Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wrap Up

Dear, dear, dear, dear friends. I'm writing to you about 2 months after my last post. Unfortunately, I have procrastinated too much to write a thorough write up of "differences between US and Sweden" or something of the like.

2 months later, I definitely miss Sweden. Some things I miss:
a)Living alone. I can strive or stoop to whatever level of cleanliness I desire, and I listen to no one but myself. It was definitely more lonely but a great experience.
b)Hearing Swedish. I really miss that goofy, rhythmic, incomprehensible language.
c)My Swedish and other friends. This is obviously a given.
f)Riding a bike everywhere. I always thought it was a pain to ride my bike in Uppsala, but in retrospect, it was much easier than driving. Riding in Boston would be treacherous though.

Of course, there are many things I miss, but I could go on forever. One thing that now stands out in my mind about Sweden, however, is that its residents are more independent than Americans, yet more considerate.

As for changes in myself, I think I've become more independent. Living abroad by myself forced me to take control of my situation, and I don't think I rely on others as much anymore. I'm also more conscious of hearing the Swedish language and noticing items of Swedish origin, such as Swedish tennis players. Any time I spot a -sson, I get excited. Soderling counts too I guess.

Anyway, I'll wrap this up. I hope everyone has enjoyed my blog.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Interest Lost

I'm curious to know whether anyone reads this blog and is bitterly disappointed that there have been no posts recently. Alright, who am I kidding? This is a journal, a trip diary.

I know I've still been super lazy and haven't done the Sweden wrap-up yet. I'll get to it eventually, though its potential is certainly going down by the day. The longer since I've been in Sweden, the more I get used to home and forget that way of life.

In any case, I hope all is well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Word or Two about Television

I know I still need to do my "Wrap-Up" entry, telling you about all the wonderful changes I notice in myself and how America differs from Sweden, but since that requires thought and effort, that will come after I am done with my final paper.

Ranting does NOT require effort.

Being the football/soccer fanatic that I am, I listen to BBC phone-in podcasts about the game. One host, called Danny Baker, had an idea that there were too many teams in the world and decided to create a Totalitatian League. Fans then called in and made cases as to why their team should be only one of twenty left in the world. Of course, this is a hypothetical.

Here is another hypothetical: Totalitarian Television. If I were a politician, I would get called a fascist or communist, but since I am one insignificant person of nearly 7 billion, I don't care.

In the current space of time, there are countless television channels. There is a channel for nearly every interest, its cousin broadcast channel in HD, and then channels about things absolutely no one, save for maybe its owner, is interested in. Topics that used to receive their own show now receive their own channel.

While I'm not calling for a revert back to the six channel system of the recent past, I do think it would do humanity (or anyone who has cable or satellite) to slim down the channel pickings to twenty. Fatasses everywhere would be forced to pull themselves off their sunken-cushion couches if their favorite channel, Midgets Running in Circles HD, suddenly only had sixty minutes of airtime. Then it could be broadcast when it should be broadcast (besides never), at 3 am when said fatasses couldn't be outside playing ball or stoners get too high to repack their bongs.

Okay, but seriously, kids wouldn't be as fat.

And hey, now I can tie this into Sweden. Swedish basic cable only had ten channels (imagine that!). And I do recall an older Swede telling me he was rushing home with his little boy so they could catch cartoon hour. HOUR. Maybe that's why there aren't any fat people in Sweden. Timmy, or let's call him Anders, watches cartoons for an hour then goes out and chases butterflies for a couple hours.

I'm not going to give you the twenty channels that would remain a) because i am too lazy, and b) because it would be incredibly biased (ArsenalTV WOULD be among them). But you can use them as a conversation piece at your next social gathering, or try to forget you ever read this nonsense.

And as for the answer to your question of "Will this blog continue after he finishes writing about Sweden?" Absolutely not.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Quick Rant at Nike

So about a year ago, I bought some awesome new Nike socks. They're black and go up past my ankles, and they're really comfortable.

So of course, in choosing to buy socks about six months ago, I elected to stick with the Nike black half-rise socks. Little did I know that these six new pairs of socks would cause me constant consternation (how's that for verbosity?) for the entirety of my time in Sweden.

You see, these socks feature a prominent L or R, telling me which foot to put them on. Being far from Obsessive Compulsive but caring a bit about order, it is just one more thing to bring the temperature of my blood closer to the boil. And for those of you that know me, you'll know that my blood already teeters dangerously on the brink.

Why do the clowns at Nike's design department need to do this? Both socks are the same, but for that godforsaken 1/26 of our alphabet. So when I inevitably put my right foot into the left sock, I have that split second of horror. Or, when I'm folding my laundry, I have to care not to match up two left socks even though it doesn't matter. It matters subconsciously, which I can tell you, irks me even more.

Of course, you're thinking, "Does this blowhard really need to rant about socks?" The answer is yes.

Two days until I reenter the realm of smog, earthquakes, and fires. Oh yeah, and apparently I have to worry about lightning too now.

Good day.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Not Long Left

What's happenin' guys? The goodbyes are beginning here in Uppsala, making the shoddy weather somewhat poetic perhaps.

In a way, my trip has come full circle. In the first week, I was freaking out because I didn't know what I had gotten myself into. Now, in my last week, that fact seems ridiculous, and I am now freaking out because I am concerned that I didn't do everything I could have here.

Of course, I have loads of things to look forward to at home and loads of things not to look forward to here in the final few days. I have to sell my bike, clean up my flat, pack, say goodbye to people, who, in all honesty, I'll probably never see again, and the general stress of traveling. The latter, of course, involves making sure my bags don't weigh too much, making sure I leave room in the carry-ons for my last legal liquor purchases for six months at the duty free, deciding whether to try to smuggle in Cubans, and taking care to hold on to my passport and boarding pass.

I'm to the point where I've essentially planned out my last week. I've determined that most of my time will be spent reading in preparation for the monster paper I still have to write. Other than that, end-of-semester parties, one more football/soccer match, and the general horror of the aforementioned chores.

I'll be sad to leave this place. But to be truthful with you, this has seemed like one giant vacation. As much as I hate to say it, it's time to get back to real life.

And since this seems like a depressing entry, I'll leave you with this hilarious video.

Song: "Optimistic" – Radiohead

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sverige och Tyskland

I apologize for making you wait almost two weeks to read the latest entry of this fair blog. I've been up to quite a bit recently, but I'm feeling lazy so this shouldn't be too long. The title of this entry is in Swedish and in English means "Sweden and Germany."

A bit of business first: Apparently, my blog has been nominated for some best exchange student blog competition. It's good to know someone actually reads this. Anyway, if you feel compelled, you can vote for my blog here. It's towards the bottom of the list, and for a reminder, it's called Utbytesstudent i Sverige. Below is a sweet button in case you missed the first link.

I'll now step away from the self-promotion and dip back into blogging.

I've been doing a lot of studying in the past couple of weeks. I had a final presentation for one class and a two-part final exam for Swedish class. It's amazing that I still can't speak any Swedish or understand much, but I can still pass the exam. Luckily it's pass/fail so I'll never know how badly I really did. I have one more class going on right now – Legacies of the Holocaust in the Development of the E.U. – which consists of a 15-25 page paper actually due after I get back to the States.

I've also begun playing soccer/football with a 7th Division Swedish club team, Torpedo Kamrat BK. If I'm not mistaken, I'm the first foreign player to play for them. They now also own my registration, so should Arséne Wenger come sniffing 'round my doorstep, he'll have to pay big money to Torpedo Kamrat. Which isn't to say I would necessarily leave....

I've played in one match so far, a draw against promotion favorites IFK Uppsala, though admittedly, it was their youth team. It was their first dropped points of the young season. Tomorrow is match number two. Since today is a link-happy post, you can view Torpedo's website here. It is all in Swedish, though.

Meine parents paid a visit to me in Sweden the past week. We spent one day exploring Uppsala, about all the time one needs to tour Uppsala. I love the town, but it will never top a list of possible tourist destinations. We then took the train down to Stockholm, where we spent a couple days. It was the first time I really got to explore Stockholm, and it is a terrific city. I would highly recommend you visit Stockholm, though of course, in the late Spring or Summer, when it is actually light outside. The highlight was probably the combination boat/bus tour around the city or the Vasa Ship museum. For those of you who know nothing about the Swedish capital, it consists of many different islands connected by a series of bridges and canals and is right at the junction of the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren, the third biggest lake in a country that has over 97,000 lakes. That's right, 97,000. The Vasa Ship was a 17th Century warship that sank only 2 km into its maiden voyage but was recovered in the 1960's.

My parents and I then travelled to Berlin. Being the age that I am, I am predisposed to talk about German beer. Seeing as how this is a family blog, I will not say that the beer was orgasmic (ha ha). But the beer I had in Berlin was pretty damn good. Unfortunately, I didn't have sauerkraut on this trip, but I ate plenty of wurst.

Adjacent to the Topography of Terror museum describing the horrors of Nazism is a segment of the Berlin Wall that is still standing. Everyone's heard a lot about the Wall, but to actually be in the city divided by it was a little eerie. I never ventured too far into east Berlin, so I didn't really experience the contrasting Western versus Eastern architecture, but the varying building styles in the West were cool enough alone. The really old buildings that survived the epic bombing and battle during the Second World War stood right next to modern buildings in random order.

Forgive me for thinking that we were in the middle of the apocalypse, but there were some bizarre weather patterns occurring in Berlin. We set out on our tourist duties one morning with the sun shining and few clouds in the sky, only to be halted inside a train station within two hours due to a torrential downpour. A couple hours later, it was sunny again. The next day, we were walking towards another train station when out of the blue a couple minutes of hurricane force winds struck. Had there been rain and palm trees about, I would have thought we were in the middle of Andrew in Miami. It was hard to walk. But again, within two minutes, there was no more wind.

It was nice to spend some time with my parents in Europe. Talking history with my dad was great and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but shopping with my mom at the KaDeWe department store in Berlin was also great. KaDeWe, or Kaufhaus des Westens, is very similar to Harrod's in London, though less excessive. That is to say, it has gourmet food, cigars, liquors, clothes, and other accessories, but it doesn't sell dune buggies or £25,000 foosball tables and doesn't take up three city blocks, just one.

The sad part of the study abroad experience is about to set in, with friends beginning to depart Uppsala and my eventual departure. But, of course, I still have two and a half weeks left here, and I intend to make the most of that time.

Like I told my parents, if I learned Swedish, I would definitely live in Uppsala or some other city in Sweden.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Baltic Queen

I'll decipher the lack of my friend's blog updates to mean that I am the nerdiest of all of my friends. But I'm just doing my Study Abroad duty and telling everyone what's going on over here, while getting in a word about Arsenal along the way.

Before I begin to blabber about my last week, I just want to, with every effort to avoid being insincere or cliché, to express my sympathies for Mark Herzlich of the BC football team, who has just been diagnosed with cancer. It is always sad to see someone my age being diagnosed with the awful affliction, but the fact that he is a world-class athlete and a probable Top-10 NFL draft pick in 2010 is all the more disconcerting. Incredibly, he still manages to sound like the smart and strong fellow he is in this interview with ESPN.

As I mentioned in the last blog, that you probably didn't read, I spent the first half of this past week venturing to Estonia, a former member of the Soviet Union. I'd have to say, though, that only about 50% of the trip was about exploring Tallinn, its capital. The other half was about the cruise to and from the city. Many Swedes, mostly in their early-50's and older, take the journey to Tallinn or Riga, in Latvia, to get cheap alcohol. As I've mentioned before, Sweden's state-owned liquor store, Systembolaget, is not very cheap.

This particular cruise was meant for students in Sweden, and accordingly, the moment The Baltic Queen began to move away from Stockholm at around 6:00pm, the line (queue) outside of its Duty Free store exploded. To everyone's chagrin, the liquor section had been closed for the day due to some Finnish students that had become too racuous on the previous journey. Nevertheless, beer was made available, so I picked up a 24-pack of Norrlands Guld beer for the journey.

There were multiple clubs on board the boat, in addition to a cigar lounge, several shops, a handful of restaurants and gambling tables. Our two-person cabin was outfitted with a shower, toilet, closet, and a flat-screen television. The journey took us first to Mariehamn on the island of Åland, a property of Finland, at which we arrived at around 4:30am, just as the multitudes were beginning to pass out.

The passengers, nursing their collective hangover, arrived in Tallinn at 10am. My fellow travelers, a Frenchman and a Masshole (resident of Massachusetts), and I threw on some deodorant and dragged ourselves ashore. Adding further credence to the theory that people are sheep, we blindly followed some people off the boat, eventually stumbling upon the Old Town district.

This district had everything we needed to see in Tallinn, from several churches, including a Russian Orthodox cathedral, the parliament building and eclectic collections of residential buildings, to the many guildhouses and, eventually, the old KGB headquarters. The KGB building was one of the eeriest places I've ever come into proximity with, up there with Dachau concentration camp outside of Munich. The building is closed down and there are no markings on it apart from a small plaque commemorating the untold amount of suffering that occurred there. The windows were boarded up from the inside, adding to the mystery and even dread of what transpired inside.

I really enjoyed the five or six hours I spent wandering throughout the city. It was a remarkable fusion of old French, German, Swedish, Finnish, and Soviet culture, food, and architecture. I especially enjoyed purchasing some coinage from the old USSR, boasting Lenin's picture. I don't even care if it was a scam.

We were exhausted from the previous night and the day's exploration, so we retired to the cabin back onboard for some rest. Upon awakening, we returned to the Duty Free, liquor shop open this time, to purchase some much needed provisions for the rest of our time in Sweden. I opted for Kahlúa and generic Russian vodka, key ingredients for my new favorite drink, the White Russian. In addition, we purchased some French red wine, which according to our French friend, was high class. I should mention that we did not pay much for it and also, that I purchased three bags of beef jerkey for dinner, undoubtedly diminishing any classiness I could have achieved from the wine.

After a repeat of the previous evening, we arrived in Stockholm again at 10am, making it back to Uppsala by noon. The rest of the week has been spent on schoolwork, which is beginning to pile up, and playing soccer, in attempt to diminish the fat, which is also beginning to pile up. Kidding.

It is about twenty to 9pm as I'm finishing this up, and it's still light enough for a person with poor-vision to play sports. I only have twenty-three days left on this fair continent, a few which will be spent in Berlin.

One final thought which contains a play on words that will make any reader question my social aptitude: once I get home, should I turn this into a Study A Broad blog?


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fun, Sun, and Almost Done in Uppsala

Hey folks. I recognize that this blog is dangerously skirting the boundaries between "Study Abroad Blog" and "Stuff I Care About That No One Else Does Blog," so I'm going to make a concerted effort to revert more to the former.

The Swedes in the summer absolutely love their barbecues. There are two pits out back of my residence and they are usually occupied. I've already been to three, when I've had one throughout my entire time at BC this far.

I have exactly one month left here in this fair city, Uppsala. I was tempted to write a retrospective of my time thus far, but then what would I have to write about back in the States? Also, not too sound too studly, but my presence has been requested at one of Uppsala's many famous/infamous "corridor parties" so I don't have a whole lot of time. These are essentially the equivalent of a college dorm party, except more fun, more people, and you don't have to worry about R.A.'s. You just have to make sure if you are hosting that someone doesn't steal your toaster. Luckily or unfortunately – I haven't decided yet – I live in Eklundshof, where there are no corridors and, thus, few parties. The giant student housing development at Sernanders Väg in Flogsta, about 5 km from Eklundshof, is the usual host of these parties. There are many buildings there and they're all about 8 stories high, so needless to say, my three story building in the forests of Eklundshof is a little less lively.

I don't have too many plans for the month, as the majority of schoolwork has been positioned at the rear end of my stay here. Nevertheless, I found time to join up on a student booze cruise, called the "Sea Battle" to Tallinn, Estonia, USSR. I leave Monday and return Wednesday, so expect the next chapter in this, what will undoubtedly become a bestselling book, whenever I've recovered from that epic time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Utter, Abject Capitulation

My dear friends, I'm sorry to bombard you with posts about Arsenal, posts that you most likely care nothing about. But it's my blog and studying abroad has given me a perfect excuse to start it. Admittedly, I am probably approaching the dreaded status of "blog-whore."

Nevertheless, here is another Arsenal post. Take comfort in the fact that their season is now over so I will not be writing about them anymore.

I really have nothing to say about the match tonight. It speaks for itself. But here is what I wrote down, before it, in a message I was planning to send. I wanted to keep the vibrations positive so I decided not to send it. Here you go:

I just watched footage of Arsenal 2-1 Man Utd in 2006, and Arsenal 2-1 Man Utd in 2008 to pump myself up for this game. I won't be watching live due to a prior soccer-playing commitment, but I will be up into the wee hours of the morning watching the replay on

Starting XI's from 11.08.08
Arsenal 2: Almunia, Clichy, Silvestre, Gallas, Sagna, Nasri, Fabregas, Diaby, Denilson, Walcott, Bendtner
Man Utd 1: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Anderson, Ronaldo, Ji-Sung, Anderson, Rooney, Berbatov

From watching the highlights of that match, plus watching the first leg from this time around, I've gathered the following:
1. Adebayor is a donkey and shouldn't start. His work rate has dipped significantly since that contract extension in the summer and since captain Henry left. If I were Wenger, I would sell him to Milan for £20. Bendtner at least works hard. If you watch the highlights from November, he at least holds up the ball well.
2. Fabregas needs to play deep in the midfield, not at the second striker role. He was able to dictate the game against Man Utd in November, whereas he was lost in the first leg. For whatever reason, Diaby started in "the hole" behind Bendtner in November, but it was Fabregas in the first leg.
3. Van Persie should not start if he isn't fully fit. He'll just be wandering aimlessly and his set pieces haven't been all that great recently either.
4. Song over Denilson.

What would I do then?

If Eboue is having a good day, leave him on. He can take Evra, as he did in 2006. If not, take him out in the 30th minute, put van Persie on and switch to a 4-4-2.

But of course, we already know what Wenger is going to do.
----------Adebayor-----van Persie--------

Or the same lineup that started the first leg, in which case, see you in August 2009. One goal, and it's over tonight.

But of course, that's just me being pessimistic.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


It really is hard to try to describe Valborg with words. Even my pictures don't really do it justice. As I like to say when my telling of a joke turns sour: "You had to be there." Nevertheless, I'm going to attempt to describe the wildest party I've ever been to.

The Swedes like to slap a 'K' in front of something and have it mean 'night before.' Accordingly, they call April 29 of every year Kvalborg. The day started innocently enough for me. For the first time since I've been in Sweden, I had two classes on one day. My first class ended at about 1:45, and as I had previously decided I didn't want to keep this mop anymore, I got my first haircut since leaving LA. The lady screwed up big time, so I did some editing with scissors when I got home after my second class. And by screwed up big time, I mean she tried to give me a typical Swedish haircut, but since I am not Swedish, nor can I pull of the Swedish look, it was bad. And it cost 200 kronor, or about $25.

I showered and donned my Arsenal jersey to head to Värmlands nation to watch the match. I was the only Arsenal fan, and as a result of their shocking performance, I received much ridicule. After drowning my sorrows – maybe this isn't adequate because the Man Utd fans drank as much as me – in Åbro and Tuborg cerveza, we searched for a club to celebrate Kvalborg at.

People had been lining up outside some of the nations at 1:00 that afternoon, so we didn't fancy our chances. But after running into a drunk friend wandering around the streets, we were finally able to gain entry into V-Dala nation. It was about 11:30. Given the early festivites of the next day, most Swedes had smartly retired for the evening, but being American, I had to prove my manliness to myself and stay out as late as possible.

At this point, I realized that wearing an Arsenal jersey in a club is a perfect dude magnet. No less than four dudes came up to me within the course of the evening to talk to me about Arsenal. My gay friend looked on jealously. But I digress.

The four, five, or six of us who were there (don't recall exactly) shared rounds, then at quarter to 3, decided we wanted MAX, the Swedish version of McDonald's. A ladyfriend was able to coax the bouncer to let us in for a burger and at 4:00, I passed out in bed.

I awoke at 7:30 am to phone calls asking where I was. Apparently, we were supposed to meet at 7:00 to watch the boat race on the river that started at 10:00. I reluctantly clawed myself out of bed, made some sandwiches for what guaranteed to be a long day, and had a cup of tea to wake up. I got down to the river by 8:30, accompanied by three turkey/salami sandwiches, two bottles of chardonnay (fake champagne), one bottle of champagne, four cans of beer, and some water. Still intoxicated from the previous evening, I narrowly avoided a hangover and was able to begin drinking straightaway. By the beginning of the boat race, I had ripped through one bottle of chardonnay and was beginning to drink the champagne.

The boat race is a recent Uppsala tradition. Students spend the few days before building boats out of mostly styrofoam, four or five to a vessel. On Valborg, the boats begin a procession down the river at 10:00, watched by many onlookers, and attempt to navigate the series of rapids on the river. Of course, everyone only cheered if one capsized, rather than if a boat proved its structural integrity. There were about 60 boats in all.

The day begins to blur at about this point. We headed to the Ekonomikum park to hang out with a few thousand Swedes, exchange students, old people, kids looking to score some beer, and just as many hot dog stands. There was a band playing and everything was merry. We stayed there a few hours, then headed to a Champagnegalopp at one of the nations. Unfortunately, I have little memory of this, and I don't think many others do either, but it basically consists of people spraying each other with champagne.

After the Champagnegalopps, everyone heads back home to pass out for a few hours or to have a barbecue if still alive. We headed to Flogsta, the largest student residence, for a barbecue on the roof of a building. As the sun went down and it got colder, we headed into the common room of someone's apartment with the intention of prepartying for the clubs that night. Unfortunately, as too often happens, the preparty ended up being the party, and no one could muster the balance, strength, or initiative (apart from manly me, of course) to go out. I was disappointed at the weakness of my friends, but the club lines were too long anyway. I had also had a great deal of fun for that 36 hours.

Shockingly, I did not have a hangover on May 1, nor have I gotten sick.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wenger May Need To Go

Venting my anger at the outcome of Man Utd - Arsenal on Wednesday has been somewhat delayed by festivities here in Uppsala. I'll talk about those in an upcoming Blog.

Obviously, the sensationalist title needs meriting. As a supporter, I'll admit that I am very fickle when it comes to discussing my Gunners, criticizing them when they lose, praising them when they win. But now that season has come to an end – yes, Arsenal can theoretically snag third place for a guaranteed trip to next year's group stage or win this year's Champions League still – we can begin to discuss the overarching themes of this season. Unfortunately, these themes are very similar to those in past years.

Last year could have been Wenger's vindication. He had a team that worked beautifully together. Flamini, Fabregas, and Hleb were all great friends, a fact that was reflected by excellent teamwork on the pitch. Flamini provided the bite to Fabregas and Hleb's bark and Arsenal were within a whisker of winning the league.

Now that two out of those three cogs are gone, in search of pastures anew at two Europe's biggest and most successful clubs, Arsenal are not likely to win anything soon. They were lucky to be drawn with Roma and Villareal, two beatable teams in similar positions in their respective leagues as Arsenal. Had they drawn Barça, Inter, or Bayern, they would have been ousted earlier. This team are not England-beating, let alone Europe-beating.

This comes down to Wenger. He didn't buy players Arsenal needed this past summer, replacements for Flamini and Hleb. He bought Aaron Ramsey, a 17-year old, Silvestre, an aging, injury-prone donkey, and Amaury Bischoff who had played but a handful of games due to injury problems.

He finally replaced Hleb's creativity with Arshavin in the winter, but it was too late and Arshavin is cup-tied. This season, we have seen Denílson, Diaby, and Song played at Flamini's position, only to see Song improve in any way. Song has matured really well this year, and he could be as good as Flamini next year. But if Arsenal have to keep waiting a year for new talents to emerge, they'll get lost in the pack. In this respect, the youth movement has failed.

Arsenal should have more buying power. They have a 60,000 seater stadium and are a world-renowned club. If someone starts following football in a weak footballing foreign country, they are most likely to pick a club in the most-exposed league in the world, the English Premier League. And we all know there are only four teams to choose from, and Arsenal is one. I'm glad Arsenal have managed to stay out of debt, but surely they could stretch the finances a bit more at this time to bring in some talent that would pay for itself. Such is the case of the world's most indebted, yet the world's most successful club, Man Utd.

Not only did Arséne fail to replace two players integral to his team, but he failed to get the most out of what remained. Wenger has lost some of the most unforgivable matches this year, Hull at the Emirates and Stoke at the Britannia spring immediately to mind, and failed to win the biggest matches as well. Man Utd at the Emirates earlier this year was a cracking game that Arsenal deserved to win, but they did not deserve to beat Chelsea (van Persie standing 10 yads offside) or Liverpool either time. More recently, Arsenal lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup after one of the most mystifying tactical decisions I have ever witnessed in Wenger's decision to drop Arshavin to the bench. And Arsenal were well and truly outclassed at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

With the exception of Kieran Gibbs, Manuel Almunia, and the hard-working Alex Song, Arsenal were awful and out of their element. How do you think Guus Hiddink would have started the match if he were Arsenal's manager? Do you think he would have started Diaby, who is a playmaker who is not nearly physical enough for his size, at left-center midfield, let alone kept him on the pitch the entire match? Do you think he would have started Fabregas, Arsenal's most influential player available, at a shallow striker position, essentially in no-man's-land? Do you think Adebayor would have been able to get away with his absolutely shambolic performance yesterday? Not a chance.

A truly world-class manager can get his players to overachieve. Chelsea should never have dominated to the extent that they did on Tuesday. Granted, it wasn't pretty, but neither was Arsenal's performance at Old Trafford. First and foremost, a team such as Arsenal that try to play football need a solid, hard-working, tenacious foundation. The pretty play can come later.

At what point does losing, but trying to play beautiful football become tiring? Right now. Arséne, if you can't win on Tuesday, you may have to go.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Week in Sweden

Well, actually, it's more like 5 months in Sweden. But this is one of the first weeks in a long time that I have remained entirely in Sweden and not ventured to some other mythical European capital. And with the exception of Kiruna in Northern Sweden (which is the capital of the Lappland province), all of my travel destinations have been capitals of their respective nations. But I digress.

I changed the look of the blog a little bit. I decided while narcissistically reading my blog that it is hard to read white text over black background. Hopefully, the new colors make it easier for me (and you) to read. I also changed the title because my previous title "What is a Blog?" is now irrelevant. Of course I know what a blog is. The new title "Utbytesstudent i Sverige" (Exchange Student in Sweden) is more pertinent and also flaunts my immense knowledge (maybe 30 words) of Swedish (see below).

This week I have been to two Swedish football (soccer, for my American readers – whoops, that's everyone I think) matches. The first was on Monday in Stockholm, a derby match (both teams from the same city) between Hammarby IF and Djugårdens IF. The atmosphere at the match was incredible, with both sets of supporters on their feet the entire match, singing and lighting off flares like there would be no Tuesday. It was a sloppy but entertaining match, and BC Alum Charlie Davies scored the second of Hammarby's goals in their 3-1 victory. I must add that the 3.5% beer we had at the match was comparable to Bud Light, but smelled slightly more like it had been scooped from a urinal.

The second match was in Uppsala yesterday evening and was contested by IK Sirius, the local team, and Jönköpings (pronounced Yenshehpings) Södra IF. Though Sirius dominated the run of play, Jönköpings had the better of the chances. Neither side could capitalize, and the match ended in a 0-0 draw, lulling me to sleep and, thus, scuppering plans to head to a pub afterwards.

But enough sports commentary. The rest of my week has been filled by class. I started the M.A. level class – titled "Legacy of the Holocaust in the Development of the European Union," a right mouthful – on Monday and was not surprised to see I was the only B.A. student in the class, as well as most likely the only person my side of 25. I was also not surprised to learn that I will soon be writing a 15-25 page paper. I'm sort of taking this as a challenge, though, and I've already begun endeavors to finish two 15-kilo-weighing books, totalling a measly 1,217 pages between them. Whether the motivation will last remains to be seen.

I should add that the weather in Sweden is improving by the hour. The forecast for the foreseeable future is for sunny and right around 20˚C, 68˚F for you English unit snobs. It also begins to get light out at 4 am and only gets dark at around 9 pm, a vast contrast from 10 am and 3 pm, respectively, when I first arrived. Consequently, public morale in Uppsala has increased significantly and restaurants have increased their capacities tenfold by putting tables and chairs outside.

Now for your inaugural Swedish lesson. The main reason I'm giving you a Swedish lesson is because I have only just learned enough Swedish words to sound like I know any Swedish, and I feel the need to show off that I know Swedish. But, hey, at least I'm honest about my motives.

Hej (pronounced hay) = hello
Hejdå (pronounced haydoe) = goodbye
Tack (pronounced tock) = thank you
Kyckling (pronounced shykling) = chicken
Göteborg (pronounced Yotebory) = Gothenberg
Malmö (pronounced Malmeh) = Malmo
(pronounced, well, who am I kidding) = Stockholm

Hope you've enjoyed this installment. Hopefully by the time of my next blog entry, I'll have learned some more words.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Up the Arse

For some reason, the last few days all I've wanted to do was sleep. I didn't end up going out this weekend, partly to save money and partly to sleep as much as I could. The only real thing of note I have done this weekend, though it just really angered me, was watch the FA Cup Semifinal between Chelski and Arsenal.

I start a new class tomorrow, a graduate level class about the Holocaust, so now that I am not going to be away as much, I'll have something to take up my time. After class, I'll be heading to Stockholm to watch a Swedish Allsvenskan football match between Hammarby and Djurgårdens, a Stockholm derby match. BC Alum Charlie Davies will be playing for Hammarby. Other than that, this week will be pretty boring for me, I fear.

Boredom Equation
Hours of class x Level of classes – Little Money available = Zero fun

Now if you don't like Arsenal, stop reading.

I have now had time to cool down a bit after watching bits and pieces (bad stream) of that abject performance. Having read Arséne Wenger's comments, though, my blood now boils again.
"Alex Song has played many games, and I believe when you do that you need rest." – Arséne on why he rested the in-form Alexandre Song
Okay, its understandable that players need rest, but why on earth give it to them in the FA Cup Semifinal, the trophy Arsenal can most realistically win? And where the hell was Arshavin? Someone on the BBC commented that Hiddink, being Russia's coach, new how to stop the little man and that was possibly why he did not start. That is ridiculous. You start your best player even if there is a possibility he won't do much.

Diaby? Just back from injury and terrible. Denílson? Out of his element in a midfield with Ballack, Lampard, and Essien. Frustration boiled over at the referee. Fàbregas? Couldn't find his feet. Adebayor? Looked like he didn't give a toss. van Persie? Worked hard until he got injured, as usual.

So why leave all of these players in until the 76th minute? That's not enough time for Arshavin to make an impact. Adebayor out at 82? He should have been given ten minutes to up his work rate in the Second Half and then been sent down the tunnel. He didn't care. Denílson out at 86? That doesn't give Nasri time to do anything! Plus, why Denílson and not the much worse Diaby?

Arséne just needs to admit he got this one wrong. Chances of winning the FA Cup, prior to yesterday? Good. One match against Chelski and one against Man Utd. Winnable. Chances of winning the Champions League? Slim. Two matches against Man Utd an one against Chelski or Barça. Not very winnable, especially now without any confidence.

That's the worst part about this match. All confidence gained from the past couple weeks will be gone. Fabianski is going to be timid on Tuesday. Silvestre will probably not have recovered from getting beat like a drum.

Point is, once again, that Arséne got this wrong. He started with the wrong lineup and was too slow to change it. Guus Hiddink? Saw Arsenal were getting too much space in the midfield and made an adjustment in the 20th minute.

Now the meaningless game against Liverpool. Rumor has it Milan are willing to trade to get Adebayor. Let's take Flamini back.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another Boring Trip Story: Vienna

Hello, everybody. I hope everything is going well.

I can't believe I have less than two months left here. Time has more or less flown by. I'm going to spend the next few weeks in Sweden – that's right, no travelling, other than to Stockholm – so hopefully I settle a little bit and really get the most out of this beautiful, charming country. And it's light out!

To be honest, I'm beginning to get a little weary of the study abroad experience. It's really sort of exhausting.

Now to Vienna. As we first descended into the Schwechat Airport, I noticed through a grimy haze that Austria is very, very green. Contradictory? Well, I'm not talking about the current definition of green which would mean that Vienna doesn't drive cars, they recycle, and they let everyone else know that they are saving the earth. I think we should all do the same, but that's beside the point. There are a lot of trees, grass, and shrubbery in Vienna.

I later found out where the haze comes from. Everyone (okay, I was informed about 40-50%) smokes cigarettes. The first night we went out to dinner. Everyone was smoking. The second and third nights, we went out to bars and clubs and came home wreaking of cigarettes. I should add that I did not smoke. Nevertheless, the two pairs of jeans I took both smell like a tobacco store caught fire in each pant leg. Yeah, okay, I was shooting for the stars with that one.

Other than widespread lung cancer and emphysema issues, Vienna is a very nice city. The buildings especially are probably the nicest I've had to look at since I left Paris in 2006. Sadly, I didn't do the whole museum thing, but we did go to what I believe was formerly a summer home for Austrian kings. It was apparent in visiting this site that the king who built it liked himself a whole lot. After ascending a large hill, we were afforded a wonderful view of the entire city.

That was the only real "touristy" thing of note that I did in Vienna. The rest of the time was spent reacquainting myself with the marvel that is FIFA 2009, which one of my host's friends had brought, and experiencing the nightlife of Vienna. I went to a Biergarten, at which I polished off a liter and a half of beer, went to a few bars, and a few clubs. The penultimate night, Saturday, I spent getting hit on by Austrian cougars (women over 30) and Swedish cougars that we happen to meet while wine tasting. The Austrian that fancied me in particular could not speak English, so we used her friend as a translator. It was a good time, and we stayed out until 6 am.

All in all, it was a good trip. As I mentioned, I'll be in Sweden the next few weeks, saving precious money and hopefully learning a bit more Swedish. Heydå.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another Boring Trip Story: London


Though I may call this a boring trip story, this excursion was in no way, shape, or form boring for me. It began innocently enough with the usual trip to Uppsala Centralstation – it's become customary for me to take a bus to the station, but walk back on my return leg – the 260 SEK round-trip ticket to Stockholm-Arlanda airport, printing out my boarding pass at the airport, scurrying through security, and waiting impatiently at the gate to get it all on with. Though, this time, I had to, somewhat oddly, get my passport stamped before heading to my gate.

The Boeing-767 I flew to London on was the nicest plane I've been on. The British Airways vessel made me feel as though I was in business class, when in reality, I was smack in the middle of coach. I must admit, though, that in spite of the free beverage and Daily Mail newspaper, the complimentary Chicken, Cheddar, and Mustard Chutney sandwich left something to be desired.

We landed right on time, and after waiting in the kilometer-long customs line, I made my way to the Heathrow tube station. It was around 9 pm when I sat down for the 50-minute long tube journey on the Piccadilly Line. Strangely, as soon as I felt I had escaped from the old "hearing nothing but Swedish in public places" dilemma, a foursome of juvenile Swedish girls began gawking away.

Dear friend Daniel met me at the Gloucester Road tube station, and after a stop at the all-important liquor store, we trudged to his dorm. We nursed some Scotch, guzzled some beers, and left for a four story bar. With its live music and bustling energy, this Irish bar made for a good time. After a few hours, we hailed a cab, along with the friends we had joined there, and headed back to the dorm.

I should add here, that although I'm not going to disclose why, I ended up sleeping in three different places in the three nights I spent there. I'll leave you with the fact that I had no choice.

Anyway, on we go. We awoke rather early, maybe 9 or 10ish, and stepped on the Piccadilly Line once again, again heading Eastward, but this time towards a certain Arsenal stop. Anyone who has spoken to me for more than 10 minutes probably knows that its hard to stop me babbling about my beloved Gunners. Being in London, and Arsenal happening to have a match in North London, I figured I'd drag Dan along to see if we could conjure up some tickets.

We got off at the Arsenal and walked excitedly up the tunnel. A good friend back at BC had given me some tips on how to find spares, so we tried all of those. After lacking success, we asked around for spares, and oddly – I don't know how anyone could think of this – were directed to the Emirates Stadium box office. Apparently, they were selling Will Call tickets people had failed to retrieve on time.

We got in line, but, to our amazed chagrin, the folks in front of us snagged the final tickets. Discouraged, we walked back the way we had come, hoping something would fall into our laps. It then did. A somewhat mysterious, but business-like, fellow approached us, probably seeing the Arsenal crests in my eyes and disappointment on my face, and offered us tickets. £125 each, he said. Done, I said. After following him into a sidestreet, he pulled the folded tickets from his shoes, and the transaction was completed.

I then began to think it was too good to be true, and started to worry whether they were authentic tickets or not, especially because they lacked any barcode. At this point, I was shaking in anticipation for the moment when I would finally step gloriously through the turnstiles. I couldn't even put down my share of a four-pack Dan and I purchased.

We walked up the steps that lead to the Emirates itself, my knees wobbling profusely. Our intent was to attempt to enter long before the match started, so if we had been shammed, there would be some hope of beating the shite out of the crooked vendor. No problem. We got in.

We walked through the tunnel, and the beautiful, sun-brightened grass came into view. We examined the row number on our tickets, then those on the side of each seats. To our amazement, we kept walking towards the pitch. Finally, we stopped 11 rows from the lot of orange-clad ushers. I was sat directly on line with the middle of the goal. I almost cried.

The rest is irrelevant, other than that I had a goofy smile on my face the entire match, which Dan can verify, and the drunk Englishman spouting his mouth the entire match. Admitedly, I quite enjoyed the "ABC, 123, City girls have got VD" cheer he employed, but the rest was, to borrow an English expression, rubbish.

The match itself was wonderful. Arsenal never looked second-best, and thoroughly dismantled the shambolic Manchester City XI. Robinho was awful, and it was great to jeer him in person.

Anyway, I'm going to stop gaga-ing about the Arsenal, as I'm quickly running out of blogging steam but still want to talk about the rest of my trip.

After the match, we headed back to Kensington for a much needed nap. We then met some of Dan's friends for a pre-party drink, then headed to what some may describe as a rave. Ecstasy was present, and the environment at the place, called The Ministry of Sound, put me into a trance-like state. I should add that I did not, in fact, take ecstasy.

We headed home after nearly inciting a brawl, and after walking around Kensington a bit and seeing the exterior of the Royal Albert Hall, I fell asleep.

The next day, in order, consisted of tossing a football in Hyde Park, eating fish and chips, going to Harrods (which includes perusing their vast liquor and cigar collections and eating Krispy Kreme donuts), going to a pub, smoking some Cubans while sipping on Scotch, then going to bed.

The next morning, Dan and I parted ways, as he had class to attend, and I explored Trafalgar Square before returning to where I now sit, in Uppsala.

I leave for Vienna tomorrow, so expect Another Boring Trip Story in the middle of next week. Meanwhile, I'm going to work on getting some pictures available to you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

BC = Bullsh*t College

The pick times have been postponed for a day. Gotta love ResLife. I'm heading to London tomorrow.


Well in case you'd like to know how I spent my day, it pretty much went something like this:

1. Cultivate dislike for Boston College
2. Develop dislike for Boston College into hatred for Boston College
3. Cultivate already intense hatred for Boston College Office of Residential Life

Let me explain.

At approximately 14:45 GMT+1, I sat down at my computer in order to register for Fall 2009 classes. I'd already had a difficult time retrieving my registration code from the BC bureaucracy, but my adviser sent it to me Monday evening. I typed the four-digit password into the registration system, and VOILA! it didn't work. So I whipped off two e-mails quickly to my adviser and the history department secretary pleading for my key. After already bursting several blood vessels in my head and neck, I finally received a corrected password from Student Services and was able to register. Only then did I find out that one of my courses had changed times. This didn't interfere with other courses but will interfere with my sleep schedule next semester.

Then began the already infamous (in BC circles) debacle – I wish a stronger word was in my grasp – with ResLife. The plan was for one person to register our two six-person groups. At first, we couldn't register two of the twelve because of niggly ResLife requirements (a simple "checked box" on the housing application). I quickly rang the two via Skype in order to take care of the matter.

The group registration was supposed to end at 1pm EST, but certain technical difficulties with the system precluded this promise. I should add that this is the first year the housing process has been completely digital, so my class are the guinea pigs. And clearly, ResLife don't have their *CENSORED* together. It wasn't until 2pm that the registration closed, and not until 5pm that we received our lottery picks.

Therefore, I wasted a grand total of four hours waiting for news from ResLife. Given my experience with this utterly useless organization, I am none too pleased with them.

Let's examine the people who work for ResLife, shall we? At the very bottom are the Resident Assistants, or RAs. I have absolutely no problem with these people. They receive free housing from the university in exchange for playing bad guy, which excusing some RAs being stricter than others. Next are the Resident Directors, or RDs, of which there is one in each building. From my experience with RDs, BC has taken the most needlessly strict, power-tripping RAs and promoted them. Most of these people are over the age of 25 and should not be spending their lives busting college kids for what college kids are supposed to be doing: drinking (besides studying).

I must digress for a moment to inform the reader that, as this esteemed author is writing this blog, he has received another e-mail from ResLife informing him that pick times have been delayed by another hour.

Now where was I. After the RDs, we move up into the ResLife higher staff. Dealing with these people for numerous college-related offenses (i.e. hosting a party in my suite or GOD FORBID, deploying a fire extinguisher), I have learned that these people are illogical morons. In several meetings with them, we have easily found flaws in their cases against me and my roommates. I have a feeling that their limited life potential has inspired them to use solely their passions in enforcing the already unjust ResLife codes. In Laymen's terms, these people didn't have fun in college and don't want you to either.

I should add, somewhat diminishing my own passion in this blog, that there are always exceptions to these laws of the universe. For every idiot, there are two people trailing in his wake trying to fix the mess. Unfortunately for the latter two, the idiot is the one who receives the most attention and spoils their own reputations.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another Boring Trip Story: Amsterdam

I'm a little ashamed of what happened this morning. I was on the Royal Dutch Airlines flight back to Stockholm-Arlanda, when I actually thought about this blog entry. Normally, my blog is completely spontaneous. This is just one sign out of many (hours a day on Facebook and YouTube) that technology is taking over the human race.

Anyway, I was thinking of what I could possibly write about Amsterdam. Everyone knows what happens in Amsterdam, so I can't really write without being cliché, though I usually am anyway. I know in titling this entry "Another Boring Trip Story" that I'll disappoint you, because any discussion of Amsterdam has the potential to be an Interesting Trip Story. I'll just list three things that I got out of Amsterdam.

1. It was great to hang out with some BC friends in Europe. I love the friends I have made here in Uppsala, but hanging out in Europe with some good, established friends was a really good change.

2. The Van Gogh museum was great. I have been to many other art museums in Europe so far, but this was by far the most moving. That man was completely swallowed up in his art, and some of his painting was incredible.

3. One needs to spend more than two days in Amsterdam. In fact, I was only in Amsterdam for about 45 hours. There is so much to do and see in the city that I could really spend a week there without thinking twice.

In terms of sports, we actually watched the beginning of the BC basketball game in a pub in Amsterdam – no, we didn't search it out; it sort of just happened to be on – and it was sort of drab. I didn't think the boys would only shoot 23% in the second half. That's a sad way for Rice to go out.

I did actually fill out a bracket this year, on Facebook of all places. To be honest, without being able to watch all of the games on television, I have little enthusiasm for this tournament.

I do, on the other hand, care a lot about football, and Arsenal are on a roll.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another Boring Trip Story: Oslo

I'd like to point out before I begin my next boring trip story that I intend to cover a massive amount of material in this particular entry but won't get to most of it. This is mainly due to the fact that I have a very short attention span. This is why I don't participate in staring contests or online poker tournaments. Well, I guess it's only one reason why I don't participate in staring contests or online poker tournaments. But I digress.

I left for my next trip at an ungodly hour on Saturday morning – so ungodly, in fact, that I must have blocked out the exact time. My good friends (three Americans and three Aussies) accompanied me on this journey, first to Arlanda Airport outside of Stockholm. We flew via Norwegian Airlines to Oslo, or rather, Oslo Airport, 50 km (too lazy for a mileage conversion) outside of the Norwegian Capital. After taking a bullet train to Oslo Central Station, we walked to our Hostel.

This first stroll through the streets confirmed something we had heard about Oslo. There are many beggars on its streets, probably because of the extremely high price of living in the city. I even resorted to eating McDonald's (for the third time in Europe: once in Uppsala, once in Copenhagen, and once in Oslo – I'm tryi
ng to limit it to once per country), where I somewhat happily spent $10, an ridiculous sum for such processed food. I have to admit, though, it did taste good.

Our hostel was in a rather rough part of town, which isn't saying much for Scandinavia. I never felt unsafe, but I didn't feel I should count my money on the streets. Then again, do I ever?

We met up with our Austrian, German, and fourth Aussie friends and headed to find food. After walking for miles, I decided to part with the group
, caused by an emotion I call "hunger-rage." You heard it here first. Anyway, three of the girls followed me – naturally – so we took our aforementioned trip to the home of the golden arches, then trudged to the National Art Museum, home to the paintings of Edvard Munch, artist of famous "The Scream" painting below.
The following day, an American friend and I headed to some more manly museums: The National Armed Forces Museum and the Norwegian Resistance museum. Basically, they were full of a lot of guns and stories of heroic people. The Armed Forces museum had some great displays of old army uniforms and weapons, while the Resistance museum catalogued the Norwegian resistance against the Nazi occupation in the early 1940s. That evening, Sunday, we had planned to go out but ended up hanging out in our hostel room, or maybe I should say we did not make it out. Read between those lines.

Monday morning, we, the gentlemen, headed to the Viking Ship museum, which I have to say was one of the best museum experiences of my life. They had three Viking ships, over a thousand years old, on display, two of which were perfectly intact. The museum also housed the remains of three ancient persons who had been buried with the ships, along with analysis of their lives and deaths. This museum made my trip.

We returned to the hostel Monday afternoon and thought of a funny prank to play on the girls. One of us had a half-full bottle of 50% (100-proof) Smirnoff vodka. We decided to replace the vodka with water – don't worry, the vodka was saved. The plan was to, when the girls returned, give him stick for not having finished his bottle (two of us already had). He would volunteer to drink it on the spot. We would pretend to give him all of our Norwegian currency in order to do so, and with much delay, he would 'chug' the entire bottle.

The plan was put into action, and the girls, and one guy, were all fooled immaculately, due to our wonderful acting. The protagonist in our plan pretended brilliantly to be hammered drunk, and the three of us stepped out for a cigarette break to determine the next course of action. We decided that we would return to the room, and he would lock himself in the bathroom and later exit acting completely normally. Incredibly, the girls did not pick up on this prank until we attempted to sleep that night at about 11:00, continually expressing amazement at how okay he was. A nine-hour prank.

We left on a train home the next morning, about a 7-hour journey. I was hit with a barrage of e-mails as soon as I turned on my computer – of course, most of them were fan mail for this blog.

For those of you who don't care about sports, you can stop reading. Thanks for your time.

Arsenal have been picking up the results lately, and it's nice to see. I watched the FA Cup Quarterfinal yesterday versus Hull City. It seemed like it was going to be the same-old new Arsenal, the one that cannot pick up results against the weakest teams. With Barmby's lucky goal, I got flashbacks of that infamous match in September, back when Phil Brown still had a beard. The second half was a massive improvement, and though Gallas's winner appeared to be offside, the Arsenal deserved their win and a date with Chelski in April's Semifinal.

Eboue and Song, two players who have appeared less-than-quality, have been playing well – Song especially. Arshavin is absolute quality, despite appearing to come from Santa's workshop. Fabregas will be back soon, but for now, I guess he'll just be spitting at assistant managers. If he's willing to spit for Arsenal, you know where his heart lies. Phil Brown and his ass-istant are tossers, anyhow. They whine more than infants.

As for Boston College basketball, it's nice to see they made the Big Dance once again after a year's absence. Credit Al Skinner for the brilliant work he is doing. I'd really compare him to Arséne Wenger, for finding the diamonds in the rough. For him to make the tournament so often at a non-perennial basketball powerhouse in a less-than-desirable location is fantastic.

It's funny to see them going against USC, a school for which I have such little athletic respect. Hopefully they'll be able to get it together to defeat the red-hot Pac-10 winners. I realize, by the way, that I am not a college basketball expert and that I should not be talking about something I know nothing about. But I'm going to do it anyway.

This may be the first year I can remember when I won't fill out a bracket. Given my placement in the world right now, there is hardly any enthusiasm for the sport, and I won't be able to watch because of the time difference.

Sorry for this massive case of "diarrhea of the mouth." I'll try to keep them shorter from now on. Amsterdam Friday...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hell in a Handbasket

So I leave for 3 days and everything goes nuts? Liverpool beat Man Utd 4-1? Arsenal scored 4 goals, Eboue with 2? All the snow has melted in Uppsala, and it is sunny today?

I'll write about Oslo as soon as the laziness subsides. Amsterdam this weekend...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Swedish Love

Don't get any ideas about this entry from its title. I merely mean that I'm going to be giving the Swedish, as my generous hosts, a little time on my blog. It is a good time to do this, since I've been here for awhile now. I also promised you I'd write before I leave for Oslo on Saturday.

What are my feelings right now, you ask? Well I haven't felt homesick since the first week here, but I would obviously love to see some BC or L.A. friends. This can wait until summer or fall, though. Right now, I am in Sweden.

Before I get to my Swedish brothers and sisters, I have to go on a small rant about something in the US. Forgive me.

Uppsala University has been disorganized, to say the least. There is no central location to pick classes; it's all by department or professor. However, Boston College should be absolutely ashamed of its treatment of exchange students (or at least me). With its infinite e-mailing lists and technology, surely it could sift through the garbage that it dumps in my inbox. Every day I check my e-mail, and I'm flooded with information on internship interviews that take place tomorrow or information about studying abroad next fall. All the information I want to get – either about housing or class selection for the fall – either doesn't get to me or gets lost in the dump. Seriously, BC? And to add insult to grievance, they have the gall to tell me that my inbox is 90% full. Now the third sentence in this worthless paragraph made quite a full-bodied statement, and therefore, I must back it up with something more important (money) than a petty e-mail rant. Swedish students attend Uppsala University for FREE. Yes, no money is required to get a degree, and I can't imagine that BC has to pay much to send me here. So why on earth am I – and by I, I mean not I – paying full BC tuition. Disgraceful.

Okay, now back to a more insightful and pleasant topic.

Swedish Personality
The personality of most the Swedish I've encountered has been slightly off-putting. They are shy and tend to keep to themselves, which in the US is seen as arrogant or selfish. I constantly have to remind myself that this guy or girl isn't mean or not fond of me (catch the double negative?), or maybe they are. When I do speak to a Swedish cashier or attendant, they are always very nice and helpful, and when I get to know a Swede, they are friendly, if not more so, than most Americans.

Swedish Language
In my life so far, I've been able to pick up a decent amount of Spanish and had a relatively easy time speaking the bit of German that I learned freshman year. Swedish is extremely difficult to learn, to pronounce, and to understand. I cannot just read a word how it looks and have a Swede understand me. I cannot understand anything in Swedish. There are 9 vowels: a, e, i, o, u, y, å, ä, ö; each has a distinct sound. The rhythm of spoken Swedish is difficult to get down. It doesn't make it any easier to learn that I can get by EASILY speaking just English. Everyone knows English.

Swedish Stores
The Swedish supermarket is very much like American supermarkets. The Willy's supermarket near my residence even just introduced a fresh-baked bread section. I guess the only major differences are that you have to buy plastic grocery bags if you need them and that you have to bag your own items – hardly illogical. The Swedish also love their lines/queues. Most of the time, you must take a number to be served, such as at the Apoteket (state-run drugstore) and Claus Ohlson (hardware store).

Swedish Government
Well, I'm going to be honest. I don't know much about the Swedish government that has its reputation for being socialist and a welfare state. I do know, from my Swedish History class, that the welfare system is crumbling due to complaints about high taxes and stagnation of the Swedish economy (not just in these times). How many Swedish businesses do you know outside of IKEA or H&M?

Swedish Fish/Meatballs
Okay, to clear this up once and for all, I have NOT been able to find Swedish Fish, and if they do exist in Sweden, they are most certainly NOT called Swedish Fish. As for meatballs, EVERYONE eats meatballs. Most students purchase frozen meatballs and defrost them with gravy and potatoes. I bought some and put them in with pasta. Delicious.

Swedish Weather
Everyone asks me how cold it is here. Yes, by definition Sweden is cold. However, I actually enjoy the climate here in Uppsala more than that in Boston. It is a lot less windy – therefore, no windchill – and the temperature is more temperate (capische?). It never really dips below 25˚F and stays nice and below 40˚. Not terrible. There are a lot less sunny days though. I think right now, there has been 5 cloudy days in a row. Before that I was in Copenhagen, so I don't know.

Small Problems (come on, did you really think I wouldn't complain at all?)
Problem 1: The important webpages (Google, YouTube, and, of course) load in Swedish by default. This gets rather annoying, but I know the Swedish word for preferences now, inställningar.

Problem 2: I can't find any of the typical American drugs in Sweden. Nyquil? Nope. Tylenol? Nope. Cocaine? Nope. Okay, but seriously, I'm not addicted to any of the three, nor have I ever used the latter, but it would be nice to know they are there. I've heard you can get most by prescription, but I don't want to see a doctor. Thanks, Mom, for sending that Nyquil.

Problem 3: The infamous Systembolaget, or state-run liquor store. Thankfully, one can qualify at the ripe old age of 20 to purchase alcohol from here, but the prices are outrageous. In Copenhagen, I paid about half as much for a bottle of rum as I'd have to pay here. In addition, there are no convenient six-, or thirty-packs of beer. I go to a pub most of the time anyway, so this doesn't bother me too much.

Problem 4: Daylight. This one is killer. My biological clock is in ruins at the moment. When I first arrived, it was still rather dark at 8 am. Today, I woke up at 5 am for some odd reason and there was more daylight than at 8 am before. The sun rises earlier each day, so I think I'm going to have to purchase some blackout curtains for my room. Otherwise, I'll be waking up at 4 pretty soon.

That's it for my Swedish culture lesson. I need to go to battle with the laundry machines again (see here), and I leave for Oslo, which I hear is the most expensive city this side of Jupiter, tomorrow. Other than spending my future children's college funds, it should be fun.

Song: "All My Loving" – Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe soundtrack)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another Boring Trip Story

My apologies for the immense amount of time it's been since I last wrote. A combination of extreme apathy and traveling has prevented me from writing recently. I can't possibly recall to you the events of the last week and a half, but I will recall my journey to Copenhagen for your reading pleasure.

Although I probably didn't need to, I skipped class on Thursday in order to give myself plenty of time to catch the train from Uppsala to Stockholm-Arlanda airport (a disappointing 130 SEK, or right now, about $14, each way). After getting three-quarters of the way to the train station, I realized I had left my camera behind, so I ended up cutting it close anyway. Good work, Brian. I made it to the airport okay, though, and was soon (after an inevitable 55 minute delay) being flown on Norwegian Air to Copenhagen.

I exited the airport to find Mr. Reardon awaiting me. He quickly guided me to a metro-ticket station and then whisked me directly off to a club. After spending about $8 to check my coat and suitcase, we proceeded to stay for two cokes (I should add, with a splash – nay, a drop – of rum) and promptly left. It turned out to be the end of our night. Due to his recent residence elsewhere (ask him about this), Reardon allowed me to stay in his room.

Friday was taken up by a visit to the Carlsberg beer factory. We walked around the museum there, and obviously, sampled some beers at the end. After a kebab, it was time to return to Matt's dorm for some dinner. Yes, that's right. After eating, it was time to eat.

Fellow BC student Jeff cooked an incredible meal for about 15 roommates. I was in awe that a college student could prepare such a feast. Sure, I can cook pasta and chicken breast, but I'm no Rachel Ray, although this is probably due more to the fact that I'm not addicted to amphetamines (nor am I a woman).

After forcing down some Tuborg Classics (beer) and an oddly delicious Red Bull-red wine combination, we headed off to a Danish dorm party, oddly similar to a BC party. Reardon and I then parted ways (again, ask him), and I headed back to my (his) room.

Our plan to awake early and tour the city was corrupted by our own respective hangovers (if I had a dime for every time...). Nevertheless, at around one, we forced ourselves out of isolation and into Copenhagen. We basically just walked around, took a mandatory picture with a statue, stepped inside the obligatory church, and pissed off the required palace guard by playing paparazzi (look at that vocabulary!). After this typical touristy stuff, we did a typical Copenhagen touristy thing. Christiania is a free town; that is, it is not subject to Danish or European Union laws. It's basically an old hippie district of Copenhagen, filled with drug dealers and shoddy buildings. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable walk through the Sixties.

We bought some dinner food and more alcohol, ate, drank, played some beer pong, then went out to a club. After an enjoyable night, we – that's right, I AND Matt – returned to Matt's for some sleep (no, not that; he found a dormmate's room to sleep in). Two hours later, I headed to the airport.

The only other thing worth mentioning from that point until now is an announcement by the captain of the plane on which I flew back to Stockholm-Arlanda. He says, first in Norwegian, then in English, that he apologizes for the smokey smell on board and he is checking into its cause – just what you want to hear inside of a rickety metal tube at 40,000 feet. It turned out to be some anti-freeze liquid that had gotten inside the engine and then the ventilation system. Whether that is believable or not is up to you, but I am sitting safely in my room in Uppsala.

I'm heading to Oslo, Norway, on Saturday, but I'll try to throw one more entry on here before then, probably about Arsenal's imminent Champions League match. Or maybe about falling off my bike. We'll see.

Song: "Lateralus" – Tool

Saturday, February 28, 2009

One Reason Why I Love Sweden

Yesterday evening was another gasque, this time just for International Students. It was a blast, fueled by alcohol and karaoke. Yes, I did karaoke.

Anyway, I'm not really in a writing mood this morning, but I've decided to [try to] keep you, my loyal readers (all two and a half of you, the half being those who read with less frequency, or at times, a midget) happy. Of course, I also assume that you are happy to begin with and are not just reading this out of pity. But I digress. Given the lack of Swedish-speakers at last night's gasque, the International Committee wrote some special songs in English to the tune of the normal Swedish songs. These are some of the songs we sang at the formal dinner, transcripted directly from the program guide for the evening. I love Sweden.

My Liver
When I was young
in the school canteen
they served me liver
and something green
Let's have revenge
for that liver smell
let's put our own
through a liver hell

Do-Re-Mi-Beer (to the tune of Do-Re-Mi)
DOUGH... the stuff that buys me beer
RAY... the guy that sells me beer
ME... the guy who drinks the beer
FAR... the distance to my beer
SO... I think I'll have a beer
LA... la la la la la beer
TEA... no thanks, I'm drinking beer
...That will bring us back to (look in empty glass)

If the ocean was whiskey
and I was a duck
I would start from the bottom
and drink my way up
But the ocean ain't whiskey
and I'm not a duck
so I take you to my place
and give you a fuck

If the river was brandy
and I was a horse
I would start from the ocean
and drink to the source
But the ocean ain't brandy
and I'm not a horse
so I take you to my place
and take you by force

A Jedi Night (to the tune of Obla-di Obla-da)
Tell me Master Yoda what is wrong with me
Feels like I've been stepped on by a horse.
Could it be that I have drunk a galaxy
and underestimate the dark side of the Force.

Obi-Wan, Obi two, Obi three
hit me with your laser drink.
Obi-Wan, Obi two, come and save me!
Down under the bar I sink.

Waking up next morning was a big ordeal,
thought I had a Leia in my bed,
but you can imagine, Master, how I feel
when I see Jabba lying there with me instead.

Obi-Wan, Obi two, Obi three
warp me to another place.
Obi-Wan, Obi two, come and save me!
Throwing up in hyperspace.

Calm down now, young Skywalker
you will be fine,
R2D2 would have laughed at this.
Help me drink this bottle of Han Solo's wine
and I will tell you who your mother really is.

Obi-Wan, Obi two, Obi three
drink and you will fly alright.
Obi-Wan, Obi two, come and save me!
Man, I had a Jedi night!

One final thing to say: I mentioned what was affectionately called "paint" in one of the last entries. I had something, a Swedish traditional drink snaps, that was far worse. I still taste it this morning.

Monday, February 23, 2009

In the Arctic

I took my first real trip (i.e. not to nearby Stockholm) of my time in Sweden. After slaving all night through a paper, I walked to Uppsala Centralstation for a ride to Stockholm-Arlanda Airport. There we embarked on a plane to Kiruna, in northern Sweden, which, according to Wikipedia, is in the Arctic Circle.

The flight lasted for one hour and thirty minutes. The descent was a bit nerve-racking to be honest, as heavy winds tossed the plane quite a bit and called for some rapid adjustments from the pilot. After landing on the runway, the plane pulled off to the side where we disembarked via stairs, immediately hit by a wall of cold air. According to the locals, this was a warm day, though my skin told my brain otherwise. I believe it was about -17˚C, or about 1˚F. Apparently, the day before it had been -33˚C, or -27˚F. Needless to say, we were all really disappointed about missing those temperatures, which, even Satan would agree, would have frozen over hell.

In any case, the lodging company picked us up at Kiruna Airport and whisked us away to the local ICA supermarket and, of course, the System Bolaget (the state-run liquor store). The driver/coordinator then drove us to our cabin, which I must say, was very nice. She warned us, though, that there was a limited supply of warm water, which, judging by the end of the trip, we took to mean we shouldn't take showers.

I bundled up in two pairs of socks, my winter coat, two pairs of gloves, and my hat, and walked to the nearby frozen lake. As I started to snap pictures, I suddenly had the urge to throw myself into a fire, but I took a more mediated course of action and simply walked back inside. Damn, it was cold. I'm from Los Angeles, for God's sake.

We had planned to take a dogsledding tour the evening of our arrival, but we were phoned and told that the previous evening, some of the dog teams had run off after some reindeer and were unavailable to run us on our tour. Skål (pronounced skole), we said, and consigned our evening to utilizing our System Bolaget booty. I should add, that after much anticipation, we finally caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights, a green streak in the sky. It wasn't as luminous as we had all hoped, but it was still an awesome sight.

We awoke, most of us in a ethanol-induced haze, and readied for the long day ahead. At 9:00, a guide picked us up in a van and took us to Camp Alta, the headquarters of the lodging company which rented us our cabin. They gave us full warm and waterproof jumpsuits, scarves, helmets, goggles, and boots, and walked us to snowmobiles. I had driven a snowmobile before, but for the others, it must have been slightly disconcerting when the guide instructed them solely by pointing at three locations on the snowmobile and saying "brakes, gas, stop." Two to a pod, we sped off towards the Ice Hotel. I must say, driving a snowmobile is an absolute blast.

After about an hour drive, we came to the world-famous (or maybe not) Ice Hotel. It is a hotel constructed, with the exception of doors and bedding, completely out of ice. Each room was designed by different artists, and after paying a fee of 175 SEK, we saw all of their work. Some of the designs were incredible, and hopefully, I'll be able to throw some pictures of them on here. Unfortunately, the Kiruna Absolut Icebar did not open until it was time for us to leave, but it definitely helped avoid some nasty snowmobile accidents.

As my snowmobile partner was scared to drive for one reason or another, I was one of the only in our group that was fortunate enough to be able to drive both legs of the journey. Thanks for that. We returned to Camp Alta after a short delay caused by, what we think, someone falling off a snowmobile. There, the guides prepared a wonderful, wonderful lunch of shredded reindeer meat and potatoes. If not for the meal being outside in the snowing, freezing, windy weather, it would have been an incredible hour. The smoke from the cooking fire kept blowing in my eyes as well. I can't complain though – the meal and subsequent coffee were excellent.

The guide drove us back to the cabin for some napping and warming time. At 17:30, another guide picked us up for our dogsled tour. Again, we were supplied with warm clothes, and four to a sled, we mushed off. The guide offered us some interesting insight into the life of the Kiruna people. He – probably his mid twenties – informed us that most of his friends moved off to the big cities in Sweden as soon as they graduated from high school, and that, despite this, he has chosen to stay in Kiruna because of his love for nature. He also mentioned that it was an unusually warm night, adding that he only had dressed in one layer.

We stopped at a warming hut after a couple miles and were fed coffee and pastries, then returned back to the camp. The guide drove us back to our cabin, and we spent the remainder of the evening consuming the remainder of our System Bolaget treasures and trampolining.

After an unfortunately lazy Sunday – I drank coffee, tea, coffee, took pictures, got in a snow wrestling match, drank coffee, then packed – which could have been utilized ice fishing or bathing in the sauna, we departed for the airport. I ate a reindeer sandwich, then hopped on the plane back to Stockholm. All in all, it was a very fun trip. I'm looking forward to my next trip, to visit Matt Reardon and friends in Copenhagen.

Shocking, it is cloudy again this morning in Uppsala.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Destruction and Subsequent Recovery of Dignity

I promised some of you I would post the story of what transpired Friday evening, the night of 13 February (Blimey! How appropriate it was a Friday the 13th!). But for fear of future background checks and possibly younger children, for whom I am supposed to be setting an example, reading this entry, I'll condense the events of the evening into two piece of advice. 1) Never drink anything described by friends as "paint." 2) Never get cocky about riding a bike. In any case, some scratches and a lost phone resulted. I'll leave it at that to spare myself any further loss of class.

Now to, as I quite appropriately described, the "subsequent recovery of dignity." It was nice to have Matt Reardon and his friends visiting from Copenhagen Business School, and although certain circumstances from the previous night – possibly having something to do with the above – precluded quality hanging out time on Friday, we did walk around Uppsala for awhile on Saturday morning. We witnessed some snowboarding on the hill below the Uppsala castle (along with collecting some free hotdogs, Red Bull, and Jägermeister apparel).

Then it was time for the highlight of my studying abroad. The Reccegasque, or reception dinner, for all new members of the nations. The new members first met at their respective nations dressed in their formal attire (I wore a charcoal suit with a blue tie) for a walk behind the nations's flags to the main university building. The assembly there was less-than-enthralling as it was conducted entirely in Swedish (with the exception of a performance by a big band of a silly song whose title and theme I can't currently recall). We members of Värmlands nation then walked back to the nation itself, where we (I'd say about 70 of us) hung our coats and went into the upstairs lobby for champagne. At 18:00 (6:00p, American style), we proceeded into the dining room.

We were seated randomly in an arrangement of alternating genders (i.e. m-f-m-f), with I being the exception to that rule, being surrounded by ladies. Gasque code requires each male to pay the most attention to the female at his right and each female to obviously spend most time with the male at her left. After the Inspector of the nation (think faculty advisor, except inspector is a full time job) was seated, the new members followed suit.

From there, we indulged in a three course meal (cheesecake and caviar followed by broiled reindeer and scalloped potatoes and ending in a dessert of white chocolate mousse and raspberry "something-or-other"), sipped on snaps (yes, spelled correctly – a traditional Swedish liquor), red wine, beer, and Bailey's, sang drinking songs in Swedish (again, one was in English), and enjoyed speeches by the natio
n's curators (administrators) and Inspector and performances by the various Värmlands nation ensembles. Most notably were a very funny performance by sketch comedy group Spex and an unbelievably outstanding performance by the nation's choir. The latter received a standing ovation.

Swedish (Svenska) is a very difficult language to speak, but singing in Swedish is far more difficult. Nevertheless, as the alcohol flowed, the English-speakers in the room were more willing to attempt to follow along. The only song sang more than once was a thank you song to all performers, who in turn had their own part to play in this song.

After meeting new people and thoroughly enjoying their company, as well as the new found traditions and belonging – approximately 23:00 – we left for the after party at Smålands nation. This, in my opinion, left something to be desired, but I personally had already had an immense amount of enjoyment from the evening.

Today, I booked trips to Oslo and London. I'm very much looking forward to the travels I have planned. This weekend, some of my new friends and I head to Kiruna in northern Sweden. Hopefully, we will see the Northern Lights, but if nothing else, we'll experience a new part of the country we are studying in, a definite must in my opinion.

And Boston College again shocked the world (or the small fraction of it that care) by beating #5 Duke in yesterday's men's basketball game at Conte Forum. I was following along on ESPN Gamecast, but when it was a one-point game with 2+ minutes left, I'll admit I couldn't watch. Though, minutes later I refreshed the page and we had won by 6! BC will hopefully make the tournament after a year's absence! Well done, boys.

And Arsenal. I must just say, it was an absolute delight to see Eduardo playing again. He decided to upstage his own return, though, by scoring twice. What a class act. Arsenal walked all over Cardiff, 4-0. It could have been much worse had van Persie and Bendtner converted easy chances, Cardiff goalkeeper Heaton not been playing out of his head.

Song: "Cherub Rock" – Smashing Pumpkins

Thursday, February 12, 2009


First, I'd just like to clear the air on a nasty rumor about me that has been circulating. Yes, I DO trim my eyebrows. Otherwise, I'd look like this. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration.

Okay, now on to the topic. Every Swedish male wears sweaters. Every Swedish male wears sweaters. Brian does not wear sweaters.

Now, anyone that knows me could tell you that I care little about my style. Usual attire for me consists of a t-shirt or Arsenal kit and jeans with sneakers. This fashion (or lack thereof), maybe mainstream in America, makes me stick out like a Hasidic Jew when I'm walking around in Sweden. Okay, another exaggeration.

I am not usually one to pay attention to this, but it's quite obvious that the Swedes are well-dressed. Most Swedes of my age wear nice shoes, tighter jeans than I am used to, and a sweater over a button-down.

I received a package from home today with all sorts of goodies that I haven't been able to find here in Uppsala. Mum was nice enough to send me some Nyquil, dried berries and mixed nuts from Trader Joe's, some vitamins, Emergen-C, and most importantly, my DVDs for all the down time I have here.

I once again cooked a chicken dish tonight – Chicken à la Brian®, as I think it's called. I marinated the chicken in garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika for the vast majority of the day and sautéed it along with mushrooms, broccoli, and tomatoes. I ate all of this with some pasta (with olive oil and butter) for my dinner. I topped it all off with a glass of yellowtail® red wine. I'm not going to lie, I felt quite sophisticated. I took a picture to commemorate the occasion, but it will not be included here (due to an extreme, but hopefully temporary, case of laziness).

I found a great website to watch football online, but due to copyright restrictions (actually, I just don't want anyone to clog the bandwith), I cannot share it here. In any case, I watched Argentina (mainly just Lionel Messi) put on a clinic – which finished 2-0 – for the French national team at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille. Then I watched as curiously only David Beckham and Shaun Wright-Phillips felt up to taking on Spain (the two managed to keep the score to 2-0 also). I suspect the other members of the England team (maybe even Capello) enjoyed the Sevilla nightlife a bit too much last night. But Xavi is the best footballer in the world right now.

I'd like to stay up to watch the ever-entertaining United States v. Mexico World Cup Qualifying match, but it begins at 4:00. I have an appointment to wash my clothes tomorrow at 13:00, and given the size of the laundry monster inhabiting the Southwest corner of my room at the moment, I cannot miss it.

Song: "Twenty-Five Miles" – Edwin Starr

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


After several days of disconnect – not having internet, that is – and even more days of wrongdoings and debauchery, I'm writing once again.

The days are really starting to fly by here. They are really, sort of, blending all together. Each day has been pretty much the same: start off with a b
owl of Frosties; kill time on the internet for a few hours; maybe run and errand or two; and after dinner, head to the pubs. Then, obviously, there must be the recovery days, of which today happened to be one. The body was punishing me, harshly, if you ask me, for what I did to it yesterday evening.

Since I've mentioned this drinking activity in some previous entries, I guess I should humor you with a story. Maybe two.

Story One

Wednesday, we (a gaggle of Australians, an Austrian, a German, several Americans, and a French) made a trip to Stockholm to celebrate one of the Aussies' birthday. After walking around the Kulturhuset – the name "culture house" makes it sound a lot more interesting than it actually was, although I did play chess on a giant chessboard – we visited a café for dinner, a chicken caesar salad since you asked. We then headed to the Absolut Ice Bar, appropriate because of Absolut vodka's Swedish origin. For those who
are underinformed, the Ice Bar is made entirely of ice. The glasses are molded from ice, the furniture is made from ice, and the bar is a block of ice.

After a celebratory drink at the Ice Bar, we ventured to a pub which was advertising cheap beer, and proceeded to spend two or three hours and too much money there. We caught the last train home to Uppsala at 23:09, and since it was still early in the evening, some of us headed to Västmanlands-Dala (V-Dala for short) nation
to finish the evening. One beer and a Jack Daniels shot later, we parted and managed to stumble to our respective lodgings.
Estimated Hangover Time: three hours

Story Two
Yesterday evening, for yet another birthday, we had an American drinking games night. Of course, this included the mandatory Beer Pong (Beirut, for those people that care), Kings Cup, Flip Cup, and, a new game for me, Roxanne. R
oxanne is an absolutely dreadful game. Those present grab two beers, split into two teams, and wait for "Roxanne" by the Police to begin. One team drinks whenever Sting sings "Roxanne" and the other whenever he belts out "red light." Truly awful.

So after several hours of playing each of the games – and dominating at Beer Pong, I should add – I once again managed to stumble home.

Estimated Hangover Time: eight hours

Obviously, the drinking stories provide for some self-deprecation and hilarity, but life is not about the drink. I've taken a liking to cooking chicken [pictured below] for dinner. I've also recently been riding my bicycle around the city with a huge smile on my face, thinking, "I'm in Sweden!" followed in close succession by "I sure look like a giddy
fool right now."

Basic Swedish class starts on Thursday, which I'm very much looking forward to. I really want to learn the language, both because it would be a shame not to and because I want to know when the Swedes are talking about me.

Don't even get me started on Arsenal or Eboue.

Song: "Starlight" – Muse

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Treatise on the Stupidity of Laundry

Normally, the number of driers in a laundry room is equivalent to the number of washing machines. That way, one may transfer N washing machine loads to N driers. It may summarized by the equation N(washers) - N(driers) = E[effiency], where if E >= 1, the universe explodes.

For whatever reason, the washroom at Eklundshofsvägen 4B has four washing machines and two driers. That leads to an efficiency of 2, which in the self-contained laundry room, only resulted in the explosion of Brian.

Overreaction, you ask? Yes, of course, as usual. Obviously, I can just let one load sit in the washer while I wait for the other to dry. Actually, no, I can't here, in Eklundshofsvägen 4B, because residents here must sign up for time slots of three hours. If we come back at 3:01, the key card will not let us in. Therefore, I had to force all of my clothes into one drier, resulting in a drying time of just over two and half hours and more wrinkles than a retirement home. And, of course, the provided Iron did not work.

Now that I've got that rant out of the way, I can tell you what things I've been doing here that actually make me happy. I've been going out to pubs or clubs most nights here. Friday, my nation, Värmlands, hosted International Students for a Greek-inspired buffet dinner that was delicious. Afterwards, it was Klubb 054 in Värmlands for drinks and dancing. Saturday, I went to Kalmar nation for their club night, which feat
ured such songs as "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Last night, Monday, I played football (soccer) in a gym with a bunch of fellow Värmlands members – a very good time – and of course, headed to a pub for some pints afterwards. Tonight, I believe, will be movie night.

I've also headed to some museums in the area: the Museum Gustavianum, which had an interesting ancient Egyptian exhibit; and the Upplandsmuseet, which gave the history of Upplands, the province in which Uppsala is situated. Tomorrow, I'll be heading back to Stockholm for a friend's birthday, but I'll go early in the day to explore the city some more.

Onto Arsenal – what is the deal with this Arshavin transfer? It seems like both Arsenal and Zenit St. Petersburg are being little children. Hopefully, the Premier League will sanction the transfer, as I'm sick of all these zero or one goal performances. What happened to the old days, Arséne?

Song: "God's Dice" – Pearl Jam