming to know that we have only been here for 6 weeks, but we've already become close enough to organize surprise parties, yadda yadda, friendship, whatever, "insights," blah blah, I also got stuck in an elevator for 45 minutes:

Fortunately, Dusjan and I were on our way to Laura's (we got there via shopping cart) for a post-party feast, so we were prepared with vegetarian tacos. The elevator repairman gave us a bit of a dirty look when he finally got around to rescuing us. I don't think he was expecting such a veritably delicious fajita picnic.

In other news, I took my Swedish entrance exam today; I forgot the words for "to read" and "spring," and I said that "you're welcome" is "nej problem," but all in all I think I did well enough to continue on to the next level. I've been picking up quite a bit of Swedish just from, well, living here, but so far it's been reading signs, backs of boxes, menus, etc.; even the introductory classes have been 200-person lectures based on Powerpoint slides, so this was the first time I've had to move beyond reading comprehension and actually apply what I've learned. Hopefully I'll get better once we move to smaller classes with real textbooks and software for pronunciation practice and listening comprehension. If I had a kronor for every time my attempts to order a cider in Swedish were met with a blank stare from the bartender, I'd have enough money for another cider. I'm crossing my fingers, though, that I'll get extra points for looking genuinely Swedish while taking the exam. Short dress with ruffled hem, leggings, boots, hoodie under black H&M jacket with interesting zipper detail. The only thing missing was blonde hair, a few extra inches of height, and a body that looks like it hasn't seen a kanelbulle in weeks. No curves allowed in Sweden. Anyways, is hysterical in how well it represents the at-once delightful (so sing-song!) and frustrating (oh my god, why can you just flip the word order of the subject and object? how is that even remotely logical? verb-second languages are proving to be a burden) nature of the Swedish language:

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I am currently very torn on several issues:

1) Do I want to listen to Belle & Sebastian's Fold Your Hands, Child, You Walk Like a Peasant for the umpteenth time today, or do I want to switch to Bowie?

2) Will my linguistics professor grade this paper summary harder because I'm a native English speaker? Should I keep things simple and be marked down for apparent slacking, or should I take pride in my prowess and risk looking like a complete showoff/asshole? We're studying legal language right now, and originally I had typed that the shift from oral language to written language in the legal profession marked a "new trend in law," but then I went back and changed it to "nascent legal paradigm," but paradigm is probably the most tool word in the English language, but maybe not to Middle Aged Swedes who lived, studied, and taught in the UK for 15 years. I am straddling the barbed wire fence of being the idiot American and the pompous American.

3) Do I ever want to go back to the States? This six-hour time difference is enabling my poor study habits and it is so glorious. I keep procrastinating, and the blogs keep updating!

4) Another cup of tea: good idea? bad idea?

Edit: I just reached a level of caffeination (caffeinatedness?) where using the passive voice in a sentence about the passive voice is genuinely enjoyable.


Okay, so I'm a lazy blogger. Many apologies. I've been very busy going on road trips (first time renting a car and first time getting a parking ticket! it was a truly momentous day), joining student unions, getting used to house music (I might even go to Sensational this spring!), outdrinking Belgians, dancing, making sushi, watching Gossip Girl, hitting the club at 2:30 AM, hiking at the lake, buying more sweaters, planning for Halloween, buying tickets to Stockholm, and sitting at many, many cafes. It's hard knock life, but someone's got to do it. I actually have to stay in tonight and eschew a night at Parken (the only place I've found thus far that plays Top 40. They also have incredibly cheap cider and XIDER which is so delicious. The only burden is last time we were there some Croatian told me that the US "doesn't know what it's like to be bombed, because you only bomb other people." Dude, that's the best pickup line you've got?) to write my first paper here. Three-page summary, that's what's up! I love being abroad.