Tuesday, June 22, 2010

But never in all the time that I had this dream did the knight say to me, "Come on, baby, I'll put you up in a great condo."

I really love my little apt, it's all I need and it's just so cute. But today I had to get S and head outside to study...the sunspots and dreariness of my homework were beckoning too hard for a nap.

I read most of the homework but I need to get up extra early to take better notes. We only have 14 class days and one class is a little more intense than the other. We have these same classes every day, so it can be a lot of reading and digestion. Yikes. (There are 5 or 6 classes, not everyone has the same 2 classes.)

I also really like my flatmates, I think I lucked out completely.

This weekend is officially AMSTERDAM!! I leave Thursday night and get in around 9pm. I am staying a 12 min train ride outside the city center--I will post pics of my hotel soon, it looks like a dollhouse on acid. It was reasonably priced. I am going by myself but wouldn't be surprised if someone else is heading out as well--everyone's using this weekend to their advantage. I chose Amsterdam, in addition to being cheapest, because it's the height of tourist time and that place especially will be crawling with foreigners...I have no doubt that despite its', you know, reputation (gasp! drugs!) it is probably the one of the safest places I could go.

A lot of people are going to Prague, but they seemed like less-seasoned travelers and honey, whatever you think your package deal is, they are charging you *per person*, I assure you, and I didn't want to be on the short end of that stick. Plus, Prague is hella pricey. (Not that they're givin' it away in Amsterdam.) I also checked Hamburg just for fun, Alex, and whoa. Most of "real" Europe is way too pricey. :( (We'll book in advance, you and me, next time! Swedish is apparently a lot like German, so I am just about an expert in both. Ha.)

I also seriously looked into Bruges...I thought that would be the all-time best whimsical place to go. However, the times of flights were off (you fly to Brussels and the train takes you to Bruges, about an hour out), and it would just not be a good use of my time. Dammit, that would have been a great story. I needed something easy to make sure I got back in time for classes!

So I'm in classes all week (well, til Thursday) but I am studying my ass off and getting ready for a couple presentations next week, joy joy. We also have a midsummer party tomorrow prepared for us by the Swedish students. Yesterday we had a welcome party. They are consistently feeding us wine by 4pm--I'm supposed to study *when*?!

Working on it! Whatever, back to catching up on my Stewart and Colbert from last night, I'm keepin' in touch in essential ways, oh yes, bless this laptop!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We're in...Delaware.

I don't mean to sound obnoxious, but I am debating whether to go to Amsterdam or Helsinki next weekend. I have to go somewhere because A) it's a three-day weekend B) it's my b-day and C) Sweden, Lund in particular, pretty much shuts down for Midsummer. Ah, the excuses, they are a-plenty.

I would either do 3 days in Amsterdam or 2 days in Helsinki. The latter is more expensive, both flight and hotel-wise, but on the other hand, when the eff would I ever go to Finland otherwise? I don't really have a pressing desire, like I HAVE to see Finland, but I certainly want to! I feel like seeing as much of Scandinavia while I'm here would be more practical. Amsterdam is more easily accessible and it's more likely I would make a point to go there later. ("Hey, baby, let's go to...Helsinki." Probably not. Not to knock the place, I'm sure it's gorgeous.) In either case, I'm traveling by myself and Amsterdam seems more like a place to go with others.

I'm doin' the math and it really may just boil down to money. If I do Helsinki, that also means I can go with everyone to Copenhagen the night before to watch the game...

When I was deciding, I looked at the map of Scandinavia.

I did shit just a little bit to realize that yes, St. Petersburg is just right there. I did look up a flight just for fun, and it was way too expensive. Not that I was seriously considering it!

(Btw, if you wanna know where I am, I am at the bottom of Sweden, where it says "Malmo." Lund is right next to Malmo.)

More pictures! Food and drinks mostly.

All beer should have this much confidence.

Yup, awesome.

They have a zero tolerance law in regards to drinking and driving. You can't even have had one drink. (The director also tried to tell us there was zero tolerance regarding controlled substances, but the Swedish students told us later that's really not true...not that I plan on testing anything.)

As I mentioned in the last post, S and I went out to Herkules for dinner. We can't eat out constantly, it's really pricey...but this place wasn't all that much expensive than other places and holy hell was it good. If you click on Meny, and scroll down to Varmrätter, S had the tuna and I had the rooster. (And if you click on Festlokal, that's their downstairs, where we went back after 11pm--we sat in the corner just under the pics. It was fine until around 1am when it turned into, as the Swedish girls put it, "a meat market.") Anyhoo, my rooster is the first pic.

They were both really, really good. Damn.

Today is low-key. Just my water bottle and homework mostly.

And one of the American girls clued me into the Nutella and pretzels in the grocery store, so that's my evening treat, hopefully with a little Netfux.

The pretzels are good and each one is twice the length of the ones at home. Weird.

Micro Pop is the shit. The yellow box is just the right amount of buttery--apparently the blue box is super salty, so I chose well.

My little fridge, full of frozen food, wine, milk and fruit.

So Swedish wine. It is gross. Actually it's drinkable--I mean, nothing will ever be Japanese wine, which might actually be grape juice with urine in it. No, this is just sweet and lame. Swedish beer, good. Swedish wine, bad. Noted.

And see that milk container? I am quite proud that I found not only the proper type of milk (read: NOT THE SOUR KIND, wow, that's big here), but also the skim kind. You sit there at the grocery store and stare at about eight different kinds of milk. Daunting.

Bed time!

You may have seen a meteor shower, but I bet you've never seen a shower "meatier" than this!

Wow, it's already Sunday! Today I've been taking it easy--went to the grocery store and did laundry. I am very proud of myself for working the Swedish machines...everything seems to have come out clean and the same size. I have no idea what most of the buttons mean.

I also figured out how to bypass Netfux's shitty little you-can't-watch-instant-download-unless-you're-in-the-country-bullshit. I get it's about licensing issues, but that doesn't mean I have to take it! Of course the VPN I downloaded or whatever it is gimps up a little sometimes--I should be able to turn the privacy on and off and sometimes when I turn it off, it turns itself back on. I mostly just need it for watching Netfux (so I turn it on), but I like leaving it on sometimes since it keeps my search results predominantly in English rather than Swedish.

Also got my grades the other night. Well, most of them. A certain professor did not turn in his grades and it's a class we're all dying to know about. Natch. I did better in everything this time except Civ Pro, I went down a little (ouch) and in Torts my grade stayed the same, probably the most depressing thing ever. But my highest grade? Contracts. Oh irony, you cruel bitch.

Back to pictures! Let's look at my room...

This is when you first walk in. That's a closet area off to the left (der) and the bathroom is to the right. I have the corner room at the very end of the hallway, which is pretty sweet, but from what I can tell, these rooms are pretty sound-proof when the door is closed. Although someone was watching The Daily Show with the volume at 11, but it wasn't me!

Bathroom! I love it--the whole room is basically the shower, I don't bother with the curtain...for one thing it kinda creeps me out. The toilet has a button on the back, but most toilets here have a two-sided button, one that uses less water and one that uses more (you know, depending...). And the cabinet mirror pops out and slides to the side, so you can angle it. Not really sure why, maybe for shaving? But it's fun anyway.

Step past the bathroom and you're in my room. They gave us a flat sheet for the bottom and what I thought was a sheet and a duvet. After doing laundry I realized the sheet is a cover for the duvet, which makes much more sense.

If the bed is on your right, this is the left. The microwave is pretty easy to use--I made myself a frozen dinner and popcorn today--the popcorn is THE SHIT. NOM. More on the foodie later. My fridge is under the sink.

My view and window! Love it. It opens and it has been quite pleasant out. Yesterday was chilly and drizzly, but I mostly hung out at Herkules (a bar/restaurant/club) with S and drank and ate...pics of that deliciousness to come. We went shopping and I got a hot pink dress--a poor man's Marilyn-style dress, and it was very reasonably priced. S got three things from a little boutique and the clothes were more unusual and definitely a good buy, but really pricey! I thought of you, Alex, you would have really loved the place! It was called Godiva Boutique--I told S I want one of her bags for home, ha ha...it has the Swedish address on it...I still have some of my favorite Tokyo bags.

Anyhoo. Back to our tour.

This is my light switch. But as far as I can tell the one on the bottom right does jack shit.

Leaving my room, you step into the hall and look down. There are about ten or twelve rooms, but there are 8 of us. Each of our doors locks, so that's nice. About halfway down the hall is the living room and kitchen.

The living area! And the kitchen is beyond that.

Mostly we use the TV to watch World Cup games, but one night I wandered out and got trapped along with four others watching Jersey Shore. Oh my god, if that isn't the worst thing ever, I really, really don't want to know what is. And four of us noted we'd never seen it before--to which someone remarked, "Wow, we had to come overseas to see this." I always knew what it was, but holy jesus. Good to know someone is filming the absolute lowest dregs of society. Sigh.

Beer! Grown-ups get their beer, wine, liquor all from the liquor store. The grocery store stocks beer, but it's all Oklahoma-style--meaning 3.5% and 2.8%, so I think anyone can buy that crap. This is Zeitgeist beer and has David Lynch-esque goat men on it in black coats, completely why I bought it. It was tasty, too. (This is a real beer. The first three places I found were the grocery store, liquor store and money exchange. Sweet.)

This is the shitty grocery store beer. It's ok, but meh. These are someone else's mistakes.

View from the living room.

Kitchen! I really don't use it much, I mostly use my room. There are still a couple holdover tenants who've been here for six months but I think they leave today or tomorrow--srsly, I think there are 2 or 3 of them and they all have one room? I just can't wait for them to leave so we can clean out the fridge. Right now it's packed with shit that's probably expired but I don't want to piss anyone off by throwing anything away...there's also a bottle of champagne we're all eying...

I haven't used the stove yet, but it took S 30 minutes to figure it out. You have to turn it on about 3 different ways. I'll wait for someone else to figure it out. (S lives on the floor above me.)

Swedish kronor change! (Except that American penny on the right...pretend I put it there for perspective.) I was so confused for ages because the one with the hole is 1 and there is another one that says 1. Yeah, the one with the hole is Danish kronor, which I got when I bought my train ticket in Copenhagen. Der. The gold one in front is 10, the 5 is the biggest.

Tasty! Yes, I bought that just because it's called Firefly. And the pink one is like ginger ale but raspberry, and I have yet to sample the third.

I'm picking up odds and ends to send to Fiona and Sophia, starting with these! Except, um, I ate this Geisha bar. It was GOOD, TOO! ;) It's hazelnut-filled. (I got another bigger one today--ok, two--one for me and one for them!) They are big on licorice here, so I got some of those, which I can assure you I won't touch. Also got a coconut thing that looks great except for that whole coconut part. The tiger dollar store also had beads, so I got some for Sophia.

I'm less sure of the buildings at this point, but this is close to campus. I swear to god, this is a church whose name, translated, literally means "Church of Doom." LOVE.

This is not the library, but the library looks very similar. I will take pics when I find the library again, because hot damn.

Yeah, I don't know what this is. I figured I would make a better effort later. Everything is pretty close together here.

This seems like the quintessential Swedish town shot. Cobblestone streets and colorful buildings. Needless to say, walking around is quite pleasant. (Except on weekend nights when these streets are filled with drunk students...but even that's not bad.)

Ate here the first night with other American students from upstairs, pretty decent overall. I hadn't eaten real food in probably more than 24 hours, so the steak thing I had was pretty fucking amazing. Also, those awnings are mechanical--they lower them when it gets cooler at night and it retains more of the heat from the heat lamps, which are already nicely powerful.

Market clothes. Love the skeleton biker shirt.

Tiger dollar store!

One of my Swedish student hosts showed us around and she pointed this out as the best ice cream in Sweden. I haven't tried it yet, but I was excited to find it again. Nom.

After work! I was impressed that "after work" is from 2-6--when the fuck do these people work, anyway?

The train station! I have not been back here, you walk everywhere in Lund. But if the station is on your left and you walk three minutes past it, you're at my flat!

This was lunch the other day. Looked pretty decent, and it was fine. There is one small problem with cooking here sometimes, though.

Yeah, that. Luckily, it wasn't terribly involved. ;)

Ok, homework time! There's no writing homework--the professor in that class appears to be exceedingly mellow--but I do have con law homework. That guy seems to have a great sense of humor, so I don't think this will be too brutal hopefully. *Gulp*

Friday, June 18, 2010

You stay under water for three minutes. If you can do it, I'll just nick you.

Wow. A theme of Swedish or even Scandinavian movie quotes isn't going to fly. To say their films are pervasively bleak is a bit of an understatement...

Yay, picture time, picture time! The flat has been really quiet this morning and early afternoon...we're off today but we're supposed to go to a bar called Gloria's around 3:30 to watch the American game and get our Nations card--this is a student card that lets us drink cheaper at certain places. Thank god cause drinking out is as bad as Boston...and the food is ungodly expensive. I passed by Gloria's this morning and they have a $20 chicken burrito. 'nuff said.

I think everyone is out or passed out/sleeping from staying out and/or getting up at 3am for game 7...ouch, wasn't that a bad move. So much for the game 5 winner winning the championship 76% of the time...poor Boston! :(

Anyhoo, let the pics commence!

Ladies and gentlemen, the first picture. You know it. This is the loo at Copenhagen airport. LOVE. The bathrooms here ARE THE SHIT. They are private rooms with solid doors that shut and lock with sinks in each. This one is actually pretty big, being two tiny rooms all to yourself, but could America PLEASE START TAKING THEIR BATHROOM CONSTRUCTION CUES FROM EUROPE?! PRIIIIIIIIIIIVACY, MOTHERFUCKER.

Anyhoo, that big thing on the back is the flusher. Mine in my apt is a button, it varies rather alarmingly.

Copenhagen airport. Yup. Decent size, not too big and not too small. And by the time I was done in the loo and found the baggage claim, I saw my bag already on it! I didn't reclaim my bag in Paris (never sure if you're supposed to or not and the Boston lady said it would meet me in Copenhagen but would only be on the same flight I made (since it was up in the air, har har)...but how do they know til I'm on board unless I reclaim? Anyway...some airports I have had to and others I haven't...so I ttly said a little prayer as I frantically hauled my ass through Paris without checking.)

More than a few people had their bags stranded in NYC and Iceland, but I think everyone has been reunited by now.

I caught the train to Lund, 40 minutes, and it was easy enough. It was also easy enough to find the international housing, which is basically right behind the station, a three minute walk. Quite a haul with a heavy backpacking bag and regular backpack, but I made it--just before the pissing down thunderstorm, too!

The ad on the way to my flat. No idea. That is one thing about this place. Everyone speaks English beautifully, but everything is written in Swedish only sometimes. More on this later. (Lookin' at you, menus and cooking directions.)

I got settled and met 3 of my flatmates--they are from other sections but I vaguely knew one girl. The other two are guys are they are all very nice. There are about 8 of us total, but it's quite large and it's not crowded at all. There are about 6 suites total, maybe about 40 Americans in this building. The pics will help. Anyhoo, then off to find the grocery store. We did get sheets and a pillow, though we'd been told otherwise. I just needed essentials and food and plus, who doesn't want to check out the Swedish grocery store? I didn't take pics in there, maybe later...but it's about five minutes away...

These are the bikes across from the station. They don't fuck around with bikes here.

This is the little square across from the station and next to the grocery store. LOVE the trees.

More square.

There's a little open market foodie guy but there's a much better locally-produced place further away, one of the Swedish students told me later.

I took it pretty easy the rest of the day and got settled. I went out that night with a group that all knows each other, but they were quite nice. I didn't take any pics, I was trying to pay attention to where I was!

The next day we all had to go to the law school for just an informal information session, so on the way home I explored a little more and discovered that "after work" is code for "happy hour." Sweet. I went here:

That's the station across the way. The wine was typically 58 kronor (8 bucks?) and since it was "after work" (i.e., 1400--1800), it was 39 kronor! (Less than 6.) I was in one of those red swivel chairs.

Surreptitiously taking pictures of the bar behind me...

This is the walk to my place.

This is it!

And this is its' name!

I will have to do Pt II later...this is getting to be an arduous length. And it's getting to be nearly game time, I am going to have one of the interesting beers I bought (and took pics of) for some pre-gaming. I can hear my flatmate Dan yelling at the TV because Germany is totally blowing it...he is very upset. ;)