Friday, 9 November 2012

It Was a Graveyard Smash

Firstly, I apologise for how incredibly lax I've been on the updates lately.  It is perhaps fortunate that since I last posted, those many moons ago (three weeks, maybe?) I actually spent 10 days in England.  Given that this is a blog very specifically about Sweden, I don't need to talk about that time, so maybe it's not so bad.

In my last post, I said that you would probably be hearing about mine and Beth's exploration of Rohsska.  In a nutshell, I really enjoyed the museum.  I'd heard a few people say they'd been disappointed by it but it was so aligned with my interests that this wasn't the case at all.  As soon as I saw the free for all crochet table and the vintage Chanel suit, I was sold.  I finally have a camera now, so you can feel extra lucky that you get some pictures today, woo hoo!

Beth and I were both quite sad that, despite promises made to our Grandma, neither of us have learnt to crochet yet so couldn't add to this wonderful monstrosity.  I did pick up the crochet hooks in an attempt to knit an addition with them, alas, it wasn't to be.  We did perform better in the Chinese exhibition though, where I found a hidden talent for origami (I joke, our birds simply looked like creased paper).

Aside from the vintage Chanel, which I don't have a picture of for some reason, there were some other incredible pieces too, my favourite being this Helena Hörstedt display, a glorious Vivenne Westwood gown (which is displayed in a strange little hideaway corner with tapes of catwalk shows playing in the background... it was a little creepy, if I'm honest) and some amazing beaded 1920 drop-waist dresses.  I'm also lacking photos of the latter unfortunately as a lot of the items were displayed in glass cabinets in dark rooms but the camera flash reflected on the glass, and I got shouted at for using flash at all after a while.

I'll stop my creepy Röhsska loving now before I bore you all/ruin all the surprises and leave you with this, one of the first MacBooks...

(Speaking of MacBooks, some of you may be happy to hear that I finally put my faithful, if slightly disabled, pink Dell into retirement and sold my soul to Apple.  Despite how reluctant I was to let go, I have to admit that a computer that actually works is quite beneficial and not to mention time-saving, although you wouldn't be able to tell by any increase of work ethic, ha.)

The remainder of Beth's visit basically just involved eating, and lots of it.  We went for Fika in Haga (here we go again) where I introduced Beth to the holy kanelbulle which she surprisingly enjoyed.  That evening, we went for a wander down to Linnéplatsen to find a restaurant.  Nowhere seemed particularly appealing so we ended up opting for La Sombrita tapas restaurant.  In fact, I had possibly the best tapas of my life and am extremely enthusiastic about this place and want to take all my visitors. For around 600kr we had tapas for 2, cocktails, wine and desert which, for Sweden, is very reasonable. So yes, I thoroughly recommended La Sombrita and if you find yourself at a loose end in Gothenburg at any point, go go go!

Beth enjoying a bun the size of her head.

Once Beth had abandoned me, following a mad dash for her airport transfer involving sporadic Sunday trams, I was left to get prepare for my discussion seminar about the essay I'd handed in the week before.  Despite being pretty unsure as to what was expected from me in this, I think that it actually went really well.  I'd read the essays of the other three students and written down a few key quotes from critics to bring up in the discussion and it was just a quite friendly chat between the four of us and two lecturers in the end.  I kept forgetting we were being assessed to be honest, as they'd chosen to the comfiest seminar library for the occasion and it was so relaxed.  I haven't had any marks back yet, but fingers crossed.

The evening of the assessment I flew back to England.  As I said, this doesn't need any mention here really but I had a great ten days of vintage shopping, Victorian cafes, cream teas, too many meals out and a lot of birthday cakes (none of which were mine, might I add).  The evening before I flew back to Gothenburg was slightly disastrous though.  It was Halloween and I'd, perhaps somewhat unwisely, been for a pre-flight curry and drinks with my brother and sister.  Reluctantly, at about 11pm we tried to call a taxi, as my airport transfer left at 1am and I'd yet to pack.  We spent twenty minutes ringing every taxi number we could think of, which was a lot, but to no avail.  This was baffling.  Yes, it was Halloween but from what we could see, the town was dead.  Eventually, we had to give in and call my Dad who was not best pleased to come out and pick us up, but luckily he did.  I ended up leaving the country in a disorganised flurry which is just about typical of me.

The Thursday of my return, the others had organised a Halloween dinner, with a spooky orange and green theme.  I decided to make a graveyard cake and some eyeball dough balls.  These both ended up looking the part but my lack of scales and ridiculous oven (yes, I am blaming my tools) meant that neither tasted particularly spectacular.  However, in the words of Downton's Lady Grantham, "the truth is neither here nor there, it's the look of the thing that matters"so I suppose that's okay.  

We properly celebrated the spooky season on Friday with a night out in, yep, you guessed it - Sticky Fingers!  I didn't decide what to be until a few hours before and had put in embarrassingly little effort compared to the others, but we still made a pretty scary group I think!  I'll leave you with some pictures of our nightmarish selves and a promise that I won't leave it so long next time. Then you can moooosnter mash...

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Candy Canes and Silver Lanes Aglow

In a surprising turn of events, it has taken a visitor from home to make me homesick for the first time.  As I type, Beth is snoring away on my sofa, having been up since 3am, and I seem to be sitting here mourning Britain slightly.  We've had a rather festive day, which began with a very long and cosy lunch in Haga.  The weather here is pretty dreary today, not cold just very damp and grey and miserable, so we sheltered for as long as possible in La Petit Cafe.  I seem to mention a lunch in Haga in every single post (a creature of habit if you ever met one) but I strayed away from my two usual cafes to investigate this one after hearing good reviews.  It was possibly the twee-est place I've ever been, all white wash furniture and floral decor and heart shape everything, but it was wonderful all the same, and we fully appreciated our enormous paninis and steamy mugs of latte.

Eventually, we dragged ourselves from La Petit and explored Haga a little, during which I officially began the festive season - given that it is nearing the end of October already, this is rather a delayed beginning to celebrations for me -when I bought Georgia the most exciting Christmas card I've ever seen.  The festivities continued in Ikea where we discovered the newly installed Christmas displays.  Oh my Lord.  Here I discovered the most hilarious range of festive items I have ever seen.  Unfortunately, I can not elaborate on this much as part of the range is a key component of my Dad's Christmas present, but just know that it is both very politically incorrect and very, very funny.  I'm looking at my purchase and crying laughing even now.

I think that it is pe
rhaps the festive feel to the day so far that has made me homesick. As anybody knows, I really love Christmas, and I guess it just reminded me of home, as does Beth of course.  However, I shouldn't be too sad as a few days ago I booked a very impromptu trip back to England next Tuesday.  I woke up in the middle of the night and it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't going to be able to get involved in any of Jordyn's 21st celebrations which just seemed wrong somehow, and the next thing I knew flights had been booked and trains investigated.  I am also incorporating a trip to Plymouth to kill some time between cheap flights, which I am oddly looking quite forward to, given that I don't usually have a good word to say about the place.

In other, more Swedish, news, I passed my Swedish exam!  I am not sure how exactly this was managed; I can only assume that the marking was very lax.  It is good news all the same though, but unfortunately my A1 Swedish class now clashes with one of my regular classes which is something I need to negotiate (/should have already sorted...oops).  I also turned in my first piece of coursework and I didn't even have to stay up all night, which is a revelation in itself.  I fully appreciated the fact that hand in happens via email here too, cutting out the hideous scramble to the Arts office at one minute before deadline, having not showered and usually still sporting pyjamas in some form.

We also broke tradition last Friday night and went on a night out that didn't involve Sticky Fingers, which is shocking I know.  We tried to go to a few places, encountering cobbles and enormous police horses on the way, but came across obstacles in the form of the downright ludicrous Swedish club entry policies.  Pre-night out, we had researched age guides and one club stated 23 but said that girls with "big tits, mouse-short skirts and high heels" would get in younger, on their official website.  Yes, that's right, this was official advice (their words, not mine).  Baffling, completely baffling.  Alas, I threw away all my slut clothes in 2010 and ended up looking more like somebody's mum trying to be sexy.  My 17 year old self would have been ashamed.  We did eventually manage to get through the doors of Parken though and I had quite a good night, despite spending half of it outraged about the price of drinks (60SEK for less than a pint of dishwater flavour beer?  No, just no.) and the other half berating the DJ's choice of music.

This week has been quiet, as usual.  It's such a contrast to home, where days of lounging and nights of drinking roll into one another, leaving me regularly confused as to whereabouts in the week I actually am.  Here, there is a much more distinct sense of weekdays and weekends, the former seeming to involve early mornings and early nights as standard, with a heavy dose of reading and general domesticated activities.  Perhaps this seems like a duller way of passing time but I actually quite enjoy it because it makes the weekends something markedly differentrather just another forty eight hours of sameness.  I like the fact that I look forward to a Saturday morning lie in nowadays, and that I spend all week being excited about dressing up and going out, whereas in Plymouth nights out almost become a chore.  It's certainly different, but by no means a bad different.  

This evening, we seem to have set up a scene straight out of a rom com - I'm cooking and there's wine and at least twenty candles have been lit - so I should stop tapping away and attend to my date (correction: cousin).  Tomorrow, we plan to do some general exploring, including a visit to Rohsska, the design and textile museum, and dinner somewhere exciting, so the next time I get around to boring you all with a post, you'll hear about those I'm sure.  

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Jag Heter Elise Och Jag Tycker Om Göteborg

I have big news today, BIG news: it is not raining.  Yes, you heard right.  After weeks and weeks of endless downpours and thunderstorms, the whole weekend and the past couple of days have been mostly rain free, give or take a few showers.  I never thought there would be a day when I got this excited about any weather conditions but good Lord I am.  In all honesty, I think most of my excitement has come from being able to wear what I want without lugging a raincoat and practical boots around.  Naturally, this led a slightly pretentious  weekend of blazers and floppy hats.  It was wonderful.

In fact, I had a wonderful weekend in general.  On Friday, the first 'invasion of the Scots' took place (although on a very minor scale compared to what I hear is occurring in two weekends) as Nikki came to visit, who studies Law with Suzanne, Rebecca and Kenneth in Dundee.  We had a dinner party on Friday night and despite Suzanne and Rebecca being convinced that they were going to poison us all, we all survived with the only ailment being how ridiculously full we were after an enormous amount of pasta, cottage pie and salad.  By the end of the evening, we were all a little drunk - a condition that we have now started referring to as being "trammed" - and seemed to think it was a good idea to cartwheel around the stair wells.  In retrospect, it was a decidedly bad idea: I was wearing a skirt.  I guess dignity is overrated anyway.

On Saturday, I turned down a lunch and shopping trip as I was lying to myself that I would study for the Swedish exam.  Unsurprisingly, I did absolutely nothing of the sort and ended up venturing out and spending far too long in Ahlens City buying lipstick instead.  Some things never change.  I hadn't properly explored Ahlens City before then but I was pleasantly surprised.  It's just a department store really but there's something so calming about the atmosphere in there.  Floating around drawing stripes of lipstick in every imaginable colour onto my hand was a much more enjoyable experience than the usual Saturday afternoon spent playing sardines in Boots.  My bank balance would probably disagree, however.  

The second Druty meeting also took place late on Saturday afternoon, however I had to miss it in order to be ready on time for - yep, you guessed it - a night out at Sticky Fingers.  We rushed to Birger Jarl almost an hour late (I hate bad time keeping) to find a spread of food for us - pizza, bread, salads, potatoes - and we all dived in and washed it down with perhaps a little too much alcohol.  I was in my element as Kristen had been absolutely amazing and brought me back some normal priced gin from Germany and I finally got to have a gin and tonic (and yes, by "a" I do actually mean plural).  I can't explain how happy I was not to be drinking wine for the first time in six weeks.  As usual the night was good fun, mostly featuring tequila, Lederhosen and bounding around the dance floor in six inch heels.  We all seemed to leave quite early though and perhaps the most entertaining part of the evening was an impromptu Dutch lesson in McDonald's of which there are far too many videos.  Once again, my natural aptitude for languages did not shine through.

Sunday was, quite frankly, a beautiful day.  I awoke at 8am for some reason and spent the first few hours of the day nervously awaiting news that friends in Plymouth had managed to secure Glastonbury tickets for us.  They did - hallelujah!  I was very excitable after this and joined the Scots for lunch in Haga.  We went to my favourite place, En Deli Haga, and whilst it was delicious as ever, I think I may have been slightly ambitious with the amount of food I ordered post-night out.  We then meandered around, attempted to go to some vintage shops but found them to be all closed, looked around a fancy dress shop and Topshop and eventually went home, suffering slightly from our overly energetic hangovers.  Again, I had every intention to study for my Swedish exam but actually crawled into bed, ate ice cream and watched Gallery Girls.  That's what Sundays are made for though, right?

This left Monday, the day of the exam, to learn a whole course of Swedish.  Of course, I was fully motivated and definitely didn't lounge around all morning finishing my ice cream, internet shopping and catching up on TV... oh no, of course not.  I did eventually start studying around lunch time and, if I say so myself, I think I learnt quite an impressive amount of Swedish in such a small time frame.  By five pm I could write a page and a half about myself, my friends and my family, however some of it was fairly fictional; my friends were all in hotch potch, mostly lesbian, couples who all ate breakfast together at seven am each day, my brother and sister's favourite activities were to study and listen to the radio on a Saturday - what an exciting pair - and the rest of my family didn't really exist, except to participate in many activities in a forest.  Oh, the joys of a limited vocabulary.  I overlooked the parts of the course about Swedish geography and the royal family though, thinking that these had simply been included as linguistic examples.  How wrong I was.  Half of the test were questions about these facts, which I couldn't answer in English let alone Swedish.  I did write a lovely little story about a chap named John and his Saturday nights in Sticky Fingers followed by breakfasts with many friends though so hopefully that will redeem me.  It will be very embarrassing indeed if I have to tell you next week about the time I failed the easiest test in the world.

I have my first piece of actual coursework due in on Friday which has coincided nicely with me not having any classes  this week.  In a strange turn of events, I woke up this morning feeling slightly panicked that I haven't started the essay yet, when usually I wouldn't start until 11pm the night before, and this one is half the length that I'm used to.  I'm choosing to embrace this panic though and use it to start planning the essay now and maybe, just maybe, it can be my first ever piece of university coursework that doesn't involve an all nighter to complete.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Gothenburg, The City of Perpetual Precipitation and a Hundred Languages

It is a dreary Wednesday afternoon in Gothenburg.  As ever, it is raining.  I honestly do not remember the last time that a day was completely free of rain.  At the very least there has been a daily shower for at least the past three weeks, I would say, perhaps longer.  Today, however, it is not merely showering and for the second time this week a violent burst of thunder has made my window panes shudder.  I was about to venture to the supermarket when the heavens opened but the thought of donning my rain coat again is less than appealing – it even came on a night out last Saturday, a new low? – so here I am.

I’ve perhaps neglected this blog slightly lately, due to having been concentrating on other things.  One of these is a project that has come about after a slight ‘what am I going to do with my life?’ crisis which I may share in due course.  However, I must admit that mostly I have been working my way through a frankly quite impressive amount of episodes of Sex and the City.  Sigh.  I have not been completely idle though; since I last wrote I attended the first meeting of Druty and a dinner party, finally started running again and dabbled with veganism.  Oh, and I spent another Saturday at Sticky Fingers – didn’t I say it would become a habit?

Firstly, perhaps, I shall explain what Druty means.  It is, or so I am told, a Polish term which translates as knitting needles, which may give you an indication of what the group involves.  It is a Swedish handicrafts group, involving mostly knitting and crocheting, but can really included any textile based craft I assume.  When joining this group, I did wonder if my old lady tendencies were perhaps getting a little out of hand, and if I should maybe say farewell to the inner seventy year old once and for all.  However, after a delightful Saturday morning exploring flea markets around Redbergsplatsen, having a very cheap but lovely fika and discovering a box of ‘gratis böcker’ (i.e. free books, which are, as anybody will tell you, my absolute favourite thing, even if they are in Swedish) with five other students, I admit that my concerns were unfounded.

A highlight of the morning, although perhaps less so for myself than for my Grandma, was when a lady on the craft stall in one flea market produced a lace pillow (to clarify, I am referring to the pillow on which lace is made, rather than one crafted from lace) on which she was in the process of creating a piece of traditional Swedish lace.  Before I came to Sweden, my Grandma got rather excited about Swedish lace, producing all sorts of books and patterns for us to pore over.  In a typically grandmotherly fashion, I showed interest in one head dress and she has already begun its creation to be worn at my wedding, apparently.  I couldn’t quite bring myself to fill her in on my current very firm singledom as she seems to believe this wedding might be occurring in the near future, but it was a lovely thought nonetheless and I know how thrilled she would have been about the encounter.  It’s slightly disappointing, however, that the owner of the lace pillow didn’t speak a word of English and vice versa.  Hopefully that will be changing quite soon though as I have my first Swedish exam on Monday and all I know so far is my name, princess and king – useful components of any conversation!  At one of the flea markets we visited I purchased a Famous Five book which I hope to be able to read before I leave here, and hopefully to return to its origins to continue the lace conversation as well.  Fingers crossed.

As I mentioned, I have also started running again and been trying out a (mostly) vegan diet.  These decisions mostly came from me deciding once and for all to stop being such a big chub after looking at some old pictures of myself, good lord.  Despite many people’s assumptions, I have found veganism alarmingly easy to adapt to and am actually cooking nicer, not to mention healthier, food than I have ever before.  Also, in search of vegan food in Haga on my Thursday lecture-gap-cum-lunch-break, I discovered my favourite eatery in the city so far.  This wonderful venue goes by the name of ‘En Deli Haga’ and, as it says on the tin really, is a vegan deli.  You can choose from a selection of items on a cold buffet, such as houmous, stuffed vine leaves and spicy lentil falafels alongside various salads, which are then either put into a delicious wrap or served on a mixed plate.  There is also the option of soup, with unlimited amounts of delicious bread and oil/vinegar dips, and I spied some baklava for desert but I was simply too full to even contemplate it.  It was truly delicious though, exactly my cup of tea, and I will be taking all future visitors there, including the carnivorous ones.

I must point out that the veganism is a purely health motivated choice, rather than being anything to do with animal welfare (don’t worry, the Chickens in Need days are not making a comeback), and I therefore haven’t felt too guilty on occasions when I have strayed.  This has only happened twice (or three times if you include the drunk McDonald’s on Saturday but we aren’t), today taking advantage of my Dagens lunch voucher from ABF Vux and last Tuesday at a dinner party.  The dinner party took place at Birger Jarl, another set of student housing across the city, and coincided with our month anniversary in Gothenburg.  There were around twenty students of various nationalities and we all took a different dish to share.  The name cards had been distributed randomly around the table to give everybody chance to mingle with new people.  It was a great idea and I had a lot of fun, not to mention some delicious food, however once again the language barrier proved to be quite an obstacle and by the end of the evening it seemed that everybody had drifted back to fellow speakers of their mother tongue.

I really do feel that it is about time that I got to grips with at least one other language as I’m quite ashamed of how ignorant and just plain lazy native English speakers are.  As a literature student, it perhaps goes without saying that I really do love the English language and all that it has created and accomplished, but I don’t really feel that that is a valid excuse to simply ignore the importance of every other language.  In day to day interactions with other Erasmus students and whilst volunteering at ABF Vux language school, I hear so many other languages that it would be quite possible to just close your ears to if you desired.  Yet, every now and again, when straying from the well-trodden, tourist-friendly paths of Gothenburg's main streets, you find somebody who doesn't speak English and realise that you can't properly understand a society if you are still hearing about it through your native ears and describing it in your native tongue.   With that in mind, I bid you farewell now with the intention of learning some Swedish.  Did I mention that I have an exam on Monday?  Oh… yeah.

(It's still raining, by the way.)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Sticky Fingers and the Invisibility Cloak of Nightlife

Considering that it is such a large city – the second biggest in Sweden, population of over half a million – Gothenburg’s nightlife scene can, at best, be summed up as ‘confusing’.  Kenneth described it as ‘the city that sleeps’ and how right he was.  During the day, it bustles; it’s vibrant and alive and infectious.  The sheer beauty of Gothenburg’s inhabitants and their mostly impeccable style inspires you to join in – to take fika, to wander the avenue, to hold a crayfish party.  Whatever they’re doing, I want a piece of it, I want to be a piece of it.  In the daylight hours, that is. 

Then darkness falls.  You alight from the tram at central station, thinking that the key word of ‘central’ may be indicative of something lively.  But as you step down from the rickety tin can in which you have travelled, the streets seem suddenly empty.  You gaze around, seeking out telltale bright lights and distant music but it’s silent and dim, except for seemingly ever present arrows pointing towards a 24 hour McDonald’s.  You get back on the tram, thinking that maybe Brunnsparken is the place you need, but where several hours earlier you were pushing through crowds of people to cross the bridge to Nordstan, now there’s a clear path, all for you.  It leads to a 24 hour McDonald’s.

This fruitless search can continue for many hours, clambering on and off an endless amount of trams, thinking that it must be the next stop, then the next, then the next.  The search is as infinite, and as hopeless, as walking towards the end of the rainbow to find the pot of gold.  It just never comes.  After a while of this half-drunk stumbling around the city, everybody begins to lag a little, and the night seems to go any number of three ways:

1)      No matter which path the aimless adventure has taken, it always seems to lead to Queen’s.  Queen’s is a bar, but only in the most basic definition of the term.  Its first downfall is how ludicrously expensive it is, considering that it is, essentially, just a quite grotty pub.  It is here where Suzanne famously paid 89kr for one single vodka and lemonade.  That equates to about £9 in Britain.  £9 for 25 measly millilitres of alcohol? God help us all.  It is also startlingly bright in there.  I’m not sure who told the owners that stark strip lighting was a good feature of a bar but they were most mistaken.  If nothing else, it means your sobriety and disappointment has no hiding place.  At worst, you’re completely unable to escape the fact that the irritating Swedish man you seem to be talking to has the most unfathomably miniscule head you’ve ever seen.

2)     If, in a happy twist of fate, you didn’t end up at Queen’s, or you did but after one drink there remember how diabolic it is, the next step seems to be resorting to asking a local for directions to a club.  I say resorting because the people around whom you can ask are most definitely not the chic locals who paced these streets the preceding afternoon.  However, times are desperate, and off somebody trots with their best Swedish accent, returning with a hesitant tour guide.  This method has led me to both a terrifying death metal club and a jazz club.  I have to admit that the jazz club did end up being quite good fun, but I suppose it was only in a making the best of things kind of way.  I apparently ran laps of the dance floor (which says everything about how few people were in there), whilst Kenneth rotated his fists and shouted ‘woo woo’.  We all had a jolly good laugh at the strange girl who appeared to be tagging along with us, and I had a solitary laugh at the very large girl dancing alone in the corner.

3)     Perhaps after Queen’s spirits were so damp that no dance moves could be summoned, or perhaps the evening had turned into a wild goose chase of non-existent bars, but sometimes the only option is to call it a bad job and go home.  This usually isn’t quite as dismal as it sounds, as it seems to either involve food (although I have to admit that too regularly ‘food’ means drunk ryvita, which is just not satisfying at all) or, on one occasion which I mentioned a few weeks ago, you end up dancing around somebody’s room with a refilled glass of wine, a wooden spoon and most of the lights dimmed at long last.  Phew.

At least, that was the way nights went, until we discovered the very ominously named Sticky Fingers.  I suppose now is the time to admit that on our first proper visit to here, I was perhaps ever so slightly too drunk and therefore remember little to none of the night, although I heard astoundingly good reviews from everybody else.  Last Saturday, we made a return trip, and I was on my best behaviour, pre-drinking 2% alcohol cider and being very restrained on the tequila front.  The result of this slight self-moderation was that I had a great night, racing around the dance floor and taking incriminating pictures of everybody else.  (There’s nothing like another’s misfortune to make you get over your own embarrassment, aye.)

I’m not sure that Sticky Fingers is actually a particularly astounding venue – with a name like that, how can it be? – or if it’s simply a welcome change to the endless hunter gathering that characterised our first few nights out.  Either way, I have a feeling that this Saturday night routine of renting the TV room then racing to Sticky Fingers to get in free before ten may be here to stay.  As long as I get to dress up and drink some wine and dance horrendously, I don’t mind one bit; if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, I guess.  And there’s not a McDonald’s sign in sight.  Hallelujah.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

'As Big As Your Head'

On the whole, this week has mostly been characterised by how completely uncharacteristic of me it has been.  For one, I have attended all of my classes at university, which is an enormous step up from the 10% attendance rate I was probably averaging in Plymouth, and I’ve even done all the prep work for them.  (Although, ironically, at points when I have been procrastinating, I have been doing so by reading Sense and Sensibility, after somehow struggling through an essay about sensibility without reading it last year.)  Most importantly though, and it makes me feel slightly ill to admit this, I think I might have even enjoyed them.  In our general university introduction sessions, we were warned that there was no spoon feeding here, and it’s certainly true.  It was a slight shock to the system initially but for the first time since my disastrous dalliance with A Level Maths, I’m not sitting in class thinking that I probably could have done this in primary school, and it turns out that’s a good feeling.  Who knew?  I also had my first Master’s class in Speculative Fiction which was even more difficult, but again, I seemed to enjoy it even more.  My only issue is that all the other students are, unsurprisingly, big sci fi fans and as somebody who has never even watched Star Wars, I have absolutely no frame of reference for what they’re talking about most of the time.  I never thought the day would come when it required a weekend watching sci fi movies to bring me up to speed for a class.

Along this same module student vein, I have also not been out since last Friday – eight days guys, eight whole fricking days – and on Thursday I even chose my night class instead of the Erasmus kick off party.  The fact that it apparently ended up being a bit of a flop and nobody went is a moot point, I chose literary theory before I knew any of that.  Last year, I regularly managed to talk myself out of 9am classes in case they interrupted a night out, so this is particularly out of character.  Also, after a whole week of 7am starts  (something that hasn’t happened since I was sixteen, excluding the two months of fifty hour working weeks this spring) I remembered what a joyous experience the Saturday morning lie in is.  It’s almost worth all this effort just to recapture the sense of weekend magic.  And I stand by that point even though this morning’s lie in ended at 9.20am so that I could go for a group gym session at 10am.  Yes, you heard right: I went to the gym at 10am on a Saturday morning, and I spent every single second there thinking about my ridiculously exciting paisley jeans that are a bit of a squeeze to do up right now.

The main reason for this sudden tightness in the clothing department is probably something to do with my participation in the consumption of a ridiculously large cinnamon bun this afternoon.  The specific sizing of it is, as I’ve told anybody who’ll listen since I discovered them on Thursday, ‘as big as your head’.   We found this obesity drug in Haga, a cute little street of cafes and antique shops and, for some reason, Moomin memorabilia, that I may or may not have mentioned before.  We did go some way to rectifying the sugar feast by walking up a ‘mountain’ (ahem… small, albeit steep, hill) to a tower/castle type thing.  It was nice with some amazing views of Gothenburg but it was also a bit of a suicide mission given the gale force winds that followed us up there.  We didn’t make it up the tower either as some kind of event was occurring, or at least I assume there was, otherwise people were just very inappropriately dressed for a walk up a hill on a windy day.

In my last post I mentioned the Kindle and the Language Assistant volunteering, and then never got around to saying anything more about them, so here we go.  I’ll start with the Kindle and get the bad news out of the way.  I have been completely anti-ebook, anti-Kindle, anti-Kobo since they were first introduced a few years ago.  I have been very vocal about my objections and have sworn not to get one, ever, point blank, period.  Then I came to Sweden.  Sigh.  Most Amazon sellers won’t ship here, the international bookshops are ludicrously overpriced and I had a strong feeling that I couldn’t get away with just buying one book from each module’s reading list this term (and even if I could, this strange new academic motivation seems to tell me that I don’t want to get away with it).  The only option seemed to be a Kindle, aka the tool of the devil, the death of literature.  The day it arrived, I sat staring at it for a long time before opening the box.  When I opened it, I was decidedly underwhelmed.  To be honest, I don’t have much to say on the matter (which makes this whole paragraph a bit redundant, sorry); it’s okay, it’s adequate, it does the job, but it’s not a book and I can’t get excited about it like I can a book and I won’t ever choose its sleek case over a tatty old paperback.   And that’s that.

I have many more positive things to say about the volunteering however.  ABF Vux caters mostly to teaching English to native Swedes and both English and Swedish to asylum seekers.  I’ll admit that I was a bit wary about participating, as it’s just not my sort of thing.  At all.  However, I was completely wrong.  It was straight forward and interesting and I really enjoyed the session.  If nothing else, you get a lunch voucher after each class and a certificate at the end of term, however I have a feeling you’ll get a lot more out of it than that, although I’m aware how hideously cheesy that sounds.  It was fun though, let’s leave it at that, and I also have yet another group of people to add to the ‘people who laugh at my British accent’ list.  Between you and me, this list is getting pretty long.

Tonight, I am going out for the first time in eight days (I’m not sure if I mentioned it or not, but I haven’t been out for eight days… eight days) with the people who laugh at my accent more than anybody else.  We had high hopes of making sangria then remembered that Sweden is a ridiculous country and you can’t buy alcohol after 3pm on a Saturday, so we’re just having to make do with plain ol’ wine instead.  Nonetheless, I am exciting to finally wear something other than a jumper and to unleash some ludicrous dancing.  No doubt you’ll hear from me tomorrow, dying in bed and having undone all the good work of the past week.  Peaks and troughs.

(I’ve noticed that seem to sound pretty anti-Sweden in these posts, which couldn’t be further from the truth, it’s just sometimes a bit difficult to be enthusiastic about a country that makes you pay £4 for tampons, that doesn’t let you watch 4OD and where you have to decide on pre-drinks at lunchtime.)