Friday, January 21, 2011

January Items...

Januray 21st. Maybe that date isn’t symbolic in and of itself, but it does mean something rather important to me. I’m almost at the half way mark. How scary is that, ladies and gentlemen? Nearly half a year has gone by. In those precious six months, everyone has gone on with their lives. Some have started university, some have found new jobs. Some people finished school, some stopped working. Some went home, and others stayed. So this blog is going to be in two parts: Part the first will be a recollection of some of the major event in January; Part the Second will be shorter.
Part the First: Events
So New Years, first and foremost. In Sweden, there exists a law that prohibits the lighting of fireworks in city limits. But on New Year’s Eve... The police will look the other way. Or down in this case. Starting at around eight o’clock in the evening, there were fireworks. People were lighting them in their back yards. At midnight? It was madness. I was at a friend’s house, welcoming the new year with her and a couple of her friends and some loud music. Five minutes to midnight, we went out of doors and launched our own fireworks. By that time, the entire night sky was lit up. It was one of the most breath-taking moments in my entire life. I left soon afterwards to catch the last bus home. And the fireworks were still going up.
School started again. It is my humble opinion that no matter where you come from, no matter how awesome the school system may be, school is still a prelude to purgatory. Don’t get me wrong, the people in my school are awesome! Fantastic! There must be a little angel sitting on my shoulder making sure I end up with wonderful people, because the people in my class are nicer than I had ever hoped for. My schedule as well is fantastic! But only after I stepped in and said, “Look: I’m not a regular stream student. I don’t need to pass. If I didn’t feel like it, I wouldn’t be in school. Yet, I do want to be here. So can I have a better schedule, please?” It took a little time, but I have more classes that are outside of science. I hope. I’m waiting for the teacher of my history and social studies class to give the go ahead, but other than that, my schedule is better. But I still despise early mornings. And 45% of the time, I don’t understand what’s happening in my classes. So school still sucks. Particularly after a two week break. But it’s better.
The Aussies went home. I wasn’t close to any of them really, but regardless, I will miss them.
In return, we are getting four new two students, three from Australia and one from Brazil. Hopefully they’ll be fine.
I also changed host families. I live now in an apartment downtown. My window overlooks the river and I get to watch the ferries come sailing in and out. I have a new host sister, Ulrika, and a new younger host brother, Erik. I have a new host mom, Katarina, and a new host dad, Jerker (The ‘j’ is not pronounced). All in all: life is good. But it was hard leaving my first host family. You know, I got a little attached. More than a little. I won’t go into details here. Permit me just to say that it was very hard to say goodbye.
So that’s the month of January as it stands now.
Everyone: Stay warm! And Take Care!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas! Jul!

So now, nu ska vi ser. We are in the charming month of January now. This is the best time to get out of the house, go for a walk, do a little shopping, spend time with family/host family, and relax now that the craziest time of the year is past. Christmas!! Yes, that time of year has now come and gone. But the run up to that event was fantastic!
The first Christmas event was Lucia. Lucia was an Italian Saint. No one really knows how she came to be in Sweden, but the why and how is no longer important. What is important is Lucia brings with her. Every December 13th, she comes. In her procession, her handmaids carry candles with flowers woven into their hair. The boys join in as well, wearing wizard’s hats with stars on them. All of them are singing traditional Swedish Christmas and Lucia songs. But the Lucia herself is a sight to behold. Lucia wears a white robe with a red sash. She has candles in her hair. She marks the ending of winter, and the return of spring. It is not Christmas unless Lucia is here. My school put on a Lucia play. I think it was about a girl, Lucia, who needed to find people for her procession. Once the play was over, the Lucia Train began. They sang the most beautiful songs that I have ever heard. Most of the songs were new to me, and I didn’t understand them, but they were beautiful none-the-less.
Christmas in Sweden is huge. Göteborg was decorated to the nines. Most of the streets are covered in decorative lights. Liseberg, the amusement park, has reopened its doors to allow everyone in to see their Christmas lights. I went there with a few of my friends one winter night, and I must say, it was a beautiful sight! Some of the trees were covered with lights, the tower near the centre had lights that stretched over it, and had a three dimensional star crowning it. It was a wonderful adventure, made more so by the people I was with. XD
In each house window there is another set of lights, a candle stand, if you will. The shape of it is terraced, holding about four candles on each side, with one more candle sitting on the top. Nowadays, these use electric lights. You can buy them in any department store. Every home has one. I mean EVERY home. Late at night, when I’m walking home, in apartment windows, house windows, business office windows, every single window, has one of these. Göteborg is full of light this Christmas, and everyone is in on it!
On the 23rd, Karin, Thomas, Maja, and I left for the summer house. We celebrated Christmas there along with Karin’s family. Thomas’ mother also came and spent two nights with us. She is a wonderful lady. So, on the 24th, we celebrated Christmas. The day opened with a quiet breakfast and a quiet morning until we went down to Binnie and Göran’s house for lunch. We had rice pudding and some soup. We went back to my family’s house to watch Kalle Anka. Or, Donald Duck, if you speak English. Yes, a long standing Christmas tradition is to watch Donald Duck’s Christmas at 3:00pm sharp. It was a minor shock to watch it in Swedish. But an even bigger shock that I understood it, and that everyone was watching it. Yes, Donald Duck it taken very seriously here. IT IS NOT CHRISTMAS WITHOUT DONALD DUCK. After that, we went back to Binnie and Göran’s for dinner.
Onto the next, and best, part of Christmas: FOOD! (Cue the song from Oliver!, Food Glorious Food. ) Traditional Christmas foods are: Pepporkaka (Gingerbread), Luciabulla (it’s a bun made with saffron in it, so it’s a beautiful golden color), and Smörgåsbord (Also known as smorgasbord). In a traditional Smörgåsbord, there are two tables, one for cold food, and the other for warm food. The food consists of meatballs, small sausages, Jacob’s Temptation (made of potatoes and anchovies), herring (sill) of different kinds, salmon raw and marinated, smiked salmon, shellfish, Christmas ham, bread, eggs, cheese, pig ribs, brown cabbage, and knäcke bread. All of which are so divine!! Most of the food was brought in by family, but major thanks to Binnie and Göran, my host grandparents, and Karin, who baked the cookies and the Jacobs Temptation. To drink: Julmust. The taste resembles Coca-Cola, but it is not Coca-Cola.
After dinner, we went back to my house and opened Christmas gifts. I gave to Maja and Thomas some Canadian T-shirts. To Karin, I gave a Sarah Mclachlan CD. The gifts that I received included some books, a sweater, coffee, and candle holders. To those who gave me anything, your kindness really touched my heart. I could never repay your kindness. Thank you.

God Bless everyone reading this, and have a Merry (albeit LATE) Christmas!