Wow, has it been awhile. I ended up getting lazy and then a half a year went by and here we are. It feels like quite a lot has happened….but at the same time, not at lot. I guess that would be the reason for the lack of posts. Not huge earth shattering news, so I kept saying “eh, later” and then I got busy with my studies and then when I wasn’t busy with that, I found some excuse or another. Now, during my sweet precious downtime, I have started reading the blogs that I follow to catch up and decided my blog looked a wee bit sad and decided I would update with my meager amount of news.
July brought: More swimming, and my first experience with blocket. I got it in my head that I couldn’t like longer in Sweden being bikeless, so I started searching for one. Being unemployed, I opted for a used bike. One day I will get the bike of my dreams, but for now I am happy to just have a two wheeled beast to get me from point A to point B. The whole experience started with heartbreak when I was promised a bike for a STEAL at 400 kr on Facebook. It was a little red beauty that had seen better days but would do the trick. I was then blown off by the owner for a week who was busy finishing projects before she was to move back to Spain and then in the end while waiting for a time I could come and pick up the bike, she informed me that she sold it to a coworker. I WILL NEVER FORGIVE. Just kidding, but sort of not – I really fell in love with that bike. Then I was burned again when I waited in the rain for 45 minutes for a guy to bring the bike I was to view. He was smart and chose a tunnelbana station for the meet up, so I couldn’t even ring his bell or leave a mean note taped to his door. But I did leave several texts and called several times to no avail. The next was again sold before I got to see it. There was another in the far north of the city in Täby. I liked it, but there was just no way I was going to be able to get it home. I have not biked since that 24 hour period in Amsterdam and then not before that for 16 years. I didn’t think I, nor my backside could manage the bike alone (I get squirmy in traffic not feeling secure that I know all the rules) for the 50+ kilometer ride home. Svens father had just downgraded to a smaller car as well, so there was no way a bike was going to fit in it. So, I decided to just calm down a bit, limited my search to the nearest kommuns so I could get the bike home easy. I found one about a 40 minute ride from home. Took it for a test spin, the owner was really pleasant and I rather immediately took the bike of his hands. 5 minutes after I bought it the biggest downpour I may ever have been in started and Sven and I decided that his parents place was closer sp we rushed to their house to store the bike until the next (non-cats-and-dog-style rain) day. Since then we have been on many bike rides and I regret not getting a bike sooner so I had more actual nice weather to enjoy the bike in.
I do need to get work done on the bike though I am waiting until spring to do it. I would like to just get the bike a bike version of a physical. Make sure the brakes are fine and get new tires because the ones on there are, I am sure, the original tires and this bike is from the 80s or early 90s by the looks of it. Also getting a basket is also a priority so I don’t have to rely solely on my backpack.
Went to Allsång på skansken for the last show. It was… quite the experience but glad I got to cross off that important event on my quest to become Swedish list. I went to Popaganda, a Swedish pop music festival which is held on Södermalm at the end of August. It was incredible. And seeing Veronica Maggio who was one of the first Swedish artists I listened to back in 2009 was amazing. Also seeing First Aid Kit live was something akin to a religious experience for me.
Visited Gröna Lund. It was the most beautiful day and a fun experience despite me being a chicken to go on most rides. Also went to two sporting games. Swedish fans are crazy. Both times they cheered the entire game. Entire game.
Autumn came and I began my Swedish Program at Stockholms University. My thoughts are sort of everywhere with the program. I don’t feel that I have learned that much, but at the same time, I can definitly see an improvment in my writing and my vocabulary is a lot bigger. The group is made up of 60 people that are broken down into 3 groups. We have lectures on grammar, cultural studies and random smitsmatters of other things all together and we have writing and reading/speaking and listening in our smaller groups. We had a lot of books to read, a lot of presentations to give but the writing portion was a bit of a disappointment as each assignment we were asked to write 250 words which was impossible as its difficult to write much more than an intro in only 250 words, but it seems like most people, me included, wrote always 600 words or more. On the plus side, I loved my group and we have gotten quite close. We shrunk under the semester as people quit for work or because the course was too difficult. In the end it was just a 17. A Finn, 3 from France, A South African, 4 Germans, A Turk, An Estonian, A woman from Taiwan, Two from Columbia, one from Chile, and one from Reunion. I am the only native English speaker so thank god, we speak only Swedish all the time and it has done some wonders for my speed and fluidity. The course still isn’t over as we have our Oral exam in January and then those that pass all the tests/coursework get to move on to the next course that is about the same as SAS 3. I am a bit terrified as we have to write a B-uppsats and I am useless at writing academic papers and really dread defending it as well. But we will see! If I don’t pass the oral exam, then I will take SAS 3 at komvux instead which I have heard is much easier for the same “intyg”
Enough about school, on to my trip “abroad.” Yes, I went all the way to the far off land of….Finland. Well, Åland. A friend of mine found an off-season deal which included a round trip on the ferry, a bus from Stockholm to Eckerö (north of Norrtälje) for 40kr plus a bus trip from Eckerö to Mariahamn and back for another 20. It was quite cold because of the wind and I am sure it would be a touch nicer in the summer but the place sure was beauitful in the autumn colours. The place felt just like Sweden only we payed with Euros, it was flatter than the landscape I am used to and there were Ålands flags instead of Swedens everywhere.
In October we actually had a trick-or-treater for Halloween! Sven was dressed as a mummy and I was a witch (our planned Pulp Fiction costumes will have to wait until Halloween 2015 when we have more money and a party to go to) and the kid looked terrified when we opened the door. He wouldn’t even take the candy until after a 10 second period of us just starting at eachother when I finally dumped some candy in his hands. Sven also got to carve his first pumpkin and was the cutest while doing so.
In October our roommate let us know that he had looked at a one room apartment, like it and said yes to it. It was also a first hand contract so that meant that he had to give up the current apartment. And since we are not family, we couldn’t take over the contract. We stressed out a little and then realized that we finally would get to live together alone and be done with the constant parties. We first looked on bostaddirekt, but the only place we liked was 10,000 kr and was a one room (remember in Sweden one room means one room. That is the living room is your living room and bedroom combined) that was free for a year. But the fact that it was 10,000, 30square meters big, furnished rather…shabbily and we would have to pay 1500 kr to just get in contact with the owner, we decided to search blocket after my bike success. We put up an ad and in the end it was down to only 3 apartments we would even consider (some out as far as Södertälje or Uppsala despite narrowing the search limit to “Stockholm”, over 16,000 a month for just 4 months (or even places for 2 weeks!), and they wanted to see work contracts and need 5 references. Most were just advertising rooms which we did not want, we wanted our own place.). Our first contender was a basement apartment in a house in Alvik. My dream neighborhood along with Gröndal, The entirety of Kungsholmen, Mariatorget, Bandhagen, Älvsjö, Fruängen, and Näckrosen.). The owner was really nice and the price wasn’t too steep but it was just one room and a kitchen and I hated the furnitute. The kitchen looked shabby and like this dank kitchen in a place I rented in Univeristy. It also only had two burners and no oven. And the worst part was the bathroom was in the laundry room (which we would share with the owners) that was separate from our “apartment” and the shower was literally in the middle of the laundry room. Not even in the same room as the toilet to give some privacy. So we crossed that one off our list despite my desire to live so close to it all.
Next we checked out this amazing one year unfurnished sublet in Segeltorp just a 15 min walk from Fruängen or a 2 minute bus ride. The owner had contacted us via our ad and told us if we were interested we could come and see the place and gave us a time and the address. When we arrived 30 min early for the viewing, we ran into another couple who were waiting for the owner to arrive as well. They were supposed to have seen the apartment a few hours earlier, but had had to reschedule. When the owner arrived he asked if it was okay if he showed both couples the place at the same time. We walked in to an unbelievably beautiful newly renovated 2 room place. On the first floor but with a massive outdoor area closed off by its own little surrounding forrest. It was huge and fully decked out and both us and the other couple wanted the apartment. Sadly it went to them because they were first on the list of people to view so the owner thought it was fair that they get first dibs and as it was at the very top of our budget and without any utilities in the price, we couldn’t even offer more money.
Our next serious contender had attractive pictures and it was the place we eventually got. I was a bit disappointed at first because I really wanted to live in Stockholm, Stockholm for at least a year. I don’t think we will ever be able to buy in the city center and I kind of thought I could get at least a year living there before we got a first hand contract out in Tyresö. The place is essentially a first hand contract for as long as we want. The owner has several properties and had a garage on one of them that no one ever used so he decided to convert it into a little free-standing apartment. He just finished the renovations so everything is brand new. It is quite compact and I feel a bit like I live in an Ikea show room but I actually think that is a cool thing. One of the reasons I was hesitant to look at any one room places was I really wanted a separate sleeping area. The place has a sleeping loft so we don’t have to have the bed down in the living room and we could each have our own space and its less awkward when we have guests over. As for the location, well I am still reconciling myself with it. But it IS closer than were we were living before and the train takes just 10 mintues to Södra station and 13 to Central Station. There is also a bus that we can catch after a 7 minute walk that is a 2 minute ride to Rågsved (or 5 to Högdalen) so we have the option of taking the metro if we need to get anywhere to a south green line. I also look forward to being able to finally be able to take my bike into the city for a ride because bikes are allowed in the pendeltåg, hurrah! I can’t wait for summer of picnics and bikerides on Söder. We moved on the 13th, which meant that I did not get to enjoy a Lucia concert. It took us about 3 hours to pack all the stuff into the moving truck, get to the new place and unload. Everyone involved said it was the easiest move they have been apart of probably because the only item of furniture we had was an arm chair and a bed. We then hit IKEA for our furniture and we spent the next week and a half setting everything up.
There are still a few doodads I need. A beanbag chair for the reading nook in the loft, a shoe rack, rug and a few storage boxes for the loft and the entertainment stand.
The real downside for me, the internet addict, is the fact that we don’t have internet. There are no phone lines (we don’t care as we cave mobiles) in the place because the owner knew some young couple would take the place what with the climb up the ladder to the loft twice a day and the house is too far away from our apartment to bring down the fiber cable(not too far, too expensive) so we are stuck with the option of mobil bredband. I am dreading it. Not only is the internet expensive, it is limited. 60GB a month. I get a little claustrophobic thinking of it as a netflix, streaming music addict.
I have been to the theatre quite often this autumn/winter and it has been fantastic. I really miss it.
Stockholm is still beautiful, incase you were wondering.
Christmas was terrific. I hit what feels like every Christmas market in Stockholm and as for Christmas itself, well we spent the 24th relaxing, then went to Svens parents to Kalle Anka and supper. The food was fantastic as usual and we were sent home hours later with full bellies and leftovers. Since we spent a lot of money in December with the furniture (some of it was Christmas presents from my parents and his, but some of it was just our own plus we had to pay the deposit as well) we decided to have a 200kr spending limit on a present so I bought him one of his favorite childhood books and he bought me my beloved card game Bang! The sneak also bought me a tiny plastic Christmas tree because I was being a grouch one day saying that it didn’t feel like Christmas without a tree, so he came home a few hours later with a secret surprise of a tree and decorations (Have I mentioned lately how thankful I am that he is partner in life? I really am.) I am also so thrilled that Swedes celebrate Christmas on the 24th because my family in Canada has done this my whole life as well (Ukrainian orthodox Christmas traditions, whoo!). It means that nothing feels off-whack or strange about doing basically nothing on the 25th. And there we have it, 5 months worth in one post.