Monday, August 31, 2009

Första Dag Av Klasser

Today is the first day of classes. Which means goodbye to a social life. Nah, that isn't exactly true. Apparently, from what I've heard through the grapevine, is that Swedish schooling isn't overly difficult. Right now I'm crossing my fingers, praying the rumors are true. Let's face it: how many actually want to spend their entire time studying when in a foreign country? I know that's what I want to spend my time doing... Luckily, I only have one class today (actually, this week. And I think for the next week as well?), and it's only two or three times a week. Not bad at all, I would think. Plus, it's International Marketing, so the content the syllabus informed me I will be learning looks strikingly similar to stuff learned last semester. Come on, easy class!

Last night Madison, Tommy, Rachel and I went to see The Hangover in the Downtown cinema. Let me just say: Sweden's theaters are top-notch. Not only can you reserve tickets online, but every ticket (bought online or in the cinema) corresponds to a numbered seat. Which means it's not first-come, first-served. Which is awesome. The movie was hilarious, and we had a good time. We also hit up a small convenience store (but not a Pressbyrån) and bought a crapload of candy and pop for cheap. I got to practice some Swedish with the cashier, which was tramautizing for everyone involved. Also, for the record, Sweden does not have Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (or at least from what I could see). Major bummer for me, I think.

That's pretty much about it for now. On my way to the kitchen (across the hallway) to make some lunch (ramen, or ham sandwich?) before I head to class at 1:15. I shall see if these rumors about a so-called "easy curriculum" are true. Cross your fingers for me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Day In the Life of A Swede

Hej alla!

I apologize for the lack of updates in the past week, especially considering it was the first week I was here! Förlått! I had absolutely no internet due to my computer having a faulty network adapter.. so, long story short, I had to purchase a wireless router for my room from a computer shop on campus. I was in the store about 4 times before I finally got what I needed. Yeah, I think the cashier hated me by then. My bad.

The airplane ride wasn't that bad. Of course, knowing my luck, the 10+ hour plane ride from Chicago to Copenhagen's electronic entertainment system was broke. Yep. I got to watch no movies on the screen, and the lights were permanently turned on during the entire flight. And of course I picked an overnight flight, which made it worse. The food was great (I learned that Swedes truly love bread and cheese. You have no idea. The grocery store I went to today had its own room dedicated to cheese. To cheese!) and the train ride went especially well. It's very nice to have a cheap, fast way to get around the country. And the view was awesome--reminded me a bit of being at home a little.

Campus here is amazing. There are bike paths to and from town (and yes, I bought a cheap bike.. and by cheap, I mean... cheap), two lakes surrounding the campus, and of course our castle! Yes, you read that right: we have a castle on campus. Adds a little more European flair to the whole ordeal, I think. Anyway, more pictures of that stuff to come. Everytime I go out, I never bring my camera--probably because it makes me feel like a tourist. I dunno.

The Swedes are awesome. I have one for a korridor roommate, he's very tall so I feel somewhat intimated, but very nice and helpful. When Swedish people ask you a question in Swedish, and you look perplexed, they immediately apologize and switch to English. Just like that. It's amazing. But you know me: even though I know some of the language, I'm too nervous to actually speak to someone in Swedish for fear of sounding retarded. Which I do. So I don't speak in Swedish, except for the "tack så mycket", "ursäkta mig", "ja" and "nej". Someday, I'm going to get the courage to speak to someone in Swedish. Just not for a while.

So far I have a Finnish roommate, a Taiwanese roommate, and the Swedish roommate. We have two rooms open, so who knows who we'll get? At Orientation, I met two incredibly nice, awesome Finnish friends who I am sure I will be seeing a lot of (actually, they're engaged to each other!) named Tommy (or Hawkeye) and Madison (who is taking Intermediate Swedish with me, for which I am eternally grateful to her). I also met many other awesome Americans/Canadians, who I went to the pub with last night--Rachel, Allie, Jen, John, Steve, Savannah, Amber and Sara. Had a great time! Swedish pubs definitely know how it's done! ...And it's nice when there's two right on campus. Yeah, not really complaining about that. At all.

Food and other supplies here are somewhat expensive, but it's really nice to try a lot of different foods they offer! The bread is amazing, as is the cheese. But here's the real big kicker--Diet Coke is not the same over here. I know, I know. For those of you who know me, I'm pretty sure my body is 75% Diet Coke. Here, labeled Coke Light, it's a somewhat sugarier (is that a word?) taste, but it is very good! It comes in smaller cans/bottles, but I actually don't drink a lot of it. I have a new found love for water (and hey, it's free!). Also, coffee (or kafe) is really big here, which is something I have to get used to. Something tells me they frown upon ordering a cup of coffee and filling half of it with sugar, but that's just me.

My room is huge. I'm talking enormous. It's bigger than the dorm rooms back home, and that doesn't include the entry way and private bathroom! I have a little bed and computer desk in one corner, and the other half of the room is bare. It's actually pathetic. But the rent is not bad at all, so I'm not complaining!

Downtown Växjö is awesome. It's a big town center, and much of it acts as large malls standing beside each other. And yes, there is a McD's in the town center.. hello Chicken McNuggets! Haven't ate there yet, though. It's hard to describe these places with words, but trust me, it is simply amazing.

Class starts Monday, but thankfully I only have one at a time (well actually, three at a time. They all overlap with each other). Hopefully it won't be too stressful!

Hej då for now!

(Bachelor Party type event in Sweden. This was right in the middle of downtown.
Can anyone say awesome?)

(The entryway to my room, taken from inside my room. The bathroom is to the left)

(The empty side of my room. Notice the IKEA table)

(The "living" part of my bed room, complete with awesome view)

(From left to right: Rachel, Amber, Madison, Tommy. Taken at a foam
fountain in Växjö Town Centre. That's right: foam fountain)

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Little Packing, A Little Procrastination

It's Friday. That means I have three days until I leave. And I am proud to say that I have finally begun packing. And, within the first ten minutes, I've decided it's time to take a hard-earned break. I have a feeling that I'm going to highly regret procrastinating packing Monday night, but I'll leave that for later.

As a side note, I just want to let everyone know an important, important fact I discovered when it comes to packing: do not use Space Bags for traveling. I learned this the hard way (which included over-heating my mother's Oreck vacuum cleaner on more than one occasion... my bad.) They're great for home storage, but not for travel. See, when the vacuum sucks up all the air, the entire package becomes hard and unable to be folded, smooshed, etc. So if it doesn't fit in the suitcase, you're out of luck. Which was my case with bedding. Shoot. So be forewarned--Space Bags=not a wise travel companion.

On a different note, the family came over last night for one last big get-together before everyone heads back to school/other countries. Mom bought us Papa Murphy pizzas, dessert bread, garlic bread, and Lane made and brought brownies. Everything was delicious. I was glad the family got together one last time; I'm finding its hard to do this as everyone gets older and moves on with their lives. Did that sound sappy? I hope not.

So here I am, on a Friday night, watching television by myself. Why's that, you ask? Because my parents decided that they would much rather spend my last weekend here in the states camping with family friends than spend it with their son, whom they won't be seeing for 4 months. Am I bitter? No. But I am a little stressed--Kay has always been the packer in the family, not me. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing/bringing. I guess I have an excuse not to begin packing (again..) until they return.

That's about it for now. Not much else to do but sit around and watch tv. Saw GI Joe last night with Trent. Acting was terrible, but the action was awesome. Glad I saw it before I left. Was planning on seeing District 9, but am honestly too lazy and cheap to drive 45 miles away in a gas-guzzling pickup truck to see it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Last Day of Work

So last night was my last night of work... Bummer.. And these past few shifts of mine have led me to start seriously contemplating what I'd miss most working at the good ol' DQ, and I've come up with an astounding answer: absolutely nothing at all.

Wait. I take that back. I'm going to miss the wonderful food. Especially flamethrower chicken wraps. Man, are those suckers good! I'm definitely going to miss those. And cheeseburgers. And cheese curds. And ice cream (by the way, this is going to sound nasty, but give a strawberry cookie dough blizzard. Seriously. It's a gift from God, I swear). Oh, and I'm going to miss the paychecks. Boy, were those paychecks one of my favorite things at the DQ! Okay, okay. I guess I'm also going to miss a few people here and there, but that's all I'm going to miss. I swear.

My last shift at the DQ didn't fail to live up to expectations. Walking into the store, I was greeted by crabby attitudes, a dirty kitchen, and unfilled freezers. What a shocker. But soon I was joined by Mrs. Pepin (did I spell that right?) and Krysta, followed by Kendra and Savannah. Which meant fun. And by fun, I mean things that actually made me feel like my soul wasn't being continuously sucked out by my place of employment. And that's always a good thing.

And then came one of the most memorable experiences I have had at the DQ. Krysta was filling up the ranch bottle, and I was talking to her about the movie Taken. Looking down, she realized she had over-filled the ranch bottle. And out came this completely awesome phrase from her mouth, in response to the over-filled ranch, that I will never forget: "Crap! I was so entranced by the idea of you being a sex slave." That right there is the reason why I've come back to the DQ every year. So thank you, Krysta, for not only making my job enjoyable, but also for suffering along with me.

By the end of the night (in which Krysta and I did our tradition--listen to Michael Jackson's Number Ones CD at least 5 times), we were itching to leave. Did I also mention that the ice cream machine broke? Yeah, the ice cream machine broke. Again, what a shocker. After our pizza party, complete with speeches and the signing of the "Gone For Good" sheet of ex-employees, we turned our attention to giving Kerrie our goodbye gift. Krysta and I sat her down in a chair in the back (don't worry, this was after we had closed and everyone left.. there was no way we'd do it in public), and put on Michael's "You Are Not Alone" to dedicate, and perform, to Kerrie. The first verse hadn't even begun and she busted into tears. I'm not talking about eyes welling up with tears. No, no. They literally exploded from her eyes. Which, of course, got Krysta in tears, leaving me to do all the singing. Which is never, ever a good thing. As we're stumbling through the song, forgetting about half of the lyrics and incorporating "la's" and "hms" here and there, we realized we should have memorized the lyrics earlier. That was a mistake on our part. Our bad. But the song went well (for those who have heard the song--in the end, when Mike hits that high note with the key change? Yeah, I hit that. Why I don't have a recording contract right now, I'll never know.), and I felt we somewhat did Michael some justice. But that's just me.

All in all, a great night to end a 6 year run at the DQ. Yes, you read that right. 6 years. And still no 401k. I feel I've been jipped for the past half a decade. But I digress. It was a good 6 years, and I just want to thank everyone for making it enjoyable.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dag Nummer Ett... I USA

Blogging has been around since the beginning of the Internet. And I'm sure that people care about blogs now just as much as they did back then--not a whole lot. Yet here I am, beginning a blog of my own to share experiences with people who really couldn't care less.

The purpose here is to share photos and experiences of my time abroad with family and friends. And, knowing me, I'm sure everyday I'll find some way to make myself look like an idiot in public, which I am sure people reading (which, again, is probably a small amount) get a kick out of. Plus, it's cooler to upload pictures on to this baby than on Facebook.. once I figure it out.

Today is Monday the 17th, meaning that a week from now I'll be sitting on an airplane. Make that two airplanes. And add a train. Yeah, a 13+ hour plane ride followed by a 3 hour train ride sounds exhilarating, I know. Believe me, I know. Add to that, Sweden's time zone is 7 hours ahead of the States. I have a feeling that I'll be somewhat sleepy and jet-lagged by the time I reach my dorm/place of residence--which, by the way, I would like to point out that I have absolutely no idea where I'll be living... or if I even have a spot reserved by the University. Ah, the joys of uncertainty. Anyway, I'm still excited to be leaving, but it hasn't quite hit me that I leave so soon.

So, with a week away from the big departure, you might be wondering what I'm doing to prepare? The answer: absolutely nothing. Scratch that. I am currently putting my DVD collection onto my external hard drives for my laptop. I have a feeling I'll be wanting to watch a few of them over there, so it's important to come prepared. But aside from that, I haven't been doing anything else. Everyday I walk past the empty, open suitcases laying by my bedroom door and sit down and watch tv in the living room. Packing early is not something to which I am accustomed. But I'm sure once Saturday night rolls around, I'll be frantically dashing around the house looking for a sweatshirt or sweatpants that need to go in those open suitcases. But until then...I'll be savoring the last few bits of American television I can watch.

Tomorrow is the big day in Brainerd. Getting contacts at Wal-Mart (I know, I know.. I have class), and looking for power converters and electrical outlet converters (thanks again Lane! I just don't think one will be enough). I'm sure Kay will be more responsible on getting the things I actually need--thank god I'm taking her with tomorrow.

Alright, alright. So I did pull these bad boys out from the closet to start preparing for the trip. I really would prefer not to sound like a mumbling idiot when I get to Sweden. I'll probably crack them open again... at some point in the next week.