Scary Pumpkins and Memorial Candles

Biking fast from the little hill of Kirseberg, going through a neighbour called Värnhem and then all way through Nobelvägen, then turning right passing by an almost completely built building hosting hundreds of brand new apartments, then crossing the road going left, you will find yourself on a relatively large street accompanied on both sides by two of the three parts of St. Pauli Kyrkogård (Graveyard of Saint Paul). Namely, the part on your left brings the name of ”St.Pauli Mellersta Kyrkogård”, as being the central part among the three of them.

The 4th of November the sky covering the industrial city of Malmö was made out of different shades of pink, grey and blue, with a giant Sun setting down on the side of the Öresund bridge, still shining red around four in the afternoon. Paving the way to an almost mystic mixture and feeling, the atmosphere just seemed to be perfectly fitting the celebration of All Saint’s day, which, after a hundred years of change, moved to be celebrated first on the 1st of November, then on the first Sunday of November, and latest, as it is now, on the Saturday between the 31st of October and the 6th of November. Giving to it more or less religious meaning, it was probably after the Reformation that the celebration started to symbolize the start of the winter in Sweden. To lit candles to be put upon what is called “Minneslund” – a term for memorial grove in Swedish – brings together people whom for different reasons decide to visit a dark cemetery in the evening of Allahelgonasdag. In this way, the dark times of the coming autumn and winter are met with hope, memories and light, and whoever wants to remember someone lost in the past or only follow this really Swedish tradition feels welcomed by strangers’ gazes, eyes, shadows, thoughts, breaths and silent talks.

Although this is my fourth year I am spending in Sweden, before yesterday I had never had the chance to experience this particular day of the year. Walking through the graveyard, we could almost distinguish between different country divisions of the graveyard depending on how the different tombs looked like. Those memorial stones bigger and sticking out more than the others – some even looking like small mausoleums – showing a coloured picture of the deceased ones, with all objects which were once close to them,

In Italy, as far as I know, graveyards are usually locked when it gets dark, and this tradition of visiting them on All Saints’ Day would not be as easily adopted as it is in fact in Sweden, where graveyards use to be open day and night out, and are involved into the inhabitants lives as they are shaped within the city’s net.

A day which sometimes risks to be recalled as only awakening sad feelings, is instead an excuse here in Sweden to get out and get involved in activities and be introduced to the warm feeling of winter, experience the closeness and unity among the city’s inhabitants and your friends, important to focus on something else than only days getting shorter. The entire weekend calendar is usually scheduled with concerts, among the others requiems, as the one I was listening to yesterday in the church of Saint. Johannes by the central neighbourhood of Triangeln. When passing by Sweden during this weekend I warmly recommend to overcome your fear for darkness or scary graveyards and find one of the many “minneslunden” and get together with some locals. You may be surprised and maybe may end up into a magic and silent, and probably scary, place immersed in a forest, accompanied by children trying to scary each other when still feeling that last breath of the Halloween festivity.

Kiruna – Malmö

From my point of view, coming back from a trip and sleep from 3.30 pm to 5.30 a.m. the following day is sort of a symbol for the amount of knowledge, energy, experiences and people met throughout the journey. As I am asked about the beauty of the place I visit I am often confused on the answer I should give. What I feel, takes way more than a 5 rows typed chat on messenger or an international call where emotions are impossible to show because of the inability to show facial expressions. That answer is about a personal perception of the place, the people met at a jewelry or the ones sitting by you when drinking a coffee, talking about places and understanding each other’s jokes as you are from Italy and they are from France. It is to not longer feel alone, after starting to exchange some words with some Australians in what before was a very empty kitchen in the hostel you are sleeping at, to then walk with them in the midnight sun.

National Geographic tells aspiring writers that what they are looking for is not a description of what a specific place is or looks like, or which things one may look forward to check out from their bucket list. They mainly look for a “basic” and “simple” thing: to awake in the reader the desire and will to leave and travel, and to just visit that place. Personal experiences are the most important as they embody that human character which a dry list of monuments, attractions and museums, may fail to transmit.

No city other than Kiruna among the ones I have visited so far, better embodies the difference of feelings that the sentence “I am coming back, I promise”, carries from place to place, person to person. Nature leaves you speechless as sun never sets and your body is not longer able to understand how much energy you are actually eager for.

I will soon write more about the journey, and going to load a bunch of photos more 🙂

A bit norther

…and what in Swedish is called a “dagsutflykt”.

As sleeping issues are the new hobby, I thought it would me more ‘productive’ – apparently the only thing a student’s mind is set for – to sit and write on the blog, trying to write that post I was thinking about since Sunday.

Just this weekend has been again incredibly sunny and warm here in Malmö. I would say through all Sweden, as it uses to be when temperatures reaches the 20°, but Kiruna was an exception. I was scrolling the weather forecast when I saw that from South to North Sweden there was a difference of 20°, with snow in the top of the country and sun, happy and sweaty people on the bottom of it. I was deeply immersed into this crazy weather forecast when a minute later I realized that Kiruna would be my destination for a few days during the next week. But this is something I will write about when my deadlines . will be passed, and hopefully I will feel a bit less stressed with school work – stupid me, two extra courses did not really help, I guess!

So, back to Sunday, I woke up with a chill mood, realizing the sky full of strange shades of grey (oh how it sounds strange now doesn’t it?!) but later that bikers where going around with shorts and almost sweating. I messaged a friend asking whether she was up for a bike ride to Lund and back, as I had never tried it and neither did I have any laundry emergency going on, and one hour later we were biking on a 21 km path. Lund is a bit closer to where I live – ca 16 km by bike – but my friend thought we could have taken the chance to even reach Sularpsfarmen, in the little area of Sandby, to buy some eco vegetables and explore the area. After a very pleasant and quite fast ride, not without some google maps failures, we reached the place.

We had a very nice time enjoying the massive offer of vegetables, fruit, flowers and little snacks they sold. We first screened the place going through the market and just buying some chocolate snack and chips, then sat outside in the sun and recovering from biking. Then we went in again, chose among mushrooms, white asparagus and raspberry syrup. Then it started to rain (what a surprise!) but it was soon over so we biked to Lund, where we had ice cream and sat in a central square, enjoying the sun on a very special sort of armchairs.

On the way back there was head-wind, which together with the sun and a quite warm and humid air made the ride back a bit longer and tiring.

The great thing was to discover a longer part of bike paths in Malmö and Skåne than the one I am used to daily. There are more or less 800 km of walkable paths covered by the Skåneleden, and although not all parts may be reachable or practicable by bike, still many places are connected by bike paths, and more will come in the following years.

Something I would like to try soon is to bike to Bokskogen, just a bit southern of Malmö, visit the castle of Turup, probably camping or just as a day trip.

See you soon 🙂

A summary of Red Cross activities in Malmö

… and how to get involved in a massive number of volunteering work in the city.

Since I moved to Sweden I started to think more and more about how and where to engage in some volunteer activities, and lately decided to take part to those organized by Swedish Red Cross organization, as here and especially in Malmö it is easy to see their presence in a lot of areas.

But before I start to tell you something about the Swedish Red Cross, I want to break the ice with a few reasons why I think you should take the big step and start volunteering!

Because there is a big need of it! And Sweden may be taken as a very good example, as it is known since many many years as an immigration country, which although a relative small population is doing much to make integration work. Is this falling from the sky you think? Of course not, it is both because of the lack of educated social workers and thanks to the big will of helping that big hearted Swedes have that led to a strong network of volunteer work.

Stop hoping and thinking and complaining about how things do not work and take the big move instead! One person cannot do everything but what may be a little difference may be the butterfly causing a hurricane! Well, in this case in a good way 😉

Because it will not only make other feel better but yourself as well! Moreover, you will realize things about yourself you may not have experienced otherwise.

It will contribute drastically to meet new people, socialize, getting to know how things work within the volunteer network, among the others. In case

It will make you aware of how besides finding a job which will pay your bills and all stuff, you should do your best to find something which really satisfy and complete your days 🙂

Last but not least, it gives you experience! And with this I do not only mean something which you can write in your cv! Volunteer work will make you aware of the possibilities available to help, and to focus your energies on something you really are fond of and for which you think you can really make a difference!

You think I should write some cons as well? Well, here to you two of them… 😉

You may never see the world as others do.

You may have troubles trying to make your schedule work. Once you will be into it you will want to do more and more!

One of the first things which may come to your attention when visiting a city in Sweden is the high number of second hand shops bringing the name of Red Cross, Humana, Emmaus, a few among many others.

Both the interest in an organization which was behind all these second-hand shops, the leaflets I saw in school, but also seeing how Red Cross was present in Stockholm after the terror attack in April, made me get more and more interested to join them!

Although I actually started my volunteering year last October becoming a mentor within the Nightingale mentoring program (organized through Malmö University), a few weeks ago I started to contact the different project responsible after I had read some leaflet on some message boards at university. Just in Malmö there are around twenty projects (verksamheter) to which contribute and take part as volunteers, mainly focused on integration, social development, health care, language sharing and first help groups.

“Malmö Kretsen” (Malmö Circuit) operates on five big operating areas, in turn including a number of activities. Those are called:

Health and Social Participation. Among those you have homework assistance, language cafes taking place in different libraries of the city. Meeting points for children, women, unaccompanied children are also included. Support for Homeless People. Soup kitchen, neutral support people, meeting point between addicts and supporting people. Association Development. Human Rights and Migration. These are the two which I am most interested to, including for example “folkrättsgruppen” through which refugees and other people in need can get legal advice. MASKA works with issues such as investigation, family reunification and return. Transit is a way to offer a human support to newly arrived refugees. Crisis and Disaster preparedness. Including the first help group which carries out an ideal emergency response group.

To start, I decided to take part in the project “Kul på Hjul”, (Fun on the Wheels) aimed at teaching – in a fun way – children how to bike safely. The first days we met where Monday and Tuesday, and next week I will volunteer a couple of times more. Our main task was that of playing some games with a group of 5 people each time, with cards showing traffic signs. A way not only to teach but also learn something you would not otherwise think about!

During August another opportunity will be available. Malmö is one of the cities hosting the Red Cross treatment center for war injured and tortured families, women and children. During summers summer camps in the nature are arranged through which participants can have a place where to find tranquillity and be with their relatives. In June a training weekend will be arranged so that one will be prepared to volunteer as a leader in the camp.

I hope I got you a bit interested in the topic of volunteering, a new post is hopefully coming soon about another association present in Malmö which supports unaccompanied children.

 

Reactions

Yesterday Sweden was shocked by a news which nobody would have ever expected to come. A truck drove into one of the most crowded streets of Stockholm around 3 in the afternoon on Friday the 7th, killing 4 people and heavily injuring at least 15. I got blocked when I got to know about what happened, it was more striking of a reaction than I would expect from myself, but it seems like expectations are not to be fulfilled lately.

During a press conference held today, the police gave no further details about the attack than that a 39 y.o. man from Uzbekistan was stopped and retained as strictly related to the attacks. There are still uncertainties about the actual and complete relation of the man to yesterday’s event. An explosive object was found in the truck. The Swedish page of The Local is one good place where to find clear updates.

Police is now way more present and spread within Swedish cities than it was before. Just yesterday night in Möllevångstorget, Triangeln and the central station in Malmö – the third biggest city – one could see how police was spread. One curious thing for me was to see a policeman kicking a football ball to some guys who were playing in the square. A friend told me that a main character of police in Sweden – nevertheless belonging to Swedish culture in general – is to develope and transmit trust and confidence to inhabitants so that in return they can feel safe and protected by them. What can seem as an insignificant and small gesture can instead be the way to a stronger community building.

It is sometimes hard to not be able to help in these moments, I wish I was living in Stockholm to also open my door to people in need or in some other way give support. Here is a video showing the support showed by the Stockholm folk and others right after the attack. People tried to help those directly involved in the attacks or who could not get home because of traffic being closed, by literally opening their houses to them (#openstockholm) or offering coffee and food on the streets. One of the main churches was left open, police made a space available for people to have a roof on their head, sleep and talk with someone, and an increasing number of people donated blood.

About Sameblod – Samiblood

..and the inspiration it brought.

 

I was sitting at the cinema Panora here in Malmö for a few days ago with my friend, watching the first scenes of a breathtaking and inspiring film which was having that night the first premiere through all Sweden. A few minutes earlier a woman with a traditional dress member of a Southern Sweden association for the promotion and protection of Sami culture, was introducing the film and thanking the audience. I did not know what to expect from the film and as violence scenes took the screen and more and more the main character refused to explicit her cultural belonging, anger was boiling and drops were struggling to flow out.

Two weeks ago my father who came visiting and I went to an exhibition hosted at Malmö museum (Malmö Slotthus) called “Vi är Romer” going through the persecution through history of Roma people, and of the ethnic cleaning pursued by different countries especially Sweden. Crazy to read about what happened just until some tens of years ago, and even more sitting and watching Sameblod just a few days later.

Surely since coming back from Sweden after a long period spent there (can’t believe it has gone almost three years since!) I started to learn and appreciate cultural differences within my culture more than I would have ever expected. The fact that a side of my grandparents come from a little village and that there are different interests shared in my family made it easier to get into the topic with interest and passion. And surely the fact of living in Sweden and studying the program in IMER here in Malmö is helping to put attention on situations for ethnic and language minorities.

Sameblod has been for me one of those steps which leads you to some interesting – and hopefully durable – decisions. University of Tromsø is offering stunning courses – even by distance – in nordic studies and Sami culture. Even though I am already out of the deadline to apply for the next fall semester (they had it in December for international students!), I will probably try for 2018. In the meanwhile, next week admissions for courses and programs in Swedish universities are opening and Uppsala is actually offering distance courses in South Sami language (Sydsamiska)- which is threatened as a minority language among the nine dialects/variations of the Sami language, and it is currently spoken by 500 people in the Swedish territory.

I was wondering whether the Sami singer performing at Melodifestivalen would have received big appreciation after the debut of the film just a week ago, and in some way one can say that this actually happened. The song came third and even though it is “just a music festival” I hope it is symbol of a more participation of the public opinion into the discussion about minorities and recognition of the persecution they have been subject of and they still are paying consequences for. Here below is the song performed at Melodifestivalen which includes extracts of joyk. A jojk (some info in English here) is a traditional Sami song which is usually sung in memory of a person, a place, or an animal, etc.

 

Hope you enjoyed the reading, and if you are interested you may want to check some more about the plot of the film reading this review.

See you soon!

1244737_Sami-Blood

White flakes

Of Nightingale, mentoring for a newcomer, volunteering in Greece and other stuff

Long time since I wrote and it is surely time to keep track of routines and busy lives here in Malmö.

Let’s start saying that Malmö is a crazy city if you are interested in seeing how a society with different cultures is developing and may develop in the future. If you are an international student and living in a monocultural society may sometimes give you some anxiety, then Malmö is surely the place to be, where a bit more than in other places – at least from my point of view – people learn to see inside a person and not only stopping from their look. Of course, I am talking about a slighty difference and especially within the international students environment. Still, being in the middle of the change make you think of how little actions can make a difference and you are eager to influence things on a bigger scale. Together with being a bit less of an original Swedish society than other Swedish cities may be, it comes along that organization at vary levels is not as good as other places.

As coming back from Italy in January, I started the seconde module of the bachelor’s programme, as well as a distance course based at Malmö University, given in Swedish and called “Bilingualism and Identity” in which I totally dive in during my hours sitting at this lovely university library. First university course in Swedish and I totally recommend this one to everyone!

I then continued to meet my mentor child once a week within the Nightingale mentoring program, and things seemed to be better already from the first time we met after the long time of Christmas holidays.

As mentioned before, Malmö is a place full of integration related organizations, volunteering structures and, last but not least, start ups. Surely this makes you tjink a lot about what you could do to actually help people and not just send some likes or interests on Facebook.

Therefore, always in January, I decided to finally take action after I thought it through for quite a long time, and contacted Malmö municipality’s social work organization to apply as a mentor for a new comer to the city. Those whom I actually contacted are the “Sociala Resursförvaltningen, Ensamkommande barn. Familjehemsvården (Social Resource Management, Unaccompanied children, Foster home care), the links are two. “I Malmö möts vi” (in Malmö we meet) is an organization/activity where one can get involved voluntarily to help people who just arrived to Sweden/Malmö through telling them about the culture, or simply talking to/spending time with them as someone they can trust. The mentor is supposed to have lived in Sweden a while and know the basics of the structure, culture and language of the country/place. Unfortunately, in January they told me they were not in need of any mentor for the moment, but just yesterday I received an email asking me if it was ok for me to have my application forwarded to “I Malmö möts vi”. So I am simply waiting for further responses.

It is maturing in me the idea of going to volunteer helping refugees in Greece, through a Swedish NGO I was suggested about during the week. Let’s see how things develop, including the 8 hours online course for humanitarian action/emergencies that needs to be undertaken in order to apply.

I was at a meeting at university with other students with the idea of starting an “Anti-Trump” student movement of protest. Many ideas and interest came up and it feels that if we are going to put motivation, organization skills and tenacity into this we could create something really interesting, including film nights, discussion events, demonstration and more events. The more the merrier. And by the way, what had started as an anti-trump movement seems likely to become more of a “disappointment-for-politics-state-of-mind” movement.

My Swedish is surprisingly getting better after a struggle faced when moving to Skåne because of the dialect…less surprisingly and a bit sad, my English is not really developing in parallel, indeed it feels like I am getting only worse.

For two days ago it started to snow. An incredible amount of snow flakes (to be in Malmö!) finally landed on the city…it had happened earlier in the last months to see some snow flakes, and even a snow storm covered the calm and windy city of Malmö, but flakes never actually landed on the ground. We definitely experience a special snow effect, since it rather goes back to the sky as it is uses to be quite windy! So goodbye to my bike for the moment, as I am sure that if I ride it again I would slip as nothing as ice is covering much of the streets now.  But at least, taking the bus I can joke a bit on the traditional way Swedes have while waiting for the bus…staying in queue! I just saw a meme about it, but it actually happens! See some funny ones below!

I will leave the library now and start to go home, see you soon!

Risultati immagini per swedes waiting for the bus20170208_075131

The culture of gender violence – La cultura della violenza di genere

Some days ago, while doing a school work about representation of gender in different cultures, I ended up finding this article. As I published it on fb many where interested and I promised my Swedish host.sister to translate it to English once I would be done with my exam. So I decided to translate it – as good as I could – and put it also on the blog. The article is about a social phenomenon quite diffused in numbers of countries, not only that of gender violence but especially of unreported cases of gender discrimination and so on. Surely it can be read as a way to understand a bit more about Italian Culture as this is a phenomena really present there but nevertheless it may be applied to all the Western societies and other places’ ways of behaving and seeing women.

Here is the translation, here the article I read, and here the original source where the article was firstly published in Italian. Here the Spanish original.

It exists, we see it every day, it is rooted in the parenting models, in socio-cultural factors: the violence against women is real although it is even accepted as natural (normal), in our misogynistic and sexist society. For gender-based violence do not exist territorial borders nor distinction of class, color, faith and level of education. It is imperceptible because underhanded. A violence present on every level, unlimited and which does not surprise. It does not astonish; it does not give indignation.

The culture of gender violence has its wedges in stereotypes, in the religions created to oppress, in a patriarchal education, in a system that makes the woman as an invisible human being and it denigrate her constantly, which abuses her although her rights and excludes her from justice.

That culture which goes from the negation of labor rights to social equality, to abortion, education, health, progress, which re-victimizes the victim, which hails to the murder as an “alpha male”. Established norms which have to do with double moral, hypocrisy, with fear and the attachment to appearance. Reasons for which emotional, physical, sexual abuses therefore feminicides remain unreported.

And when the victim dares to report she ends up to be judged by the society which accuses her of guilty. Not to talk about a juridical system which convicts and dishonor blaming her of lying, leaving free the aggressor, the same aggressor which for revenge goes to murder her with the terrible and innumerable feminicides of which no society cares about.

The rape culture, also naturalized, that tells us: she is woman. She is a woman, it does not happen anything, she is only a woman: an object, a rest, a slave. That culture which goes from the ascription of roles, colors, which tells us how to think, how to behave, what yes or no following our gender, and that if we do not adequate to norms then whatever may happen to us is just our fault. Even living according to the parameters defined by the patriarchy everyone accuses and blames. Worldwide, there are laws that enslave women.

The culture of gender violence which tells us that we women are the weaker sex, that we cannot play sports assigned to men, that we cannot pursue professions or crafts which has been historically assigned to men; a culture which tells us that our role in life is to be mothers, clean the house and take care of our children, sexually satisfy our men, live for them. And poor that woman that decides to break rules and love another woman! Because she is denigrated, hit, violated and murdered. Even worse, she was just a woman who could not even be a woman. Case closed when the body enters the morgue.

That violence which is in school, in television, in the radio, in art, wherever. In everything which surrounds us.

The way in which news handle information in the occurrence of gender violence: with prejudice, stereotypes and patriarchate. Women which, for personal convenience, support the patriarchate, so deciding to live this life by submission and shadow.

That culture which denies us our personal achievement and life according to our free will.

There is much to say about the culture of gender violence from whatever point of view, on its reasons and consequences and on who benefits from it. What is it that allows us to react in front of this atrocity? What is it that allows us not to denigrate and waking up every time a little girl, a teenager or a woman is raped, when she is hit or murdered? What is it that does not lead us to create the culture of prevention, a restauration of society and models? What is it that does not allow us to respect each other, to value ourselves as human beings holding equal rights? How deep is our indifference that makes us not to grieve and not infuriates every time that we know of a feminicide, of an assaulted woman, of an injustice of labor rights, of a state that does not invest on development policies for women? When will we stop to live by stereotypes, with misogynic and oppressive religions? When will we change patriarchal norms in order to start raising healthy children who are not going to violate in any stage of their lives?

When will we look each other with the certainty of being nothing more than a particle in the immensity of time? And that our passage on Earth is so fleeting that we will put all our efforts to ensure fairness, and that the right to be and to live with free will not be punished? When will we have the integrity to change the culture of gender violence with that of respect?

There are many ways of doing this, the archetypes in which all exercise gender violence, so much so that many times we do not even realize what we are doing, because it is something so rooted in that, as naturalized as the air we breathe, as the heartbeat, the blink of an eye. But gender violence is something of learnt, so it can be changed. We certainly have the ability to eliminate patriarchy, sexism, misogyny and indifference. The question is, when will we do it?

 

 

As we were children – part one

On the train waiting for departure. Karlstad Göteborg – stop – train to Malmö.

Looking for the wagon, unnumbered seats, or is, for once I am not trapped in a mechanism, that of having numbered seats, decided and without a chance to be changed, which I see as an extreme and useless attempt to avoid what is new, the different and the unknown, to control things. And here the train fills up.

Someone with a musical instrument, in a case, too big for me to recognize what it actually is. Everyone is staring at their phone, differently from what happened on the first train I took today, made of wood, creaking compartments, with no wi-fi on board and a toilette never opened by those travelers of the wagon in which I was. Red green black.

Colors of a scarf hanging from someone’s neck, someone about whose country of origin I had made in my head an idea about, and that maybe confirms it. A few minutes later, some passengers and I were going to see him taking out of the jacket a document issued by migrationsverket. The train conductor would ask for his ticket, explaining to him a way to fold it so that he would not need to take it out of the transparent case every time he was traveling. Because without a ticket one cannot travel, and the Swedish rules, especially for a time advantage, need to be observed.

“Att lussa”, a verb for a secular tradition

As Christmas time approaches, here in Sweden the 13th December of every year is time for Lucia celebrations, related to the Italian Sicilian Lucia marthyr in 304 A.D., even though of unknown origins for many Swedes – or better, the path Lucia took from Italy to be part of a Swedish tradition is not really well known by many people in Europe yet. Let’s take it in an easy way, Lucia here is meant to bring light – Saint Lucia was, and still is, after all the saint protector of blind people – and way before the day which for some centuries ago was supposed to be the shortest of the year, almost every window is decorated by an advent candlestick (advent ljustake), reminding the Lucia parade taking time on the 13th. Therefore on the 13th you will do Lucia, and since in Sweden they like to make verbs starting from whatever more or less English word you may wonder of – see googla, luncha, fota, joina – you will “lussa”

So, what is all this fancy thing about?

Luciatåg (the Lucia train!?) is a procession/parade which manifests one of the basic cultural aspects of Sweden, not to forget one of the most struggling – but also cozy – aspects of living in Sweden. Winter, cold, dark, lights and sweet things to eat.

Lucia celebration contains and tries to solve the all of them, with people gathering in the early morning at working places, schools and universities, at crazy times if one thinks about the darkness covering Sweden in this time of the year. A procession of white gowns-dressed people – and with people I make no exceptions, Sweden is a land for gender equality and so it be! both women and men are gonna wear it – is gonna follow Lucia, a girl wearing a crown with candles. Possibly these should be real so that the panic of fellign down during the procession, and put the all building on fire gets higher on this day of joy! Oh I forgot, people wearing long white hats with golden stars on and holding a stick with a star on. Then, in the procession for children, ginger bread biscuits and Santa Claus costumes are also included!

With the university choir MASK at Malmö university we had Lucia both yesterday and today, as a  start of our concert-season since the choir was stopping for a while before this semester. But singing both at a company here in Malmö yesterday morning and at an old people house gave us the energy and hope for next semester!

As I said, Lucia covers part of the Swedish reality you may experience when living here, because of course, if there is not a big Swedish tradition which is not celebrated properly, then there is no celebration without a special cake, and for this I may advice you to check a recipe of lussekatter/lussebullar (here for Swedish reader and here for an English version), even if maybe a bit late for this year’s Lucia celebration. But surely you will still be able to smell saffron wherever you walk through cities in Sweden or buy them in the closest Pressbyrån.

Sankta Lucia started to be very important to me, underlining how culture can be shapeable, ever changing and not only to be acquired during one’s childhood. For some reasons certain things do acquire an importance personal to each of us. For me Lucia – celebrated the first time three years ago, but better last year with the university choir in Karlstad – puts together my passion for singing, the memory of the start of my life here in Sweden, especially in Karlstad, and a lot of more memories, which are part of something which I am definitely really missing every day!

I leave you with the one version I prefer of Swing Low Sweet Chariot, started to sing while we were on the bus back from our Lucia singing this evening, and with a French song which I listened to at least a twenty times so far (just today!).

Looking for other intresting readings? Check thelocal.se article and the official Sweden page sweden.se

Värmland is waiting for me after a presentation at university tomorrow, and before another to be given on Tuesday, then Italy will come together with Sun, family, friends and food!

I will see you soon!

Funny curious musical findings

I start with saying what I told about Sweds already more than once…that they love Italy, in every dimension. Surely sun, food and wine are the most appreciated things. The first one easily remarked by someone during the choir camp yesterday, something like – “we go to Italy during winter to gain energies, I do not know why we have not yet learnt to hibernate as many animals do”.

Talking about food, Italy is definitely admired for pasta, pizza, and whatever can be called “Italian” going from the add of some oregano to a squeeze of tomato sauce. I am definitely not against food experiments since I love to prepare food and eat and try new things and whatever, but sometimes homesickness is on the way when hearing the “Italian” be used too often.

Speaking wine – Systembolaget surely has a 50% or more of the total amount of wines coming from Italy. If you ask recommendation they would probably recommend you an Italian wine – many Swedes I know really do not have a wide knowledge about wines characteristics, and I am not blaming anyone, since I myself do not have any clue about how a wine can taste differently from one another!

(If you want to put all these things together and really try to understand the feeling – almost one of repressed cultural belonging that Swedish people have towards Italy – you should definitely watch the film Små Citroner Gula. I finished to watch it with a girl from the choir some hours ago, and I will never be tired of it!)

…and then the music. I do not know how it has been possible to cope and translate – mostly the melody was taken – from Italian as many songs as it happened here in Sweden without making everyone aware that those songs actually had an Italian origin. Three years ago I sat in the car of my host-family listening a song from Veronica Maggio who is one of the most famous singers in Sweden, half Italian from father side and half Swedish. Just the song they send on the radio that time was Välkommen in.

Trying to fully immerse in the text and try to understand as much as possible, all of a sudden she started to speak Italian – “Oh mare nero oh mare nero oh mare nero”. These words are from an Italian song from the singer Lucio Battisti – one of them who made the history of music in Italy – in 1971. This is just a little example since just some words are used and it may be fun to know which the original actually is.

Going on…

but there is one which is probably one of the most know Swedish songs called Var ska vi sova i natt (Where should we sleep tonight) which is a song from 1982, just a year after the original “Sarà perché ti amo” was released. Swedish peopel do love Italy and they are more than fast to show it!

And to finish…another very famous artist part of the Italian music culture, was Adriano Celentano who started to sing when he was younger than eighteen. He wrote this song and sang it in 1966.

And one year later Sweden got another smash music example…

I definitely find this interesting, fun and a bit funny. There are surely more examples than these ones and surely between a lot of countries and languages which takes place! And it is so interesting to see hoeunfortunately now, for just some words taken from another song, or maybe two or three tones in a sequence someone is called for plagiarism, while the sharing and diffusion should be way more promoted than it actually is!

I leave you with a pair of pieces I heard in the weekend..goodnight!

 

Got to sing this one in the choir while the conductor was playing by piano and we were free to sing whatever we felt comfortable with. The result was a 20 voices compainment to a very know piece, and a perfect self confidence and team building experiment for a choir.

Notteprimadell’esame

The night before the first class room exam at Malmö university I sit here and wish to put something meaningful in this post.

I am try to find solutions since I am struggling with learning Skånska, which is one if not the most difficult dialect spoken in Sweden, hard to understand not only for second language speakers but also for native Swedish, for what I heard at least! Compared to Värmländska – the dialect which I learned to understand during my first year in Sweden and which is also considered to be “on a different level” because of the similarities to Norvegian language spoken just some steps from the Värmland county – Skånska is definitely more similar to another language than to a dialect. To put it in brief, Skåne was part of  Denmark indeed for a long time ago, and the language still presents deep influences of the Danish – “they speak as they had a potato in their mouth” to cite one of the most “stereotypes” on the Danish language. Funny enough, I happened to be stopped and asked informations by some Danish people and understood everything, while they were those struggling, but when I speak with someone with dialect form Malmö I may ask to repeate a sentence more than a few times! Curious about this all dialect thing? Check some audios from this page. The region in the link is Skåne, and the closest area to Malmö is the on on the lowest left. Good luck!

The main problem is that with the few Sweds I am meeting here in Malmö I do not even speak Swedish, sometimes because they speak this dialect, or sometimes because I am so afraid to not understand this dialect that I even convince myself that I do not understand those who do not actually speak this dialect. Amazing psychological process uh?

Moving on, I went on svt play to see which series and films were available to see on demand, and doing my best cutting off horror, thrillers and other not-for-me-films which Sweds seem to love from my list, I found Friman Frökens krig, a short serie about the life of Anna Whitlock. Born in Stockholm in 1852, she fought for women and education rights. I will not tell more about it and recommend to watch the movie, as there are good historical insights and the language is pretty clear, excepting some old forms.

 

Part one. Reality matters – Of refugees routes and Sicily

Italian navy rescue asylum seekers

June 7, 2014 – Mediterranean Sea / Italy (Massimo Sestini)

I like music, therefore rythm, structure and contrast. Thoughts and questions, ideas. Emotions are neverto be taken apart. I do keep my playlist of romantic music and passion for romantic comedy movies, but deep emotions which are difficult to go through are important as well. I will talk about films, something which in the last months I have been particularly being passionate about. Be it to get to know Sweden a bit more, or to higher skills in a language which I will probably never speak as good as I would like to, to compare places, people, or just because in that strange feeling of feeling moved more and more, I feel comfortable.

I was going through one of the first week of “settling down” in this new city. Time was never enough and everything felt as I was floating on a cloud metres from the ground. I tried to follow every event or social activity hoping I would soon find my favorite places, weekly appointments I would not have missed in the following months. I missed Karlstad a lot, especially the choir and my really good Swedish friend. First from my father and later in a course at university, I got to know about the Italian film named “Lampedusa“. I was late to see it and the last cinema where they were screening it was indeed a very particular one, called Panora. It is a folketsbio – the translation to English is not that difficult as it becomes “cinema of the people/folk” – which (should) mean that the prices are not that high and the films screened are on a different level than than those advised with the only commercial aim. I love this type of cinemas and I have my favourite one in Rome, called Eden, another reason for which I was desperately trying to find something similar here in Malmö. So the first film was a very emotional Italian film, with such a strong Sicilian dialect it was even easier for me to read the Swedish subtitles.

As many of you may know, Lampedusa is a small island in the South of Italy, in the region of Sicily. Way less than 200 km from the Tunisian coast, it has been in the past few years end of one of the roots mostly used by Africans looking for refuge as a way to easily – difficult to write these words, but peculiar criterias are used in order to determine whether one’s choice to cross tens of countries is “easier” than the other one – reach a European country. It starts to be replaced by other routes such as the Balcan route but unfortunately still many are crossing the Mediterranean sea. Lampedusa is known for the hospitality of its inhabitants, not even comparable to the levels of racism that Italians would otherwise reach in other spaces, influenced by different political views, other historical backgrounds, those behaviours that “sea people” (Gente di mare) would not even think about. But it is also famous as a land of first steps into a bureocratic system and carelessness which has been raising deep questions about laws regarding refugees status. The film shows the calm of a Sicilian – let’s say traditional – household, contrasting the struggle of hundreds of people dying and seeing other disappearing in the depth of a water, a nightmare for all of them. the contrast of people playing footballn the same who some nights Before where risking their lives for toxic inhalations, cold or drowning. Racism does not find place in this movie, at least not in a direct way. But if you watch it you will inevitably feel guilty of something you did not directly chose to be, to do. You will realize how our extremely political and economical conception of borders is destroying the world, not talking about the extreme and sometimes useles importance we give to racial and ethnical division . Inevitably, maybe unwilling, but we do. Éuropean Union defines everyone not belonging to that as a not ever “second country Citizen” but a “third country Citizen”. You may not only miss a document, you miss a document from a “civilized country”, and then you miss European citizenship. The more the borders the more the distinction, the more importance is given to difference the less we pay attention to similarities among us.

I admit I liked how the film director mainly focused on the emotional and tragic obstacles faced by these refugees – Italians like highly emotional things, which makes the first point in this post even more valid- even because focusing too much on the concept of racism often makes it loosing its meaning and importance or even developing the fear for it, causing racist behaviors to occur even more. Although, showing how good at the end the emergency is being faced does not lead to a realistic screening of reality. Dublin Convention requires every migrant arriving without documents to have their fingerprints collected by the entrance of an EU country. Scenes in the film where this is done are showed, inevitably convincing those watching that these rules are indeed being followed, that the refugee “crisis” is exclusively originating from the outside, and that a political European catastrophe is not implied in neither the cause of nor the solution process for it.

But everything has pros and cons, good and bad sides, and I do recommend to watch this film.

 

 

Näktergalen mentorsverksamhet – The Nightingale program

Definitely one of the most valuable and satisfying experiences I have decided to put myself into during this first semester at Malmö university, is that of being mentor for a girl as part of the Nightingale program. In Swedish “Näktergalen” the idea of a network of children between 8 and 12 years and university students was actualy started in the city of Malmö in 1997. I wonder if any other city would have given such a chance for a program like this to develop, taking in mind the high level of cultures present here and the social issue which came forward as a theme to be faced following an innovative path. But what is the Nightingale program about?

Basically, applications are received from a bunch of university students who want to dedicate 2-3 hours of a day in the week to a child, doing daily activities, such as getting around in the city, talking, watching a film, baking etc. On the other side, children between the age of 8 and 12 attending different primary schools send their applications, looking forward to meet their mentor, someone who will be a friendly, adult, and fun person to be with. Both of them will send their applications with their interests, motivations, and a photo, and other thing which may be relevant and useful when it comes to the matching. As a mentor, one will have an introduction course on what it means and implies to take part in the program, and then visit the school to meet the teachers and get to know where the class of your child is – since you will mostly pick your “mentor child” from school.

Neither kids nor mentors get to know each other if not on the starting day, which in the case of Malmö university was yesterday. After I “was found” by my mentor child looking for the number I was holding, we went around for a quiz walk – in Swedish “tips promenad” really characteristic of the Swedish culture – to get to know each other a bit more. Later on mentors, children and parents met each other to learn a bit more about, at the end, everything about it. Which days are best to meet, contact details, allergies and other “adult stuff”, while of course eating a fika and getting coffee.

What the program is not about. It has nothing to do with working as a baby sitter. The mentoring is voluntary and meeting times are decided together with the child and the parents, taking in mind the load everyone has because of university study and work, as well as personal needs and other planning issues. It is just about meeting once a week for 2 to 3 hours each and it is definitely something that, if you want, you can make as part of your routine with no problems. There is completely aknowledgement about the meeting time and nor of the parts are supposed to feel stressed about finding time to meet, otherwise the all meaning of the program would disappear. Although, the point of the program is to care about the other, for both the student and the child to be responsible and flexible and to be open to learn from the other and teach the other things. In some way one of the meanings of the process is to learn to teach to and learn from the other and stay with the other. Recognizing someone’s values as well as encouraging them, engaging themselves in something you would not think you would otherwise do.

The Nightingale program is part of the variety of programs available at different universities and schools in Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries, plus in Uganda. It is reaching more and more popularity through years. When I was in London one month ago, visiting the office of “The Challenge” which “raises awareness of the social and economic risks associated with social segregation”, we talked about their interest in starting to be part of this mentoring program, so the network is continuously is growing.

Of student associations and happy phonetics

After some hectic moments since I arrived in Malmö, I can finally say I am on the right path for a bunch of good moments during my stay in this city. Taking in count that after I stepped to Sweden as exchange student it took almost more than a year to go through and overcome a struggling culture shock, I am more than happy to see that after two months I start to feel at home here in Malmö.
The variety of student associations at the university of Malmö gives you a way to develop your interests and get to know new ones as well as a lot of people around, and most important it gives you the chance to feel at home easier and faster. The UF Malmö – Utrikespolitiska föreningen/Foreign affairs – association arranges lectures and debates every week. Among the others, in the last two days we had the chance to see the US presidential debate in a lecture room, followed by a debate seeing politicians from both democratic and republican side as participants. I saw the first debate on my own and still need to see the following two, but seeing the last one sitting together with a lot of students from the Global Political Studies department, interested and at the same time confused about the level of many of the discussions in the debate, gives you a totally different feeling.
Another association is MASK – Malmö studentkör – which started to rehearse again after a long break last year.
Sweds like to schedule and to see things well organized, so some of the things you will never be able to escape if you take part in a student association at a Swedish university, will be:

  • a membership fee, which can be within a range of 20 to 200 kr – 2 euros to 20 euros more or less
  • a meeting, in the start of the semester where board members have to be decided and decisions about a variety of things need to be taken. It can take up to hours – as it happened in the choir I previously sang, or a few minutesas it was this week in the MASK.
  • fika – happily pronounced fee-ka, is not just part of whatever meeting or social activity you will take part in Sweden, it is a basis in the Swedish cultural iceberg. Funny or not, some days ago I was talking with some Germans about the thing that in Sweden you need a special word and activity to be social, which – at least from a not Nordic prospective – is a bit sad. On my side, I do love it. The “fika thing” is as informal way to get to know each other or gather with a friend, which can be similar to “having a coffee” in Italy or “going out for a pizza”, with the difference of the basic need of sugar and coffeine you definitely appreciate in dark times, a part from the social part. Therefore assimilation of the Swedish culture is made way easier that other ones just thanks to this: coffee or tee, fruit and some sweet thing, most of the times offered in different occasions or brought by some members of an association. You can decide to take your own, or the choir decide that everyday a voice in the choir need to bring it.
  • a sittning – a word which actually relates to a party you will participate mostly sitting, but of course is not, or at least not totally. Organized to get to know each other, as an international participant I appreciate these events a lot, since I learn to see how outgoing and talkative many start to be in when they are in a party mood.
  • a weekend of meetings and partying. Board members or members of an association usually reunite for a weekend where to know each other better, organize things and party. In two weeks we will have a cottage weekend with the choir, staying two nights, taking saunas and excercising songs for the coming winter concert.

The city is full of events going on, especially if you have an interest deeply related to culture and language issues, as I do. An Arabic bookshop is opening next week, a film screening and a debate are taking place tonight at Garaget, part of the city libraries network, and national day celebrations of different countries are often held, and English in already “the new Swedish” in a city regarded as not part of Sweden by everyone in this country.

An eye on Esperanto, and open eyes on Malmö

28th September

As you probably noticed by yourself, I am pretty productive in this week and feeling optimist about blogging. I mean, always loved my blog but my interest in it is just developing deeply. Coming back from London I feel like my life is leading somewhere – don’t ask me where, since that would really be a deep issue to talk about, and the excitement of the moment would not accept it! Maybe because of the number of activities done last week, or because taking a break and coming back to Malmö really made me recognize where I have to stand now, or for the book in sociolinguistics I bought, and the first good presentation at university with a balanced interested and funny group…I feel to write as much as it gets.

Today as said we had this presentation in class, after I woke up at 6.00 to get prepared and relaxed before the presentation. The first-graded work of the program went actually well and we cheered eating a kanelbulle with the others. Want to know more about this strange and dangerous thing? Just go here 😉 The hall of the major building of Malmö university was full of stands from student associations, from the Nightingale program, to language exchange meeting, the foreign affair association, the environment one or the lgbtq issues one.

You should have seen the scene when I almost literally jumped on one of the desks full of papers with the word “Esperanto”. It did not quite come to my mind as soon as I read it – the amount of coffee drank since Monday for carrying on the preparation for the group presentation really made me a bit crazy – but Esperanto is a language created at the end of the 1800s with the uthopia of using it as a universal language. Putting together the easiest forms from different languages, though especially indo european ones plus something from Japanese, it should avoid misunderstanding between language speakers since it is thought to be easier to learn for adult than English would be. Reading fast some info about it, being a big pot of languages it is supposed to develop your brain abilities and your ability to learn other languages. By the way! I got this amazing paper about how Esperanto language works and some – or I think even all of them – gramatical rules. The Esperanto association meets just in the area where I live, and sometimes some teachers from Denmark comes there for a lecture, directly jumping into a talk in Esperanto. I know how all of this can sound uthopian and senseless but I was just thinking about focusing on learning a language and did not yet have the motivation to do it…this is just completely crazy and I am completely in of course!

30th September

Two days ago it started to blow in Malmö. And Malmö is one of those city you see in the news where people have to do their best in order not to fell down walking by the sea or biking somewhere. Well you probably will see me in one of those scenes if I keep biking everyday to uni, even when the wind is on a average of 8/s and it does not seem to get lower. At least we have the Sun! Wait…at least the sky is blue, the Sun almost said goodbye to Sweden…

Have to go to university now, and find a spot of time to take a photo for my Swedish ID!

See you soon

 

Brixton district in London – a pop “ghetto” area

There is always something you will never forget about your trip, and among them there is always something you are not going to talk about. I will tell you about one of the areas I have been exploring in London which I am never going to forget. You thought I would tell all my “secrets” to you people right? Sorry for disappointing you 😉

 

Let’s start to say that Brixton may be called by many as one of the most multicultural ghettos of London, located in the southern part of the city. Going out from the underground you will be in the middle of a unstoppable wave of people coming from all directions – which is actually not that different from the rest of all the streets in London – restaurants, shopping centers and street take aways, plus maybe different people singing outside the stop.

I was a bit curios about this interesting area and looked up some infos about it, among the others, here. Thanks to the little things I read so far, I could see how the almost abandoned district was once a rich area similar to that of the Swedish area Rosengård, where riots are happening and of which people are mostly aware and afraid of. The history of the Brixton district is a particular one, going from being a poor area, to one of development, then place of social riots and then again gaining a certain “respect”. By the way, Brixton got a population boost in the middle 1900s, but after it was bombed in WWII, living conditions for those who still were living there after the war were not acceptable. Social riots started and especially during 1981, Operation Swamp 81 led by the police aiming at lowering crime rates, permitted to arrest whoever was suspected of crime, leading to up to 1000 thousands arrests. Gentrification happened mostly from 1990s on, and in a few words, it has completely changed the aspect of this area, luckily still keeping the level of multiculturalism pretty high – most people living there are from the Caribbean. If you are curious about the term gentrification, you may be interested in reading this article “5 myths about gentrification“.

Even though I did not take that many photos as I thought I did, these three are more than representative of the place. The way from the metro stop to the market was surprising frightening beautiful attracting smelling tasty at the same time. People of all countries meeting in a way I am used to since I come from Italy, sitting on plastic chairs in front of their houses or shops, though immersed in a too poor situation than the one I had been used to from the previous days in London. Take away places formed by a little kitchen on the side of the street, as it was someone’s apartment kitchen, where you could see in through the open window and glimpse a big pan. For some reasons I felt I was in Thailand or India, even though I have never been there and the most population in Brixton did not come from neither those countries.

We went into the market, being welcomed by huge flags of every country in the world, mostly placed exactly close by the restaurants serving food from those countries. Going into the market, half of it – mostly the shops in the centre – were closed because of the night time, but restaurants and bars where open, creating the right atmosphere/balance (still looking for the right word for the Swedish “stämning” making you feel completely out of time and space, maybe on a dancing street in South America instead than a suburb in London. We heard some music and being the last night before traveling back to Sweden what do you think we did? We started dancing following this caribbean music, just in front of the stereo, in a street – between the 5th and the 1st avenue – where everyone was eating talking enjoying the music getting warm in a slightly chilly air of a September night. We danced starting from an empty dance floor that nothing was if not a cement path with a table by the closest wall, where we put our things and forgot the others. Funny as it gets, was to see a video of us dancing, published on the fb page of Brixton Market.

Little things about Brixton

In 2009, the Brixton pound was coined, in order to protect the variety of business and to higher the popularity of the area. I was really surprised by reading this, and wish I’d known about it before leaving from London!

Brixton is also the part of the city where David Bowie was born.

I will just say goodnight with a music video of the song “La Gozadera” putting together many countries of South America, showing flags and some streets which definitely made me think of the Brixton market. See you soon!

Camden Town and its markets

Definitely one of the most popular destinations in the huge city of London, Camden town found a chance to steal a piece of my heart as well. You could definitely decide to spend hours walking through it – I suggest though not to bring your wallet and just go around getting lost – to find places where you will come back “the next time”.

We decided to visit Camden market on Sunday, the day after a hilarious group of girls from Malmö university stepped – many for their first time – on the ground of Luton airport. Starting already from the arrival day, we have had a very tight schedule visiting numbers of organizations, both NGO and GO, offices where programs for integration, migration and much more are led, journalists, relevant people in the issue of multiculturalism, gender equality, respect and more.

schermata-2016-09-25-alle-18-17-11

A map with some of the places we visited on Sunday

Having Sunday as a day to recover after the tiring travel – we woke up at 2 a.m. in the morning to leave from Copenhagen at 7.00 a.m. we visited pretty much, from Camden Town to Soho for a Chinese dinner all together, stopping at Primrose hill to see the city from a different view. On the way we walked to Baker street and saw the door to the apartment of the Sherlock Holmes stories. On the right side of the map is the hostel Clink 78, ten minutes walk from the underground station King’s Cross/St.Pancras. A big hostel which I definitely recommend if you are thinking about visiting London, especially if you are a backpacker. The hostel has a bar where to meet people in a very easy way with music and very kind staff. You have breakfast included in the price – and a big kitchen place, plus two or more living rooms, with tv and computers. I hope you will like the photos, I will definitely write more in the next hours/days 🙂

After this week I almost cannot see myself without all the knowledge I earned in a so full week. Really tired right now and cannot promise “real” and interesting posts, but at least I will show the originality of Camden markets, still asking myself why I did not see a wave of “Swedish” hipsters stepping by all the little stores.

Following my love for multiculturalism I will soon tell you about the suburb of Brixton – which I always mixed with Brexit, which on its side was wrongly pronounced “breakfast” by some of us in the first days. Brixton may seem as the ghetto of London, though its difference and originality – which would be loved by those famous nordic “hipsters” -definitely attracts thousands of Londoners as well as tourists, offering clothes markets during day and food places during night. I would love to write more but I’ll see you later with a deeper story about this part of the city.

City

Get off. Walk. Watch. Mind the gap. Red. Smells. Scents. Go. Run. Left. Difference. Map. Gap. Second. Ready. Culture. Diversity. Equality? Respect? Silence. Seats.

Arrived in Malmö with the train from Copenaghen half a hour ago, got a drive from the boyfriend of the organizer of the trip – who was more energetic than thirty five teenagers would be after such a busy week we have experienced.

We all slept a very few hours after a night of fun between the multicultural area of Brixton and Soho.

Meeting people dancing on streets on African rithms eating different singing the same new steps colored drinks stopping again starting moving arms hips waist hair black surprise images excitement between the fifth and the first in a market of hidden restaurants stereos tacos origami faces rythm drums and flowing convincing people bored up down moon shining and dogs barking wood of a table where sitting if not dancing serious faces moving as in films loud music lower volume up again. Dance.

London ♡

Chapter 2

The day arrived in which I finally start to be someone here in Sweden. I do not want to be too negative, but I have to admit that life without a Swedish personal number is, if not impossible, way more difficult than someone not living in Sweden – or whichever Nordic country – could imagine.

After a year of exchange where I got a temporary personal number but did not anyway have way to use it, I stayed another year in Sweden last year, just getting a student personal number, which is totally useless for everything since it is just indeed a student identification number. Full of surprise, here at Malmö university I got registred with the same code I had last year at Karlstad university. By the way! I got really emotional yesterday when someone from Skatteverket answered to my email saying that my procedure was completed and they had sent the letter to my letterbox. I could not believe how this four numbers really change you prospective!

It is a number formed by you birthday and then four numbers, calculated in a way I do not really care about right now. Since Sweden is a very bureocratic and “fair” and “right” and “serious” country – and tax paying one – they like to control and check that everything goes right. Whatever discount card you want to have you need a personal number, house ensurance, bank services without going to the bank for every least issue, booking a medical visit so that you do not need to queue after all the people who booked before you, or during you wait, book a gym – in my case! – without paying any month in advance, and getting the chance to actually have the student discount! There are thousand of things you may not be able to do without a personal number, which totally opens your doors to real life when you get it.

Yesterday it was a long and joyful day, also because after waiting my ups package coming a week later – you know, they were surprised that the entrance door was closed and they did not call, because of course not else in the world entrance doors are closed right? By the way, in the package there was this tv that I got as a present from my dad. I will connect it tomorrow when I will be able to get the right cable – and crap how I hate to go to electronic shops since I do not understand anything about these things! Today I will go to the bank and change my adress as well as leave my PN, buy cables, pay the money to get a Swedish Id card, compulsory as soon as you get a PN.

In the afternoon I will have lesson and then will meet with some of the classmates to discuss about what was spoken during the class. We came along on this after yesterday’s class and we all felt very productive and great, we’ll see how it turns out. What is sure is that we all are very mixed regarding culture and this always leads to discussion and more understanding during school.

Then I will go to Triangeln area, to watch an Italian film at Panora Folkets Bio, the film is called “Bortom Lampedusa” in Swedish, but the original title is Fuocoammare”. Italian audio with Swedish subtitles, bit of a challenge to find someone to go with, but I think some from class will follow anyway.

Something which I do not think I wrote about in the previous posts is that I will go to London on Saturday, with the foreign affairs student association at Malmö University (Utrikespolitiska Föreningen Malmö). I am so excited for the amount of meetings the organizer put together in a very full immersion in – generally – human rights issues. We are going ot visit among others, Amnesty International, Lgbtq associations and the Swedish Embassy plus much much ore. Besides the alarm clock at 4a.m. I think it will be very constructive!

I post some photos of the last days. Gosh it is just twenty minutes to ten in the morning but I am so tired already, and the mission no-coffee – except in the morning – is just at its start, but I have to make it fine preparing for the long winter! Hope I will make it to tonight when we will go at the student pub!

I am in shorts, this crazy time is getting everyone in shorts and beachwear, incredible right? 27° as highest yesterday in the afternoon, kind of sad if you think about climate change consequences, but people living in Nordic countries cannot do anything than enjoy it.

I’ll see you soon, have a nice day!

Migration rithm

Twenty after midnight. Thought I was going to write the second post of (the) – yester-day but it would not happen. I was just thinking of something that happened to me today.

I was going home tonight and saw a family, mum, dad and two young kids who probably were not 10 either yet. My eyes fall on them, especially the father, since he was wearing a t-shirt with the colors of the Swedish flag, a shirt reminding me of the Finnkampen (an athletic competition held every year in Sweden or Finland between the two countries). My eyes stood a lot on that shirt thinking about those frames happening three years ago. Then I saw a Finnish name on the back of the shirt – would not be surprising to see a Finnish competing in a Swedish team you know. Then my brain clicked again, thinking that person was maybe Finnish. All this happened too slowly not be shown to the people of the family. They looked at me.

Just a few seconds after I realized I was looking at a refugee family, with no little embarassement or guilt I have to say. I have been working – even if just once – at a refugee house where people after getting gathered, were displaced all over Sweden. They did not get to know where they were going to be “sent” if not the same morning. And the pawns game continues. They are just “things” in need of being moved, trying to adjust

I could recognize the mixed outfit the family I saw got to wear, gathering things at the refugee centres. And I could recognize the distance between me and them, a distance which I would have loved to cancel, if my mind just did not have gone so far with my memories in the past, just if I would not have been so selfish – but at the end, was I?

Braids on the girls black hair, making me think of different Syrian hairstyles I saw before.

Lost walks.

This is Sweden, this is Malmö. Incredibly full of culture and for some reason related to that, impossible to be free from clashes, cultural, political.

I’ll go to bed soon, I’ll see you soon.

Quitting caffeine

I am trying to make everything a bit healthier but without a Swedish personal number everything is way more difficult. I went to the gym on Wednesday to buy a monthly card but without a PN you are supposed to pay six months in advanced with no student discount. So I just tried the gym a day and will go back when I will get this holy personal number, or maybe I should check if they have a week trial.

Next week could be very good as well as very bad, since I am waiting for at least – so far – three very big answers.

  1. I have applied to become a Digital Ambassador for the Study in Sweden student blog. They take at max. m.o.l. 10 students (I think) to blog about their lives as students in Sweden. I read it just five hours before the deadline on Wednesday and got a little nap on it (one of those days I got naps around 18.00-19.00! And this sound as lazy as just a Italian could do right?)
  2. I am actually waiting for a personal number, that really, more or less soon, should be really mine! I got both a letter with a document to fill and more documents to send, and a email telling that I did not hand in the right documents – and I am getting a bit crazy about this! But I think next week my life may start again.
  3. Last Monday I did this audition to get into the choir at university, it is one of the two at uni and is called Academic Choir and Orchestra at Malmö University – it is a bit bigger and more talent-requiring than the other. I tried but I cannot really read notes even though I can sing, so the choir director will let me know in case the others he will examine will not be better than me. So, waiting for this also!

On Thursday night I went to sleep around 23.00, when suddenly I heard much noise coming from outside like shots. Boom-boom boom. Then long pause, and again. I really felt like something was wrong and I promised to check the newspaper the morning after. I read that – as usual I should add – there was a shooting toward an apartment in Malmö. What happens often here in Malmö are shootings between criminal gangs – even though I completely feel safe in this city!

A thing I really enjoy of Malmö is its multiculturalism which makes also the reason for which I wanted to study especially here. Everyday going around I at least hear five languages, excluding English heard almost all the time. And seeing so many differences is really making me feel in a so different way (which sounds strange but it’s awesome).

Now I will get ready to bike to work, or better to have coffee with a girl of my program. I leave you with some nice images from the last days in Malmö 🙂

See you soon!

Biking in Malmö, course intro, work and home sweet home

I’ll start saying that Malmö is one of the first cities in the world regarding cycling paths, number of bikers and of bikes.

Let’s say that since I stepped the second time in Malmö during March this year, and the third time last week, I was wishing I had a bike from the very first moment, ‘cause it seems to be that unless you have a bike, you do not count really much in this city! In the last days I almost got killed by two bikes, once because I did not look properly when I was crossing the cycle path, secondly ‘cause going out from a shop, a guy cycled crazy coming from left. He said sorry, also in English so I guess he was a new exchange students thinking that Malmö is a paradise for bikers. And well, it is partly true. But there are a few things that did not make me feel safe to have my music on during my first kilometers done by bike today.

Firstly, all the rules you would follow on the road with cars, apply almost in the same way between bikers, so those cycling on main cycling paths, have precedence on those coming from minor roads, and so on. Second, even though it is a bike friendly city, it doesn’t mean you have precedence on everybody and do not need to watch over yourself, car drivers expect you to respect rules and to bike carefully, so free biking city if everyone respect each other. Thirdly, there are people, cars and bikes coming everywhere, so you’d better watch out all the time! There is a thing I never experienced before and it is that of really using your bike to replace a public transport, the feeling you get is a completely different one. On the one hand because it is pretty long and uphill and windy on the way to university from my place, on the other because in this way I really spare money on the bus, and why not on gym card!

Let’s say that there is kind of a underground market of bikes here, but you know, Malmö is close to Copenhagen, Kristiania not far away, lots of people from anywhere (there’s the major underground crime space for what I heard from someone, do not believe in that completely though!). Many bikes on market are stolen, and when you want to buy one which is not, you should ask the bike seller for a paper signed by the previous owner, maybe warranty sheets and so. Opposite to what I thought, it is not easy to buy a bike – I am talking about second-hand ones – and the average price is around one thousand crowns, which is 100 euros more or less. But I found someone selling a very old bike, with rust, an annoying sound and a not working dinamo for just 400 crowns, well you think I said no? I can still have a complete refining in city for 200 crowns, yes, so cheap! This happened yesterday and I am so happy I can bike around, have some sport and spare money not taking the bus. Now, I don’t know where this bike comes from, but I hope nobody got stolen of it, even though I expect it to disappear soon, or maybe it even looks too old to be stolen?! By the way, here in Malmö I saw everything, bikes without wheels, wheels without bike, but also heard from a girl from the US that she got stolen of her bike, and the person returned it in the same place the day after. So, Malmö is a place to be, just to laugh a bit and experience it.

Malmö is really the place with the kindest people all over Sweden, as I was told by many before moving here. In the last few days I asked a few people for directions – today also to another biker – and I always got the answer “well I am going there, you can follow me and I’ll show you!”. Really, really kind people.

Today I had my introduction lesson to the program I will start soon, the first lesson is on Wednesday, and following the Swedish academic style, there will not be many lectures every week, instead we have a more individual work to focus on. The literature to read though is still not really much for this first semester, still much to do though. This made me think of how many activities I will be able to do in order to fill free time and get some experience in this multicultural environment.

As I said, on Wednesday I came with my father and host family to Malmö, then I was with my father until Friday night. We went around, to Ikea of course, and mounted a lot of furnitures, and here are some pictures of the days together. I know that in the last months in Sweden I took way more photos, but now I am very used to Sweden and less things come to my eyes as often as it happened before.

P.S. With a average wind of 8 to 10m/s here in Malmö, the way to dress your hair is definitely a chignon (we say “cipolla” in Italian, “onion”), and I think the this is how most people will see my face now on!

Of new goodbyes, new plans and coffee addiction.

I never manage to leave places I have been living in for a while without gather so many memories. Maybe it is just because I am growing, or the routine of travelling makes appreciate every single minute. Or the philosophy of always changing and getting better thanks to what we have gone through in the past. Or maybe the quotes by Henri Bengtson I studied on my last year of school, saying that “The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.” is really starting  to be part of me.

I am writing a short post, my English got worse in this month since I spoke Swedish all the day, but there are always pros and cons for everything right?

Tomorrow I am leaving heading to Italy. Friends, family, Italian food and talks of this and that have been missing. Every time I go back to my country it feels like the first time, though after a few times I did it, now I am not as excited as I used to be in the past. Sweden feels like home now and when I dring cappuccino I miss the Swedish coffee, “to talk” very much to everyone because otherwise I look “shy” makes me always missing the silent and peace among Swedish people. The first times, seeing that nothing had changed back in Italy was kind of a disappointment, now I am nothing else than happy to have something to go back to, to compare Sweden with.

“It takes three seconds to give an impression of yourself to someone else”…I heard when I started to work at the restaurant some weeks ago. Nothing more true than this if you are working in a restaurant…you can’t help people? Still smile and say you’ll come to them very soon. Incredible how you get to learn in a “short” time as a month if you start to work in a new place.

Tomorrow I will wake up soon and get the ferry to Stockholm, then bus, bus, and plane to Rome. 30° and thunders are waiting for me tomorrow there and smog is not going to miss!

The time of staying alive thanks to coffee will be soon over…my Italian part is soon gonna recommend to me not to drink more than an espresso or cappuccino each day 😉

I will start this new part of my life with my new experience in Malmö with the book, The way, the walk and the life by Fredrik Lång (Vägen, vandringen och livet) bought in a second hand store of Mariehamn, looking as always for a literary souvenir from abroad.

I need to sleep now, I will write to you in the next days.

And I promise, I am coming back to Åland, I will see you soon!

Paddling, chilling, and sunbathing.

Wait, yet, where am I?

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I am not gonna say I feel already at home at Åland, or maybe I should. The thing is that now, as long as I have a place to stay and a roof on my head I do not longer need too long time to feel myself comfortable in a new place. For some months ago, starting a new activity I would feel the need of meeting persons in that group, but now I just panic and stress a bit before arriving in a new place though I know I will meet people quite soon after approaching that new place. Åland – talking about this – has been kind of a surprise to me. I knew I would meet someone during this month and that I probably would not have that much time to meet people because of shifts at the restaurant, but the thing is that a lot of things just happened from the very beginning of my stay here.

News of the day
Meeting this girl yesterday at the lake was one of the things that made my routine rolling faster than I would have ever imagined. Together with one of the sisters we went to the lake this mornign around 11.00 and laid on the platform sunbathing a lot, drinking coffee with the sound of the water and talking very much. Later Linnea – the girl from Karlstad – and me took a kayak and paddled up to Kastelholms slott. There are so many images I would like to share with you but as long as I do not find the camera cable that will not be possible. Everything is pushed into my trolley, the only thing is that right now I just have everything there and things are not as easy as it may sound 😀 So, patience and I will publish images soon 🙂 🙂 Btw, as I was saying, the castle is close to the restaurant, and after the kayak part we bought a ice cream and sat in the sun, and later again we visited the little prison in the old village. Intresting and cheap! We canoed back home with a bit of head-wind but it was ok. In the evening I was invited for dinner at their place, and crap what a nice house they have, together with the view from the terrace. For those who  already follow me from my exchange year in 2013, you maybe remember the images of Carl Larsson’s family house, full of colors and really particular architecture inside – besides, those furnitures ispired many IKEA furnitures! And if you do not, sure you can check here and here don’t you? 😛 Sorry for that, I just saw it is in Italian, but sure you can use a browser translator right? 😀 Well, the house I visited today was not much different from that, incredibly nice. We ate a traditional Swedish summer dinner I would say, on the balcony eating grilled meat and sallad, finished with sitting on the sofas outside drinking coffee – is there something sounding wrong with all that? At least I am sure I will have energy to keep finishing writing the post and maybe uploading images!!! 😉

I am so happy to be familiar with the Swedish way of living. If a thing does not work at the moment, it will. If something goes wrong, it will surely be better. There are no bad weather conditions just bad clothes. If you learn how to experience every season of the year you will never get depressed during winter. Feeling bad about one thing will not make things any better. And drink coffee for God sake, that surely will help any pain!

I am developing my Swedish as I ever could imagine, Åland is much more similar to Sweden than it may seem, it is actually the same, and products are being imported from both Sweden and Finland, it is very incredible to be here 😀

When I move from Sweden I often keep with me that part of cultural background I learnt about Sweden and which I made mine. It works just like this, I meet people and Imost often behave as a Swede than everything else, still keeping by deepest Italian cultural background. But ways of greetings, of feeling comfortable at almost strangers’ places, being able to see silence as a pause between talks and not just as a miss, always still stay with me when meeting at least Sweds and others from Scandinavia – often just no Italian people. When I speak Swedish I am often a bit more relaxed, while with the English I speak very fast and let me Italian accent flow stronger 🙂
Another curious thing is that when I speak with Sweds about Sweden I always see myself – a bit of course, not directly and completely – as one coming from Värmland, and I find this very interesting. It was actually very interesting how I could feel linked to Värmland and Karlstad when today I spoke very much about Karlstad with Linnea who has been living there all her life!

For those who are EU-citizens and can speak any nordic languages, I really recommend Nordjobb, since I think is an enormous opportunity to take the first steps in the working environment and get some experience, as get as having a work place in some of the nicest and most relaxing places in Europe 🙂 More info will come later in next posts 🙂

See you soon, I’ll crush in my bed watching a film!

First days, Swedish feeling

Hi again! Quarter past eleven in the night here at the Åland islands, still very tired as it was 1.00 a.m., I guess my brain is still processing all the things happening here!

Yesterday was the first time I was at the restaurant, I forgot to write in the blog but I actually had an intro to the restaurant and then got the chance to work 18 to 21. Many things going on since I never worked in a restaurant before, but it looks very intresting and motivating to be there, so I look forward to my next shifts. Nice “colleagues” (makes me feel so old to say this word!) and very nice environment!

At home – Berit and one of the sons had picked me up at the restaurant – we sat watching a part of England-Island cheering so badly for the latest! I went to bed around 23.30 incredibly tired. Woke up this morning again around  10,30 and had breakfast. Lunch later and then sat in the sun for a while, as well as reading some papers I got from the restaurant yesterday. We had dinner outside and then I got a walk around to explore a bit the place. When I came back from the lake the all family was going to take a bath and I followed them there again. The funny thing is that among the family’s acquaintances is a family from Karlstad, and the daughter reached us at the lake. We talked a bit and tomorrow we’ll take a kayak tour. Things are happening just after some hours, always so exciting to travel!

When we went home I was actually planning to watch a movie on my own in the bed before starting to sleep, but I was very glad to be called from downstairs to help set the table before a “kvälls te” (an evening tea) with the family. I really appreciated that and had a pleasure time with them – everyone is very talkative which is so similar to my way of being. Feels like I will get along pretty good with the siblings!

I need to sleep now, I’ll see you soon!

Where am I? Of foggy (is)lands, boat names and new dialects.

Monday, 27th June 2016

Try to imagine my face when, finally arrived on the island of Åland, in the harbor of Mariehamn, I was welcomed by a tall, thin, super kind and nice woman – I had been talking to her with e-mail in the last weeks – who met me in a very warm way and gave me a very warm hug. The trip has been a long one yesterday. I left the campus in Karlstad after having breakfast with some friends and at 8,45 my bus was leaving to the bus station. I then took the first bus to Stockholm, and here the adventure starts. A police car was in front of us and someone from the inside told the bus driver to stop. Thee “old uncle” as it was later called by the woman driving the bus, gave her a alcohol test and told her that the destination on the screen should not be blinking. Well, for such a stupid thing we waited for 20 minutes, and the bus company had to call the train company to ask if the train from Örebro which many where going to take, could stop and wait for the bus passengers. Well, when the woman who was driving the bus told us what had just happened, she was very anxious about the consequences and a bit angry…so at the end she got a warm applaude! Rain, warmth and heavy luggages when I changed the bus. Arrived in Stockholm I was very tired after some hours of sitting in the bus. I had lunch in the station, went around a lot, took a coffee, had videochat and calls, reda and wrote on my blog, spoke with someone at the very end. I then took the bus to the harbor which would take a hour to be reached. The funniest thing is that the boat is called Rosella! Super foggy had been already in Sweden, but on the way to the harbor and all the way to the island it was impossible to see anything, so you can really imagine how boring the journey was!

On the bus to the harbor the driver was also very funny, he took the microphone and said something like “well welcome onboard, just say that I would have really liked not to be working in the Midsummer weekend but this is life…well, let’s drive on this (“rondella” in Italian, can’t find the word since I don’t have internet) just once otherwise they get angry!

Differently from what I was expecting, nobody here speaks Swedish with a very strong accent (or is, actually, a dialect) and I actually missed the thing that they are not at all bilingual in the Åland island, but the first language is Swedish, and when they grow up they start with studying English and then Swedish. Berit is the name of the woman who came and pick me up, and since I will stay here for a month and I have already lived with a host-family for a long time, I definitely feel part of the family – as long as they tell me I can do so, and she did! Since we were going to pick up one of her children to another harbor at 1.00 a.m. (Finland is a hour more than Sweden) she drove me everywhere in the island to show me things a bit, even though unfortunately it was incredibly foggy, which was a nice experience anyway. Brit told me a lot about everything, including the thing that one-hundred-fifty folk dancers from Sweden will come in this week for the Nordic Fold Dance festival, and that she is managing a lot of things related to that. Moreover, they will eat on Thursday at Smakbyn, the restaurant where I will start to work today.

When we went and pick up the daughter at the harbor in the other side of the island, it was not at all cold but very very foggy – around 14°! I can just say that Berit is Finnish from the strong “r” she has sometimes, but the eldest daughter sounds completely Swedish!

It took a hour to go home after the harbor, so we were at home at 2.00 local time. The house is very nice and big! They have vegetables and fruits cultivation and the house is just in front of a forest and close to the water. The son works in a bike shop and we will have to try to find a bike for myself, since I am very short compared to the people here! So, this is gonna be funny as well! Berit showed me the house and when I went upstairs some animal skins where just hanged close to my bed! But I was so tired I got asleep very fast!
Berit’s husband I have heard works in the forest! and that really makes me feel of stories about trolls and fairies in the north, I know that’s stupid, but it just does!

I am totally surprised about how many things I have to tell after less then 5 hours awake here in Åland.

Funny thing? Meeting people from the Åland is making me feel very Swedish! And I guess many thinks that I am a Swede with Italian background!

Another funny one? The word “tatti” – my surname – means a kind of mushroom in Finnish!

They just asked me if I wanted to put something in the laundry starting now, that’s not really Italian is not it? I mean putting your clothes in almost strangers laundries, but as said, here in Scandinavia people really welcome you as a part of the family almost right away, then it stands to you to accept the invitation or not! So, I really got used to this and I like it!

Well, I got breakfast with porridge, strawberries, apple mousse and smashed raspberries! I will have a little lunch later, but first I will need to study the menu of the restaurant and got used with the different ways of preparing the table for new guests. If there will not be any new work shifts for me in this week, I will start to work on the 1st of July which is this coming Friday, and for the following three days, including serving at a wedding on Saturday the 2nd!

I will see you soon, and sorry to my family and friends if I cannot answer but I do not have internet, maybe I will not buy it either, since it is just for a month! Maybe I will just use a bit from the house’ internet to publish my posts 🙂

See you soon and have a nice start of the week!

Of dancing frogs, about sleeping on flowers and midnight baths

..and the ****** (*) on its way…

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…which is probably or for sure not what every Swedes is thinking about right now about the Midsummer day celebration, or is, Midsummer evening, which is actually the day before Midsummer day. For those who do not know about this very typical Swedish tradition, this happen every year between the 20th and the 26th of June, and the really celebration part is to be done in the afternoon of the Friday (Midsummer afton) and during the night. As Swedes seem to like this way of partying, the morning, afternoon and evening of Saturday they will likely lay hungering somewhere, eating rests or starting to drink again depending on how old they are. The second Midsummer in Sweden I am experiencing the Midsummer celebration with the host family, which includes chilling really much, eating very traditional food, being celebrated for the turning 20 years on the 22nd, dancing around the Midsummer pole and sleeping, staying in the Sun, eating rests and planning the Midsummer Midnight bath.

I woke up by myself around 8, turned in the bed for a while and got the best shower of this week after being done with moving, being helped by friends and the host family. Then I put on me a very summerish dress, ‘cause it does not matter whether it was going to be cold or not, today it is Midsummer and Summer has to be cheered! Well, little breakfast ‘cause food was not really gonna be missed today. The mother of my host father came and had lunch with us, after we ate a strawberry cake – or is a very traditional Swedish cake made for Midsummer or National Day on the 6th of June, called jordgubbstårta in Swedish. Sill, potatoes, meatballs, salmon and ham and more was served around 2p.m. and we sat outside drinking coffee and eating strawberries later. At 3 we went to the Midsummer pole in the park in Uddeholm and sang traditional songs such as like “The little frogs” and “the fox in the winter”. Maaikee, a Dutch girl I knew from my exchange year, was there with her sister and we had a very nice chilling time. She was an exchange student as me but in the USA, went back home but had felt in love with USA and moved there for twenty-one years ago. We talked very much and then invited them at a midnight bath to take today at the lake in front of the house.

Well, I’ll tell you about the presents I got from the host family today for my birthday. I had a necklace with the symbol of the region of Skåne, where Malmö is located. Then a present card from Ikea and a very nice card made by Rebecca, the host sister. Got also other very super presents from family and friends. My dad thought about my love for traveling and got me one of those books with a lot of images you have to paint, color, and which help you to relax a lot – which I definitely need after this last stressing and fast-mode weeks. The drawings are not just flowers but they are a lot of city maps to be filled with color. I already imagine how my room in Malmö will look like with all this drawings hung on the walls. I got from my mother the premium update for wordpress, so that I can upload way more photos on the blog – coming soon, just have to activate it!

In the afternoon I made a Midsummer crown but it did not work out as two years ago since flowers have flowered a bit earlier then it had been then so the crown did not look as nice as that one. By the way, applying to girls the tradition says that seven kinds of flowers have to be put under the pillow where you will sleep on during the night to Midsummer day. Then you will dream about your loved one. Pretty romantic legend right? After the midnight bath I guess I will be tired enough to sleep as deeply as I did in the afternoon – gosh, I thought I was on another planet when I woke up after a two hours “nap”.

I will not spend too much time reminding that the 20th of June has been the Summer solstice and soon – usually a few days after that the length of the days is the same – days will get shorter and shorter, which inevitably reminds of Winter if you live in Sweden. Just saying, since April, if I just said the word winter, cold, snow, or Christmas, Sweds used to look at me nasty and almost get angry to me! I got enough Winter I could live without snow for ten years now on, but that will come back inevitably and every Swede will have to deal with it. But in Malmö Winter will likely be a bit easier and not as dark as it gets here in Värmland.

My birthday celebration was just what I was hoping for, or is smiling faces, a lot of dance and much laughs. In the morning I had gone to Ikea with Veronica, and ate a very big Swedish food-made buffet brunch together. Then went to but some boxes for packing and went home. I started to prepare for the party in the night and so. The only thing that did not really go as planned was the weather – sounds a bit Swedish right? – since it started to rain exactly when we started to move things outside at the barbecue place at campus, so we had to go in and eat dinner there. We had speakers and the girls from Germany made a lot of food, and I made pizza and a cake with berries. In the middle of the dancing we sprang out and started to dance in the rain, with It’s raining man!, singing later some of the songs we sang in the choir, since Elisa and Veronica were there – soprano and alts on place! At the end it was time for goodbyes which always make me a bit sad of course. I am trying to make the best of it leaving always a smile on my face and on the other’s, but this time it was a bit hard.

This was the resume of a big part of this year Midsummer day, the start of the end of this wonderful adventure in Värmland. Some more days and I will be heading to Finland, work there for  a month while I will hopefully find an apartment in Malmö. Then again to Värmland, then Italy and Malmö, finally to start the International Migration and Ethnic Relations program. I am very excited and looking forward to it but I need to experience and enjoy every single day here yet.

I just got to know that I will be able to work in the restaurant in Finland from Monday, very excited for this!

Finish to see P.S. I love you, and preparing for the midnight bath soon! See you later and goodnight 🙂

* -> Winter

Of Scandinavian books, smiling faces before sad goodbyes and Asian dinners

I am in the strongest writer feeling I ever had. Sitting on my bed with the back against the wall, a pillow inbetween. A mug with hot camomilla was waiting to cool down dancing on the bed until some seconds ago. Now it is empty and I leave my writing flewing.

Yesterday, or exactly for forty minutes ago, is been the last day of my first week free from school/university. Definitely a very nice week very full of things, satisfactions and sport, and also a bit of Sun. Monday was the Swedish national day and I went with some friend to a city park where we got free coffee and sunbathed and talked. During the week I biked a few times to and back from the city, I went to the cinema with my Swedish friend Veronica and watched The Dressmaker (which I recommend, but be prepared for very depressing moments!). On Friday – or Thursday? – I went to the hospital ‘cause I was really not feeling that well, but then they told me just to take some paracetamol and to rest – ok I am probably getting paranoid about illness? I know there is a word for it but I really cannot remember which it is! Funny thing…when I was at the hospital I saw a girl which I would actually meet again at campus yesterday…never met her before but she has been staying here for the whole semester!

During this week I also got the result from Linköping university, telling me that I actually passed the TISUS exam, which means that my Swedish is at this time on level C1 and that I could – but I want to wait a bit first – study at university in Swedish. Because now, for the 15 credits I have left in each semester  I will prefer to study extra courses in English. For example for this semester (the first one, the autumn semester) I subscribed for “Childrens’ rights” and “Creative Writing 1”, let’s see which one I get in! The other thing about TISUS is that it could be very useful to show it for job opportunities.

Another nice thing is that I completely fixed accomodation and travel to Finland where I will work as a waitress during the whole month of July! I will arrive there on the 28th o June and probably couchsurf for a night to see the capital (Mariehamn). Then the people who will host me – they are a family living just a 3-kilometres walk from the restaurant – will come and pick me up from the city to the little village.

One of these days I had a dinner with some girls from Hong-Kong sitting outside in the Sun at campus…very nice evening, followed by a very late walk to the lake to see the Sunset at 22.15)…we did not make it in time but the colors at the horizon were still amazing.

Yesterday morning I went with some people to IKEA to have the brunch they sell for 69kr. I did not eat it yesterday but it looked wonderful and very good so I will definitely try it on the day of my 20th birthday! Replacing the trial of KFC which will open exactly on the 22nd! Going out from the restaurant we went around IKEA and I bought a candle (a-must-to!) and some paper boxes to move from the apartment. So yesterday afternoon after a little siesta of JUST two hours more or less, I started to pack a bit. In the evening I went to campus and played Chinese chess with the German girls.

But what about today? I woke up around 8 and had breakfast, continued to pack a bit and then biked to the second hand market – I learned a new term today since this is called also flea market! I got lost a bit of course before finding the place…the market was pretty big and there were nice things and very cheap! I totally spent 30 kr – around 3 euros – and bought six books and a little painting with a Japanese girlturning to the viewer, very relaxing picture! The books I bought are from Swedish, Finnish and Icelandic authors, all in Swedish so that I can train a lot the language. I think I will pack them very soon since I still have other books to finish. Flea market are definitely good to buy cheap books! If you are interested about the books I read, you can just check my page on Goodreads here 🙂

When I biked back I passed by the museum in the city centre and I went in to visit some exhibitions, but unfortunately the historical part – the biggest and usually most intresting one – was closed so I jsut walked in very fast and used the bathroom! When I was unlocking my bike to go home, I saw how nice it would have been to just lay on the grass in the sun for a bit, and so I did for half a hour. When I biked home I was very tired and with a bit of headache and the last uphill is been as difficult as it never had. So I slept 2 hours – I am really tired when the Swedish summer arrives! – and had dinner later…and went to campus to say goodbye to some girls leaving tomorrow.They prepared food like spring rolls, sushi and coconut milk with some riceballs in it…very tasty! Something that really surprised me is that one girl from Hong Kong that I know is not good in using chop sticks! And most of the Asian people I know do not like soy sauce because too salty!

I am a bit excited to see Italy playing against Belgium tomorrow ( it is the first match), but especially playing against Sweden on Friday! It is very intresting to watch a match with people from different cultures…and yes, I am a real culture addicted-geek!

Btw…meeting all these people from Asia during these two semesters really made me change my mind about visiting Asia. Now it is in the third position of the ranking of places I want to visit…Ireland, Czech Republic and Asia! Mmmmhhh…just need the money, but I am very positive about finding a job in Malmö! So good luck to me!

Just a thing more about today’s day. I met a guy I know who is from Pakistan and is fasting right now, and what more? He is actually following the sweidhs time – I am surprised because I read that people were admitted to eventually follow the time at La Mecca if the days were getting too long in some part of the world – as it is in Sweden. But he actually told me that he is fasting for 20 hours – so 2.15 to 22.25 today for example. I really enjoy to get to know cultural and religious realities by really meeting people and not just by reading things on the internet orin books!

I am gonna get some sleep now, I’ll see you soon!!!!

Goodnight!

Reflection of the book “The Shadow of the Sun” by Ryszard Kapuşciňski.

Ryszard Kapuşciňski was a Polish journalist who travelled throughout Africa for forty years as a reporter of the rich multicultural background and difficult social situation. In this book he presented what he experienced during his different trips of the entire continent. This reading made me think about another two I had for some months ago, and I am going to explain in which terms.

There are two evidences in the reading of this book that I found interesting. Firstly, the view given to the reader about Africa is not an official one, as those known by everyone or basically stereotyped. Indeed, it is a trip along unofficial routs. This reminds me of the book “The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin, who also followed unofficial paths to take itself through Australia. Secondly, the fact that the author chose to present his views about his exploration without any too simple or general description, reminds me of the book “Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck. This book tells about the trip that the writer made with his dog Charley, through America. Similar to Chatwin, also Steinbeck puts his personal views and experiences in the narration.

“All are arrivals from elsewhere, all are immigrants.” If I was asked to summarize the book “The Shadow of the Sun” I would definitely use this words. As interested in the issue of migration, which is especially a current one, I was really struck by these words. As written before, I appreciate the personal observations and the social meaning of it. In fact, Kapuşciňski was not only a traveler and writer but firstly a journalist, therefore he saw things in a different way and with different targets. Going through the pages I could imagine myself walking around the same territories visited by the author and meeting the same persons. I enjoyed this reading very much and would definitely recommend it.