Sunday, August 31, 2008

Arrival in Sweden

I arrived in Sweden on the 26th after about 24 hours of travel. It was a very long and tiring trip! 

I left on August 24.  My 10:30 pm flight out of Honolulu got delayed, and I didn't leave Hawaii until almost 3:00 am. I arrived in Los Angeles at about 10:30 the next day in time to catch my 10 1/2 hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany. It was the longest flight I'd even been on in my life and I was very glad to arrive in Europe. After a short layover in Germany, I continued on to Copenhagen, Denmark. My two suitcases were very heavy, but I managed to catch the train across the Öresund Bridge to Malmö, Sweden. This particular bridge is very interesting- it was completed in 1999 and is part bridge, part undersea tunnel connecting the two cities. Before that, a ferry was necessary for travel across the sound. I heard that when the sea was rough, commuters between the two cities were sometimes left stranded overnight!

I got picked up at Malmö Central Station by my friend, Mats Andersson. Housing in Malmö is very difficult to find as there are many new students from around the country and the world looking for a place to live and very few new buildings and rooms available. For now I am staying with Mats and a few other Swedish friends in their apartment. I have a very comforable couch! I can't stay here for much longer though, and I'm still looking for a room. There is a chance I might find a place to live at Studenthuset Gripen, which is a brand new apartment complex specifically for university students. I'm in the process of speaking with a representative there, so hopefully there will be room for me.

On my first full day in Malmö, I got to meet my host counselor, Dr. Per-Olof Glantz as well as District 2390's chairman, Mr. Carl-Gustaf Olofsson.  They took me out for lunch. Dr. Glantz is a professor of Odontology at my university, and was the first president of Malmö Högskola.  Although he no longer holds that post, he is still very active in both university affairs as well as his particular field.  They were both very welcoming, and Dr. Glantz is to help me with getting a bank account as well as housing upon his return tomorrow from a buisness trip in Finland.  At lunch, i ate snails for the first time! I was suprised to discover that I liked them, but I suppose just about anything tastes great if you cook it in butter and garlic!

I'm staying in a very eclectic area of the city, popular with university students and immigrants.  There is a plethora of international restaurants and shops right outside the apartment I'm staying in. I could hear musicians from Peru serenading the cafe goers on the street below last night. People from all around the world pass you by as you walk down the street. Last night I had Indian food for dinner and two nights before that, falafel. 

I tried to set up a bank account with the help of Mats, but I found out that as an international student, I must have a representative of my university accompany me to one specific bank branch that processes international students' accounts. I have to wait until tomorrow to do this, so I can't receive my scholarship disbursement until after then.  I would have had Dr. Glantz pick up the disbursement, but it was unclear as to when I would actually meet him until the very day I was to leave Hawai'i, when he emailed me an invitation to lunch.

This weekend I had the chance to see the countryside! I visited Höör, which is a forest town near to the urban area of Malmö. The countryside in southern Sweden is so exotic to me, being an island girl accustomed to hot weather and tropical plants and animals. I saw a flock of geese flying in a V formation, herds of black sheep and forest deer, beautiful white birch trees, a wide variety of colorful forest mushrooms, and a red European fox.  It was the first fox I'd ever seen in real life and I shouted happily, much to the dismay of my Swedish friends, who were startled over my yelp of surprise over "just a" fox.

I also had the chance to attend a kräftskiva, or crayfish party. Eating cold cooked crayfish accompanied by other traditional foods and snaps (a kind of liquor similar to schnapps) is a summer tradition in Sweden. Everyone sings songs throughout dinner and it is a very happy occasion. I had a lot of fun! However, I found that crayfish eating is very labor intensive, as you have to crack open each one to get to the tail and claws. I did not eat the roe or the insides in the upper body! I also found out what rhubarb looks like and that though it is a vegetable, it is eaten like a fruit- you can even dip the stalks in sugar and eat them raw! It was served as part of a dessert at the kräftskiva.

I've been here for less than a week and I really feel like I've seen quite a bit already. I'm no longer jetlagged and I'm adjusting to my new city.  I'm very excited to begin classes on Tuesday along with orientation on Friday, and later in the month I'll get to meet my host club, Malmö-Slottstaden.  I'll soon upload some photos and learn how to add them to this blog. I had some difficulty with this posting, but perhaps I'll have some pictures for next time!

UPDATE 1/12: I have finally added 2 pictures, as you can see! Those are both from Höör.

1 comment:

ninetofive said...

I like this blog, but I think there should be more pictures of you in it. How are we supposed to know what you look like?