Midsommar 2022

Another strange summer for us, with everyone off on their own adventures. I’m with the youngest in MN so she can enjoy her final year as a camper at Twin Cities Theater Camp. Bryant is in Lund (Berlin, Helsingborg and maybe a few other work trips) until his vacation in July. The two will join us at Laurel Flats mid-July for their MN time. We’ll see the Show and then head to Atlanta for a few days.

At least the projects at our St Paul condo are keeping me so busy I don’t think too much about our eldest’s college scouting trip to the UK with a few friends from Katedralskolan. As they were heading to the airport in Copenhagen I saw an article about the train strike in the UK, followed by a story on a second giant sink hole in London. But the girls were able to ride to and from Oxford by train yesterday and Cambridge today without difficulty.

There are fun moments mixed into the chaos of trying to pack up this condo and deal with daily life here again. Deb got tix to Black Violin which has been on my concert list for awhile. It did not disappoint, though it was a bit too loud for my 50+ ears!

Another school year done

The girls completed their second school year in Sweden! They both had some fun end of year activities, while I passed my level 3 speaking make-up exam this morning – a 15 minute discussion on the topic of Lifestyle. I got stuck a few times but was able to give logical answers and get through it! We’ll have our level 4 results next week. It’s been a crazy week of Studenten (high school graduation) Ceremonies and parties. They party hard from the 7 a.m. champagne breakfast and on through the night, with a long break mid-day to sleep! Each day belongs to a different school and that school gets to parade through town blowing whistles etc and they get the trucks to drive them around town. But it is very organized chaos. Students drink but there are adult chaperones. Systembolaget even donates the champagne, apparently.

And the beach has returned to Central Lund for the summer. Lots to do getting ready for our trip to MN. Picked up new glasses, prescriptions etc. and made time to enjoy the patio at the Grand Hotel with Bryant since he finished work earlier than usual. So we all ended the week on a high note! Noicelings chose Chinese dumplings for a celebratory dinner.

If we can’t be heard it’s Freja’s fault. Worst for test, best for fest.

Snapshots from my LU walking commute

Towers lifted off the cathedral with this giant crane

The botanic garden has a collection of the types of stone found in Sweden. Last photo is a birthday gathering for Katedralskolan friends, playing kubb. Such a wholesome party for 17 to 19 year olds. We hope the friend group stays this way!

Svenskakursen är nästan klar!

Here we are but missing nearly half the class because it was a review day when we took the photo ☹️

I have to make up one last speaking test in order to complete the course, but my teacher hinted that it’s only a technicality so if I take the test, I will pass!

Maybe you read on Melissa’s blog about how in Sweden they say hold thumbs for good luck rather than fingers crossed, so “Håll tummarna för mig!”

My life has been mostly about studying Swedish and going to and from the university this Spring, but I do have an interesting walking route, either through the botanical gardens or through Historic Lund. So I’ll try to post a gallery from those walks. I can’t believe how fast it went!

A weekend in Amsterdam

My first visit to the Venice of the North wrapped up this morning with an early return flight to Copenhagen and then train to Lund. I missed the first half of Swedish class after all.

Stephanie, an adventurous friend I met at International Citizens Hub walks, invited me to sub-in for her travel companion who was not able to go on this trip at the last minute. I decided to take advantage of an opportunity that required very little on my part, and we had a blast seeing the canals and museums of this laid-back city. It was easy to navigate, with tons of good food options, museums and shops. It was hard to choose just a few to explore but we were quite happy with everything we did! The canals were much more elaborate than I imagined, and we spent leisurely hours strolling around admiring the views, with frequent fika and meal breaks. We had some great recommendations from Bryant’s Dutch colleagues and friends who know the city. One of my favorite foods was Bitterballen. They are similar to Spanish croquetas. YUM

Some nice restaurants were Bird Thai, De Haven Van Texel, which was right on the canal in a historic building, and some fantastic little sandwich, brunch and bakery stops! We enjoyed some local cheese chocolates from the grocery store, which is an experience itself.

The canal houses are fascinating. Many of them are super narrow because they were built in an era when structures were taxed by their width. There is a weekend in June when many homes and their odd gardens are open to visitors. That would be a treat!

I was tickled to find out that Miffy the Bunny is Dutch and had to hold myself back from buying every variation in a fever of nostalgia. And now the Miffy theme song is stuck in my head…

There are so many museums! We saw 2 of the most famous, Rijks and Van Gogh, plus the Van Loon (where the Obama family dined a few years ago on their visit to Amsterdam) Maybe we should have chosen the history museum rather than the Van Loon, but it was one of the impressive canal houses so I really wanted to see it, and it was interesting. Also small, which was a plus, since by that time we were quite tired having walked 46,000 steps in the first 2 days!

Pictured above we have the Narrowest Street, the film museum eye where Stephanie set up a remote shot, the station underpass with a Delft tile ship scene, the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum from Vondelpark and JenJill in the Van Loon garden. The rest of my photos are not downloading so I’ll post a few more later. Now I have lots of catching up to do for my Swedish class. Finals next week. Oj oj oj, fy fan! But it was worth it.

Feels like Spring

One of the things I love about Sweden is the public access to nature. While strolling through the countryside one is likely to come across a bench, fire ring, or resting place in the forest or even on the edge of a field!

This area near Löberöd, not far from Lund, is exceptionally nice, with a well equipped camping site along the trail. We were lucky to find a good picnic place available on our second stop.

The air was crisp and filled with the sounds of birds and bumble bees and we even caught sight of one of those enormous hares hiding in the blanket of white, yellow and purple flowers. Even the outhouse was charming in its way!

Wondering if this stump is a salt lick? Maybe from a long time ago…

After a satisfying picnic lunch we headed home. On the side of the road, out in the field, we saw what looked like a small wedding party. It’s hard to see in photos but at the back of the circle there was a woman in a flowing white dress. They had a rather Amish vibe. Wish we knew what they were doing!

Update -svenska kursen

This week we completed Nivå 1 exams. I think I’ve passed both the oral and written, but we won’t have results until next week. The speaking exam was given in groups of 3 with each us having a role to play for the first part. We were told to prepare to speak about 4 different topics without knowing which we’d be given. We got the hardest one imo – shopping! I hate having to use numbers, and the scope of conversation is quite limited. My role was to be anti-commercialism as we “shopped” for a friend’s upcoming birthday party. After we stumbled along on that theme for 10 minutes, we had to discuss our opinions about shopping and answer questions from the teacher such as Do you like internet shopping? why or why not. What are the pros and cons of second-hand shopping. I’d forgotten the word for second-hand shopping so my partners had to try to explain it to me in Swedish!

I was much more comfortable taking the written exam. though it was quite challenging. We went to the official university exam site, a 15 minute walk east of the university, which meant a 40 minute walk for me. And it rained heavily so I brought extra socks and shoes to change into and wore all my rain gear. It was a proctored exam with about 100 students, with lots of ID checking and strict protocols to ensure no cheating…a little intimidating! It was our first time seeing each other since we’ve been on Zoom only. But of course we were not allowed to talk much before the exam. I needed the entire 4 hours to complete my test, so almost everyone had gone before I finished, but I wasn’t the last! The exam had 2 reading comprehension sections which were brutal. One was a newspaper article and the other was 3 pages of a real website, from which we had to find pertinent information. We needed to write 2 essays with specific details. I got ridiculously stuck trying to tell my friend where we should meet in Copenhagen. Why didn’t I just say meet me at the bus station or something like that!? Instead, I said meet me at the bench to the right of the amusement park doors…I forgot the word entrance, which is ingång (ingoing) of course. Then I panicked and erased the whole section. I have a really hard time making up details or playing a role. So, yes, I needed the whole 4 hours and my desk was covered with shredded eraser debris!

Level one is finished and level two begins today, in person, on campus. It will be a nice change, I think, though working from home is probably more my style! It’s a 35 minute walk (the bus is also 30 minutes so I don’t bother) from our place to the university and we have 2 sessions most days. There won’t be time to come home for lunch, or between sessions. I’ll have to get used to getting my work done at the library, I guess, or ride my bike. It’s not easy on the cobblestones and I get nervous about bike traffic. It’s a real thing here! Maybe my classmates will want to work together. Most of them are doctors, dentists, and other professionals who have been recruited to work in Sweden. They must pass this course (and the advanced semester) in order to stay in Sweden, so they have a lot more pressure to do well. I’m just trying to enjoy it and learn enough Swedish to enhance life here. It’s an adventure… I remind myself. I try not to feel too guilty about taking a spot at one of the world’s top 100 universities, which could be given to someone who is desperate to stay in Sweden. At least I try to be a good ambassador to Lund and help the newcomers as much as I can. I’m not new here anymore! Hard to believe that we’re coming up on 2 years in Sweden!

Buying my Thermomix! More on that in another post!

I did a thing …

So, after nearly 2 years of (pretty much only) working, I decided I needed a hobby. So, I got this.

2001 VTR. I had a ’98 (I think) and regretted selling it. So, when I found this one in great shape with awesome sounding exhaust, I said “yes” to the bike.

Of course, it is cold, windy, and dark right now, so no riding, but it does give me a reason to add a motorcycle endorsement to my Swedish drivers license process. 😀

And because I can never leave well enough alone, who knows what is next for this machine? (hint?)

Windy Day …

So, we had this crazy wind front come thru this weekend. Sustained winds at 13+ m/s (which is how it is measured in Sweden, which was up to 65 mph in imperial freedom units) – nearly hurricane strength. Howled and shook the house all weekend. On Sunday, we went to Lomma to see what the sea looked like and took some video and pics.

You can lean against the wind!
This is normally VERY calm water, and the fresh sea grass washed up was unexpected!