Sunday, 19 June 2011

Time to say Hej då

Well after weeks of saying goodbye to people it is mine turn to say farewell to the city of Jönköping.
I have had an amazing year out here. Looking back it has gone so fast, from my first night scared sh**less in the hostel in Huskvarna and then meeting Christian that night, to kick off week and then from then on. I will miss so much from Sweden, and weirdly I imagine a bit of a culture shock when I return home to the UK, for example, I am now used to cars driving on the right hand side of the road, for me it’s not look left, right, left again it’s the opposite, right, left and right again. It’s going to be weird seeing alcohol being sold in the supermarkets after a year of having to go to systembolaget. The culture shock will probably be at its worst in the winter when everyone starts complaining about the ‘snow’. Livingin Sweden you learn that there are different types of snow, none of which stop flights, roads, schools etc. I will miss the beautiful scenery in winter of the lake being frozen over with snow all over, it’s a beautiful winter wonderland. I even stayed in the gym longer because it has a view of the frozen lake whilst you are on the cross trainer or treadmill. Perferct. You would think the temperature would be something I would be happy to see the back off, well you would be wrong, I quite enjoyed walking to uni in the snow in -12C temperatures, it’s refreshing & so much better than sweating in the sun or getting wet in the rain. After a certain point your body doesn’t care how cold it is, it doesn’t recognise the variation in the temperatures, However I do have my Auntie to thank for leaning me (not borrowing me!!!!) her ski jacket from her days in the Alps. It was the best coat I have ever partially owned. (Not don’t assume winter coats will be cheap out here because it is Sweden, expect to pay around £150 for a basic winter coat, so get on ebay before you go). Another thing, I suppose you could say I have developed a coffee culture, thanks to the Swedish fika and the Italians. Before coming to Sweden I prob had one or 2 cups of coffee a day, that has probably trebled, however I will probably bring the number down when I get home, however coffee isn’t coffee unless it’s strong stuff. Of course I will miss all the friends I have had over this past year, no matter how long I knew you, the full year or a few months I thank you for making this experience absolutely incredible. I have developed a soft spot for a fair few of you (& I imagine you know who you are ;-) I hope to stay in touch with you in particular) I do look forward to visiting you all in your home nations, however It prob wont be for a while, sorry but I aint rich lol. If you haven’t already you should add me on Skype (Address on my facebook page) I have learnt so much from you all, and I shall cherish the moments we shared. Now this is starting to sound soppy.
Highlights of the year, start with kick off week, absolutely incredible , the students really did take over the city. A big heavy week, it is great that you are looked after by Swedish students, if this hadn’t happened I imagine it would have been harder to make so many Swedish friends. (Apparently Swedes will be friends for life )
Well I am now on the bus to Göteborg so my time in Sweden is not yet over, I have 2 nights here.

HBQT & National Swedish Day.

Let’s start with HBQT, this is a LGBT festival in Göteborg, it ran from the 1st June to the 5th. The city just becomes a gay paradise, If you have ever seen the U.S version of Queer eye for the straight guy, where Liberty Avenue is just covered in rainbow flags, Göteborg becomes like that. The majority of flag poles fly the rainbow flag, (even one at a church which I thought was quite impressive) shop displays are in rainbow colours, In the centre of the city is a stage where lectures & performances are given. If I was fluent in Swedish I may have been able to enjoy it more, however I went on the Saturday thinking it would be the busiest day, but I suppose on a 5 day festival it’s all spread out. The entertainment is a little thin, the pride march was on the Sunday so I didn’t get to walk/see. It was nice to be in a city that embraces it all over rather than a square or a street. As written in an earlier blog Sweden ( & the other Nordic countries) are incredibly gay friendly. So we spent about 6 hours in the city which was nice, there was a street in the city that was rammed packed with people, it seemed to be a street music festival. It was incredibly crowded and with people sat on the street drinking, dancing I was reminded of a scene from Mexico city (which was featured in Andrew Marr’s programme “Megacities”) It wasn’t my scene, when I feel claustrophobic in the open air, I have to get out of there. I imagine it would be Simon Cowel’s nightmare listening to the music on the street. A majority of it was awful.

National Swedish Day
Well there isn’t that much to write about this day. I thought it would be a big deal like in Norway, but no. It is observed on 6th June. It was created in 1983 replacing “Swedish Flag Day” which was created in 1916 to celebrate the election of King Gustav Vasa, as he was considered the founder of modern Sweden. Only in 2005 was Swedish Day made an official public holiday. So Swede’s don’t really know how to celebrate it so they just treat it as an extra day of the weekend. However We in Delta went to the beach for a BBQ which was very nice it has to be said.

Friday, 17 June 2011

You know you’ve lived in Sweden when…

 The first thing you do when walking into a bank/ post office/ chemist etc. is to look for the queue number machine
 When a stranger on the street smiles at you, you assume:
o He is drunk
o He is in
o He’s an American
 You have developed a big coffee culture within yourself, drinking 4+ cups a day
 The sound “Jah/Ah” has become part of your ever day vocabulary
 You find your native language has deteriorated somewhat and phrases like “Can you borrow me”, “Take a beer” etc.
 You are now always on time and being late is now deemed unacceptable
 You have given up on trying to find “fat free” food and so just pile on the butter & sugar
 Your front door now resembles a shoe shop with the amount of shoes on show
 You look at a Volvo and think “Hmmmm they don’t seem like a bad car”
 You grow accustom to the cheap coffee at University
 You know that a national or religious holiday is now an excuse to drink (In the Lords name obviously)
 An outside temperature of 5C is a mild day in winter
 When someone asks for three cheers you say “Hoorah,hurrah,hoorah,hoorah!”
 You have conversations outside with people even though it’s -10C
 Julmust starts to taste good to you
 You associate Fridays with “After work”
 You suddenly dash for the door at 1.30pm on a Saturday when you realise Systembolaget only has half an hour left until it closes
 A night out is 5 hours of a pre-party then 3 hours in a club
 You get extremely annoyed when the bus is two minutes late
 You are shocked when a train is delayed
 You assume that anyone who apologises after bumping into you is a tourist
 You hide the fact you have a Nokia
 Seeing a young woman with lit candles stuck to her head no longer worries you
 You love the fact that in winter you don’t need to put beers in the fridge just 2 minutes outside will chill that bottle
 When buying alcohol the first thing you look at on the bottle is the alcohol percentage
 You no longer snigger when the words “fart, bra, or slut” used in conversations
 Hearing and seeing swear words in the media is perfectly acceptable
 In winter a lie in means you will prob only have 2-3 hours of daylight
 You know that “Extrapris” means goods are cheaper, even though in English it means the opposite
 You ringed somebody instead of you rang them
 You don’t seem surprised when the GP not only can’t help you but has come up with the same diagnosis you had before you visited him
 Ikea isn’t just a place to buy furniture, it’s a dinner out for meatballs at under £2
 You save all plastic bottles and cans as this becomes money when you are poor
 You have gotten used to the idea of a kebab pizza and see it as normal
 Eating a kebab from a takeaway when sober appears normal to you
 McDonalds is too expensive but Time out is cheap and good
 “Pussi” to you means a popular brand of cat food and not the female sex parts
 You get used to the fact that you are a Swedish XL when back home you can fit into a M/L
 You are so desperate for Alfresco coffee that you will sit outside with a blanket wrapped around you
 You get used to the fact that they add tax onto some items in the supermarket at the till but not all, so you never really know how much your shopping will be
 “or” becomes a question rather than a joining word for two choices
 You are used to the idea of unisex toilets
 ICA is not I.C.A it’s eeka
 Ikea is not eyekea it’s i kea
 You know that fan is a swearword and not the word describing an admirer
 You think Swedish doesn’t have swear words because the use the English ones most of the time
 You think caviar being sold in a tube is normal
 You accept that Swedes are at their most friendly and most talkative when they are drunk
 J becomes Y in your English, i.e. John become Yon
 Seeing cars driving with their lights on in bright daylight seems normal
 You struggle to work out if a Swedish guy is gay or not, (Trust me such a tough challenge)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

May update

Tjänare blog followers

It has been a month since I last wrote a blog entry and I would like to say there have been lots of exciting and fun things happening, however this is not entirely the case. I shall start by updating you on my ankle.
As you know I fell down the stairs a month ago and badly strained my ankle. I can now tell you that all the bruising has finally disappeared after it continued to spread up my leg and down to my toes. The swelling has reduced in size but has not completely gone, which is quite worrying but normal with this sort of injury. It is believed that with the severity of the fall that I have torn the ligaments around the ankle which does fit in with the bruising pattern also. I am still on the one crutch now which means my drinking hand is free. I have found some stretches to do now and again to try and get my ankle its full movement back as it is still restricted. I can’t wait for the full movement to come back as I am actually missing the gym and badminton.

On the academic side of things, I have finished my lectures for the year. The final few were interesting in Marketing however mind numbingly dull in developmental economics, partly because of the topic areas covered and partly because of the lecturers, for some reason to be a lecturer you need to have a monotonous voice and just be really dull with the lecture. On an academic note because my grades here can not be transferred back to my home institution I have found it hard to motivate any work outside of lectures except for group work, I don’t want other people to get a bad grade because of me so I don’t slack on that side of things.

Delta Hus
I have found this half of the semester to be more social, whether it is me opening up a bit more (which is quite likely as I do have time periods where I just want to be alone) or just more social activity going on within the flats. We have gotten into the habit of having Italian coffee in the mornings on second floor and then we will get on with our days routines, then meet up later on for coffee/ a meal. A few weeks ago we went for a BBQ along the lake’s beach, which was really nice. The weather has been good to us recently with the sun being out most days and the temperatures now being between 6 & 18C. Last weekend we played the Eurovision drinking game which co insides with the Euro’ Song Contest. This was a good laugh with people from all over Europe supporting their countries and with Italy’s first contest in over a decade it was nice that the Italians could join in, although I did lose a bet saying the UK would do better than Italy, how wrong I was.



It is getting to that time of the semester where people are starting to go back home. Last Wednesday we had our Goodbye Dinner which was a red carpet theme (though not sure how many red carpet events are buffets!) Food & drink wise was the same as the Goodbye Dinner back in December. Peoples departures are scattered all over, some going early and others going in June. I’ve decided to stay in Jönköping until my lease runs out on the 18th June, then I shall go to Göteborg for 2 nights to catch the next available cheap flight. I was lucky enough to get a direct flight to Manchester for £60, all other flights were via Copenhagen, though I have not visited Denmark like I planned I don’t fancy spending 4 hours or so in the airport. As the weeks become fewer and fewer I am starting to think about my return to Newcastle. I know I will be incredibly saddened to leave here, even more so than at Christmas when a lot of good friends had left, (I still walk past Match House and think of the fun I had their with the gang from first semester it has to be said) I’ve picked up a bit of Swedish almost subconsciously I suppose as I haven’t taken a class since November and had I been staying for a full degree I’m sure I would be semi fluent by the time I graduated. Would I have liked to do a full degree here? Maybe, it is a nice city and a nice university however it is a bit quiet for me and I disliked the first university I went to in London for that exact reason, things start to become mundane in the long run, you go to the same clubs each week, the same coffee house etc, there isn’t the variety that a big city like Newcastle offers, however I have loved the weather (even though as I write this it is raining) The deep snow in winter and now the sun is out a lot more. On this note the days are getting longer, I remember in the winter I would wake up at 10 and by 2.30 It would be dark, now the sun rises at something like 4.30am and on Friday night I noticed it still wasn’t dark at 10Pm and according to the locals we still haven’t reached the lighting climax (can’t think how to say this)

I have been asked for permission for my blog to be used by Northumbria University as a guide for potential students and have been told that 3 students will be coming here next semester (I’m not sure if it’s for the full year or half a year) but I promise you will enjoy it. The welcome teams have already been created and the kick of week has been in the planning process since January. I loved the kick of week here, it is so different to welcome week back home. I don’t think I did any of the University activities during the week but went off with my flatmates etc, here you have constant involvement with the university and you will meet people and make friends for your whole time here. I still see my fadders and stop and talk to them and other members of my kick off team. I would love to see this at Northumbria but I suppose that due to the University here being small and in a small city in comparison to Newcastle it’s a lot easier to organize.

I was bitterly disappointed when my trip to go to the Fjords in Norway was canceled. I was offered the chance to move onto the second trip however I had an assessed presentation to do during that time. (In hindsight with the crutches, glacier climbing wouldn’t have been the best idea.) Due to the injury I also had to miss out on a few invites to Germany for a beer festival in a friend from last semesters home town and an invite to Amsterdam for Queens day, bitterly upset but I hope to be able to come out and see you soonish. I imagine that if I don’t get a job after graduation I could take half a gap year and tour round visiting all the people I have invites from taking me from Canada to Australia. That would be pretty cool. However I do hope for a job lol.

Marknadshelg i City:
This coming weekend there is an event happening in the city, and having looked at the website it is a big market with musical performances including Charlotte Perelli who I mentioned in one of my first blogs, a famous singer and a Judge on Sweden’s got talent (or Talang as it’s called out here) which by the way a student from JIBS has entered and is in the semi-finals.

Well I think you are all up to date now, so I shall blog you all soon
Vi ses

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Casualty Sweden

Well this is the story of my little visit to A&E. Wed night was the regular thing pre-drinks before heading to Aka. On the way down the stairs I tripped and fell down a few stairs and landed awkwardly on my left ankle. I eventually got up and just thought I had twisted it so I continued to walk to Aka, (Maybe limp is the actual term) The bouncer noticed that I wasn’t walking right so took me to one side to have a look at my ankle. It had started to swell, he then decided to call an ambulance as movement started to become restricted.

The ambulance took me to Ryhov hospital. I was wheeled into a private room where I waited for a nurse to come and have a look. The Hospital was very quiet and I didn’t see another patient whilst I was there. The Nurse examined me and sent me for an x-ray. Lukily there was no fracture which the Dr was expecting after the size of the swelling. I was given a compression bandage and crutches. Thanks to my EU insurance I only have to pay £30 not £186. (Taxi ride home cost about £13) Sadly the lift in Delta has been out of order for some time. So it took a while to get up the three flights of stairs. The Bruising the next morning was quite something. At present it hurts to have the foot straight so it bends to the right quite a bit. The crutches aren’t great they don’t clip around the arm like the ones I had back in the UK do so it’s hard to balance them on the one foot when I need one hand free. Looks like my Easter weekend will be spent in bed resting.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Spring's on its way

Hello Blog followers.
It’s been a while since I’ve entered a new entry to my blog. I would love to say that it’s because I’ve been travelling all around Europe etc. However this is not the case. This month has been a very strict budget focused month due to a delay in grant payment from the EU. (I was told it would arrive in Feb but not till around Easter I’ve been told now!) Anywho I digress.

This last month has been a quiet one for me. We had our exams for the 3rd quarter of the year, which meant people locked themselves in their rooms to study (for those who actually get grades from their exams.) I do have to say it is incredibly de-motivating at the moment thinking that I am “studying” and I wont get a grade for it at the end. I’ve just used this year to attend lectures in classes we don’t get taught as part of my degree back home such as Macroeconomics and electronic commerce. Anyway when it comes to group work I pull my weight as other peoples grades depend on it, so I do my bit for them.

The winter weather is leaving us now we had snowfall for one night and it stayed on the ground for about a week that was ace. We went from -4C to 9C in a matter of 24 hours. It was quite strange. However the massive lake next to the city keeps the temperature down due to it being frozen over. I do miss the winter weather, I came to Sweden for the cold and the snow not for the sun, but as you can imagine the locals are enjoying the + temperatures. The heating in my room is automatic and hasn’t shut off yet so it can get hot in my room if the window isn’t open. Anyway the lake is finally returning to normal so this may see me return to the water and continue rowing.

If you remember I was on the election committee back in December, well I am currently waiting on my confirmation as chairman of the election committee for the spring elections of half the board. This could be a lot of fun.
I have to say in comparison to last semester this one has been less of a social one. I do miss my group of friends from last semester (although thanks to facebook I do keep in touch)

A big event that has been going on in the last month us Melodifestivalen. This is like a version of the X factor however it determines the countries representative for the Eurovision Song Contest, so as you can imagine it’s quite camp and fun. It started in 1959 and since 2000 it has been the most popular show on Swedish TV. Its not just determined by phone vote but they also uses judges from European nations. (This year inc UK, Germany, Malta, Norway & Ukraine) I have to say I do like the winner for this year. The Prime Minister and his family was in attendance for the final interestingly.

Eric Saade the Winner

The other week was ‘Earth Hour’ widely publicised. The city was supposed to switch of its lights for an hour, however when it came to it only the lights around city hall were turned off. All the lights along my street which has some of the shops, fast food outlets and bars, not one light went off. So waste of time!
In Sporting News, (That’s right, sporting.)
The Local Ice Hockey team HV71, (Last year’s champions), have lost out on the chance to reclaim their title this year. They lost to Stockholm based team AIK IF (Allmänna Idrottsklubben Ishockeyförening) 4-0 in the Quarter final. The final is still yet to be played.

Let’s talk Easter
Back home Easter eggs come into the supermarkets on New Year’s Day (based on my experience in supermarkets) here Easter stock started appearing about 2 weeks ago, and when we say stock I mean one cardboard stand of cards and little chicks with some Haribo sweets at the base. Not seen on Cream Egg over here. This is devastating, it won’t be Easter without them (not that I buy into the message of Easter!)This year I have decided to give lent ago. I started off with giving up Coke and Crisps, a week into this both my Nan and Mum had sent me Crisps from back home. So now it’s down to just coke. I’m doing well but I will enjoy it when I can have it again that’s for sure.

Anyway I’ve filled you in now so I shall leave you for now and will keep you posted.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Gay Sweden

LGBT History of Sweden

Back in the UK February is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) History month, so I thought I would tell you about the history over here in Sweden, which last year was named the most gay friendly country in Europe. After all this is the country that produced ABBA and loves Eurovision!
In 2006 An EU Member Poll Showed 71% Swedes supported same sex marriage. Also Gays are allowed to serve openly in the military.
So let’s take a step back and fill you in.

1944 Sweden legalised same sexual activities with the age of consent being 18. This at a time when Nazi Germany was persecuting gays (But not lesbians as they were thought to be treatable and women were the ones who could give birth) Compare this to the UK where Homosexuality was illegal until 1967 and then the age of consent was 21. Even with this bill it only allowed for homosexual acts could only take place privately as the bill still maintained prohibitions on buggery.

1972 Saw Sweden become the first country in the world to allow transsexuals to legally change their sex and provided free hormone therapy. This came into effect in the UK in 2004.
However not all was as progressive, although homosexuality was no longer illegal it was still considered an illness until 1979, when a number of people called into work saying they were sick with a “case of homosexuality.” A protest was then launched at the Board of Health and Welfare which led to declassification.

1987 Saw discrimination against homosexuals brought into line with discrimination on the grounds of race and gender. However Transgender identity was de listed as an illness and then added to this discrimination legislation in 2008.

1995 Saw same sex couples being able to register their partnerships. This gave these partners the same legal rights as married couples.

1998 sees the first Stockholm Pride Festival.

May 2009 saw civil partnerships registrations cease as the government passed legislation allowing same sex marriage. This move came about after the Chancellor of Justice proposed that marriage be extended to same sex couples. 2008 saw the legislation go to the Rikstag to be voted on. All parties bar the Christian Democrats were in favour of the bill.

Out of 349 Members
261 Voted in favour
22 Voted No
16 Abstained
50 Absent

October 2009 Saw the Church of Sweden hold its own vote on whether to give homosexual couples its blessing. The Church voted in favour.

Out of 249 Seats
176 Yes
62 No
11 Abstain
0 Absent

Since 2003 same sex couples have had the same rights to adopt as married couples including the right for a single LGBT person to adopt. With regards to inter-country adoption the government holds the view that it is limited on the terms of the country of origin for the child.

Since 2008 the issue of gay blood donation has been under debate. The Board of Health & Welfare proposed that gay men should be eligible to donate blood but only after 6 months of last having sex. From 1sr March 2010 Gay men were supposed to be allowed to give blood after 1 year of abstaining from sex however the blood banks rejected the law which means this issue has been delayed until October 2011.

This timeline shows how far Sweden has come with gay rights and the story is similar all over Scandinavia. In 2009 Iceland elected its first openly gay Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.