The first weekend started out nicely. I even had time to go have lunch with my father, stepmother Julie and stepsister Dee (mmm hamburgers at Fatboy Slim's American style diner, yummy), followed by a walk along the beach. It was very nice.
Here they are, Dee looking very uncomfortable indeed.
And oh, look. I got to be in a picture too. Yay me.
That bag actually made my sunburn look really weird, as the strap covered half of my chest, leaving that half pale white and the rest of my chest red-pinkish. Very stylish indeed.
I really love the beach huts with their rainbow doors ^^
Pretty pretty pretty.
And, as usual, Julie took pictures too. That lady sure does love pictures.
Love this picture!
And finally, a solo performance by Dee. She would probably hate that I put her up here, but I think she looks lovely, and she also is very lovely, so I want to share her with you guys.
Okay, so I recently realised that I have barely blogged about my trip to England this summer. So I thought that I should remedy this now, in the middle of the night. Here goes!
As you might know if you read my blog and/or if you know me personally irl, I went to England, more specifically to Brighton, on 29 June to work as an English teacher for a language travel course agency called STS Språkresor. It was my friend Anna S who set me up to this, and I can assure you I spent many a day freaking out about going away on my own for 21 days to work in England with a bunch of people and youngsters I didn't know. Anyway, I went. And it was actually awesome. Of course. Eventually.
The first day was less awesome though. I spent most part of it travelling. From Gothenburg to Malmö to Copenhagen by train, meeting some of my students at Kastrup, flying to Heathrow, getting separated from the group due to me taking a different flight than everyone else (stupid booking crap), having to take some weird inter-terminal train, going by bus to Brighton, making sure all the students got to their host families, taking a taxi to my own host family and FINALLY collapsing into bed at like 2 o'clock in the morning.
I did not sleep well that first night. Woke up like seven times, having panic attacks, worrying about the forthcoming three weeks and wondering why the fuck I had signed up for this. I just wanted to go back home and hug my mommy. Eventually I got up, met my new roommates Paula from Finland and Sofia from Stockholm, and realised it would probably be okay. I don't particularly remember the rest of the day since it went by in a blur, but I was clearly too preoccupied with other things to take pictures, so picture-wise we'll be starting 1 July.
This is a nice little shop in The Lanes where you can buy fairy lights with coloured balls. You can mix and match however you like, and I really want one of my own. I guess I'll just have to go back there after Christmas or something. Damn.
Fizziwigg's Finest Sweet Emporium is exactly what you might think it is. A fine sweet emporium. If you are ever in The Lanes in Brighton, check it out. Candy!
Here is my sweet little Paula, modelling in front of an aqueous piece of art, also known as a "fountain". It's got children and dolphins in it. I like dolphins. Children, not so much.
A nice picture of a part of The Lanes
Ah, I love this! Most of Paula's and my students sitting around at Churchill Square blowing bubbles at each other. What a nice way to spend time.
A Friday sunset, picture taken from Brighton Pier.
After the sun had set and the kids went home to their host families, we went out pubbing!
Maria (Spain), Ivan (Spain) and alcohol (not Spain). Good stuff.
Paula (Finland), Nikita (Denmark) and a piece of Christian (Sweden).
Paula, Christian and Matt (England/Sweden) chatting away. Well, Matt's not so much chatting as he is drinking alcohol, but whatevs.
I was there too! And I even tasted Maria's Guinness. It was yucky, of course.
So, as you can see, I survived the first three days without too much psychological scarring. Spending some time with people your own age and drinking alcoholic beverages actually helps quite a lot. And then came the weekend. Oh, the weekend.
Time for the first installment of "How to embrace your Swedishness". I know you have been waiting eagerly. Or not. Finding inspiration for this blog post wasn't very hard at all. It went something like this:
Me, thinking: "Hmm, what could I write about that is typically Swedish? Let's see... Well, August is almost over (this was a few weeks ago, mind you) and what do we Swedes do then? That's right, we venture into the forest to pick mushrooms and we eat crayfish! Alright, let's do that then."
So, without further ado, this is how you embrace your Swedishness when it comes to late summer/early fall activities.
#1 - Picking mushrooms
First, you have to get your gear in order (or as I like to say, get your shit together man!). You can't just slip into any piece of clothing and hop on into the wilderness. You have to be prepared. Any real Swede knows this. So, step one:
Clothing. You need what we in Swedish call "oömma kläder". Basically, clothes that you don't give a fuck if they get dirty and/or ripped. A pair of pants (or trousers for you British people) that you don't particularly care about; an old, gross t-shirt that you can sweat in (because you WILL sweat. A lot.); a shirt (preferably a thin cotton one if it's warm, or a flannel one if it's a little chillier); good, long socks to stuff your pant-legs in (beware of ticks!!!); and sturdy boots.
And for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT FORGET TO USE ANTIPERSPIRANT! As I said, you will sweat, and as all real Swedes know, sweat attracts flies. All kinds of flies. Flies in general are okay, in my opinion. Flies in your nostrils - not so cool. There is also a kind of fly here in Sweden that is...vile. According to wikipedia it is common in most of Europe and has now also been introduced to North America. It is small, disgusting, and really difficult to get rid of once it lands on you. I speak, of course, of the älgfluga/deer fly. It loves to crawl into your hair and just sit there and be all disgusting and gross, and sometimes it even bites you. It most likely hurts. I HATE this fly. Blach! So, to avoid getting it all burrowed up in your hair, you should wear a hat or a scarf (or huckle as we say in Swedish). Or, do as I do. Just take a sweater and wrap it around your head like a turban. Like so:
Here you also see the oh-so-practical flannel shirt. I know, I look stylish as hell. When you are properly dressed you also need a basket for carrying your findings, sometimes you need a knife, and every time you need to bring a bottle of water. Remember, you WILL be sweating, and as any real Swede knows, it's important to keep yourself hydrated. Now that you've got your shit together it's time for step two:
Venture out into the forest. If you are new to this, you should ease into it. Start by walking on a dirt road in or toward the forest. Like so:
If you are very lucky, like my cousin and I were, you can find gold even beside the road, without actually having to step between the trees. Like so:
Here, the keen observer will observe that I am not wearing proper foot attire for a walk in the forest. Well spotted. Of course, there is a simple explanation for this. I wasn't, in fact, walking IN the forest, just on the dirt road, which makes my choice of shoes okay. But as you can see, you don't always actually need to go into the forest to find mushrooms, sometimes you'll find them beside the road. Lovely.
Anyway, if you don't have a basket to gather your gold in, you should know that plastic bags aren't really an option, due to bacteria and shit. You can always use your huckle/scarf to carry your mushrooms. Like so:
Another great tip for embracing your Swedishness is to bring a friend. Swedes are often terrified of being alone (probably has something to do with it being dark here a lot and that it is no fun being alone in the dark), so you cannot be a proper Swede if you don't bring someone along. I brought my mother. Or, more correctly, she brought me. I'm terribly lazy sometimes you know. Can't be bothered. That's my mother right there, down below. Also clad in a flannel shirt, like the proper Swede she is.
My last helpful tip is to get your shit together also when it comes to which mushrooms to pick and not to pick. The golden ones I have picked, chanterelles, are every Swedes favourite. They are absofuckinglutely lovely! The one in the picture below is very cute, but perhaps not so suitable for dinner. Depends on if you like stomach pains or not. I don't.
Remember the deer fly? This is what it does to elks!
Or...maybe not. But still.
So, get your shit together, go out into the woods and bring home the gold. Embrace your Swedishness!
"Det är på det hela taget ett förbannat språk vi ha. Orden trampa varandra på tårna och knuffa varandra i rännstenen. Och allt bli så påtagligt och rått. Inga halvtoner, inga lätta antydningar och mjuka övergångar. Ett språk som tycks vara skapat till bruk för den outrotliga pöbelvanan att plumpa ut med sanningen i alla väder."
- Doktor Glas, Hjalmar Söderberg
Äntligen har jag hittat en författare som beskriver en känsla jag ofta har i fråga om mitt modersmål svenska. Nu är det ju inte så att jag ogillar svenska på något vis (TVÄRTOM!), men jag känner ofta som Hjalmar Söderberg/Tyko Glas säger att svenska blir så påtagligt och sanningsenligt. För mig är det verkligen inget språk att ljuga på eller knappt ens använda för att böja lite på sanningen (eller ja, bend the truth, so to speak). Det som sägs på svenska är, för mig, väldigt sant, rått, ärligt, personligt och naket. Därför brukar jag switch to English om jag inte vill blotta mig själv totalt. Och i många fall känns engelska helt enkelt bättre att använda. Exempel? Ja, visst.
De flesta vet kanske inte detta om mig, men jag ogillar starkt att använda ordet "kyss" eller någon av dess andra former. Ordet känns obehagligt och får mig oftast att rysa lite. (Jag har aldrig påstått att jag är normal :P) MEN! På engelska har jag inga problem alls med ordet. "Kiss" låter bra, känns bra och fungerar bra i olika sammanhang. Där svenskan behöver två ord, kyss och puss, klarar sig engelskan med ett enda ord, kiss. Jag tvivlar starkt på att du som läser detta håller med mig om min aversion mot ordet "kyss" (usch, bara att skriva det upprepade gånger får mig att äcklas) eller ens förstår mig, men så är det. Jag avskyr ordet, dels för att det känns så naket och rått, dels för att jag helt enkelt inte tycker att det låter bra.
Ett annat exempel är "Jag älskar dig" vs. "I love you". Du kan nog gissa vilket jag tycker bättre om. Jag har inga problem med "Jag älskar...", för jag älskar många saker, typ som coca-cola, choklad, Harry Potter, metalmusik, salt- och vinägerchips, att bada, myspys und so weiter. Och ja, eftersom jag använder svenska så menar jag ju verkligen vad jag säger, och jag har inga problem med att folk får veta att jag älskar Harry Potter. Men om jag skulle låta någon individ veta att jag hyser väldigt starka känslor för den...ja, då skulle jag switch to English in a heartbeat. "I love you" säger det som "behöver" sägas, because, let's face it, sometimes you have to tell people how you feel and what they mean to you, samtidigt som jag har kvar en känsla av att inte helt ha blottat mig själv. Insane, I know, men som sagt, jag har aldrig påstått att jag är normal (eller mentalt frisk).
Jag antar att allt detta grundar sig i någon djuptgående osäkerhet och ovilja att släppa in någon nära inpå för att den personen kan försvinna och oj vad jobbigt det skulle kännas då (hej hobbypsykolog!), och att det på något vis har manifesterat sig i mitt språkanvändande. Jag tror inte att någon annan har lagt märke till detta hos mig, och tja, det kanske inte är helt smart ur självbevarelsesynpunkt att avslöja mig själv nu, men fuck it. Sometimes you just gotta let people in.
"Det är något fel med min hjärna. Jag vet inte om den är för dålig eller för bra, men den är inte som den borde vara. Till gengäld vet jag åtminstone med mig själv att jag har hjärtat på rätta stället."