Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My first week.

Hej! I’m back! The internet in my dorm room does not work, which is why the blogging suddenly came to a halt! (I’m paying for a $3/day for a WiFi service right now.)

I’ve now been here for exactly one week. (One week? It feels like a MONTH.) I have endured a thousand different moments since I arrived – many of them full of elation, excitement and adventure, but also beset with frustration, shyness, and loneliness. I thought suffering through the jet lag was painful, but it was when I arrived in Lund that the truly upsetting experiences began; I have never felt more stranded and alone.

The train ride from Göteborg (Gothenburg) to Lund was a piece of cake, as was the taxi ride to my dorm. But that’s when the trouble started.

First, I had to carry my 50 pound duffel bag three flights up a spiral staircase. Then I paid over $30 in taxi fare to get to the local mall half an hour before it closed to ensure that I had sheets, a pillow, toilet paper, and towels for my room. Then I found out my internet connection did not work. Then my cell phone stopped working, and my connection to the world was severed for a terrifying four hours, and by the evening I realized I had gone for 10 hours without eating anything (couldn’t find any food to buy!). On top of that, just the fact that there were so many new and different things was overwhelming! Really tough.

Honestly, it is probably good that I have been internet deprived since Sunday. It has allowed me to digest all of the things that have happened so far. Things have improved considerably since my arrival on Sunday and I am feeling pretty optimistic about my six month stay here. Here are a few “snapshots” of what I’ve been doing so far:

Learning Swedish
I just finished my third day of Swedish lessons! While I can still hardly understand what my teacher is saying, I have already learned lots of vocabulary. I can count (ett, två, tre…), say the days of the week (måndag, tisdag, onsdag…), months of the year (januari, februari, mars), recite the alphabet, and so on. I can introduce myself, name different modes of transportation, and today we started conjugating verbs into five different tenses!! All this in THREE days! I think I covered most of those items in ONE YEAR of middle school Spanish.

…is a challenge in a different language and currency. This goes for food (ten different kinds of milk) and clothes (sizing and figuring out what is cool). Today I found “Tiger,” the Swedish equivalent of the Dollar Tree – it’s amazing. CDs, housewares, books, toiletries, clothes, baskets, office supplies and more for 10 kronor each! ($1.50). I wish that I had found it days ago! And the currency, of course: 7 kronor to the dollar. Try coverting that in your head! (I’m actually getting very good at it.)

I had to throw in a couple of pictures of the amazing dryers they have here. They are, essentially, closets/giant blow dryers. You hang your clothes on the bars, close the doors, and presto -- in an hour they're dry.

There is also an immensely complicated laundry booking system involving electronic key chain tags, where you reserve a time using a digitized Swedish-language menu and then you must “activate” the laundry machines before you can access the laundry room… a long story short: I now have clean clothes. Hooray!

A gorgeous city! Lund is home to over 100,000 people. Lund University is the largest university in Scandinavia and has over 40,000 students (about 10,000 bigger than UC Davis). The weirdest part of Lund is that, unlike the UC campuses, the university’s buildings are spread out through the city rather than being contained in one specific area. The city was founded in the year 990 (!) and the University has been around since 1668, so given the city’s loooooong history, I guess that’s just how things ended up.

More later… on the bus system (it rocks), my peers (lots of UC students), and a Swedish “family” reunion!

I’ll leave you with some pictures.

On Tuesday, we took a tour of the Lundgården, an area in the middle of Lund with gorgeous gardens, a giant cathedral (domkyrkan) that was built 1,000 years ago, and several university buildings. (Click the pictures to enlarge!)

Clockwise from upper left: Our very entertaining tour guide, Lars, telling us all about Lund's history; a traffic sign; a mini maypole in the window of a small museum/store; a poster -- sorry for the profanity -- reading "Femton Fuckin' Hundra." We all got excited because we just learned to count (the first word is fifteen, and the last is hundred).

Clockwise from upper left: The domkyrka from the outside; the crypts in the basement -- lots of dead bishops; a candlestick inside the sanctuary; our tour guide Lars.

Lastly, below, is the Universitetshuset, where Lund University's chancellor lives. Nice digs, huh?

P.S. I now have a Swedish mailing address! (and I love getting mail!) Contact me or my mom and we will email it to you.

1 comment:

Sally said...

Gorgeous pictures! Are the buildings in the "leafy" pictures next to the Lund description, University buildings? They're beautiful.

"Dryer" in Swedish is
torkskåp (drying cabinet)

Guess what the word for refrigerator is!
kylskåp (chilling cabinet) btw, they do the same thing as we do in English and shorten it to "kyl" for "fridge"

Love all the pictures that give us a little feel for everyday life. Let the adventure continue!

love you!