Monday, January 31, 2011

Champagne W-i-i-i-shes, Caviar Dr-e-e-e-ams

I was trying to find a picture of this postcard that I found in Stockholm, which may be the most hysterical postcard ever (definitely better than this gem). The background was the typical Stockholmian (note: not a word) scene, islands dotted with royal buildings and whatnot; in the foreground were the most blatantly photoshopped polar bears swimming in the river with the text ANYTHING  CAN HAPPEN IN SWEDEN word arted (note: not a word) across the top. It was amazing, it got lost in the mail, and it is nowhere to be found on Google image search. However, the search "polar bear stockholm postcard" did bring up this picture, which has nothing to do with the postcard but has everything to do with how I feel about food in Sweden.

WHY DO YOU EAT MEAT FROM A TUBE? This lady also seems befuddled as to why there is a polar bear on the label. That makes two of us.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


So, I spent New Year's Eve in Amsterdam! Yeah yeah yeah, better late than never. It's still within the one-month official blogging grace period!**

The entire night can be summed up in one word: craziness. SHIT WAS NUTS. I mean, you would have to really search for a chill night in Amsterdam on NYE, but I have never seen so many excited, drunk-and-otherwise under-30-somethingers in one place. The crazy started in Leiden, before we even left for A-town (peace up). We met at Thomas' friends' apartment, where we were promptly fed Serbian grain alcohol and the most delicious mix of curacao liquor and orange juice, which tasted like orange Starburst DELICIOUSNESS and looked like what would happen if The Hulk had hemophilia and suffered from a massive paper cut.

Thomas models The Hemophilic Hulk
Next stop on the Crazy Express: trying to get to Amsterdam. The last train left at 8:30, and of course we missed the bus to Leiden Centraal, so we had to book it to the station with little time to spare. Fortunately, we made it in time, along with every other young person in the Netherlands. I have never seen so many shenanigans in one place. You could smell the alcohol wafting out of the train (Party Train?) as soon as the doors opened. The heavy fog of booze that hung throughout the train cars gave way to a new sort of fog as we walked out into the streets of Amsterdam. Apparently, NYE is the only night on which fireworks/firecrackers/general pyrotechnics are allowed in the Netherlands, and people celebrate accordingly. Even on the way to the apartment in Leiden, children were throwing firecrackers at buses and people like it ain't no thang (ps, it is a thing when they are THREE FEET FROM YOUR HEAD). Again, craziness. Anyways, it seemed like everyone was at once holding a firecracker in hand, a bottle of champagne in the other, and a joint in the other, because people in Amsterdam definitely have three hands. Craziness, remember? This added a very smoky, apocalyptic, awesomely blind feel to the night:

Just noticed this dude's wig. Amazing.
Anyways, we walked down the main stretch for a while before making it to Museumseplein. I probably didn't spell that right, but again, way too lazy to correct it. On the way, we stopped for some great drunchies, a Tomato and Mozzarella and Way Too Many Condiments, Oh My God, What Was I Thinking Putting Ketchup, Mustard, AND Thai Spicy Sauce On This Sandwich, that truly hit the spot. We finally made it to the main square by midnight; it was a little surprising, since there wasn't a countdown or anything, just an explosion of an impossible number of fireworks. I've never been in such a large crowd for NYE, and it was definitely exhilarating to ring in the new year with so many people. There was a lot of champagne-swilling and shouting and sparklering and kissing and hugging and HAPPY NEW YEAR texting and general elation and excitement. 

We planned on moving to Leidseplein, a bar district, for the rest of the night, but there was a bit of an incident. Two of Thomas' friends thought that a fountain was filled with snow, and jumped in in it? Make a snowball? Not entirely sure. Anyways, the snow was actually soap, and they climbed out much wetter than when they charged in. Needless to say, they were no longer up for staying out in the cold, so we booked it back to Amsterdam Centraal.

We narrowly missed the 1:45 AM train (like, by two minutes), and spent the next hour people watching and helping Thomas' friend who had dropped her cigarette and was crawling on the ground trying to find it, eventually lighting it by the wrong end. The 2:45 AM train was still a Party Train, only this time, there was much more puke in the stairwells. I also received my first backhanded compliment of the year when two Dutch guys told me that I must be "the popular girl in school," since I wasn't fat. Thank you?

In conclusion, this New Year's Eve was, in the words of Drake, the best I ever had, and it'll take a lot to top it in 2012. I mean, unless my parents are willing to recreate Cramsterdam in their living room. My guess is no? Anyways, happy 2011*, everyone!

* That's Crazy + Amsterdam. You're welcome.
** This is a completely fabricated guideline that I made up to compensate for my laziness.
*** I honest to god forgot it was 2011 today. I was reading a Wiki article about Modern Family, which was renewed for its second season on January 12, 2010, and was like, "oh, I guess the next season won't be coming on until later this year." OH SIKE.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Igloo Sweet Igloo

Dear Faithful Readers,

It is currently 10° F in Gothenburg tonight, and probably pretty close to that temperature in my apartment. Sometime yesterday or the day before, my heater broke, and my apartment has slowly been losing heat over the past few days. I am currently wearing heavy sweatpants, two pairs of heavy socks, long underwear (both the leggings and the turtleneck), and a sweatshirt while burrowing under four blankets. My meals have been reduced to soup with a side of hot water. I recognize that this complaining warrants a call to the WAHHHHHm-bulance, dial 9-WAHH-WAHHH (or, in Europe, WAHHH-WAHHHH-2), since many people live on the streets every night in weather worse than this, while I still have, you know, my own apartment in Sweden and friends with heaters and a hot shower and a laptop from which to bitch about the cold apartment, but still, it's really, really cold in here right now. Like, I'm considering sleeping with my laptop on me for warmth. Or turning on the oven tonight. Anyways, if you all don't hear from me in a few days, I have either a) succumbed to hypothermia, b) refused to leave my bathroom, which takes on a sauna-like warmth when the shower's on, and/or c) made poor decisions with candles/the oven. Please check on me. Tack så mycket.

The Peripatetic Peanut

PS- To all my AU readers, I hope that you are raging hard in accordance with the Rage Alert. May your snow days be a blur and the Berks Store be fully stocked.

EDIT: The heater works again! I finally got in touch with the correct people, and the caretaker came and, well, took care of it while I was out today. Oh happy day! I won't have to sleep in a parka tonight! No, seriously, remember this jacket?

That was my pajamas last night, along with a hat, scarf, and gloves. I am going to celebrate by a) spending the entire weekend walking around my apartment in my underwear because I can and b) eating, because I've been on the Too Cold to Make Food diet for the past few days complemented by the Incessant Shivering and Jumping Around for Warmth exercise plan.


For whatever reason, a lot of my Belgian friends from last semester had an oddly strong attachment to 90s adult contemporary. There were many nights spent listening to Celine Dion throwbacks, and, most often, Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." I didn't even know that song had verses until coming to Gothenburg. So many AU Abroad insights! Anyways, I found this Total Eclipse cover done by vikings the other day, which seems fitting, since I'm currently learning about vikings and it's kind of an appropriate mash-up of two things that very much remind me of Sweden. Whatever, it's a stretch, but who doesn't enjoy vikings belting out melodramatic ballads?

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Today is the first day of classes for this semester, and I'm kind of nerdishly excited about it. I haven't done anything remotely requiring brainpower for over five weeks, and it will definitely be nice to get back in the swing of things. If I tilt my head to the side a bit I can hear oatmeal sloshing around where there used to be a brain. Also, I'm taking a 15 credit Scandinavian Studies program, which obviously won't count towards my Environmental Studies degree, so I'm going into the class with the mindset that it's more like five months of learning for kicks and less of taking a class to get a grade. Is there any better way to spend a semester than reading up on vikings and Swedish folklore and SPACE TRAVEL (this is a lecture, I kid you not)? Probably not. I'm hoping that a social science course, which I've never really taken before at AU, will force me to do heavy research and write term papers and generally prep me for what is sure to be an academic bloodbath next year.

Anyways, the class isn't exclusively for exchange students; with Swedes in attendance, I'm going to need to look the part.

I might be able to fool them until they start speaking to me and I'm all like UHHHHHHH, hej, jag heter Sarah, vad heter du? and they just stare at me blankly because I haven't been able to mask my American accent enough to make sounds even remotely close to those required to speak Swedish properly.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pack, Pack, Pack It Up, HEY

All of my luggage for one month. I've never felt more accomplished/homeless in my life.


Greetings from Gothenburg! I am currently safe and sound in Sweden after a long and arduous journey, but things have taken a turn for the better since last post. After leaving the library around 10 PM, I hung out in Amsterdam Centraal for a few hours, and made the best/worst decision of my life: I went to Starbucks. It was a great decision because I caught them when they were brewing a new batch, so since I had to wait two minutes (I can't believe some people actually complain about this. As a former barista, let me make it clear that coffee does not make itself instantly and magically. Would you rather us give you stale coffee? Ugh.), the coffee was on the house and it was delicious and the first American-style coffee I've had since August and it warmed both my hands and my soul. It was an awful decision because I find myself once again craving giant coffees. Anyways, it was a mild night in Amsterdam and the people watching was hysterical, which made the wait for the 12:30 AM bus to Düsseldorf kind of nice. The bus was warm and the driver was playing adult contemporary love song radio, which everyone knows is the ideal music to which to fall asleep. We got in around 3 AM, and to my delight, the main terminal in the Weeze airport had padded chairs without armrests, which provided a lovely bed for a few blissful hours of sleep. The flight went smoothly and I had some mini stroopwafels for breakfast. Sweden was cold and overcast and wet and icy, but I was still happy to be there. I came back to a warm, clean apartment, showered (oh my god, what a glorious shower), made what's-in-my-kitchen-that-isn't-expired-like-the-milk-I-left-in-there-for-over-a-month pasta, and passed out for three hours. I was expecting to want/need a day or two to pull myself to together and sleep, but I ended up meeting friends for dinner, which was great. After some quiche with Katrijn, I headed to Joy's goodbye dinner (well, by the time I got there, dessert leftovers, which were still so tasty); It was so good to finally see everyone after a month, and I realized just how much I missed the friends that I had made in Gothenburg. It's a little weird right now, since people are leaving while new students are arriving, and it's going to be difficult to balance saying goodbye with saying hello. Last night, for example, a girl that had just moved in to the Helmuts 13-2 hallway joined for dinner, which was nice that she had people to meet and talk to her first night, and it was great to already meet new people, but it was a little awkward for us to be filling each other in on our winter break stories and adventures and hugging and saying goodbye while trying to include her in the conversation. Anyways, I came back pretty early, since everyone had exams the next day (don't they know they're abroad???), and uploaded pictures and Skyped with Mom and tried to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

The next few days is going to be an attempt to complete too many errands, but I'm already awake and have started laundry, so that's a good sign. The best thing about being back in Gothenburg? Settling into the morning routine again. Current status: eating muesli, drinking blueberry tea, and jamming to some John Legend (and soon to be John Mayer, in a few songs). Also, yoga tonight! Get excited! And limber!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I know that I spend approximately 28% of all conversations and offsides talking about how awful and sticky children are (or, as the Swedes so fondly refer to them, barn), but I realized today that I am oftentimes just a taller, more verbally competent (though probably not physically competent. HEY THERE COORDINATION/MOTOR SKILLS) toddler. I take solace in coloring (many of my rock-bottom moments have ended in me sitting on my bedroom floor surrounded by a giant box of Crayolas and a coloring book), I would choose a grilled cheese sandwich over most things in life, and, without proper nutrition and sleep, I am miserable, insufferable crank who is no better than that wailing kid on the tram/in the restaurant/in the grocery store who was woken up from her nap early and, goshdarnit, just wants a little jar of mushy peaches or peas or whatever babies eat.

I spent last night in Schipol airport, and at about 6 AM, after no sleep, the waterworks began:

6 AM: Cried because I was sad.
6:10 AM: Fell asleep on the floor.
8:30 AM: Woken up by a security guard
8:40 AM: Cried because I was tired, iPod almost dead
8:45 AM: Relocated to a chair
11:07 AM: Cried because I was never going to get to sleep/general hopelessness
11:10 AM: Cried because WHY IS TIME MOVING SO SLOWLY
11:15 AM: Cried because my phone wouldn't work and I was going to be stuck in Schipol Airport until the end of times/2012/12  hours
11:30 AM: Realized feeling of cruminess could be related to hunger. Ate saltines.
11:35 AM: Went to bathroom to fill up water bottle. Cried because my hair was greasy and my sweater was wrinkled.
11:36 AM: Cried because I look like awful when I cry. Nickname my eyes "Puff the Magic Dragons" because they are impossibly puffy and look like they are on fire (dragons breathe fire, get it?).
11:40 AM: Pulled it together, found printing station in Schipol Sheraton.
12:00 PM: Cried because printing cost 10 euros and I'm never going to find a job when I get back from abroad and What am I going to do with my life? Do I have direction? Where am I going to live? Who am I going to be? Cried because of irrelevant panic attack about the uncertainty of the future.
12:30 PM: Closed my eyes for two seconds on a couch in the Sheraton and was yelled at for "sleeping." Cried because sleeping is  illegal in Schipol,  apparently.
1:00 PM: Cried because I saw a bunch of dogs and they were so cute.
1:03 PM: Cried because I was crying and I hate crying.
1:05 PM: Went to bathroom to cry.
1:06 PM: Cried because I was crying in a bathroom.
1:10 PM: Cried because my eye makeup was all messed up again and yelled  at myself to stop crying.
1:11 PM: Cried because I couldn't stop crying.
1:15 PM: Cried because I didn't have a proper place to cry.
1:17 PM: Cried because I didn't know why I was crying anymore
1:20-2:00 PM: Gave up on trying to understand why I was crying and just  cried.

At 2:00 PM, I headed into Amsterdam to meet up with a friend from Gothenburg, at which point the crying ceased (but not before a good cry around 2:07  PM because I had run out of tissues and at 2:08 PM because I was crying on a train). It definitely did the soul good to have a light chat with a friend over fika, and after a Diet Coke and a falafel with what should be considered too many toppings/condiments but actually wasn't because can you really have enough jalapenos and tahini sauce, my inner whiny child is now sitting, satiated, in the Amsterdam Public Library, watching Gilmore Girls and reading The Frenemy. The point of all of this is that, in approximately 16 hours (sleepover in Dusseldorf airport!), I will be back in Gothenburg, where I will drink wine and listen to Taylor Swift and take hot showers until I have effectively rid myself of all instability/sleepiness, and then will finally get around to blogging about the past month. Until then, I am going to keep potential fits at bay with excessive amounts of caffeine because I have never met a problem* that coffee can't fix.

*The least of which is that I have an entire Saturday night to spend in Amsterdam and I'm in the library.