Category Archives: living

how to say the end

It’s been a week since I have returned home, and I could not be happier to be back to my old, routine ways.  At times though, I still think back to all of the preparation, anticipation, and adventures I experienced surrounding my time abroad.

The purpose of this blog was to not only provide a resource for students from my university who were interested in studying in Sweden, but also to keep my friends and family updated about how I was spending my time, and the new experiences I was facing while away.  And now that my time in Sweden is over, this blog is also over.

I once again would like to thank my parents for allowing me to go abroad and assimilate myself in an entirely different world.  A lot of people would probably think I am off my rocker for moving across the world my first time leaving home.  Sometimes I think I was a little nutty myself.  But, without the experiences I had I would not be the person that I have grown into, nor would I have developed the opinions and attitudes that I did.

Sweden will always be an important part of my life.  Even if their pickled herring is less than desirable.


and so it begins again


My last week in Umea..

I didn’t think it would come so quickly, but it has.  I actually have less than a week, but because I was still catching up on my posts about the Laplands I am just now getting around to a little memoir about Umea.

Throughout my entire stay here, I have always been turned around.  The first day I got my housing information and got settled in I ventured out to find the supermarket – only to walk for fifteen minutes completely in the wrong direction.  And I don’t even know how many times I have gotten lost in the dark, but God has blessed me over here with keeping me safe.

Sunday afternoon I packed up most of my clothes and put them in my handy vacuum seal-able bags.  Whoever invented those were genius, by the way.  The only clothing items I still have unpacked are my workout clothes, two sweaters, and a couple of pair of jeans.  Everything else is already packed for my trip.  The shelves are getting bare again.

I am planning on shipping some things home – three pairs of shoes, souvenirs, a pair of pants, coat, and some other little odds and ends.  Today I am plan on taking the box down to the post office to weigh it and see how much it will cost.  I was aiming for 5 kg or about 11 pounds because that costs roughly $100.00 USD to ship back home, but we’ll see how close I hit the mark.

Speaking of coat, I treated myself to a new winter parka on Monday.  One because I didn’t feel comfortable traveling around with a custom made fur, and two because I was tired of my butt getting cold.

CoatCoat 2

Always on the hunt for a good bargain, I scored this lovely, winter green coat on sale at Ahlens for 40% off!  It was originally almost $400.00 USD, but with the discount I think it was a reasonable amount for a warm, durable parka.  It even has an uber soft shearling-type lining.

There are a couple of school related assignments I need to finish up this week as well.  One for my Leadership course and the other one for my Culture and Media course.  Yes, I know the Culture class ended several weeks ago, but I may have accidentally missed one of the “compulsory seminars” so I have to do a supplementary examination to make up for it.  Pffftttthh.

On the bright side, I got a 94% on my last nutrition exam so I think that means I will get an A overall for the course.  I also passed my Culture and Media course, and will get a “pass” on my transcript back home at ISU.  (For study abroaders, grades are only written as pass or fail on transcripts, as opposed to standard letter grades.)

Sometime this week I also have to return my bike and get my deposit back.

And I have to clean my entire room, floor to ceiling.

And I have to meet with Iwan for a fika and also to about what to do in Oslo.

And I’m sure there are a lot of other things that will need to be completed as well, but for now I am blogging, enjoying a cup of orange&ruby red grapefruit juice, and fantasizing about the fact that the secret love of my life now is a personal trainer at my gym back home.

One week left.  How should I go out with a bang?

telephone for sale

For students that will be abroad for the spring 2013 semester, chances are some, if not all of you, will be in need of a phone while you are here.  Of course it is highly possible to go an entire semester without said mobile device, but for convenience purposes I would recommend getting a phone.

With this in mind, I am willing to sell my phone at a much lower price than what I bought it for.


It is a Samsung flip phone in the color “romantic pink” and it cost me a whopping $50.00 USD for this 90’s throwback.  That price did not even include the pay-as-you-go memory which I bought in 100 SEK increments.

(BTW – this was the absolute cheapest phone I could get, so don’t get your hopes up on anything much better.)

Currently the phone still has some money left on it, about 25 SEK.  If someone does want this phone, I would be willing to put on another 100 SEK for the next person just to get them ready.  No fuss no muss.  Of course, this would factor in to the final sale price.

I will be bringing this as well as the charger back with me to the States and I could hand it off to one of you back home if anyone is interested.  If not, this phone will probably be donated to charity or to one of the cell phones for soldiers programs.

Please let me know.  First come first serve.

Tack så mycket!

christmas sittning and the final international pub

In just about two short weeks I will be leaving Umea forpossiblyever.  The semester has gone by so quickly it seems like, but then again, my life in general seems to be going by quickly.  The event tonight was a Christmas sittning (basically like a Swedish Christmas party) and the final international pub for the fall semester.

To reminisce, here is a photo from the welcome dinner:

Jill 1

And a photo from the Christmas party… a few months later:

SittningSittning 2

I was going for a look that says “Why yes, Ethan, I would love to marry you!”

I may not look much different, but I do feel a little different.  And a lot more put together.

Anyways, I was late getting to the party because I was meeting Iwan who was with a group of people who just could not get themselves together.  It was okay though, because I had gone downtown earlier and was running a little behind.  (Go figure!)  Once we got to Corona, the location of the party, we found out there was a seating assignment anyways!  There were six tables in total, and I was at the very first table and Iwan was at the fifth table.  Each table setting had a name, and of course mine was clear at the end of the table near the front of the room.  Neither of the people to the sides of me showed up though, and one of the people next to the girl across from me didn’t show up, so we were a bit lonely way down at the end.  It was okay though, because actually the girl sitting across from me is going to the Laplands next week, so now I at least know someone who is going!

The dinner served was a lot better than what we had at the Welcome Reception, even though it was still just… okay.  There were a wide variety of salads, but these aren’t “normal salads” like in the U.S., these are salads with odd ingredients and even odder smells.  In additional to salad, there were Swedish meatballs (super tasty!), hotdogs (really, I swear they eat hot dogs with everything), some ribs (eh, so-so), cold vegetables, eggs with shrimp, raw salmon, bread, chocolates, gingerbread, and some mulled wine.

I tried the wine, which was non-alcoholic that’s why, and it was one of the best things I think I have tried since being here.  The flavor itself is hard to describe.  The wine was very very sweet and fruity, but also had a spice to it, and it was served piping hot.  Mmmmmore please!

Sittning 6


We sat by candlelight and some of the overhead clubs lights in Corona.  I didn’t edit any of these purple photos, so you are definitely seeing an accurate representation of the lighting that was in there.  Another reason I didn’t take many photos.

Sittning 5Sittning 3

Quite a lot of people!

One of the best moments of the night had to have been when I was walking back to my seat after getting a drink and I hear “Jill” shouted by someone, only to turn around and see Tobi there!  Tobi was someone who was in my buddy group at the beginning of the semester and we hung out a lot, but then he changed buddy groups and I hadn’t seen him in quite some time.  I was a little surprised, but when I saw him I laughed and said “I’m sorry, but do I know you?”  (Jokingly and with a huge cheesy grin on my face…. meant to be like do I know you because I haven’t seen you in so long!)  And he said something back of which I do not remember, and in return I replied, “No, sorry, I don’t think we do.”  Smiled, and went on my merry way.  He came over and talked to Iwan and I later in the night and told me that people really thought I didn’t know him and were wondering why he was trying to talk to me.  It was great.


The entertainment for the night

As you have probably noticed, most of the time I go to events I go with my friend Iwan.  To be honest, I am not sure exactly what drew us to each other to become such good friends while on this exchange.  The first time I saw him was at one of the buddy events (before we had been assigned our groups) and he was standing there, looking all European with his gelled, combed over hair.  Maybe we were drawn to the fact that we aren’t much like the other.  For example, one thing that makes Iwan so special is how… frugal he is.  Don’t get me wrong, he is getting his master’s in molecular biology, so of course the guy is smart and will eventually have a good paying job, but he is still humble.  Last night at the party, we were “supposed” to dress up.  I wore boots and a sweater, but most people had on dresses or trousers with jackets.  At one point Iwan and I were standing by the bar and he started pulling out tiny coins from his jacket pocket – coins that were only 1/10 of a krown – so basically worthless.  I asked him where those came from because I had never seen anything like that before, and he said the previous owner must have forgotten to take them out.  I only later learned that he had gotten his jacket from a second hand store in Umea.  I don’t know why, but this made me smile.

…Right now I am longing for more gingerbread and mulled wine.  Divine.

A few people I had not seen since the beginning of the semester also resurfaced.  One girl in particular who I knew was from the U.K. was there, and I remember her so clearly because she looked like a girl I knew back home and had the most adorable, feminine style.  Throughout the entire semester though I never saw her again.  Apparently she did not go back to the U.K. or get abducted by aliens because she was there last night.  Funny how some people just seemed to disappear from the radar.

After the party ended, Corona opened up the dance floor.  It was still “early”, around 10 p.m. or so, so not too many people were getting their grooves on quite yet.  I left around 11 p.m. because I was feeling quite tired from eating so many meatballs.

It’s almost midnight now and I have Total Training and Spinning tomorrow, so it is off to bed for me!  Happy Weekend!

happy thanksgiving


I celebrated my Thanksgiving this year with a dinner of oven roasted salmon, vegetables and a “ciabbata fitness roll” with a side of chemistry homework and a light sprinkle of math equations.  Some thousands of miles away, my family members were gathering and feasting on oven roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and my mom’s delicious pies, among other delicacies.

And for the record, no one makes better pie than my mom does.

Holidays will not always be the same.  A few years ago my family and I celebrated Thanksgiving at P.F. Changs at Waikiki Beach.  And though holidays will not always be the same, it is important to still remember the meaning behind the holiday.

I am so thankful for the opportunity I have been given to study abroad for a semester, immersing myself in a wonderful culture completely different than my own.  Of course the United States will always be my home, but now I can also consider Sweden to be like my second home.  I am also thankful for my family.  Never before have they meant so much to me.  Words cannot express how beyond lucky I am to know these wonderful people, including the ones I have known all of my life like my grandparents and aunts, but also some of the newer ones, like my Uncle David, Nikoa, baby Izzy, and Ale.

Since I am away this year, my mom and I planned our day/night so that I would be able to Skype with some family members as they were getting ready to eat.  For those of you who read my blog, it was so good to see you all!  (This was the first time I have Skyped with any of them since being over here.)  Grandma – You have got to be the cutest woman I have ever met. I just love you to pieces.  Ale – I can’t help but smile when I talk to you.  You give me warm fuzzies all around!  I wish I could see you much much more!  And Aunt Karen and Uncle David – I wish you all the best of luck with your move to Vienna and transitioning yourselves once again.

P.S. I know some pretty great German rap if you become interested in that 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

umea autumn lights 2012

From November 16 – 18 the Umea Autumn Lights Festival was held downtown near the city center.  I actually had no idea that this was even going on and so I didn’t end up going to see it, but I thought I would write a short blurb about it anyways because it sounded really interesting.

Every year Umea has a light festival with artistic installations around the city in several different areas – usually downtown, by the river, and other places.  The people that provide the installations range from artists, architects, landscape architects, stage lighting cameramen, electrical contractors, engineers and others.  Each year also has a different theme.  I am not sure what the theme of this year was though.

Additionally, Riga, Latvia has also began doing this same type of festival, so now Umea and Riga are joined together in this way.

A word of advice – a good idea to know what is going on around town besides checking Facebook is to look at the Umea Tourist Website every week or so because they keep their website updated with activities that are happening!

going bazoinkers

It’s almost 10:30 at night here and there is a serious party happening right outside my door.  Today I had such a long day, from class registration and taking a nutrition exam online, to two gym sessions, three hours of solving chemical equations, and baking a loaf of cinnamon sugar quick bread (okay, that was the fun part).  And tonight I was so looking forward to relaxing – which apparently is not going to happen.

By the way, some drunk fool just slammed right into my door.  Glad I wasn’t planning on trying to sleep at this time.

Call me old fashioned, lame, party pooper, a complainer, whatever – but it feels like such an invasion of space, especially when you are not in the mood to deal with all of this ruckus.  Additionally, people are smoking in the corridor/kitchen and it is seeping into my room.  I tried to put my towel at the base of the door to try and block some of the smoke but it doesn’t seem to be working and it is making me feel sick.

There is this “mega party” happening tonight that some people are hosting in the basement of one of the buildings here in Alidhem, so maybe I will luck out and these party goers will be leaving soon to go to that.

I’m pretty sure Gabe was involved with this somehow.  When he drinks he is just so obnoxiously loud.  If it were me, I would at least tell my corridor mates that I was having a party – everyone deserves a fair warning!  I can’t even go into the kitchen to wash my dishes.

Don’t these people know I have a 10 a.m. gym session I want to get to tomorrow!  I guess I will just have to finish off the night with a few solid hours of Pinterest.