Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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what is fika?

Listen up! This is important. Open your eyes now, people, you’re about to gain some knowledge!

An immediate differentiation should be made, that fika and FICA are two very, very different things. The latter is a taxing system that funds Social Security and Mecicare. That’s definitely not what this is about. The former is what we’re here today to discuss.

Fika, with the all important “K”, is a Swedish tradition, incurred daily, which allows for the intake of caffeine and sugar. Some argue that this event should take place at 2:30 pm on the dot, but I’m not here to set the rules, I’m here to enjoy the party!

In this instance, when I say party, I mean an often quiet moment during the day where you sit down with co-workers, friends or family and take a second to enjoy their company. As well as the aforementioned sugar and caffeine. Not to be confused with the British tea-time, Swedish fika is a beast of its own.

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Fika can actually happen anytime, anywhere. From meeting up with friends at a local café or in the comfort of your own home alone or with your favorite family members (let’s be honest, we all have favorites). Swedes can fika in public, from outdoors in a park with a homemade selection of sweets and a thermos of coffee to riding a SJ train from Malmo to Stockholm in the dining car. Fika isn’t only a daily break from the hustle and bustle that is our fast-paced lives, it’s a lifestyle of taking the time to stop and smell the coffee.

As previously mentioned there are no rules when it comes to fika, but one of my favorite treats to enjoy with my coffee are Swedish chocolate balls. (If you know anything about me you know how extrememly dificult it was for me to decide on just one treat). Here’s the recipe so you too can enjoy a moment of Swedish fika in your busy busy day:

Ingredients:

  • 2 dl oats
  • 1 dl sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cold coffee
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 150g butter 
  • Coconut shavings or sprinkles or both


Directions:

  1. Convert everything to cups if you don’t have a deciliter measuring device. I’ll help you get there by telling you that 1 dl is 0.42 cups.
  2. Mix all ingredients except the coconut/sprinkles in a bowl.
  3. Roll mixture into balls. Larger balls will be about 1.5 inches in diameter smaller balls can be about 1 inch in diameter.
  4. Pour a small amount of coconut (or sprinkles) on a plate, one or two handfuls will be enough to get started. Coat the balls with coconut or sprinkles by rolling them around the plate. As the coconut/sprinkles run out, add more to the plate. 
  5. Makes about 14 large balls or 20 small balls.







Side bar: For those of you who like words, I just had to check the etymology of the word “fika” and according to professor Lars-Gunnar Andersson at the University of Gothenburg the word fika comes from an alternate form of a Swedish word for coffee (kaffi). The word “kaffi” is cut in the middle and each side swapped, as a type of slang (since that just seems like the easiest kind of slang there is…) which results in “fika“!

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gröna lund

One of many Things To Do In Sweden, as listed by yours truly, is to visit Gröna Lund. Which is an amusement park on Djurgården island, which you can get to by ferry, bus, car, bike, skateboard, walking – and those standing scooter things that I assume were created to increase the spread of obesity the world over. And yes, standing scooter things is an official Google search term.

What I’m saying is, you can get there by many means. Once there, and you have paid the admission fee and possibly bought your ride wrist band or tickets, you are free to run around and explore the wonderful mini-world that is this amusement park.

I’ve been a few times, the most recent time being last summer. My personal favorite rides are the tallest ones, especially Eclipse where you can see absolutely fabulous views of Stockholm.

Gröan 2015

Grönan 2

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Of course no trip to Gröna Lund would be complete without Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

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All in all Grönan (as the locals call it) is a great time!

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why this american is rooting for sweden

For all of the sports inclined people out there, it won’t be news that the Olympics are currently occurring. For all of the women’s soccer enthusiasts it won’t be news that the USA woman’s team has won four golds in the past five Olympics. Or I should say, six Olympics, as this Olympics marks a marked decline in the teams results with a loss to Sweden in the quarter finals.

Why, you may ask, would this American then be rooting for the exact team that dashed the USA team’s chances and dreams of winning a fourth consecutive Olympic gold? My answer is Pia Sundhage.

Pia Sundhage

To summarize the media coverage (and awesome memes), after the US lost to Sweden in a nail-biting shoot out, Hope Solo called the Swedish team a bunch of cowards. When asked about this comment Pia Sundhage said “Jag skiter i vilket. Jag ska till Rio, hon ska hem.” The popular translation of which is: “I don’t give a crap. I’m going to Rio, she’s going home”. My personal translation would be “I don’t give a shit…” but I suppose that makes for a slightly less child-friendly meme. So I understand the distinction.

Hope & Pia

What makes tonight’s final even more exciting is the nail-biting shootout win that brought the Swedish team here. After an initial loss to Brazil in group play, Sweden came to play this past Tuesday. Overcoming the initial loss was no small thing either, the two team’s first meeting this Olympics was an epic loss for Sweden with Brazil finding the back of the net a full five times. But with another grand display of defensive play the Swedish team did it again in five shootout shots, with two saves by Lindahl.

And yes, no one in Sweden has any finger nails anymore after all this shootout action.

The cherry on top is that Pia Sundhage was the head coach of the US women’s team for the past two Olympic golds. That is to say Sundhage is coaching tonight for her third gold in a row. Making their win over the US team a little sweeter for the Swedes, and her response to Solo’s comments all the better. But wait, this also happened: A reporter asked Sundhage if she could coach a men’s team. What do you think she said?

A whole country

Mic drop…

Now, I hope I’ve convinced you to also root for Sweden tonight. As we say in Sweden: Heja Sverige!

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get pregnant

Remember when I reverse bucket listed my 2015?

A few things on that list I haven’t written about. That’s what’s happening now.

In 2015 Evelina and I went ahead and got pregnant. For us it takes a little more planning than your average couple. I would like to share with all y’all the adventure we went on to bring our little baby K into the world.

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To get started we checked out our options in Sweden. In Sweden you can get three insemination tries for free (or included in their health care system). Going this route Evelina and I would find out very little about our donor. In Sweden they try to match eye color, skin color and hair color of the parter of the woman trying to get pregnant. The deciding factor for us (why we didn’t go this way) was because we would not be guaranteed that the same donor would be available for our possible future children. It is important for *us* to be able to guarantee (to the best of our abilities) that any possible future children will have the same donor. (Key word there being us, many other people chose different options depending on their life situations.)

Once we ruled out the Swedish option we looked around at our other options. This included contacting insemination offices in Denmark, Norway and the US. All these clinics actually use an international donor bank (pretty crazy) so the same donors would be available to us regardless of the clinic.

During the actual insemination process we had to be able to get to the clinic on the drop of a dime. The clinics also say that within three tries most people become pregnant, so if we had chosen a US office we would have had to be there for up to 3 months, so we ruled out using a US office. We ended up deciding to go with the Norwegian clinic after a few e-mail exchanges and going in for a consultation. We were really pleased with the service we received while there, as well as the size of the offices in general. Norway was actually also the fastest option for us, as in we could get there the quickest when it was go time.

At our consultation we learned all about the finer details of what the process would look like in our specific situation. They were so great and informative. Once we had decided which clinic to use we scrolled through the online profiles of the donors. Which is actually pretty easy to do once you enter a few parameters you know you are looking for. After deciding the donor it was all a waiting game, which ended abruptly on Midsummer’s Eve last year. GO TIME!

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Of course we flew Norwegian

Scrambling around the apartment packing and buying plane tickets, before we knew it we were in the air on our way to bring the tiny life that has now become our charmingly beautiful baby girl into the world.

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oh brother, where celebrate thou?

The third child in my family is celebrating his birth today, happy birthday little brother! It’s a big one this year, 21 years old. Good thing you’re in Europe! We don’t need to mention the fact that you have been able to drink adult beverages on this continent for at least 4 years because you’re currently in Sweden! This means we’re celebrating in style.

By style I mean going to the zoo. That’s what all 21 year olds want to do, right?

Stay tuned for awesome pictures of our day at the zoo! In the mean time enjoy this sibling selfie.

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on this, brother, the day of your birth

I’ve started a little tradition by writing a blog post on my brothers’ birthdays, and it’s that time of year again! Ryan has become another year wiser, Happy Birthday brother!

Today I want to share our most recent memory, that is to say our most recent IRL interaction.

Sidebar: (IRL = in real life)

Ryan came to visit during his spring break this year. *WOO HOO!* He got to do super fun things, like meet his niece for the very first time.

But first coffee:

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Cuddle time:

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Doctor’s appointment:

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Games galore!

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Food time (for everyone):

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Even Ryan got in a hockey practice (can’t let Dad one-up you!):

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I hope you have just as much fun today as you obviously had on your latest trip to Sweden.

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university in sweden

Getting accepted to university in Sweden is a process. Like any other application process it involves forms and deadlines. And in my case standardized testing. Step one for me was to take what I like to call the Swedish version of the SATs, högskoleprovet. Directly translated högskoleprovet means The University Test, aptly named in my opinion.

Okay, now that I think things over step one was to send in all my papers and information about my previous studies in the US to the Swedish university administrations office. In Sweden you apply for all university studies through one website and one application process. It would be as if every university in the US took the common app and only the common app. So, all my information had to first be sent in and processed.

Then I took the test. In Sweden there are three sections: Swedish, Mathematics and English. As a native English speaker I was naturally stoked about the English sections. Though initially less stoked about answering math questions in Swedish…and basically all the Swedish questions in general.

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Okay, now that I think things over again I realize that between sending in my information and taking högskoleprovet I needed to learn Swedish. And, as you recall, I recently completed the high school level Swedish classes. Learning Swedish certainly helped with the test taking thing.

To summarize:

  • Step 1: Send in information regarding previous studies in the US
  • Step 2: Learn Swedish
  • Step 3: Take Swedish SATs
  • Step 4: Apply!

After having completed steps 1-3 all that was left to do was apply! This past fall I completed the process (the relatively easy compared to the process in the US) of applying to university in Sweden. It basically involved clicking a few buttons on the computer. In Sweden you can apply for multiple programs, but you have to prioritize them. So if you’re accepted to the program you list as your top priority, your application is withdrawn from the other programs. As was the case for me, as lo and behold: I was accepted!

Next step: learn stuff.

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