Thursday, September 23, 2010

Of Tastes, Liseberg, and Scents

Part one: Tastes. On Saturday, eighteen exchangers, including myself, went to HovÄs. We were given a two hours to learn a little about sea rescues in Sweden. The group was split into two groups. I was with the first group. We boarded the vessel and we backed out of the harbor. This ship had two engines, high horsepower, I don't remember the exact number. Once we were in a little bit more open waters, the captain made the boat move sideways, spin in circles, and then cruise at about 30 knots. Kendra, Sarah, and I stood outside at the bow. When the vessel started moving fast, we were washed in the sea spray. My hands and lips tasted like sea salt.

Afterward, we took the bus back to town. A ticket controller got on the bus and started checking tickets. Alex saw them come on the bus and ninja-ed off it. David, unfortunately, didn't see them come on and got slapped with a 1200 kroner fine. That's about $177.78 American. He didn't go to Liseberg the next day. Neither did Alex

After we arrived back in Gothenburg, John stated that he wanted Thai. Badly. So, away we went in search of a Thai restaurant. We found one. A little hole in the wall that was more like a cave in the ground. The food was good. I had never tried Thai food before. It was really good!

So new tastes: Sea salt and Thai!

Two: Liseberg!! (Pronounced LIS-a-BERRY) Liseberg is the largest amusement park in Scandinavia. It is home to three roller coasters, two drops of doom, a haunted hotel, and a large outdoor concert hall. On Sunday, Liseberg played host to a bunch of exchange students completely giddy about the thought of being in an amusement park. Oh, yeah. It was crazy.

We arrived at Liseberg just as the rain started pouring in earnest. Once John, Gage, and Tom were through the gates, they ran towards the nearest store and bought Liseberg ponchos. They are blue with green rabbits all over. We also meet up with Konatsu, Ryutaro, and Sergio. Ryu was also wearing a Liseberg poncho. XD So, what was the first thing that we did? We went straight for a roller coaster. There were some adrenaline junkies in the group, myself included. There was also a roller coaster that lasts only for 40 seconds, but one starts sitting completely still and then one gets shot off really fast first horizontal and then vertical and back down. O_O It was so AWESOME!!! A wooden roller coaster takes one up a ramp and then back down at a 70 degree angle. O_o I went on that one twice. Before I left, Surya, Martha, Naomi, and I went to a chocolate stall. What one could do was buy a number and a wheel would spin. If the wheel stopped on the number one picked, you win. You win a two kilogram box of miniature Toblerone bars!!! I WON!! A TWO KILOGRAM BOX OF TOBLERONE BARS!!! The four of us spilt up the chocolate as equally as we could, but I kept the box. It's a weird thing to be proud of, but I won!! XD

After Liseberg, I went to mass and had fika after wards with some of the university students staying in Gothenburg. They are a part of a student group called REX. I found about about REX on the internet and thought I would give it a try. It was probably the most intellectual experience I've had to date here in Sweden. XD I'm going again. This is too good an experience to pass up.

Now part three: Scents.

While I was typing up this blog, I have been drinking a cup of tea with some of the tea that Mom packed into my bag. It smells of oranges and butterscotch. Yumm... It is gently mixing with the luxurious scent of white jasmine. Earlier today, I went to a store called Laguerhus. There, I purchased some candles and a candle holder. The candle holder is made of colorless glass, molded into a pond lily. The candles that I purchased to go along with the candle holder are scented. The scent right now is white jasmine. It is calming. I feel as calm as the sea after a storm. I have not felt this way since I have arrived.

For once, it is not raining.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It is now 2:17 in the afternoon. My afternoon classes were cut short for unexplained reasons. So here I am. Alone. In the house. With nothing to do. Again. What's that you say? I should get out of the house? Truly, I would love to. But! It's raining. Again. And it looks like it will rain for a long time. The rain I don't mind, it is the wind that is bothering me. So to fill up time in what would otherwise be a REALLY quiet afternoon (Except for the pounding of the rain), I'm going to write. With my glass of hot chocolate. :)

On Sunday, I had dinner with my host counselor, Per, and his family. It was good. The whole family was nice. Per's oldest daughter, Anna, moved out, so I didn't meet her. But his second, Lotta, was on a exchange two years ago! To Australia! A rotex! Huray! His youngest daughter, Sofie is my age. I liked her instantly. Always smiling, always has something nice to say. XD

I had more fika with David.

Okej. In a few days time, there will be an election for the Federal Government, Riksdagen. There are seven major political parties. A party needs 4% of the vote to get a seat. Usually, there are no majority governments, so there are coalitions. Among the parties, there are two major coalitions. The Right Wing parties, and the Left Wing parties. Typically those are the coalitions. And traditionally, it was the left parties in charge. There has been a recent shift in that. The most obvious example that I can think of is The Sverige Demokrates, Swedish Democrats. This is the most extreme party. Right wing. One could almost, ALMOST, call it a fascist party. Most of its policies are alright, in fact sensible. But, the one policy that rankles with most of the people is their stance on immigrants. They don't want them to come to Sweden. For background, most of the recent immigrants are from the Middle East. Yep. Swedish Democrats do not want immigrants. This isn't a racist party, but it attracts a great deal of racists. Swedish Democrats don't have seats in the Riksdag, but with this election, they might. When my school held a mock debate, there was a person representing the Sverige Demkrates. Everyone supported the other debaters, but this poor guy got brow-beat all over the stage. That's the measure of how much a lot of people hate the Sverige Demkrates. On the lighter side of politics, there is a political party that wants to legalize downloading. XD No, The Pirate party has no seats. :( One final note about the election. The voting rate is high. 80% vote. 80%! And that is considered low here!

Last thing. I'm throwing my pride into the wind. Comment! Please! I need to know that people are reading this!

It stopped raining. For a while. XD

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Week

Blogging is a challenge for me. I don't do it as often as I should. Whenever I do post something, I always try to be careful of what I write down. I don't want to insult anyone; I don't want to write things that may get me sent home. As well, when I post the finished article, I'm never sure if anyone reads it. That will always remain a mystery to me. But, I think, a happy mystery.

So without anymore ado, here are some of the highlights of the last couple of weeks.

A few days ago, I helped Sarah (Canada) dye her hair. Sarah had never dyed her hair before. She was never allowed to consider it because she was not allowed. But, now that she is in Sweden, her rules have changed. There is no one to stop her from doing just about anything. So, with my assistance and moral support, she bought hair dye. Four days after she bought the hair dye, I helped her dye it. Her hair is now jet black. I haven't seen it yet, but I can certainly imagine it.

Over the weekend, the exchange students went sailing in Uddevalla. Uddevalla is about an hours drive north of Gothenburg. The Rotary club in Uddevalla organized this sailing trip up and down the archipelago. There were twenty-three students this time. The Australians joined us. I get to steer the ship and navigate, be a lifeguard (Not that anyone fell overboard) and lookout. But everyone on the trip, excepting the Aussies, were pretty out of it. The general atmosphere was reserved and quieter than it was at language camp. Maybe it was because we had chaperons this time. Maybe it was because everyone was exhausted from school and the language. Maybe it was the cold. Who knows. I know for me, I was fine with the cold wind, the slight chill, and the chaperons. But what got me, was the tiny little bed that I 'slept' in. I had no sleep. I found out that I suffer from minor claustrophobia. I will say no more there... But overall, everyone felt down about something or another. It was a good trip, however.

I had my second Rotary meeting yesterday. It was better than the first meeting. I gave my PowerPoint presentation about myself and Canada. I barely remembered what I was talking about. The most I can remember from that presentation was that I got laughs. I was really worried that my presentation was going to go longer than twenty minutes. I think it was closer to about fifteen minutes. XD

A few days ago, I realized my own ignorance. This happened in two events. First: MacDonalds. Yes, there are MacDonalds here. And yes, I was in one with a couple of friends. I knew beforehand that MacDonalds is an international corporation. But it didn't really strike home until I got the hamburger wrapper. It had a white background with aqua writing in about five different languages. I kept it and made a paper crane out of it. It's on my Rotary blazer. Second: Disney. It failed to register in my mind as well that Disney is everywhere. Then I found Beauty and the Beast on YouTube. In Swedish. Yes, I absolutely watched it. I had no idea what they were saying half the time, but I guessed and enjoyed the movie anyway. With both MacDonalds and Disney, I didn't really comprehend how international and connected a great deal of things are. Now I know. And I'm really grateful for it. XD

The last weeks or so have been odd. There has been this odd feeling that has been germinating in the back of my mind. It feels like I'm waiting for something to happen. Plenty has been happening; I've been getting out of the house, having fika, going to school, wandering downtown, dying Sarah's hair, all that jazz. But I don't understand WHY it feels like I'm waiting for something.