First snowstorm this winter

After an unusually nice autumn with decent temperatures and not too much rainfall winter suddenly arrived. The temperature dropped well below zero in just a few days and it started snowing heavily. It usually comes more gradually with the cold arriving first and the snow much later. I’m used to a cold autumn and start of the winter with low temperatures without any snow for a long time, sometimes not until well into January or February even.

This winter started with a lot of snow very early for the season. It’s been snowing almost constantly for several days now and it doesn’t look like it will stop any time soon. There’s a lot of news about how the snow is affecting people, busses stop going, trains get delayed, people fall and get injured and many cars run off the roads or are in other types of accidents.

I’m not a big fan of the winter season in general because of the cold and wet weather, but I have to admit I do like snowfall. Snow makes this otherwise dark season a little brighter and softens up the bleak and boring landscape. It’s also nice for all the kids (and people who do skiing etc) with a lot of snow so early, it’s a lot of fun playing in the snow, too bad we’re a little too old for that now!

Snowstorm hits the main shopping street

Snowstorm hits the main shopping street

Since the snow came so early this year I really do hope it stays like this at least over christmas. Snow on christmas is a little special since it’s unusual nowadays, as far as I remember it was more common when I was a kid. A white christmas with lights in and on the houses are so nice!

Another reason I hope the snow stays and the temperature stays below zero is that I really don’t like when the snow melts and the ground become wet and splashy, or worse, freeze to ice again after melting! That’s the worst kind of weather here, and the main reason why winter is not my favorite season. Fingers crossed for a winter where the snow doesn’t melt until spring arrives so we don’t have to bother with the spashly streets.

Snowstorm clothes dec2012

Todays snowstorm was not very fun though, the wind was blowing at more than 10 m/s and it’s snowing quite a lot. Only snowfall is quite nice and only wind is also ok, but when you combine the two it’s a different deal. Most people who could probably stayed indoors today as much as possible. I had to go out to go to university and do some shopping.

It was not easy to see where you put your feet since you can’t look straight forward because it’s snowing almost horizontally. To protect the face from the cold winds and snow I wore my scarf wrapped around my face, like in the picture here on the right. This is not my usual style of course but what to do when the weather is like this? 🙂 It was the best way I could figure out so that I could still see the ground even though I had to keep my head down. Perhaps glasses would help, but I guess it would look a bit odd to walk around wearing skiing goggles in the city, hehe. Maybe
there’s a slimmer style to wear in a snowstorm..?


Do you have Swedish ancestors?

If you are an American there’s a chance that you have Swedish ancestors, because one fifth of Swedens population emigrated to the US, around 1,3 million people left to start a new life when life got too difficult here during years of starvation and drought.

A new season of a tv show called ‘Allt för Sverige’, which mean Everything for Sweden, started yesterday. The programme is about 10 Americans with Swedish ancestors who come here to find their roots. They are competing for the chance to meet with their living relatives here, but all of them get the story of their ancestors, information about who they were, pictures of them, and if they stay in the programme long enough they get to see the place their family is from. They visit the village or city and often see the very house their ancestors lived in before leaving Sweden.

The participants get to visit different parts of Sweden, learn about our culture, try Swedish food, learn a few words in Swedish and much more. It’s really moving to see how they react to coming here and what they think about the experience. They all say they feel like a part of their history is missing and want to find the missing pieces.

If you have Swedish ancestors (even if you don’t know who they are) you might want to check out this programme. I don’t know if they air it in the US as well but I really hope they do. I’m not sure if you can view this programme from another country but I hope it works! In case it doesn’t work and you want to see it, try using a VPN tunnel and connect so you get a Swedish IP address, that should solve the problem.

This is the first of eight programmes to come (season 2). The programme is only available for 30 days after it is aired, so don’t wait too long if you’re interested!

Seasons changing, autumn is here

Autumn is here now in Sweden, days are getting shorter, the weather is colder and all the leafs of the trees start to change colour. The start of a new season here in Sweden is determined by the weather and not on a specific date in the calendar. The definition is that the average temperature of the day/night is getting lower and is between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius. This means that the autumn season will start in the north and move down south as it’s getting colder. There can be up to two months difference between when the autumn starts.

All four seasons have its charm and positive and negative aspects. I feel lucky to live in this kind of climate and country where we have so big changes in seasons over the year. We get to experience these kind of changes so often and see the beauty of each season. Winter with its snow, spring when all the colours come back, summer for the warmth and finally autumn with more colour changes, only with a different palette. Every year when a season is about to change it’s difficult to imagine what comes next. When it’s winter and all the trees are brown without leafs it’s difficult to imagine how it looks like when spring comes and everything turns green. Same thing with autumn when the leafs start to change colour and fall off.

Every time I’m thinking about which season is my favourite I notice that I can’t really decide. Spring is great because the long awaited warmth is starting to come back, summer for relaxing and autumn is nice because we get an excuse to stay indoors and do cosy things like lighting lots of candles and snuggle in the sofa.

Appereance wise though I must say I probably prefer autumn. This time of the year is when I miss living close to the ocean the most. I love how the storms in autumn makes the ocean look. It’s like two powerful forces that gets combined and should be shown respect. Both the strong winds of a storm and the forces of the water in the ocean. A storm really shows how powerful the ocean can be and it’s so beautiful with all the colour shifts.

I also used to enjoy going for a walk in the storms, especially down to the beach. Standing on the cliffs close to the water and watching the big waves come crashing on to land is just a wonderful feeling. The salty water splashing on your face and if you’re standing in the wrong (or right, depending on what you wanted) place you might get awashed by the waves. If the waves are big enough and you’re standing in the right place the wave can pass over your head and you just get a little wet on the top instead of drenched in water. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the autumn storms, perhaps I’ll take some next year if I’m down by the ocean at the right time of the year and the weather is right.

Although there are some nice things with darker evenings I soon get tired of it, especially combined with the cold. I start to long for more sunlight and look forward to the winter solstice so that the days will start to get longer again. Until then I’ll just enjoy the beauty of nature around me as long as possible, all leafs will soon be gone for this year so go outside and take walks, and don’t forget to notice the area around you. 🙂

Want to study in Sweden?

If you’re thinking about studying abroad and are considering coming to Sweden to study but not sure where to get the information, look no further. 🙂 Over some years I have gotten questions on how to come and study here from friends abroad and now that I have a blog to share information on I’d like to take that opportunity. So continue reading if you want to know the process and webpages to use when applying as well as some useful information.

You might have heard that studies in Sweden are free, and to some extent it still is. For Swedish people (and those with  residenceship without being a citizen) and for citizens living within the European Union it still is totally free. We Swedes even get some money from the government when we study and can take a student loan to survive during the years as a student, pretty sweet deal. It was only a few years ago that the government changed the rules about school fees for students coming from a non-EU country, it used to be free for them as well. Nowadays though all universities have fees which are set according to how much it actually costs for the university. If you are from a country outside EU then there’s still hope about coming to Sweden for studies, even if you don’t have much money, more on that later in the post but don’t give up reading yet.

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Etiquette in different cultures

I read a little in a book called Behave Yourself!: The Essential Guide to International Etiquette. It’s about etiquette in different countries in the world, with some advice about how to act in different social situations or how not to act. It takes up things like meeting and greeting, conversation, eating and drinking, out and about, dress and lastly gifts and tips.

Here’s a few things I read about Swedish etiquette that I think are more or less on the spot correct:

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So much mushrooms

An old stone fence out in the forest

I’ve been home visiting my family for almost two weeks now. It’s been relaxing and nice to spend time with them. There’s not so much to do around here since they live in a small town but I don’t mind the peace and quiet. There are however some things that I look forward to doing when I’m here every year when it’s possible, and one of them is to take a trip to the forest, walk around and pick mushrooms.

Personally I don’t like to eat mushrooms but I do love to go look for them and pick them in the forest. It’s something we’ve done since we were kids. We used to go the whole family together with my grandfather and head out into some deep forest and hike around. When we got tired we went back to the car and had a picnic there. I still very much enjoy the forest, though nowadays it’s just my parents and I that go out.

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A visit to Paris

Last week B and I went for a 6 day trip to Paris for vacation. It was wonderful and we had a lot of fun, not much relaxing though. Paris really has a lot of sightseeing to offer and so many places to visit, so we walked around almost all the time every day to see and experience as much as possible in our short time there. Six days may sound like a lot in one city but to see everything we wanted to see we would have had to stay twice as long. So there are still some things left for a second visit some time in the future. We went to see all the major attactions like the Louvre, Eiffel tower, Sacré-Cœur, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte Chapelle, Panthéon, Arc de Triomphe, took  a boat tour on the river Seine, did sightseeing by bus and much much more.

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To become part of a new country

I have often wondered about what makes a person feel like they belong in and is a part of a certain country and culture. When I read an article in DN that was about this topic I felt that I wanted to write about this subject too. In this article the author says that many people who move to Sweden doesn’t feel like a swede, that process might take several generations. He put that in relation to people who move to the US that feel more at home in their new country.

Reading about this makes me sad and many questions come to mind. What can explain this difference? Can it be that people come to the country for different reasons? That people go to the US for the American dream and many people come to Sweden to escape from war? Of course that’s a generalisation that doesn’t explain anything. So what have we done wrong so that people don’t feel welcome in our country? And what is it that makes people feel at home in a new country?

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Celebrating midsummer

We have just come home from visiting my home town and celebrating our swedish holiday midsummer. This holiday is one of the most popular ones we celebrate in Sweden and probably one of the oldest ones as well. Midsummer is celebrated around the summer solstice, in Sweden we always celebrate it on the closest friday (between 19 and 26 June) so people have the whole weekend off. It’s a very old holiday that has pre-christian origin, although the church chose to put their own holiday at the same time to try to integrate christianity more. That didn’t work so well in Sweden as we still celebrate midsummer as a non-christian holiday, for which at least I am quite happy. It’s nice to have our own festival and that it doesn’t have to do with religion, so everyone can join in the celebration of summer.

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