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.

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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!

Malmö!

Domenica 28 agosto 2016, Malmö

Sei e trenta, ticchettio continua di pioggia sulla finestra che di solito trasmette un sacco di luce nella camera da letto, tuoni. Come non ne avevo mai sentiti prima qui in Svezia. Ma probabilmente a Malmö, attaccata alla Danimarca mediterranea dei vichinghi svedesi, le cose procedono in maniera diversa.

Ho risposto alla persona dalla quale comprerò una bici questo pomeriggio, spero che smetta di piovere – ho scritto – anche io – la risposta. Forse questa pioggia non è tanto frequente dopotutto, o forse sono solo gli studenti internazionali a non essersi ancora abituati. Anche la proprietaria del ristorante si é fatta sentire verso le 6,30!

Comunque ora a ha smesso, e la camera inizia ad illuminarsi – altro lampo.

Da quando sono arrivata con mio papà mercoledì, non c´è stato un momento di pausa, siamo andati in giro, ovviamente andati da ikea e montato tutti i mobili, visitato i primi ristoranti stranieri della zona – e a Malmö ce n´è tanto di multiculturalismo! Ho avuto anche un incontro con la proprietaria di un ristorante/bar per un lavoro di cameriera/preparatrice di piatti ecc, di cui poi vi racconterò.

L’appartamento studentesco dove vivrò per i prossimi tre anni è molto spazioso e c´è spazio per un tavolo grande nel soggiorno/angolo cottura (che è più una parete che semplicemente un angolo) ed un piccolo divano letto ikea molto molto “dolce”. Ci sarà tempo e spazio per mettere una piccola tv su un mobiletto davanti al divano, ma l’altro giorno ad ikea ho preso la confezione sbagliata, portando a casa un’anta per un armadietto invece!

La camera da letto è quasi completamente arredata, con letto (non mi dire!), libreria, comodino e scrivania e relativa sedia, manca solo una parte estraibile della scrivania che non potrò montare finché non avrò un mago cacciavite. Well, Ikea is the solution!

Ci sono decine e decine di cose da organizzare ancora, e da quando sono arrivata non mi sono mai svegliata più tardi delle 7.00, andando a dormire più che distrutta intorno alle 21,30 quasi tutti i giorni.

Venerdì sera mio papà se n´é andato e diciamo è iniziata realmente la vita da sola, ma quasi non me ne accorgo ancora, dato che c´è un sacco di cose da mettere  in ordine, e poi l’anno scorso a Karlstad mi è servito da allenamento.

Venerdì comunque sono andata all’università per assistere ad una lezione, parte della settimana introduttiva, del servizio lavorativo presente all’università, tramite il quale aiutano gli studenti a scrivere i loro curriculum, le lettere di motivazione, preparare un colloquio, fare network ed usare LinkedIn bene. Ci saranno workshop all’università con la cadenza di un paio di settimane in media.

Per quanto riguarda il lavoro, questa settimana inizierò i primi turni a partire da mercoledì fino a sabato, questo posto si chiama Noi’s Café & Deli e si trova in centro vicino la piazza Triangeln. È specializzato in piatti vietnamiti ma soprattutto nel preparare cibo vengano, senza glutine e senza lattosio, insomma non proprio la mia cosa ma ultimamente sembra proprio essere una moda!

Venerdì all’università ho incontrato una ragazza nepalese con cui ieri sono andata in giro per la città alla ricerca di bici, ma non è stato facile come immaginavamo. Molte bici di seconda mano che vengono vendute sono rubate, ed il resto si aggirano intorno ai 100 euro e più, che a noi non andava molto di comprare! Comunque, durante questa passeggiata infinita, siamo arrivate vicino Rosengård, il quartiere delle proteste degli immigrati di cui si sentì parlare una decina di anni fa – macchine che hanno iniziato di nuovo ad essere bruciate la scorsa settimana. Ma intorno tutto tace e l’ambiente non è assolutamente spaventoso. Nella piazza di Gustav Adolf c´è un mercato di frutta e verdura – cosa che mi manca sempre stando in Svezia e nelle città piccole. Una via che parte dalla strada è piena invece di negozi alimentari di libanesi, afghani e molto più. Abbiamo comprato un po’ di frutta e verdura e chiacchierato con i venditori, qualcuno mi ha chiesto del terremoto in Italia. Mi sono sentita incredibilmente a casa con queste chiacchiere spontanee. Con Aastha abbiamo deciso di andare ogni sabato a fare spesa di frutta e verdura li – i prezzi sono assurdi, 1 euro al kl per le zucchine, dove  nei supermercati svedesi si paga per zucchina che compri!

Comunque, la mia sveglia ha suonato qualche minuto fa, forse dovrei alzarmi per farmi un caffè e fare colazione, oggi altra giornata impegnativa per me, spero solo che la pioggia smetta del tutto e possa andare ad ikea senza problemi e senza bagnarmi troppo!

A presto!

 

p.s. Ci sono e ci saranno foto a partire da questa settimana, solo che nel trasloco non trovo più il cavetto usb del telefono, che dovrò comprare in questi giorni, e soprattutto non ho tanto internet per caricare foto!

Spiegando il tempo

Quattro anni fa ho iniziato questo blog. Per qualche motivo avevo già da molti anni prima in testa che la mia vita si sarebbe rivolta verso il Polo Nord, e che amavo viaggiare. Durante questi anni un sacco di cose sono successe, e penso non sia male scrivere qualche specie di riassunto per i neo lettori di questo blog, o per tutti quelli che tra questo miscuglio di lingue, paesi, deadline, consegni di documenti e viaggi non sono riusciti a mettere bene in ordine tutti i fatti, beh, come non capirvi!

Nel 2013, il 15 agosto, sono partita alla volta della Svezia per trascorrere il quarto anno di liceo con una famiglia ospitante svedese. Comune di Hagfors, una frazione chiamata Uddeholm, a 90 km da una città a misura di studente (come la chiamerò qualche anno più tardi) chiamata Karlstad. Tra difficoltà e soddisfazioni più o meno grandi, ho imparato lo svedese e l’inglese. Tornata in Italia ho fatto il quinto anno di liceo, preso la maturità e sognato di tornare in Svezia qualche mese dopo il mio ritorno.

L’iscrizione a Malmö non è andata a buon fine, i documenti sono arrivati troppo tardi rispetto alla deadline e quindi ho deciso di andarmene comunque un anno in Svezia, studiando corsi singoli di primo livello all’università di Karlstad, che avevo anche visitato e di cui mi ero innamorata. Insomma, nell’anno 2015-16 mi sono trasferita tre volte da appartamenti condivisi ad appartamenti interi. Ho studiato corsi di inglese, svedese e relativi a materie culturali. I crediti mi verranno calcolati se un giorno vorrò iscrivermi a dei corsi che richiedono la frequenza ad altri corsi, e sicuramente questo anno di studio in inglese mi è servito per prepararmi ai tre anni che passerò a studiare a Malmö da fine agosto in poi. Per chi se lo chiedesse, ad aprile ho ricevuto l’ammissione all’università di Malmö, aspettata per un anno e mezzo diciamo, al programma di laurea triennale chiamato Migrazione Internazionale e Relazioni Etniche. Le lezioni inizieranno il 29 agosto e mi trasferirò il 24 nell’appartamento studentesco che ho ricevuto a inizio luglio mentre lavoravo alle Åland.

Quindi eccomi qui, dopo un mese di primo lavoro come cameriera alle isole Åland, e dopo tantissimi mesi di attesa, seduta al computer, con dei fogli di una lettera da inviare ad una ragazza incontrata nel mio viaggio fatto da sola in Polonia, ragazza che è diventata pen friend e compagna di futuri viaggi. Pensando a come l’appartamento dovrà essere arredato, a come organizzerò le attività, come si arriva in bici da casa all’università, che lavoro troverò, i miei prossimi viaggi ed altro ancora…ma per ora l’obiettivo estivo è quello di abbronzarsi!

Tra gelati, pizze, sole e chiacchiere a voci alte, mi sto godendo l’Italia dalla quale mi assento per mesi quando sono in Svezia, ma il caffè svedese, il silenzio in biblioteca, le giornate limpide ma fresche mi mancano sempre in un certo senso.

Ora vi lascio, a presto!

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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!

Sulle Åland i giorni sono passati molto velocemente ma vissuti intensamente. Da domani fino a domenica lavorerò al ristorante e poi lunedì partirò per amcora non so dove. Quasi completamente sorpresa, una settimana fa ho ricevuto una chiamata da Malmö, sapendo che si trattava ovviamente dell’appartamento studentesco. Sono molto felice di aver ricevuto il contratto per un bilocale di 39mq, in un palazzo/casa studentesco/a a 15 minuti in bici dall’università che si trova davanti alla stazione centrale. Ora il prossimo passo è tornare nel Värmland e trasferirsi a Malmö per poi tornare a Roma, o forse il contrario? I tempi stringono e l’organizzazione di tutti questi passaggi è abbastanza complicata, ma ora che già sono quasi alla fine della mia prima vera esperienza di lavoro, tutto sembra almeno un pizzico più facile.

 

La scorsa settimana è stata massacrante riguardo al lavoro, avendo lavorato per sei giorni di fila per almeno dieci ore al giorno. Ma poi la mia famiglia è venuta a trovarmi da Roma e sono riuscita a rilassarmi in questi miei tre giorni liberi. Domani si torna a lavoro piena di carica!

Non ci siamo fatti mancare le visite al ristorante Smakbyn dove lavoro, con tanto di dessert all’aperto e cena all’interno ieri sera!

Un paio di giorni fa ho fatto invece la mia seconda sauna finlandese qui alle Åland, temperatura a 98 gradi e acqua sempre pronta per essere gettata sul carbone. Doccia gelata ogni quarto d’ora e muscoli rilassati! Ecco qualche foto!

Ieri sera verso le dieci…ovvero prima del tramonto…cervi e cerbiatti giravano per la foresta e ne abbiamo osservati a decine dalla macchina…a presto qualche foto!

Ora ho appena finito di schizzare qualche idea di arredamento per l’appartamento di Malmö, e crollerò a dormire tra pochissimo!

A presto!

Di matrimoni svedesi e balli antichi scandinavi

30 giugno

Diciamo che parlare di accento calabrese, liquore messo nelle pesche dolci al cioccolato e sensazione di stare al paese dei nonni non credo vada d’accordo con lo scrivere post in inglese, svedese o altra lingua diversa dall’italiano. Quindi eccomi qui scrivendo questo altro aggiornamento da un’isola super svedese ma della quale gli abitanti si ritengono molto patriottici (secondo la famiglia svedese – non delle Åland – di questa ragazza conosciuta martedì) e protettivi del territorio (non puoi comprare una casa o un terreno a meno che non sei cittadino delle isole Åland, il che vuol dire aver vissuto qui per almeno cinque anni)

Martedì 5 giugno

Sfrutto la mia insonnia dovuta all’eccitazione da primo lavoro e dall’ora in più di luce (come se non fosse già bastato vedere scendere il Sole alle 22,30 in Svezia – nel Värmland!). Come forse avevo anticipato e raccontato, lunedì scorso ho avuto un’introduzione al ristorante, e poi ho lavorato tre ore. Venerdì scorso (fino a ieri, lunedì) invece ho iniziato il mio orario regolare, dalle 16 alle 23 escludendo sabato, dato che dovevamo servire per un matrimonio, ho lavorato dalle 14,30 alle 01.30. Proprio di questo vorrei parlare!

Giovedì scorso, 30 giugno, ho seguito la famiglia con cui vivo ad una serata barbecue ad un camping vicino alla spiaggia, nel centro dell’arcipelago. Berit è stata organizzatrice e responsabile di un festival di danze popolari di vari paesi del nord, e questa serata è stata un raduno dei vari partecipanti. Musica tradizionale e danze tipiche soprattutto da tradizioni antiche danesi e norvegesi. Quando ce ne stavamo per andare io e Sofi, una delle sorelle della famiglia abbiamo cercato di farci spazio in un cerchio strettissimo di danzatori molto felici – ed alcuni molto ubriachi – provenienti da tutto il nord che ballavano e cantavano, a volte non conoscendo la lingua ma capendo comunque. tra le tante, Sinklars vísa è una delle due che abbiamo ballato. Ritmo regolare, molti versi e sempre due passi da ricordare, due a sinistra e uno a destra. La danza che vedete nel video è esattamente quella che abbiamo danzato noi! Davvero bello poter conoscere cose così nuove e diverse! La canzone è originaria della Norvegia, e le parole narrano la battaglia di Kringen avenuta nel 1612 ad Otta, in Norvegia . Qui trovate informazioni in inglese sulla battaglia – e qui in italiano anche in generale sulla guerra di Kalmar, mentre qui il testo completo in originale e la traduzione in inglese.

 

Per continuare, sabato c´è stato il matrimonio e anche quella giornata è stata una bella esperienza – ovvero assistere ad una festa di matrimonio svedese! Sicuramente molto diverso dai matrimoni italiani, la cena è statamolto tranquilla all’inizio, non c´è stata né musica né nessuno che ballava fino alle 23.00. La serata è stata piena di discorsi – gli svedesi sono molto attenti alle tradizioni, burocrazie e diplomazie varie in certe occasioni! e, sopresa sorpresa, giochi di gruppo! Una delle prime canzoni – che poi hanno anche accompagnato alcuni brindisi – diceva “chi gioca a calcio si alzi dalla sedia” “chi è fidanzato faccia una piroetta” e “chi ha figli faccia un inchino”. E ogni mezz’ora per qualche motivo sconosciuto a tutti noi camerieri, un gruppo di gente iniziava a correre intorno al tavolo passando dagli sposi e facendo qualcosa che mi è sfuggito dato che in quel momento cercavo di non essere colpita da questa carica di gente che correva e di rimanere in equilibrio con il mio vassoio pieno di bicchieri di cristallo 😀 Alle 23 la band ha iniziato a suonare e anche se eravamo molto stanchi la musica ha aiutato molto, anche se trattenersi dal ballare è stato difficilissimo per me! Sono stata fortunata ad essere stata mandata a casa all’uan e trenta perché alcuni sono ovviamente dovuti stare fino alla fine, ovvero alle 4,30!

Comunque…qui sotto potete sentire uno dei brani da brindisi che si cantano in Svezia, questo l’ho anche cantato con il coro dell’università di Karlstad!

Qui alle Åland è l’una di notte. Anche se l’insonnia ha fatto i suoi danni nelle scorse due notti, ora cerco di addormentarmi che domani sarà il mio secondo giorno di riposo e avrò una prima festa con i colleghi di lavoro a casa di una ragazza. Barbecue, sauna, e pallavolo…non suona male vero? All’ultimo minuto prima di andare a dormire sono anche riuscita ad organizzare un passaggio per l’andata e il ritorno…il non avere la patente si fa sentire qui al Nord! Soprattutto quando l’ultimo autobus passa alle 6 e il primo la mattina alle 7.

Perdonate gli errori sintattici se ci sono, ma sono abbastanza stanca e ormai non scrivo in italiano da molto tempo. Mi piace molto di più scrivere in inglese ma ciò esclude molti lettori dal leggere i post (compresi i miei nonni!) e quindi devo trattenermi e scrivere in italiano!

Ora vi saluto! A presto e buonanotte!

P.S. Credo che la confusione riguardo a dove le isole Åland si trovino sia ai massimi livelli tra i lettori dei miei post. E vi capisco! Quindi vi darò una breve spiegazione. Le Åland appartenevano in passato alla Svezia e poi per qualche casino storico di cui potete sicuramente leggere qui se volete 😀 le Åland sono mezze indipendenti, ma legate legislativamente e politicamente – anche se hanno un proprio governo e parlamento! – alla Finlandia, e culturalmente e linguisticamente alla Svezia! Confusione ancora eh? Insomma, in poche parole sono in Svezia!

E poi, mi sono appena resa conto di aver tralasciato alcune cose accennate nel primo paragrafo! Appena potrò ci ritornerò e scriverò tutto 😀

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!

Varmt och fuktigt

Sitter i centralstationen i Stockholm. En kopp kaffe bredvid mig och jag väntar att den ska kyla ner. Skjol och kort armat tröja gör mig inte känna mindre stressad och kallare än luften är. Regn och varmt har det varit under hela resan som jag började i morse från Karlstad till Stockholm. Trafik under sista delen från Västerås, och i början fick chaufforen stanna då destinationen blinkte på bussen och enligt polisen var inte det o helt ok, antagligen. Blev 20 minuter försenat men ankom i Stockholm ändå i tid.

Åt en macka på Subway och lugnade mig lite en stund innan jag gick och satt mig på stationen. Backpacking verkar vara top resstil just nu. Ser fram emot och göra en sånt trip igen, utan att boka tak över huvud eller annat.

Ska dricka min kaffe nu, och läsa Solstorm av Åsa Larsson. Kl.18 ska jag ta bussen som åker till hamnen och åka då båten till Mariehamn, på Åland. Där ska familjen där jag kommer att bo på en månad hämta mig.

Har introduktion imorgon på restaurangen och ska faktiskt ta mitt första passet imorgon. Märkte att på lördag blir det bröllop på restaurangen. Ser faktiskt fram emot att jobba den dag 🙂 😉

Ses snart och ha en bra söndag! 😉

Frammenti di lacrime

 

 

Sono seduta su un autobus giallo diretto verso Karlstad, lasciato Uddeholm venti minuti fa, arriverò tra circa un’ora.

Stamattina mi sono svegliata e scesa in sala dove tutti stavano finendo di guardare un film con Julia Roberts, che dopo qualche minuto ho scoperto essere Eat, Pray, Love dal momento che il titolo in svedese era abbastanza diverso! Mi ricordo di aver visto l’inizio deö film qualche anno fa rifiutandomi di continuare a vederlo dopo il suo viaggio in Italia e le scene troppo stereotipate delle vie romane. Questa volta invece ho visto la fine, commuovendomi sorprendentemente nell’ultima scena, sentendo l’audio in inglese ma soprattutto leggendo i sottotitoli in svedese. Riporto le parole qui…quelle nel nuovo paragrafo sono quelle che sento molto vicine alla mia esperienza. Buona giornata e a presto!

“…I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” – a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this:

“If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself….then truth will not be withheld from you.” Or so I’ve come to believe.”

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

Sul bordo dell’età adulta

Sole ancora sopra l’orizzonte, mobili sparsi nella stanza, odore di pulito, pareti bianche lavate da poco. Sono le 22,10. Legalmente sarò ventenne tra meno di due ore, tecnicamente tra circa ventiquattro ore. Sono stanca, distrutta, ma puesto post non può essere lasciato non scritto, non si compiono vent’anni spesso in questa vita! Inutile dire che per me questi 20 anni saranno davvero importanti, anzi sento di ripetermi a raccontarlo di nuovo. Fine di un anno a Karlstad fantastico, e inizio di mille altre avventure, prima il lavoro in Finlandia, poi il trasferimento a Malmö per almeno tre anni!

Oggi sveglia alle 7 come ieri e tutto il giorno a impacchettare e pulire. The con un’amica ed il ragazzo che poi m ihanno aiutato con dei consigli super utili per pulire lavandino e cappa…insomma, alla fine sono stata fino alle 22 a pulire e per fortuna il cielo sereno e luminoso aiuta a non sentiresi troppo stanchi. Ma domani sveglia alle 6,45 – prontamente ho lasciato il telefono con la sveglia in cucina come avevo fatto stamattina, almeno sono obbligata ad alzarmi! Mi faro la prima doccia da ventenne ed uscirò con Veronica per andare ad IKEA a fare un tradizionale brunch svedese a buffet, poi giro a ikea per comprare altre scatole da trasloco, ICA per comprare gli ingredienti per la torta e la pizza (manca solo la farina!) e poi a casa.  Anzi no! Il salto al systembolaget è d’obbliigo! Diciamo che sarei potuta entrarci anche da più piccola senza comprare nulla, ma finora ci son ostata solo una volta con la mia famiglia ospitante…l’emozione sarà forte domani 😀 Più tardi mi incontrerò con due ragazzi al campus, un ragazzo e una ragazza tedeschi, per impacchettare dei cuscini che gli studenti hanno lasciato, in modo che si ricicla e si risparmia per i prossimi studenti! Quindi alle 13 andrò al campus portandomi tutte le cose necessarie per la festa…dopo l’aiuto per i cuscini prepareremo le varie cose per la festa, sperando che il tempo rimanga bello anche per tutta la giornata di domani, e verso le 18 inizierà il barbecue-chill evening. E a quanto pare anche dei ragazzi della scuola dove ero stata exchange student verranno! La playlist deve essere completata!

I miei ultimi minuti da diciannovenne, da piccola, da mascotte tra gli studenti internazionali, da “coraggiosa a lasciare casa così presto”, da teenager, da “ancora un po’ bambina, forse senza ancora troppe responsabilità. Ora vi lascio, tra meno di due ore mi sveglierò ventenne! Spero che stasera riuscirò a dormire e non pensare troppo a Malmö e alla Finlandia…ma si, dopotutto sono distrutta!!!

Buonanotte! 🙂

Chi arriva, chi se ne va

Cari lettori, credo convenga abituarsi al fatto che ormai mi riferisco al passato scandendo il tutto in periodi di sei mesi, o meglio semestri. Da studentessa credo sia il modo più facile per orientarsi nel tempo, valutare cambiamenti e situazioni pre e post semestre autunnale, primaverile ecc. Almeno credo sia meglio così per i lettori italiani, invece che usare il conteggio delle settimane che invece viene usato qui. Non ho più la testa per fare brainstorming, anche se adoro farlo, quando scrivo i miei post. Italiano, inglese e svedese, sono abbastanza confusa, oltre a crisi di identità culturali che si sono manifestate particolarmente durante il match di venerdì (17!) tra Italia e Svezia. Vedere per la prima volta una partita in un ambiente completamente internazionale, con gente da tutto il mondo, la telecronaca in inglese, e un ragazzo austriaco che ha la maglia svedese di un giocatore metà italiano metà svedese che gioca per la “tre corone” (per chi non lo sapesse, sono simbolo della Svezia e simboleggiano le due proprietà della corona svedese che erano prima Norvegia e Danimarca). Per la prima volta mi sono trovata a sentirmi completamente neutrale al gioco – si intende molto più di quanto non lo fossi mai stata davanti ad una partita di calcio! – ma particolarmente felice quando l’Italia ha fatto il primo gol, ascoltando gli “insulti” molto divertenti della gente intorno. Insomma, è stato davvero molto divertente guardare la partita con loro, sicuramente una cosa da rifare in un ambiente internazionale, anche se mi sono mancate le chiacchiere ad alta voce e di commenti sui giocatori di entrambe le squadre.

 

Sono in cucina, tutto sembra molto diverso da come era poche ore fa. Il microonde È già in una scatola di cartone IKEA, tre cassetti del frigorifero stanno ad asciugare dopo essere stati lavati questo pomeriggio. Sul letto oggi ho rovesciato tutti i vestiti contenuti nel guardaroba, per decidere cosa andrà in Finlandia, cosa dalla famiglia ospitante per i due giorni in cui starò da loro per la festa di mezza estate, cosa dovrà rimanere li per essere trasferito a Malmö, e cosa potrei eventualmente portarmi a Roma ad agosto, oltre alle cose della Finlandia. Insomma, logica e pazienza a me! Non avrei immaginato che tutto questo sarebeb stato così stressante fisicamente e psicologicamente. Questo anno a Karlstad mi sono vista cambiare, un’esperienza decisamente piena di ostacoli da un lato ma piena di soddisfazioni dall’altro. Come mi ero trovata cambiata dopo l’anno da exchange student in Svezia, lo sono ora dopo 10 mesi a Karlstad. Ho avuto la mia rivincita su alcune cose che non erano esattamente andate come avevo immaginato durante il mio primo anno in Svezia. Ho migliorato il mio svedese e decisamente anche l’inglese, avendo studiato molti corsi sento di essere pronta per affrontare il tanto atteso e desiderato programma di laurea in International Migration and Ethnic Relations. So stare da sola e mi piace, ma so anche quali effetti la solitudine può avere – soprattutto tra i mesi di ottobre e febbraio, quando nuvole e buio ti rendono un animale in letargo forzato alla veglia e alla ricerca di luce, cibo, e caldo. Ho una conoscenza abbastanza ampia – o almeno interculturalmente accettabile – di diverse culture, tra cui generalmente quella Asiatica, Europea e Centro Americana, anche se di strada ce n´è molta da fare per approfondirle. Come già scoperto nello scorso semestre, gli asiatici sono persone affidabilissime e molte educate. Prima di venire a Karlstad ed incontrare così tanta gente non ero molto attratta dal visitare l’Asia, ma ora che mi sono davvero resa conto del bagaglio culturale che si può raccogliere, ed ora che conosco molta gente che potrei andare a trovare, ho decisamente cambiato idea. Ho promesso alle ragazze e ai ragazzi asiatici di rivederli al più presto in Asia (fra quattro anni credo sia la promessa più credibile che ho potuto fare, e allora sarà anche l’anno del topo, ovvero l’animale segno di chi è nato nel 1996 ad esempio). I tedeschi sono sicuramente le persone che ho conosciuto e sto conoscendo meglio durante questi due semestri. Solamente un mese fa ho iniziato a vedermi spesso con un gruppo di tedeschi e sembra che mi sono abbastanza integrata e che mi accolgano a braccia aperte – da non prendere letteralmente per una volta, essendo tedeschi! – usano molto sarcasmo e sono persone deliziose, leali e gentili. Insomma, da cosa racconto sembrerebbe che dovremmo avere un po’ più di fiducia in tutta la gente che ci circonda…ai tedeschi ho promesso di tornare una volta al mese a Karlstad per salutarli, anzi…ahimé abbiamo fatto una scommessa, che se non tornerò ogni tre settimane dovrò farmi un bagno gelato quando poi tornerò! Che dire, sarebbe comunque un’esperienza no?

Andare in Finlandia per lavorare come cameriera, a Malmö per studiare, e diventare ventenne solamente tra tre giorni mi sta riempiendo la testa di cose a cui pensare, non solo da fare ma soprattutto di pensieri che girano senza sosta. Questi venti anni li vedo davvero come un traguardo, dopo un’anno di raggiungimenti, tristezze, risultati universitari e soddisfazioni. Ho molti piani per il semestre prossimo, la vita a Malmö, e magari a seconda di quanti soldi guadagnerò (perché riuscirò a trovare un lavoro per dindirillina!) per i viaggi. In lista per ora sono Irlanda con una mia amica, Repubblica Ceca da sola e al terzo posto l’Asia, che sarà declassata non appena destinazioni più economiche mi verranno in mente! In ogni caso, nonostante oia molto eccitata all’idea di questen nuove esperienze, la tristezza e la pesantezza nel lasciare Karlstad e la mia vita qui si fa sentire. Soprattutto perché come era successo prima di Natale, proprio all’ultimo momento sto incontrando nuova gente, ma per fortuna saranno a Karlstad anche il prossimo semestre e li potrò incontrare, e comunque la Germania non è così lontana da Malmö no?!

Mi inizio ad avvicinare al letto, devo mettere in ordine dei vestiti nelle scatole, e domani devo pulire la casa e chiamare il negozio di seconda mano e cheidere se possono venire a prendersi dei mobili. Avrò tempo fino a martedì per pulire e svuotare casa, perché mercoledì sarà il mio compleanno e non ho intenzione di stancarmi! Il programma è svegliarmi prestissimo per fare una tipica torta svedese alle fragole che viene servita per la festa di mezza estate (si chiama jordgubbstårta per i golosi curiosi 😛 ). Dopo andrò con Veronica a fare un brunch da IKEA, e che brunch! e prima gita da ventenne al systembolaget, il negozio che vende bevande sopra il 3,5 di alcool – gita d’obbligo! Poi qualche ora al lago e preparazione per la festa bbq che farò al campus, dove appunto c´è un posto barbecue con delle panche molto “cosy”. Il giorno dopo dormirò il più possibile ma dovrò pulire le ultime cose in casa e caricare tutte le scatole nella macchian della mia host family, dato che alle 15,30 verranno a vedere l’appartamento che dovrà essere pulito e completamente vuoto. Good luck to me!

Ora vi lascio, i vesitti aspettano di essere inscatolati! Buonanotte!

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.

Heading to Warsaw, Poland

12th April. Start of the trip, going to Gothenburg.

Metres of smoke from the coffee factory reflect the sun in a clear  Karlstad today. I am sitting on the train which in some minutes will leave to Gothenburg. Alarm clock at 5,45, but was too excited about the trip that I woke up at 4,15 by my own instead…good for me because otherwise I would have stressed too much to prepare…but you know what? I had not packed anything so I had the time to do it. We are leaving, of course I sit in the wrong direction back to the front…I will never remember about it!!!!

Kizunguzungu, All I want and a Swedish version of Hallelujah in my ears. Still ballerinas and black trousers regflecting the sun…love this Swedish Spring, cannot just get enough of it. No flowers though, leaves are going to appear in May or June…just light, sun and long days.

The travelling song in my ears. Worked at Bunkern last Friday. Incredible how Sweds can behave in so different ways when drunk…they can get very rude but at the same time very kind, open and funny! I was sure I would forget something and so it was! The mask I usually sleep with when it gets Spring and too lighty in the mornings. But we are still in April and Warsaw is a little souther than Sweden…so I should make it…

So! Why this notebook? This is my first travel/trip compeltely by myself…I have been looking forward to one of those for so long!!!

An acoustic version of Welcome Home by Radical Face.

Plans for today? Jumping off the train and going around a bit…find a park where to sit and enjoy the sun, and eat my boiled corn with tomatoes. Then I will probably visit the museum of the city and then get to the hostel which is 3 km from the central station.

As I was saying…well I have the plan of writing a little notebook for every country/place I will be visiting now on, filled with postcards, tickets, places with adresses (so that I can come back to those if I will ever go back to these places) and impressions of my journey. We are in Kil now, incredibly foggy right now…I will try to sleep for a while now…see you later!

Here again…I am sitting in front of the museum of world cultures in Gothenburg, some steps from the hostel where I will check in in a few hours. One of the exhibitions is called “Afghan tales”, and I look forward to get to know more about it. I sat a hour in a park near the river, read a little, enjoying the windy, sunny day, and eating my lunch. Both for having gotten up at 4,30 and for the sund shining for hours on my head, walking a lot (most of the times feeling very sure about my direction but at the same time not having a clue about it!), 2,5 hours on the train, I am definitely tired now. But I walked heading to the hostel, meeting a Pressbyrån, which you should definitely know about…it is the worst thing in the world if yu want to keep on a diet…I dreamed of coffee (and Pressbyrån makes it in my favourite way) since yesterday…and finally one with an “unmissable” kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) beside…you know what though? I guess here in Gothenburg they do not use the same coffee as in Karlstad (Löfbergs brand comes from KArlstad).

I love being around, and I enjoy not to be connected to Sweden in anyway if I want (just keep talking English instead)…and everyone will react in a much more oppen way than usual (the average Swedish loves to speak English, complains about his/her “bad” level, and is very shy to speak it). But as you Sweden is heading the ranking among the countries with the best second language English speakers. So, language relativism is a bluff? Not at all, choose a language and you will be treated, and feel, way differently! News of the day is that, for some unexplainable reason, I got accepted in the Sedish as a foreign language IV course…keep it or leave it? Being me, I just cannot refuse it…so next week is gonna be an even cooler one!!!

You know what? I am going inside now…need to see the museum.

Bet of this week? To show to my parents that you can actually get brown staying in the sun, even though you are not in Italy, and it is 9° outside! 😉

____

Before going inside the museum, I did actually got tanned on my face and my feet! (Ballerinas power!) The sun made me feel headache, but I cannot stop being outside, love the Spring here…Yeah…I repeat myself regarding this, I know…

The museum was very interesting. It is called Världskulturmuseum and it is located near the Universum, a giant museum with inside everything frm plants to butterflies and universum explanations…

I had been there during October 2013, on the first reunion weekend with STS, during my exchange year in Sweden. And it is amazing, I would really recommend it!!!. I read today that a 25 ms high tree from a tropical climate is growing there inside! Going back to the museum…

I went through the two exhibitions they have in this period. One called Afghan tales and one about gender equality and rights. Firstly, I  mistakenly went to another floor, where another exhibition was being built up…and it was pretty scaring actually: giant white spaces, nobody there, just three enormous screens with old photos, and a big panic of not being able to go out at first! But I am here safe and sound now!

Very nice photos in the Afghan tales exhibition…touching and well explained, both in Swedish and English. The other one about genders’ rights also made me think a lot and learn as much. Around 15.30 I started to look for the hostel and I setlled there . I relaxed for a while and then went out for a walk and to buy my dinner. I ate very early to be Italian! Now it is just 19,30 and I am already tired as a sloth! But I try to resist at least until 21 before sleeping! Tomorrow my bus from the train station to the airport leaves at 6,30 am and takes half an hour…so…waking up at 5.00 am!!! That’s why I’ll say goodbye and goodnight to you for today…tomorrow is going to be a long day!

Incontrando rifugiati, bici e barbeque nell’aria di Linköping

Mercoledì 11 maggio 2016

Insomma, la settimana 19 di quest’anno è finalmente arrivata, e con lei il terrificante esame di svedese livello C1, il temuto TISUS! Come raccontato in qualche post, ho deciso di farlo a Linköping, in modo da non dover dormire in un posto dove non conoscevo nessuno, e soprattutto per cogliere l’occasione per salutare la mia cara amica messicano-svedese Elisa, che era stata au-pair a Roma dove ci siamo incontrate quasi due anni fa. Sono stata ospitata da lei per due notti, ed ora aspetto ascoltando radio svedese (se siete curiosi, la frequenza 106,9  da Linköping vale davvero la pena di essere ascoltata 😉 ) che lei torni dall’università. Sono arrivata a Linköping lunedì intorno alle 15, dopo aver aspettato un treno a Karlstad ed il secondo a Kristineholm sotto un sole cocente (siamo intorno ai 25° in Svezia negli ultimi giorni!). Il primo viaggio di due ore è stato uno dei più piacevoli mai fatti. Dopo essere salita su un treno ed aver ricevuto una chiamata da Micael (hostfather) tra chiacchiere in tutte le lingue della gente che saliva sul treno e cercava di sistemare i bagagli, ed essere riuscita a capire tutto in svedese della chiamata, mi sono seduta al mio posto con il tavolino. Appoggio il mio caffè del Pressbyrån sul tavolo, insieme al primo libro in svedese letto seriamente, Solstorm di Åsa Larsson. Il signore seduto davanti a me, che poi mi racconterà proprio originario di Karlstad, nota l’autrice del libro. Sorprendentemente mi dice di essere stato insegnante di una giovane Åsa Larsson a Kiruna nel nord della Svezia, dove lei infatti è cresciuta, come ci si può anche accorgere nel romanzo. Quando gli ho detto che era il primo libro in svedese che mi trovavo a leggere mi ha guardato con uan faccia sorpresa, ma davvero sorpresa. Mi sono trovata senza parole e non sapevo come rispondere. Alla fine l’unica cosa che ho pensato è che non aveva capito che non fossi svedese, e gli ho detto che lo svedese non è la mia lingua madre. Ancora incredulo mi ha fatto i complimenti, facendomi notare l’unico errore che avevo fatto da quando avevamo inziiato a parlare, ma più tardi nella conversazione ho scoperto che ha un passato da attore e che probabilmente aveva finto molto bene sulla mia bravura!

Comunque, ritornando al libro, il signore mi racconta di come agitata la scrittrice fosse all’uscita del suo primo romanzo, e di come l’aveva letto tranquillizzandola sulla qualità del libro. Il signore è insegnante di musica, conosceva anche il coro Söt Likör dell’università di Karlstad ed il nostro direttore. Insomma, abbiamo parlato moltissimo ed è stato davvero interessante e divertente, dal momento che ad un certo punto si è messo ad imitare alcuni dei dialetti svedesi.

Dopo aver scambiato alcune parole con due signore estremamente british sedute accanto a noi, sono scesa dal treno a Katrineholm per aspettare la coincidenza. Sulla banchina, assolata, con lo zaino pieno di cose, vedo una ragazza con il velo che cerca di chiedermi se il treno da cui ero appena scesa era quello per Stoccolma, e le dico “si si è questo”, cercando di premere il bottone per aprire le porte, che però sono rimaste chiuse. Alla fine la signora aveva il biglietto per il treno seguente, quindi avrebbe solo aspettato il prossimo. Il suo viso era completamente segnato da ustioni gravi, insiemi a mani e piedi immaginavo che tutto il corpo avesse passato lo stesso orrore, poi scoprirò che invece era un po’ diverso. Iniziamo a parlare in inglese, ci sediamo in stazione e mi racconta la sua storia. Proveniente dalla Somalia, arrivata da solo otto mesi in Svezia, stava andando a trovare suo fratello che abita a Södertälje, vicino a Stoccolma. Avrei detto che avesse intorno ai 20 anni, ma poi mi mostra la foto di suo figlio che ha 10 anni, le chiedo quanti anni ha e mi dice 35. Non chiedo niente del marito, le chiedo solo se è arrivata sola fino alla Svezia. E si, era sola in un viaggio durato più di due anni. È stata fermata in Grecia per due anni, e quando si trovava su un pullman per partire finalmente da li, la polizia ha cercato di fermare l’autista che non si è voluto fermare e a quanto pare in qualche modo la polizia ha usato le fiamme per spaventare e farli fermare. Dico solo ora, alla fine del racconto, che ho dei dubbi su quello che mi è stato raccontato. Incuriosita dalla storia ho provato a cercare qualcosa su internet, scrivendo greece, police, burned, immigrants, e niente è uscito fuori, se non che i rifugiati spesso si bruciano con i carburanti delle barche con cui arrivano. Sedendosi sui motori il carburante li avvolge, ed il bruciore non si sente subito.

In ogni caso, dopo un’ora saluto la signora e attraverso la stazione per aspettare il mio treno. Viaggio di meno di un’ora ascoltando musica. Arrivo a Linköping e vado a casa della mia amica nel caldo e verde di questa bellissima città. Elisa arriva a casa dall’università dopo un’oretta e andiamo in giro con le bici per la città. Prendiamo un gelato e sentiamo dei romani parlare nella piccola gelateria. Sempre riconoscibili. Camminiamo e ci sediamo su un prato su una specie di isoletta vicina al centro della città, prendiamo il sole e mangiamo frutta, alternando svedese ed italiano. Luce fino a tardi, torniamo a casa con le bici e ceniamo con un risotto all’Amarone, che non conoscevo proprio. Vino Marrone, cipolla e parmigiano. Buonissimo! La mattina dopo ci siamo svegliate alle 6,15, perché appunto io avrei avuto l’esame TISUS all’università dove Elisa studia. Arrivate li in bici, ho fatto l’esame che è davvero volato, alla fine delle prove scritte ero così contenta di lasciare l’aula che mi sono scordata la borsa dentro! E sapete cosa? Non incontro un italiano in una delle pause?! Aveva davvero un accento finlandese sullo svedese, e non avrei potuto dire fosse italiano, lui credeva io fossi svedese! A parte la mia capacità di parlare svedese, che è più che discutibile, immagino che i capelli biondi e gli occhi azzurri facciano sempre la loro parte, soprattutto se poi me ne vado in giro con una tazza di caffè comprato al pressbyrån, e con un libro in svedese in mano!

Ho pranzato con Elisa su un prato in mezzo al campus, che sembra davvero una cittadina, atmosfera bellissima, e sono andata a fare il mio esame orale. Aspetto i risultati che arriveranno tra tre settimane. Faccio fika con un kanelbulle e del caffè, il prossimo è gratis dato che si accumulano i punti sulla carta, e ovviamente mi riserverò un caffè enorme per il viaggio di ritorno di oggi!

Torniamo a casa in bici, ci prepariamo per uscire di nuovo ed andiamo al Trädgårdsföreningen, un fantastico parco/giardino in centro. Musica e chiacchiere e sole. Dopo ore vediamo qualcuno fare un barbecue su un grill usa e getta. Propongo di fare lo stesso e andiamo a comprare l’occorrente (il grill costava solo 19 corone, tipo due euro!), torniamo a casa e prepariamo le cose da portare, torniamo di nuovo allo stesso parco. Il grill usa e getta dura non più di un’ora e non è molto forte, ma abbiamo davvero fatto una cosa molto svedese che tutti fanno quando finalmente arriva l’estate e la luce, soprattutto scordandoci sale e pepe!

Scrivo nei prossimi giorno di più su Linköping, l’incontro con un’australiana a Karlstad, l’Eurovision Song Contest, i 90 km in bici, ed il weekend con la mia famiglia ospitante ad Uddeholm, dove sono ora. A presto!

Walpurgis celebration in Sweden, a short guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let this weekend start!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to know about more funny things?

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

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

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

Have a nice evening, see you soon!

The road to home

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

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

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

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

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

I will see you soon!

Benvenuta primavera!

Forse è il caso di scrivere in italiano.

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

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

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

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

Of Madagascar planes

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Questions on education systems

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

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

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

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