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.

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