Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Everything Post

There's so much for you to read me write about. Get that? Where do I begin?

I guess I better start with changes to the blog, since you all (that's right, the two of you) have definitely noticed them. I made the page black because I think it looks cool, not because I am emo or gothic or anything. Also, I added a nice photo to the top. Thirdly, I enabled comments from those of you who aren't members, so anyone can comment now. Nice, right? I think I also may put the song that was playing when I finish each blog at the bottom, since I like music.

Alright, now onto sports. So Arsenal drew Everton yesterday in Liverpool, courtesy of a late Robin van Persie equalizer. I'm glad to see Robbo is fit and scoring. Also, I suppose the Arshavin deal is imminent. It'll be nice to have another threat.

It's nice to see BC basketball winning again after their appalling post-UNC performances. And I guess since BC football player William Ferguson is okay with the hiring of Frank Spaziani as head coach, then I am too.

Okay, now the stuff that I think some of you care a little about: Sweden. I'm not sure where to begin on this, either. Some differences I've noticed in my room alone:
  • First, and most obviously, the plugs are different. I purchased a converter before I left the U.S., but when I plugged by hair-clippers into the socket, it went bezerk. I'll guess I'll be rather unkempt when I get home. I'll shave at least.
  • Second, the shower floor is not separated from the washroom floor. There is only a curtain separating them, so I have been squeegeeing (sp?) the floor after each shower.
  • Third, the small oven (almost comparable to a toaster oven) I have in my room is hooked up to a wall outlet that has a digital timer on it. In order to cook, I have to press the button on the timer and then turn on the oven, which has a separate timer.
I'll get to the cultural differences once I've been here a little longer. But I will talk about food because food is delicious. In terms of eateries, Uppsala has many combination pizza/kebab places, a McDonald's, a Burger King, a Subway, four thousand (okay, exaggeration) cafés, Italian, Thai, Chinese, and even American barbecue (called the Texas Longhorn – it's okay) restaurants. In other words, its very similar to the U.S. – a melting pot of food. I haven't even seen a Swedish restaurant yet.

At the supermarket (called Willie's), they have everything that an American supermarket has. Just a lot more sausage and less of a cereal selection. On my last purchase, I bought 1.5% Milk, pear juice (delicious, actually), dill-flavored Pringles, Frosties (Frosted Flakes, Tony the Tiger and all), Werther's caramels, salame, turkey, and pita bread – typically health conscious of me.

I just finished booking some travels! I am heading to Amsterdam for a couple of days in March to meet some BC guys (Lucas, Anthony, and Dorian, for those of you who are concerned), Vienna in April, and Lapland, the northernmost province of Sweden, to freeze my arse off (and see some nature, too!). This is all getting very exciting.

Until my next moment of inspiration,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Hamburger Woe

Some lessons are learned the hard way, I guess, such as eating too much candy when you are young or drinking too much alcohol for the first time or paying for – ah, maybe I'd better stop. One lesson I learned last night was that I should not ever rely on a pub for dinner. I ordered a hamburger at a pub and had to wait more than an hour to receive it. As some of you may know, drinking also happens at pubs, and therefore, instead of filling up on a delicious carbohydrate/protein-filled meal, I filled up on beer. Not my favorite dinner.

I have sort of failed to mention up until this point the system of nations here at Uppsala. The university has thirteen student nations, each whose name is based upon a region here in Sweden. Every registered student is required to join a nation. Each nation has its own pub, and most nations have a "club" night, which is just what it sounds – music and dancing. Besides the fun and drinking part, each nation has a library (oddly, meant for studying) and a support organization. Basically, it is a fraternity/sorority system, except they are not sorted by gender and they are far better.

I have joined the Värmlands nation, which has been in existence since 1660. They have "Club 054" on Friday evenings and have a pub open Tuesday-Thursday. In addition, they have a library with wireless internet and a sports club, where I will hopefully begin to play soccer (football).

I have been reading the blog of the legendary Matthew Reardon, a fellow Boston College student, who is residing currently in København, Denmark. Apparently, he has figured out a way to put pictures into his blog, so I will try and get that sorted out for this one too. I know that reading is a bit of an ancient art, so I will try to make this more friendly on the eyes.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


As of now it has been snowing for the last three days and has been scheduled to snow for the next five. I have been in some less-than-satisfactory weather in my life – that Thanksgiving in Mammoth when the entire mountain closed down, or the freezing rain of Boston – and a day here doesn't compare to those times. But never in those places has the sun failed to shine for so many days. I feel like I am in Seattle.

On the brighter side, some fellow international students and I took a trip to Stockholm from Uppsala (about a 40-minute train ride) yesterday. We left at nine in the morning, which may seem early to you, but as I have had trouble sleeping lately, I had been up for four hours already. More on that later.

We arrived at about 10:30 and walked to the royal palace. Now in London, the palace guards are famous for their nifty red suits and their lack of movement. King Gustav's guards here are equipped with the very latest in military apparel and a shiny M-16 with a shiny bayonet – rather more intimidating. They also move, and therefore, look alive. We stuck around until 12:00 to watch the changing of the guard, which seemed to take hours given the freezing rain we were subjected to. It was a rather comical ceremony. Each time we figured it was coming to an end, a Swedish general would begin speaking into a microphone (which he held too far from his mouth so we could not hear him), alternating in English and Swedish. The highlight of the ceremony was the palace's drummers, which were extremely talented (tossing their sticks as they played and whatnot).

We then decided to find food, strangely deciding to give Sweden's tacos a try. If I'm being honest with you, it was comparable to Taco Bell and did not sit well. This was only a day after I had eaten curry and felt sick – a rather stereotypical Indian food experience I had not yet recovered from.

After warming up inside the restaurant we headed to the Moderna Museet, or Modern Art Museum. Oddly, given what I would politely call an apathy for artwork, I actually enjoyed the museum, which featured works by my countrymen Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Although it was interesting, I felt we spent too long in the museum (but friends make sacrifices, right?).

We left the musuem in search of, obviously, a pub. We found one near Stockholm Central Station but were astounded to find that one pint cost 66: SEK or $8 USD. Some of us abandoned the plan to purchase a fizzy and headed to the nearby Max instead. Sweden's energy-conscious version of McDonald's tastes about the same, but the service is much friendlier! If there is one thing I have noticed about the Swedish so far, it is that they are very friendly people. I just have to be the one to make contact, as they are also very shy.

After a long day, I returned to my room and finally got my first good night of sleep in Sweden.

Friday, January 23, 2009


In my all important opinion, the Arsenal of today have few world class players. I'd like to make a run-down of this team, at full strength, compared with the Invincibles of 2003-04.

Before I start, though, I just want to say that I think signing Arshavin would be a bad signing. I think an out-and-out winger is needed more than he. Who plays on the wing for Arsenal these days? Diaby (a natural CAM), Nasri (a natural CAM), Rosicky – when healthy (a natural CAM), and Walcott (maybe the only natural winger). To me, it seems like Arshavin is in the same mold. Arsene needs to sign that holding midfielder and possibly a center-back as well.

Jens Lehmann v. Manuel Almunia: Jens Lehmann at his best in 2003-04 is an unbeatable goalkeeper. Almunia is just above average. Invincibles

LB Ashley Cole v. Gael Clichy: Cole was an absolute monster in 2003-04 but it's hard to give him any credit after the way he treated his boyhood club subsequently. Clichy, on the other hand, is very classy. Current Team

Sol Campbell v. William Gallas: This one is a sitter. Campbell is far better in the air, but also a fantastic defender. Strangely, both seem to be a bit unstable. Invincibles

CB Kolo Toure: I can't make a judgment here, although the Kolo Toure of 2003-04 was remarkably better than the worn out one we see today.

RB Lauren v. Bacary Sagna: As great as Lauren was for Arsenal, I think Sagna is pure class and an unbelievable defender. Current Team

Robert Pires v. Samir Nasri: As much as I like Samir Nasri, no sane person would choose him over the Pires of the Invincibles. Invincibles

CM Gilberto Silva v. Denilson: Gilberto was pure class for us that year, and although Denilson is a consistent player, he is not nearly as dominant. Invincibles

CM Patrick Vieira v. Cesc Fabregas: The two number 4's and central midfielders and captains. It would be sacrilege to pick one over the other. Draw

RM Freddie Ljungberg v. Theo Walcott: Ljungberg was a much smarter player than Walcott is right now, and he had roles in many of the goals scored that year. Walcott is for the future. Invincibles

ST Thierry Henry v. Emmanuel Adebayor: Ha ha. Invincibles

Dennis Bergkamp v. Robin van Persie: As well as Robbo has played this year, how can I go against the brilliant Flying Dutchman? Invincibles

So in the end, only the outside backs of today's team would get a spot in the Invincibles, with Cesc and Vieira starting every other game. Also, look at the average age of the team. I'm not one with statistics, but it is remarkable. What happened, Arsene?

Cardiff may be tricky this weekend, but a loss would be inexcusable. I'll be travelling Saturday so I probably won't be able to catch the match.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I have a feeling this will be the first of many posts entitled "Beer." In any case, I have been here for almost a week now and have had quite a bit of beer to drink.

So what have I been up to? Well, I've done a lot of walking and biking around Uppsala during the day. I've walked through the Stora Torget a bunch of times to walk around all the shops. Some you may recognize? H&M, Subway, McDonald's, Burger King, Levi's. There is also an ICA (the Swedish supermarket) in one of the malls, the Systembolaget (the all-important liquor store), and the Akademibokhandeln (the bookstore) to pick up my textbook and a Swedish translating dictionary.

I began class yesterday – Basic Swedish History. It has a different professor for each of the 7 meetings, which is a bit unfortunate given the first professor's easiness on the eye. Besides the meetings, there is 600+ pages of textbook to read and one term paper due at the end – easy cheese.

I've met people from many countries so far. I've been hanging out with a group that consists of Americans, Swedes, Australians, Germans, and Austrians, but I've met some Dutch, French, and Canadians too. Some of us are going to take a day trip to Stockholm this weekend (it's 40 minutes by train).

Ah, now you want to hear the drinking stories? Well, I'll get back to you on those. But I'll let you know that I drank quite a bit on a "pub crawl" last night and didn't make it back to my room. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Uppsala University has a system of nations, a bit like the American Greeks system. There are 13 nations, each named after a region in Sweden. Every student is required to join one. Every nation has a pub, which, more often than not, is open 5 days a week. The nations organize free activities for their members, but any student from another nation can join in for a small fee.

Now, to the good stuff: beer. The beer here has been very good so far, but apparently, I have been drinking shoddy beer. Such is the difference in quality between American and European beer. One nation I went to last night had the most different types of beer I have ever seen. It was orgasmic. They had 5 different types of Samuel Adams, 6 different types of Sierra Nevada, and they had Anchor Steam on tap. Unbelievable. I had little time to spend there, so I tried the local beer – Slottskällan – and it was fantastic.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In Sweden

As promised, I have clearly stayed very up to date with this blog. I spent time snowboarding in Mammoth, and then I had to deal with the Great Passport Debacle of 2009, when, much to my chagrin, I learned that between UPS and the Swedish Consulate in New York, my passport could not be kept track of. So I had to spend a nice chunk of change on a new passport and money on the gas to drive to Wilshire Blvd. twice and back.

After receiving my new passport and Swedish residence permit, I (to disregard the few days in between) flew to Sweden. The plane ride to London from LAX was filled with sleep (unfortunately, the last good night of sleep I've had, if you can call it that, but I'll get there), and I watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall on my iPod. I should mention that at first, I sat in the wrong seat – a very embarassing experience. After a two hour layover at Heathrow, I embarked on a 767 to Stockholm. Two and half hours later, I landed in Sweden, my place of residence for the next 5 months. After lugging my bags about a mile through Arlanda Airport to the train station, I boarded the train for Uppsala, where the university is. Upon arriving, I was very hungry, so walked into town until I found the ever-reliable golden arch which symbolizes, if I'm not mistaken, the world's fattest corporation (and the world's fattness in general, i suppose). Mind you, this is because nothing else was open.

I am situated in my own room with the following amenities – bathroom, desk, bed (which is strangely elevated above the desk – I have subsequently moved the mattress onto the floor), toaster oven, stove top, microwave, refrigerator/freezer, etc...

The first night was rather difficult – I can't remember the last time I was alone and without a phone or internet connection, but morning came and I started to make friends (I think) and such. I'm about a 15-20 minute walk from the city center, Stora Torget in Swedish. I walked to the International Office (at first, I thought it was closed because the handle on the door, which normally indicates that you need to pull it open, obviously means that I had to push it) and picked up many things, most importantly, my SIM card. Then I headed to Claus Ohlsson, an electronics store, to pick up my nostalgic Nokia phone (yes, it has snake on it).

There is much more to recount, and I'll do so eventually, but I suppose I should talk a bit about my sleeping problem, which is the reason I am even typing this right now. Never have I ever had so much trouble sleeping in my life. Ask anyone: sleeping is something I have always done a lot of and I have always really enjoyed. But here, in Uppsala, for whatever reason, sleeping hours have been few and far between. I think it is a combination of the alienation produced by culture shock and the jet lag. In terms of the former, I'm having some feelings of dread, right now, about staying here for 5 months; it seems like an eternity I don't want to deal with. Right now, if I was any less of a man (which everyone knows I'm not), I would choose to come home. It's good to know that this is apparently normal and that these concerns will subside as the days pass. For now, though, sleep is a precious commodity. I have gotten a total of about 8 hours of sleep the last three nights. I'm still on the California schedule, I think.

I'll talk about the Arse and BC and the more fun stuff to read tomorrow morning, when inevitably, I wake up at 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 am.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The First One

I don't recall who inspired me to start a blog (maybe God), but I have done it. As indicated by the title, I don't even really know what it is supposed to be. But basically, I'm going to write about anything I think of, and since no one is going to read this (apart from maybe God) I can promise this will be terrible. The prose, the thoughts, and even the font will be terrible and probably inspire you to throw something at the screen. That's right, inspire you.

What can you expect from the blogs? Well, I like Arsenal Football Club (from North London) quite a bit, so I'll talk about them. I also go to Boston College, so I'll talk about them. I'm also a fan of the Tennessee Titans. I like music a lot, so I'll talk about that. And I'm going to be out of the United States for five months, so I'll talk about that too. Basically, anything no one cares about (and by inference, that I DO care about) will be covered in this blog (apart from the Titans).

So the next time I get angry (which my friends would tell you, will probably be in the next 45 seconds) I'll write because anger inspires a lot more than happiness. There will be the occasional happy or thrilled blog too, but don't expect them too often.

Boston College 85, @ #1 North Carolina 78
And quite shockingly, the first blog happens to be about something happy. During the game, I thought about why I screamed at the television and threw my hat down even though no one could hear me (at least no one outside of my house, let alone at the game itself). I couldn't think of why, but it felt good that this game was even something to yell about. After all, I read that BC was predicted to finish 11th out of 12 teams in the ACC, so even getting close to UNC was good. Then we won, and it was awesome. Tyrese Rice, Rakim Sanders, and Reggie Jackson were all awesome and Josh Southern (and Courtney Dunn?) played excellent defense on Tyler "I flooded the Dean Smith center with my tears" Hansbrough, even managing to not foul out until the last two minutes. This more than makes up for that sh•t bowl loss to Gaylord Hotels Vanderbilt (I think they're called).

And it's also nice to know that there is some stability with the BC football team. If Jeff Jagodzinski leaves, it indicates both 1) that he is scared about the dreaded 3rd and 4th years when his own recruits must do the talking and 2) that he is akin to a builder who begins to build a house, but gets called into build a mansion, thus deciding to up and leave (which for the owner of the former is nothing but displeasing). Nonetheless, Jags has bolstered the reputation of our small Catholic school, and I guess he has performed well enough to earn an NFL job. As for AD Gene DeFelippo, I already have some qualms with him, so he becomes the bad guy. Why on earth did he go public (or tell someone who could easily make it public) that Jags would be fired if he interviewed. Son of a b•tch.

Until the next bad thing that happens,