Walpurgis celebration in Sweden, a short guide

There is a picture stuck in my head since I was in Stockholm with my family years ago. I was a child then, but still something which really got me were all these teenagers going around with boxes of beer. It was Walpurgis that day!

Drink, drink, drink. Have fun. Sleep less or nothing. Hungover the day after.

This would be the start and the end of my post, if I were a Swede. Unfortunately, or luckily, I am from a place best known for pizza, pasta, ice-cream, and amazing history.

Ok, sorry for these extra stereotyped pictures, but this is what I have been actually learning since a while. There are two big days in Sweden that need to be celebrated properly during the year, where celebration and properly stand for getting drunk, do not remember anything the day after and hungover. One of them is Walpurgis (known as “Valborgsafton” in Swedish, that means “Walpurgis’ evening, ‘cause you know, Swedes like to celebrate the day before, especially to be ready to be hungover the day after), and the other one is Midsummer (Midsommarafton, here as well, you drink all the day, stay awake all the night, and naturally are hungover the day after, a point that I really do not get!). Even though you did not get a so optimist view of it so far, I really like how most of the celebrations still relate to some Pagan celebrations, thus related to seasons and nature. 1st of May stands here for the first day of Spring, guess what, I cannot blame them for their will (and need) to celebrate. Most of the times you will likely not have a Spring feeling at all, since it could be still pretty cold, but the light is already lighting the days much longer than the dear old winter you just got through.

Midsummer (the night between Friday and Saturday after the 21st of June) is instead the start of the summer and the celebration of the longest day of the year. Here in Värmland we do not have the midnight sun, but still, there is almost just 1 hour of pitch dark in that night.

As said, traditional of the two days is the bad weather, as it is for example in Italy with the day after Easter.

What is actually usual to do in the weekend of Walpurgis is to stay with people, enjoy the long days (preferably the warm), drink, eat, sing a lot, and gather around the fire. I was at campus just some hours ago and saw the students already drunk at 6, always smile when I see these scenes! Very particular is the champagne breakfast which you can have both on Saturday and Sunday (the 30th of April and the 1st of May).

My weekend is gonna look pretty Swedish I think, since my desire is actually that of experiencing Valborg as much as it gets. Tonight I am gonna get as much sleep as I can, since starting from tomorrow morning, I will have around 40 hours awaken. I am skipping some of the singings with the choir in the morning, but I will start singing with them in the big square in Karlstad (Stora Torget) at 15, sound checking at 14.15. I will borrow a studentmössa (the hat Swedish high-school students wear at the end of their last year of school to run out of the school and take pictures – it looks as a sailor hat!) from a girl I know from some courses at uni, and will sing a lot of traditional Spring songs, of course in Swedish. For this, tomorrow I will try to do my best and learn all the words by heart.

Later, we will sing at the bishop’s house. I think I will also go to the city park to gather around the bonfire for a while, since there will not be any in the square and I really want to experience that, and the man choir is gonna sing with another choir. Later, we will go to a kind of cottage (“stuga”!?) where we will start our party (“sittning”) with both the man and woman choir. We get food, dance, sing and have fun, trying to make the others awake until the day after. The challenge is to stay awake until 15 – forgot to say that, at 15 the day before we will put the hat on our heads, supposed not to take it off but 24 hours later!). I will go home at 9 a.m. because at 10 I have to stay at Bunkern to work for the Hungover Sunday, which is the most incredible thing you could do at the pub (because you need to slice 10 kg of bacon and fry it!). No people seemed to be available to work there on Sunday (guess what!?) so I took the shift ‘cause it sounded as a great and funny experience!

Now I will get my 10 hours of sleep (hope I do not wake up because of the light, which among my friends seems to be a common problem!) and will see you soon. Need to take a pic of my face every 12 hours I will be awake tomorrow! 😉

Let this weekend start!

Will that be as funny/ridiculous as the week just passed?

At least, I finally experienced one of those days that more than a few Swedes told me about. Rain, clouds, sun, snow and hail in one day. Feel like an experienced girl now!

It is not that I am tired because I have been doing so many things this week. It is actually even worse. I have studied while sitting in the library which got warmer hour after hour because the sun was shining for all the last days. Since Monday, first day in Karlstad after the trip to Poland, I always woke up very early – around 6.30 (even if I wanted to sleep more, that would have been impossible because the light and the no presence of appropriate curtains, do not actually help with that!)

Studied a lot on Monday and sat in the sun for a while. Had choir in the evening until 21. Fall asleep at 22. Very, very tired.

The first funny thing of the week was that after have grabbed a free cup of coffee from the Student centre stand in the welcome centre at university, I dropped half of the cup just 30 seconds later. I burned my hand and could not do anything else than run to the bathroom and wash my hands. I sat at my place and wondered whether I should have gone back with some tissues to clean and dry the floor, but that would have probably been the most embarrassing thing ever, so I just stayed at my place. On Wednesday I decided to take a break and go to university just to sit outside, reading a little and enjoy the sun. I did that and “sunbathed” for 4 hours, having a coffee at the end with the Italian girl. I actually got brown! And I will never sto telling you that I love the Swedish spring coming after a depressing winter, I would say that is almost worth to experience the sad, cloudy, cold and dark months, to then reborn with the 5° still, sunny and warm days! And the Swedes! They are amazing when the Sum comes back, wearing shorts and tops, sunglasses and taking photos of this strange alien called Sun, and warm! There is a song called “Sommartider” by Gyllene Tider, which completely express the feeling of this lovely folk, saying “Time for summer, I feel that something is happening”. I definitely laugh a lot every time I hear that, just think about the difference between Italy and Sweden when it comes to seasons, since in Rome spring usually starts almost right after Christmas, with leaves sprouting in February!

By the way, after almost have burnt myself, and got a headache (moreover, I sweated as well!) I went home, and prepared to go to the place of a girl in my choir voice, where we should meet to practice. This sounds as a very tough thing, since it usually lasts for a three hours – and I still think that it is everytime I go to such a practice days – but it is actually not a practice accompanied by a fika, but usually the opposite, a fika time accompanied by singing songs! We met at 18, started to fika at 19, chatting, eating and laughing a lot (my Swedish in this period is pretty much better, is maybe the Sun positive influence!?) so I got all the jokes and every single word of the conversations in three hours! and started to sing some minutes before 20! Went home at 21.30….was in my bed at 22!

Wait a minute! I have to go to buy some onions, and send the contract back to Finland for my job at the restaurant in July!

I just found out that I never used the tag “fika” in my blog! This is kind of creepy! Have to solve this. And just to talk about something different, let’s go back to the evening with the girls of the choir. Following the Swedish habits, if you are going to host people at your home making food, you usually ask for something to bring (so that it does not too expensive for the host, and everyone actually will be able to eat what they really like). Fika “theme” of last Wednesday was biscuits and cheese (very typical here in Sweden), so everyone could bring a type of cheese and some chocolate for a dessert with banana, berries and melted chocolate she made at the end of the practice! We sang a lot, drank tea and ate good food. Definitely a cozy and enjoyable night! In the voice everyone gets to know each other pretty good. I for example got to know Veronica who lives close to me and with which we often drink coffee and go out. Went back home with the bus together with some of the girls.

Oh! I forgot to tell you about Tuesday morning, definitely one of the most awkward and hilarious times I have ever had since I am here!

Two persons should have come to my place to see the apartment (since I told the agency that I will leave the apartment in June, and those who are in line contacted me to have a look). So, I told the two persons to come at 10 in the morning last Tuesday. One of them came in time and gave a fast look. The other one told me he would be late half a hour. 45 minutes later I wrote him that I should soon go to university and asked how long it would take for him to come. He said me he just had a few minutes left, but then he started to call me because he did not find the place. We turned into English since he seemed to have a little problems (I told him there were not any problem since I was also not a native speaker of Swedish!) and we tried to find out where he was. We exchanged maps (where I was and where he was) but nothing. At the end I told him that I had to go and sent instead some pictures of the apartment. When I arrived at university, he called me to say that what had been wrong was that we were actually in different cities! And there was the same dress in Göteborg as well as in Karlstad! And the wrong person to which he sent the message some weeks ago (or is me) actually had to show the apartment to some people! Funny thing ever I think. Do not think this will ever happen to me!

Thursday was time for another cup of coffee to fall from my hands. In the middle of the university cafeteria, at 13 where everyone was there. Thankfully I was not in Italy, where nobody could have hold their laughs, but the Swedes are always very kind and did not seem to laugh.

Want to know about more funny things?

Yesterday, as soon as I got out from H&M I slipped on a flyer, and I fell in a more hilarious way than Mr.Bean would have done. Embarrassing happenings.

By the way, I am now making dinner (to be more precise, I am just warming some corn-maid-chickpeas salad in the microwave) and will get soon ready to go out tonight 🙂 It is still so bright in the sky so that time flies without noticing about it!

Tomorrow is time for the male choir and the female choir to sing at campus! Looking forward to that 🙂

Have a nice evening, see you soon!

The road to home

Bus to the station, then train heading home. Sitting on the bus writing on the phone. I wrote tens of pages in a diary just for the Poland trip, my first solo trip, and I will write  them down on the post in the following weeks.

Crazy to look forward to come back from a solo trip. Crazy even more to feel at home in a place that is not your original one. To miss the Swedish coffee when in Poland, and the extreme kindness of this super peaceful folk. Still cannot believe that this rainy cold day that welcomed me in Gothenburg is not making me sad. At the start before I left to Poland I thought that when I would come back I would probably miss the flight, looking on the screen for the one to Rome and not that to Gothenburg. But I did not, ‘cause I will live here at least three years more and it just completely stucked in my mind. And I like it.

This week I have two old courses and one new to which I was inexpectedly admitted even though I missed the subscription deadline. I look forward to experience those that will unfortunately be my last months in Karlstad.

I loved Poland and I am definitely going to travel more there. East Europe is definitely on my bucket list…especially for the extremely affordable expenses.

I drank a cup of coffee from pressbyrån…now we drive to the central station. Have to switch the phone down for a while. Coffee is waiting for me later on!

I will see you soon!

Benvenuta primavera!

Forse è il caso di scrivere in italiano.

Buongiorno primavera. Uscita di casa con il sole, maniche corte sotto la giacca di pile, ballerine ai piedi. Dicono 6 gradi ma si brucia al sole. Pantaloni neri stile svedese, così non ti vedono, o almeno attiri il sole ed il calore. Tanto la primavera ce l’hai dentro.

Notizie della settimana? Lunedì scorso mentre tornavo a Karlstad da Roma sono stata accettata all’università di Malmö per il programma di laurea triennale chiamato “International migration and ethnic relations”. Da quel momento è dire poco che non sono riuscita a dormire molto bene pensando all’idea di trasferirmi li! Ho iniziato a cercare un appartamento, che spero di trovare in un’edificio adibito agli studenti, e sono stata mezza accettata per un appartamento che mi interessava e dove son stata messa al terzo posto nella fila d’attesa. Stamattina mentre infilavo la chiave nella ruota posteriore della bici per andare all’università ricevo una chiamata da Malmö…100% dialetto della Scania, ho capito circa il 50% dell’intera chiamata…insomma, i due che erano prima di me in fila d’attesa avevano rifiutato e quindi ero diventata prima…se non fosse stato per il fatto che mi sarei dovuta trasferire il 1° maggio e quindi essere studente già da quel periodo (mentre io inizierò ad agosto). Telefonata troppo bella per essere vera! Grazie al sole di oggi non me la sono “fatta prendere troppo a male”.

Ora sto all’università cercando di scrivere una pagina per un lavoro di gruppo per Business English, che tratta dello scandalo dei Panama papers. Dopo cercherò di anticiparmi la lettura di 4 capitoli di Business Cultures prima di partire domani per Göteborg. E di un pezzo di un enorme compendia! Un salto a casa per prendere i brani di coro. Lavoro di gruppo alle 16. Coro dalle 18 alle 21. E sai cosa? Non ho ancora preparato niente per la Polonia, la casa è un casino e sono distrutta…qualcosa mi dice che da oggi a domenica il caffè sarà il mio migliore amico!

Ora lascio il post, a presto con aggiornamenti da Varsavia!

Of Madagascar planes

For some strange reason the flight Rome-Frankfurt-Jönköping-Karlstad does not put luck on my side every time I take it.

Let’s start from the thing that I unintentionally blocked my Swedish sim card when I was at the airport in Rome. This means no chance to make calls or connect to internet once in Sweden. During the flight to Frankfurt, I started to wonder wheter I booked the shuttle taxi from the airport to Karlstad, which gives you the possibility to pay jsut 65 kr instead of 440. Well, of course I could have checked that at the airport in Frankfurt, if just my laptop had worked with the free wifi, which of course did not happen. Or no wait, it actually worked for some seconds, enough time to receive the email from universityadmissions which told me I had received the result from the university of Malmö…guess what…I could not open it! Now, I waited for that response since December, or even more since I tried to get in last year and could not get a place because of late in submissions of a document. And trust me, to wait from 15 to 21.30 to get to know if you are accepted at Malmö university, is not the funniest thing ever. But just have fun about it, ‘cause I actually got accepted!

Well, so I got off from the last plane in Karlstad, 45 minutes earlier than scheduled, and could still not check the booking of the taxi, since my Swedish phone was still blocked (which of course I could not unlock with the puk to be found online!). I asked a taxi driver whether it was the shuttle one, and he said yes, but I will call someone and check for you…which ended with a “it results that you did not book it, can’t you call someone to take you home?”. Now…guess again…you can imagine how not funny it is to not only know to be alone abroad, but to really notice it having to answer nothing less than “I do not have anyone!”. Ok, this sounded pretty desperate does not it? End of the story…I had to pay 350 kr to get home…and today having checked the email I found out that the taxi driver completely fooled me, ‘cause the booking was there!

Well…want to know the previous experience regarding my trip to Karlstad via Frankfurt?

Once arrived at the desk in Frankfurt, I was told that my ticket had been cancelled, probably for a technical error. Four hours to get a new ticket (which was given to me free just because I looked you and cute to the woman helping me) and a night-stay in Frankfurt. Well, I call them experiences 😉




Questions on education systems

Education is always been a question at the centre of our political discussions. Is the educational method being used now really leading to something useful and efficient? Do we need to change something in the approach to learning processes? And is theory actually the best basis to be provided in education? To which degree is strictness to be used in school environments?

Ricardo Semler is CEO at a famous Brazilian company and was named Brazilian businessman in 1990 and 1992. In his talk “How to run a company with (almost) no rules”, he gives the chance to reflect about the rules present in both work and study environments. He starts the talk explaining a catching-the-day way of living he has been using in the last few years: doing something he would do if he would have a short life expectancy. What he does later is the explanation of how his company decided to approach to rules and hierarchy customs. He later links to the fact that school does not provide us with things we are not prepared to and instead it fills us with pretty useless notions about history and others subjects.

In my opinion, there is definitely something to be changed regarding education systems. We are in the age of information technology, where most of the traditional knowledge can be shared and found within a click, therefore an innovative education cannot any longer lie only in the amount of informations we are flooded with, but in the way these are exchanged from teacher to students.

I enjoyed watching the talk by Ricardo Semler. The system he started to experiment and analyze in his company for 30 years ago is indeed a very modern and innovative one, which should be shared around the world as a model of reliability, effectiveness in work  environment and life satisfaction.

The coffee land

I am finally back in the normal land, country or planet or whatever we want to call it. The normal place is for me a place where car drivers do not try to kill you as soon as you try to cross the road, where people smiles to you in shops, and where they ask you if you want the receive even if you paid with the card, at the end, the country of coffee. It is also the place where if it is cloudy, people do not give up to meet because they feel sad.

Well, yesterday I came back to Karlstad with the famous flight Lufthansa/BMI which requires you to land and take off three times in a day, with a stop of around four hours in Frankfurt. Kind of a experience I would say.

After I had to wait almost eight hours to check my application result for university in Sweden, I got to know that I actually got admitted at the bachelor’s program in “International Migration and Ethnic Relations”, in a few words the course I was dreaming about for two years. Today I will start to look for accommodation in Malmö, and in the next days I will have to fix the personal number request.

I also got from the Italian Embassy an envelope to vote abroad in the middle of April, pretty excited for that!

Well, after woken up at 10 (late for me, early to be the day after the three-round travel), had some kind of breakfast finding hidden food in the refrigerator and prepared my lunch, I am finally at university.

See you later!