Friday, September 25, 2009

Stuff has happened; more to come

Congratulations! You've all just proven that you're superloyal, as you still check my blog after all this time I've spent being inactive. (To all you RSS feed users, you're arguably less obsessive, but I like you anyway.) I've been thinking for a really long time now (like, more or less since I last posted) that I should make another entry sometime this decade! In my defense, it's really hard to find time to post in between saving the world, impressing the ladies, and getting my beauty sleep, but I try my best. Now, where do I begin?

As I recall, there was a request for me to tell the story of how I got my bike. It wasn't too terribly exciting; after walking to and from everywhere for a week, we decided that six kilometers per day on foot just wasn't worth it, so we began the task of finding bikes for sale. We talked to a few freshly graduated students who were selling bikes and crossed paths once or twice with a rather shady guy who wanted to give us bikes but demanded that we decide immediately, as he might not have them in an hour, but in the end, I found a secondhand shop that had some good quality bikes and gave a 25% student discount. I walked out with a lovely blue bike that cost me 675 SEK (a bit under $100). Later that day, Abraham got to test it out and complemented me on it a bunch. As we parted ways, however, he said something along the lines of, "Yeah, and it's really cool that you're secure enough that you bought a girl bike!" This was news to me (specifically the part where was such thing as a girl bike--apparently the frame is shaped differently?), though I guess he's technically correct. I couldn't care less, and she has yet to break down or anything, so that's fine by me. I can't decide whether to call her Vira or Excelcior: Bicycle Extreme, but (like my blog), if you can think of an awesome name, don't hesitate to let me know.

My Swedish I class is, sadly, over. I passed the exam just fine (which, apparently, is a feat that not many can claim; it seriously feels like we're on extended holiday here, and I think a lot of people just didn't apply themselves), but as there were only six slots for several hundred applicants for Swedish II, I didn't get in. To clarify, there were only six slots for those of us who had taken Intensive Swedish I, as they prioritized students who had just arrived and master students who seriously need to learn the language. At this point, most of my Swedish practice comes from talking to cute Swedish girls who laugh when I try (they assure me they're laughing with me, not at me) but are encouraging nonetheless. Presently I am taking two courses (which, by the Swedish system, is a lot, as you're supposed to take one for four weeks, complete it, and move on to the next one): "Health, Meaning-Making, and Culture" (basically it's a class on the psychology of meaning and religion), and "Culture and Armed Conflicts" (which discusses the dynamics and intricacies of various armed conflicts throughout history). The former, despite being a really interesting topic, has the world's most boring teacher, and I am honestly just proud that I haven't fallen asleep in her class yet. The latter is far more engaging, even though anthropology, social sciences, and history are all subjects that don't click too well in my brain. All in all, the time I actually spend in class (yes, I do attend ALL of my lectures) is extremely low, as these two classes are meant to be taken alongside a regular course, so as of Monday or Tuesday I hope to be in a third class, called "Sweden's Economic and Social Development in the 19th and 20th Centuries." (Wow, that was a REALLY long sentence!) None of these actually transfer as credit back to CU--I'm hoping that I can pass the boring one off for Psych credit, as it is indeed a Psych course--but since I was really only planning on getting upper-division Psychology electives in the fall, this isn't such a significant setback. Regarding that final class, it doesn't particularly interest me, and as a level A course it definitely won't count for upper-division elective credit, but it was my only option for a course to take that would be finished in time for me to go to France in November. Wait, what was that about going to France? I'll get to that in a bit. :D

I think I mentioned something about the student nations last time, but before I get into that, let me try to explain what a nation is. First of all, there is a "nation" here for each of the regions in Sweden, so all of Sweden is geographically represented. The student nations, then, are subdivisions of the student union, which everyone is required to join. Initially, the idea was that you joined the nation that represented your hometown (obviously exchange students were not subject to this requirement), but now students are allowed to join whichever nation they want. Many of the Swedes I've talked to have chosen their nation based on where their old friends were joining, but in truth it doesn't matter that much which one you join. Each nation here has its own building, and many have their own student housing, so in that respect it's somewhat like an American fraternity, and all official student clubs are run through the nations. Joining a nation is mandatory, as that's how you get your student ID, and all of your students rights issues are taken care of through your nation. Unlike frats, the nations are quite friendly with each other, and on many occasions will collaborate with each other on big projects. Each nation has one or two club nights per week, where they open up the dance floor and everyone engages in awesome dancing while the DJ keeps the music flowing. Usually the music is unfortunately bad, but I have found one or two songs that, despite being kinda horrible, redeem themselves via great basslines. Each of the nations also has its own restaurant, which, depending on the restaurant, could serve anything from burgers and fries to fancy, traditional Swedish food. Again, everyone is welcome to go to everyone else's nation for the food, clubs, and whatever (provided that you're a registered student), so ultimately, the only benefit you get from your nation is that things will usually cost less. In my case, as a member of V-Dalas Nation, I get to dance and see live music every Saturday night for free (regular fee 60 SEK (under $10))! It's not just any live music, folks; I've gotten to see wonderful musicians such as El Perro Del Mar and Asha Ali. If I'd come a few years sooner, I'd even have gotten to see Lykke Li. (My apologies for the bad picture quality; taking concert pictures is not something with which I have vast amounts of experience.)

So other than that, I've just been experiencing the carefree life that Uppsala University has to offer. A few days ago, Abraham invited me over to try surströmming, a delicacy so wonderful that even the Swedes prefer to save it for newcomers to their glorious country (read: it's gross, it smells, and they know it. I'm not kidding. The majority of the Swedish people I've met here thought I was crazy for even having the guts to try it once). I'm glad I tried it the one time for experience's sake, but I think I'll be polite and encouraging like the rest of Sweden and leave it for those who have yet to experience that cultural treat. In other exciting news, my friend Sana decided that she wanted to start up her own division of the free hugs campaign (you know the one), so she and I did that last Wednesday. (The signs said "Free hugs" on one side and "Gratis kramar" on the other. You can probably guess what those two Swedish words mean.) And let me tell you: It. Was. Terrifying. I mean, nothing bad happened, and we got tons of hugs (one particularly nice one from early on in the afternoon probably made it all worth it), but the whole being-stared-at-by-everyone thing was enough to drain me for the whole day. That, of course, was an excellent outcome, because that night our corridor decided to have its first corridor party! Allow me to explain: if you've ever been in a college dorm, you probably know how those college dorms like to party like crazy once in a while. This is like that. Usually it's kinda fun until everyone gets drunk and I get bored, except this time it was in MY CORRIDOR. Which means everyone was getting drunk and throwing up in MY CORRIDOR. (Cue the Soviet Russia jokes.) So in the end, the bearer of the aforementioned awesome hug and a couple of her friends showed up and suggested that we instead go to their corridor and watch a nice, quiet movie. I happily/desperately agreed, fled from the mess that was my dorm's common room with sleeping bag and iPod in hand, and ended up crashing in the calm confines of where-the-party-wasn't. It's good to have awesome friends in collegeland.

Also, I was looking for a way to work this into the story, but I kinda skipped it, so, uh, long story short, every night at 22.00 (that's 10 PM, you silly Americans :D ), everyone at Flogsta goes to their windows, balconies, and rooftops, and screams. That's right, they scream. (This video will also give you a good idea of just how darn bright it gets during the summer, as the name states it took place in July, and one of the girls said it was 9:58 PM. Very early for a Flogsta Scream. Also this is not my video. I just found it on YouTube.)

So uh yeah. That's really about it. I realize it's all very rambly, but I just wanted to get caught up to the present. NOW, onto future plans! Those of you who know anything about my elitist musical tastes know that I am absolutely head-over-heels for the world's greatest death metal band, Scar Symmetry. I'll spare you the ramble about how they're wonderful and stuff and get to the part where they're coming to Stockholm in November! I've already bought my ticket, and I've even found someone who wants to go with me. That's right, my wonderful corridor-mate quite eagerly, and surprisingly, said she would go with me when I casually extended the invitation to her. (That's a lot of commas, but I double-checked them. They're all correct.) This is ironic and funny because said corridor-mate actually has next to no interest in metal (though her indie music collection is quite impressive), but rather, just wants the experience of going to a death metal concert sometime in her life. She also expects several of her metalhead friends to be joining us, so this will be exciting. THEN, four days after the concert, I'll be running off with a bunch of friends (from the aforementioned awesome corridor that let me sleep there that one time) to Paris for a week, mostly because one of them wanted to go, and the rest of us decided on a whim to accept her invitation to come with. (For the record, I absolutely hate the phrase "come with" because it ends in a preposition and is WRONG, but this is complicated by the fact that in Swedish, it is considered 100% grammatically correct to use "kommer med," which means the same thing both literally and figuratively. Also, in Swedish, it is grammatically okay to end sentences with prepositions, provided that you use the right subordinator.) The plane tickets each cost 300 SEK (a little over $40) round-trip, and for us Americans, that just sounded supercheap for travel, so we decided, why the heck not? We'll either be staying in a hostel or couch-surfing, we don't know yet, but I'll give more information when I have it.

Okay, ramble over. Long story short, life is good, things are going well, and I have not stopped running around and having an awesome time. Maybe my next post will happen sometime within the next month, how about that? :D

(For the record, I own NONE of those pictures, except for the ones that clearly have real-world relevance to my life. Hope you enjoyed the illustration.)


  1. Jacob... I don't think you understand how a blog works. Shorter, more frequent posts! It's not like it costs money.

    Anyway, I'm afraid I haven't read the whole thing. I'm surprised that your courseload is so low - has the Fall semester yet to commence? By the way, don't-end-sentences-with-prepositions is *so* last year.

    I might reply more later! But heed my advise from the beginning of this post.


  2. Jacob! I am so glad I married you and not the internet! I love the picture of the dancing (and you know why). Lisa is coming with you to the concert? That is cheery news. Let me know where you are going to be sleeping in Paris and please let it not be with creepy pervs who just love having clueless foreign exchange students stay on their *couch* ... it's creepy. Post more about your adventures (and for the record, I have no problem with long posts - but more frequent is certainly good.) I expect lots of pictures posted here from both the concert and paris.

  3. You're married?

    That is SO not your bike!