So much has been happening these last 9 weeks. I got to Lund safe and sound after a day of traveling. Flying into Copenhagen and getting to Sweden turned out fine because I ended up meeting a big group of students who were going to be studying in Lund as well. The big surprise was when I was waiting for my luggage to come off the plane and well, it never did. Turns out that my bags were 3 of the 20,000 that were stuck back in London and I ended up not getting them back for nearly 2 weeks! That left me living off the cloths I wore on the plane and a few additional H&M items that I bought. At least I didn't feel guilty shopping because it was a necessity! However, it felt so nice to finally unpack and move into my room once I got everything back safe and sound. It felt so empty because I have a huge single all to myself. Back in California, I would totally be sharing this sized room with one, if not two people. But the Swedes like their privacy and everyone has their own room. I've been very impressed with Sweden so far. The city is very cute and most people have been friendly. It is strange being in a country surrounded by tons of good looking people who all appear like they just walked out of a fashion magazine. My hiking boots that I was planning on wearing just aren't going to cut it here. Back to the city though, it is smaller then I expected but thats fine because most of the people that you see are college students. I live in one of the dorms downtown which has proved to be quite convenient. My classes are a mere five minute bike ride away and I can get to everything very easily.
For the first two weeks I was in this language course which was challenging but fun. I met some nice international people from all over Europe who I see every once in a while and it kept me from being too bored at the beginning. Swedish is such a hard language to learn though! I feel like I am surrounded by people talking in jibberish. Last Friday my friend Erin and I went out with a few of my roomates to this big nation dinner which was really fun. We ended up eating a small meal, singing Swedish drinking songs, drinking lots of wine and snapps and just meeting lots of funny Swedish people. I feel like I was really immersed in Swedish culture because we were the only international people. Later that night we went to a big bar on campus and everyone there was Swedish as well. There is a huge party culture here which is exciting because I feel like every night you have a different place that you could go to. The main factor in this is that they have what are called nations here named after a different region in Sweden. They are organizations that plan lunches, sports events, sittings (dinners) and most importantly parties at night. I love going to socialize and meet people and have a few drinks. Each nation has a different stereotype, there is a stuck up nation, an international student nation, a communist nation and so forth. They get old after a while but are still great ways to meet others.
Classes have started but they are so easy compared to school at home. I was taking a Swedish language class (which was incredibly hard but I luckily had 19 Swedish speaking tutors/roomates at my fingertips so that was an advantage), and now I’m in a religion and dialogue class and a Swedish culture class. These are all done in late Oct/early Nov and then I have 2 different ones starting up. All I have so far is 2 papers and a presentation. It has been such a relief since I have so many different things on my mind vs school. Lately I have also gotten a lot closer to my roommates which has been good. Being the only non-Swede on a hall of all Swedish students can be somewhat challenging. Luckily one of them has been inviting me to go walking with him so I now have a "powerwalking" partner who encourages me to get some exercise because I keep eating way too much Swedish chocolate and ice cream. Normally I am hanging out with a bunch of the people from California as well. There are about 45 of us total and even though I didn't initially plan on it, I end up spending most of my time with them. It is funny how everyone from different countries seem to cling together. We all look for what is comfortable and hanging out with people who are not so foreign is completely a comfort thing. Most of the time there is a group of about 10 of us Californians who go out and we normally drag along one Swede for support. Lucky them. We all don’t have a lot to do at night because none of our classes are that hard so we end up planning grillfests (Swedish for bbq) and go out to the nation clubs.
Another cultural experience that I have enjoyed is joining a Swedish gym. It is great scenery because there are tons of attractive, buff Swedish men who work out. I also tried out one of the Swedish aerobics classes with my friend Kelly and it was so funny. It ended up being this dance class that was completely in Swedish. So I basically ended up following the person in front of me and trying not to mess up too much. It was a mixture of grapevining, high kicking, jumping, turning and random arm movements that somewhat resembled the YMCA. At the beginning we thought that we saw people getting mats and weights so we followed in suit and talked while we were waiting for the class to start. All the sudden I look up and the instructor is looking right at us and saying something really fast in Swedish to us. I looked cluelessly at Kelly trying to figure what/ why she was talking to us and then I realized that no one else had weights or mats out. So we put that stuff back as fast as we could. So much for blending in... The good thing was that we stood in the back hoping not to get noticed, but the only problem with that was when the entire class would turn around and start walking towards us when Kelly and I were totally walking forward. Once again, so much for blending in. However all in all, it was really fun.
I also tried going to a Swedish Christian club meeting and it was fine. It's just that people were not overwhelmingly welcoming and instead of meeting more Swedes, I ended up getting lumped up with the international students again. The entire message was in Swedish so they put us in the back 2 rows with these old school head phones and this Swedish guy hooked up to a microphone so he could translate what was happening. One of the best parts was whenever the speaker would say something funny, the entire audience would laugh and then 5 second delay... all us international kids would start laughing when we heard the joke. It was pretty hilarious.
A few weekends ago I got to go to London with Kelly. We left on a Thurs morning and we took the train into Liverpool. After lunch, we walked to go get the double decker red bus which was amazing! Most importantly, it allowed us to see all the famous touristy things that we wanted to view. We were busy the whole time and we got to shop, go to a museum, eat traditional English food, watch the changing of the guards and see almost every famous monument in the city. For the first 2 nights, I stayed with an old friend from high school. The best part was that she had a flat in a central location, which made it really convenient. For the first night, we went to a pub and on the next, we went to an 80's club. Let's just say the 80's club wasn't necessarily a must see. It consisted of a really smoky, dirty club filled with severely drunk old men who called us dumpy because we were wearing flat shoes and some funny girls who took the 80's theme a little too far by dressing in the most hideous costumes I could imagine. Besides all that, I was really proud of us though because we really only got lost once which wasn't really our fault because we didn’t realize the tube closed at midnight. The next night we stayed at my friend James's (he studied abroad @ UCSB last year). So we ventured out to the outskirts of London in Pinner and stayed with him and his English family. They were so cute and nice. That day we went to Windsor and saw the castle that the Queen lives at when she isn't at Buckingham palace. It was a beautiful city and it was nice to have some genuine English tour guides to lead us around. Bright and early Sunday morning we had to leave but it was such a fun weekend.
So far the weather isn't freezing yet but i can tell it is getting there. I can also tell that the rainy season is approaching and am not looking forward to it since I left back in Cali the one worthwhile thing that I should have brought, my freaking rain boots! Here's to wet pants and shoes. Just this time, add a wind chill factor of who knows what, some incredibly frightening lightening and thunderstorms and the fact that the only transportation that I have is my own two legs and a crappy bike that has a suspicious clicking noise that just started, suggesting that it is currently in the process of falling apart. What I would do for a car! I guess that I am going to figure out the bus system asap.
Since I do not have too much class going on, I am currently trying to plan my next series of trips with my friends. Already I have most weekends booked until late November. Last Sat the UC group planned a field trip to Denmark so we saw an art museum and Hamlet's castle. It was a long day but really fun. This next weekend we have a trip to Stockholm planned. My 3 Californian friends and I are taking the night train up on Friday night, staying in a hostel and on Sunday night coming back home. I can’t wait! Then the next weekend Kelly, Erin and I are going to Madrid, Spain for 5 days! I am so excited, I can’t even wait. We are staying with one of Kelly’s friends who knows Spanish so that will be nice. After that, Erin, Sean and I are going to Prague for 4 days. We are busing it down there, staying for three nights and heading back up. I have heard that it is beautiful so I can't wait for that. Then the next weekend my family comes for 11 days and we are heading to Denmark, Northern Sweden, Finland and Russia. After classes are done in late December, Erin and I are planning on taking the euro rail to Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. We know a Swiss guy in Switzerland so we are planning on staying with him for Christmas and hopefully going skiing in the alps! I also have plans to visit Southern France sometime so I have some busy times ahead. Basically I am trying to make the most out of this experience and travel as much as I can. It has been such an amazing experience and I am so sad that it is nearly halfway over. But I still have tons of adventures and can't wait to see what happens!