Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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god jul

A Merry Christmas drawing I recieved on my last day at work before Christmas break.

A Merry Christmas drawing I received on my last day at work before Christmas break.

Today is Christmas Eve! That means that we’ll be celebrating today here in Sweden! In Sweden it is tradition to watch Kalle Anka (or Donald Duck) on Christmas Eve before opening the presents. Kalle Anka is a Christmas special that I don’t believe has changed in the past 50 years. And yes, you heard me right, in Sweden we wait until the night-time to open gifts.

This really bummed me out until I realized that we still open gifts a whole day before we would were we in the U.S. So to all the Swedes out there: God Jul! And to all the Americans that have yet to open your gifts: SUCKAS!

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go skating on a bandy arena while it’s snowing

Just to be clear, it needs to be an outdoor bandy arena. Little did I know when I wrote this list, there are, in fact, indoor bandy arenas. The thing is, outdoor hockey rinks work just as well.

A couple of winters ago I was practicing with my hockey team on the outdoor rink.

outdoor rink

There’s something about being outdoors in the winter. Working up a sweat and having a blast with your teammates. It’s a feeling that’s hard to beat. I think working out and training during the winter is especially important. Especially when one lives in Sweden where the winters are dark like night for 6 months. Getting outdoors in the winter time can also be less than motivating. Which is why I highly recommend this activity.

Gliding along in a muffled world of white while snow sprinkles down from above. It’s truly an experience.

The thing is, there is no longer an outdoor hockey rink where we play. A second rink was built this past year, and finished for this season.

new rink

It’s a beautiful rink, fully equipped for sled hockey. We even have our very own sled hockey team here in town.

new rink

Check out those clear boards!

 

Luckily there’s still the outdoor bandy arena. So there really is no down side. It’s soon to be spring in Sweden, but don’t forget to lace up those skates next year and take the time to be outdoors in the winter. It’s worth it.

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bike fix it day

blue bikeIn Sweden you do a lot of biking. Especially when you don’t have a Swedish driver’s license. Initially I thought having a bike would be a lot simpler than having a car. But it turns out you have to also maintain a bike. Especially one that lives outside. The outside life is a hard one. For this reason I occasionally schedule a bike fix it day, in order to keep my bike running smoothly.

Since I moved to Sweden I have had two different bikes. Both of them have been bought used, and both of them were bought in Linköping. Older bikes hold up. The bikes made back in the day were good quality bikes.

My first bike had like a million gears. Or, more accurately, 10. The poor baby broke when the gears broke off of the frame and got wrapped around the pedal. Bad day. I took it to a bike shop and ended up trading it in for another used bike. This bike has been with me for almost three years now. Ol’ reliable.

green bikeBut, like I said, bikes require some maintenance. I’ve replaced the saddle, replaced the break wire, re-strung the gears (multiple times, and I will need to do this again….maybe I should ask someone to do it for me next time…) I’ve also added a basket and front & back lights. In Sweden you will be fined $100 per missing light if you are stopped by a police officer without a front or back light. Front lights have to be white and back lights have to be red.

Admittedly, I am not an expert biker. Biking in the winter is not for me, and I’ve fallen off three times since moving to Sweden. If you think I was cushioned by a nice fluffy snow bank, you would be wrong. It was more accurately a skidding-across-ice-break-my-laptop fall, later followed by a bike-falling-out-from-under-me-in-public event, and even later followed by a face-plant-into-ice incident. I was less than impressed, but thankfully (mostly) uninjured.

Ryan helpingThis winter I needed to replace the inner tube and tire on my front wheel, after it exploded with small pieces ricocheting onto Evelina – my bad. I accomplished this task with lots of help from Evelina and Ryan. Yes, the project was completed during Ryan’s visit! Now my bike looks even spiffier with a front grey tire. It was the only tire in the correct dimensions available at the bike shop, plus it looks ballin’.

I will inevitably need to do more maintenance on ol’ reliable in the future. But I’m okay with it. It’s worth it. Despite the occasional mishap, I really do enjoy biking. It’s good exercise, good for the environment, doesn’t require gas, and is in general rather low-cost. Luckily the cities of Sweden are teeming with well-lit bike paths.

See you on the streets!

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what’s the deal sweden?

Today I checked when Sweden would have more sunlight hours than Boston. March 19th. I plan to have a party that day. I miss the sun. You are all invited to my sun party. Details to come.

In the mean time I’d like to complain. It’s one thing to have a ridiculously dark winter. But a snow-less winter? That’s just not okay in my book. Here in Sweden there was no snow on Christmas or New Years. As far as I’m concerned it might as well not snow anymore. The cheery cozy Christmas with snow outside and a roaring fire never came to be. A glistening snow filled walk down to the city to watch the fireworks was not the case. Now it might as well be spring.

photo 1 (7)

It has been grey and gloomy instead.

photo 2 (8)

Counting down the days until March 19th.

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liseberg

I don’t know if you heard. But there was a woman who fell out of the tallest wood-steel roller coaster, at six flags Texas.

Last year I feel like there was also an incident where someone fell out of a roller coaster. Maybe it was the year before that.

This is clearly terrible news. But, aside from freaking me out a bit at the time, it hasn’t really affected me in the long run.

Yes, this means I’ve been to amusement parks the past few summers in a row. I’m not sure what that says about my intelligence. But, I’ve always gone before these accidents have happened…and not to the same exact park. Helps?

Liseberg day

Anyway, two summers ago I made my first ever trip to Liseberg in Gothenburg (Göteborg for all you Scandinavians out there). Evelina got train tickets and tickets to the park for me for my birthday. I was thrilled. Because a) I love amusement parks and b) they had just opened the highest free fall roller coaster in Europe. It’s name is AtmosFear (the cunningness of which is reason in and of itself to ride the ride – if you ask me). It’s 146 meters above sea level, and drops you at 110 km/h. Yeah I had no idea what that meant either. That’s 482 feet above sea level, or about 2/3rds of the way around 1 lap on your average track. At 87 miles/hr, or fast enough to get you a killer of a speeding ticket on a state highway. Not bad I say, not bad.

AtmosFear

Gothenburg is a beautiful city, and catching the view of it from the top of AtmosFear is certainly worth it. Unless you’re terrified of heights. This may not need to be said, but: don’t ride the ride if heights terrify you.

But summer fun isn’t the only thing that Liseberg has to offer.

photo 3 (1)

During the winter months Liseberg becomes a spectacular winter wonderland. No, the rides are not operational, something about whipping around at 100km/h when it’s -10 degrees Celsius just doesn’t add up. What they do have to offer is a Julmarknad, or Christmas market. They also have a charming Christmas atmosphere to offer. And really that’s the best part. No, I’m not being extremely sarcastic, so don’t read it like that. What’s even better than the best part is going there with great company. (Still serious.)

Julmarknad

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seven more things i’ve learned about sweden

A while back I posted about seven things I knew about Sweden that you should too. Since then I have learned a WHOLE LOT. Yes, all caps. That’s how much I learned. Are you ready for the second installment?

Here’s a list of abilities that, when living in Sweden, one must have (at least they’re highly recommended):

  1. Speak Arabic.
  2. Bicycle on ice and through snow.
  3. Drive on ice and through snow. Initially I didn’t think of this ability, because where I come from we also get snow every winter. This is not the case for all locales, so one should remember that it snows in the winter. Plan accordingly.
  4. Have an extremely high caffeine tolerance. The coffee here is strong. Like kill you with its bare hand’s strong. (I’m mostly kidding, although the coffee at my previous place of employment may beg to differ.)
  5. Have an extremely high sugar tolerance. When in Stockholm do as the Swedes do. This means fika, daily. (Like I instructed you to the first time around.) I still haven’t figured out how everyone is still so skinny.
  6. An ability to talk about the weather with old people. Believe me, this is an ability; which leads us to our last point:
  7. Speak Swedish – I know I’ve said this before, but I really just want to emphasize the fact that yes, in Sweden they speak Swedish. If you want to communicate with the Swedes…you don’t actually need to know Swedish…but it really does help.

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