Friday, February 27, 2009

more

With February at an end, I am looking back to the most amazing two months I've already had.

The first week of the year, I was in New York City with an amazing group of people. What we did and learned there, especially visiting the AIDS clinic will stick with me for a very long time. Right after that, I headed to Sweden and I've been here since. I've done so much, learned so much, and yet I feel like there is so much more that I could do. Marsha and I grabbed lunch after class (and our big author presentations) today and I was telling her how I'm interested in getting more hands on experience with performance studies, to see what aspect I like most of it. It turns out that her Theatre and Social Justice class is in need of some help (not really sure what that means, but she mentioned potentially acting) and I am looking forward to whatever that entails.

When I start thinking about my future, like, really thinking about it, I freak out. I have no idea what I want to do (realistically) after college. I keep being told by people that I should know by now. It's not that there's nothing that I would like to do- it's that there is so much! And I love North Carolina and I don't think I could leave there just yet (for more than a semester, of course). It feels like if I make a decision about something, then there will be five more decisions to make and 10 alternatives to that original decision that present themselves after the fact...

Ugh, don't let me listen to country music ever again- it makes me think too much.

Another problem I have is that I want to do everything, but when I get overwhelmed I don't do anything. Also, I don't take chances. It's so much easier not to- which is terrible, I know. Instead of feeling like crap because I tried and failed, I would much rather just not try. Until now I've been able to live with the idea "I might have been able to" rather than "I'm not good enough." At this point I think my mom would ask, "Well, what are you going to do about that?"

I don't know.


peace.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

speedy delivery!

Today, I received a package from home! My mom must be a mind reader, because it has a few things in there that I would not have expected, but am so grateful for. First, it had a Hershey's chocolate bunny (early Easter candy, I reckon). It also contained Easter themed Hershey's kisses- Marine likes them. My two favorite aviator sunglasses were in there, as well. Two days ago I began thinking about replacing my toothbrush, but I don't have to anymore, since my parents sent me a new one as well as toothpaste. There were a set of earrings my mom purchased at the ASP auction and I like them a lot because they remind me of her. I also got 5 gum- crazy, since I was literally on my last piece today (I've been rationing my two packs from Christmas, which is hard, since I'm a gum addict). She has also sent me peanut butter, but we're waiting to see if that makes it through customs, so I can have a real PB&J with JIF peanut butter (since choosy moms choose JIF). All I need now is grape jelly- a concept that really seems to be freaking out a lot of Europeans. I mention it and their eyes go all wide and stuff.

I can't believe it is almost March. Crazy!!! I hope next semester goes by just as fast, so I can be 21 already (but I don't mind if the summer lasts forever).

I think everyone who is talking about global warming all the time needs to visit Sweden. It is expected to be 40° on Sunday- the first time the weather has gotten to the 40s this year!!! And to think, last week we had snow (which mysteriously disappeared). But after that, the temperature is expected to stay in the upper 30s for the rest of the month. You never know.

Time to finish watching a movie and go to bed!

peace.

Monday, February 23, 2009

funny ad

I don't know who would click on this advertisement, but I saw it when I was online this afternoon.






It says:
Live and work in the US
Your country is eligible, click here to receive your Green Card.

I've never seen a click advertisement for a Green Card before, so I thought I'd share it with those of you at home.

peace.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

red snapper or what's in the box that hiro-san is bringing down the aisle right now

Last night was the Grease Movie themed party on my floor. We ended up leaving shortly after 4 am when security came and asked for the music to be turned down. It was a fun night, even though some crazy stuff happened (you'd have to ask me personally, haha). We made dinner before- maybe more on that later, but it turned out well. There are pictures of the party on facebook and I have posted a video there of Vid smashing dessert into Nerea's face. Good times.

Not too much has happened in the past week. I have a presentation that I have to give on Thursday, but I haven't had classes in a week- so weird how that works here. So, I've been working on my project, catching up on sleep, exploring the town on Bambi's Mom, and watching the snow fall from my room.

I've been talking with my mom on Skype a bit lately and I'm looking forward to this summer. We're going to take a trip to the new IKEA in Charlotte to get lingonberry preserves and maybe some other things. We are also planning on honing our culinary skills. I've started to enjoy cooking better; since I'm limited on what I can do here, I think I think I'll appreciate cooking at home even more.

Sometimes I feel like I'm in Galaxy Quest. (Not the whole being in outer space part, obviously.) There are these things that are lost between cultures. For instance, I might ask a simple question that is soley for the purpose of learning more, but people take it offensively. On the other hand, people will sometimes say things in English that they don't realize is offensive. And then there are just the really comical misunderstandings that you have to let slide.
I've also noticed that I use cliches a lot and that I don't care and I like them.

I think that one of my friends is becoming slightly obsessive/paranoid. I'll keep an eye out for progress with that.

If my life was a movie, the genre would probably be comedy.

peace.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

not necessarily a bad thing, but

Sometimes I remind myself of my parents. A lot.
Especially my mom (mannerisms, tone when speaking, etc).

peace.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

my new bike

Well, it's not really new. In fact, I'm convinced that it's a very old bike, but it's not a piece of trash.

I won't tell you how much I paid for it, but it was cheaper than WalMart prices (obviously, since it was used). If I can't find someone to sell it to before I leave, the man at the store (who is now my best friend, since I've spent about two hours just sitting in the shop in the past two days) will buy it back. I cleaned it up when I came home, so the market value has gone up, I'm sure, haha.

It's awfully pink, but that's fine by me, as it was the only one the cheap bike shop had that was my size.

And the man threw in a nice lock for free and the lights are really nice (by law, you have to have a red reflector/light in the back and a white light in the front).




I figured I should name it, so here's the officially unveiling of my beautiful bike's name....

*drumroll*

Bambi's Mom!!!
(or B Ma as Marsha came up with)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

waiting

Today was one of those days that "should have been"...

I should have woken up earlier, finished my homework early, purchased a bike, and started my powerpoint for my author presentation (I'm presenting on Dr. Seuss).

Instead, I let myself sleep in (having stayed up late to write my memoir), didn't have internet most of the day (therefore, I was not able to access the web documents to even start my homework), tried to get a bike (but the man at the shop couldn't get it unlocked), and without internet I couldn't get the information of the fascinating children's author.

Tomorrow I can do all the things that I needed to do and today was not a lost day- I cleaned my entire room, which was a bigger task than it should have been. There's going to be a party in Sommarstaden this weekend and if people want to have dinner or something in my room beforehand, I would like it to look nice. Regardless, today was one of those days where I could have used a big hug. The kind that lasts about half a minute and makes stress disappear.

In substitution for a hug, I ate some of the M&Ms that Meg sent me and listened to music that I hadn't heard in a while. Now that I have internet again, I'm working on my homework and waiting for episodes of Lost and The Office to load. I haven't seen The Office since I've been in the USA and I miss it greatly.

The Appalachia Service Project spaghetti dinner and auction turned out to be a success, raising nearly $10,500 and exceeding our previous year's record of $9,000! Very impressive, especially considering the tough economic times. You have absolutely no idea how excited I am to go this year-- my girls will finally be 18 and I'm sure even the younger ones will seem mature compared to the newest additions to our ASP family. Usually, I get stressed about the teams, but I'm sure that it will work out for the best, no matter what. It helps so much to be older- I can do more of my own thing without worrying about the group dynamic. Yay!

I got a card from my parents. It was thoughtful and unexpected, since they never send me Valentines Day cards. Now I have the photobook that Lena gave me on my birthday and my parents' card to decorate my windowsill. But- there's still plenty of room!!! So if you'd like to send a card or something... you'll get a postcard back! (Meg, I've got yours and just have to mail it, I promise!)

My address, again, is:
Cronquists gata 10
214 28 Malmö, Sweden

Thanks for reading!!
peace!

the hard road

For one of my classes, I had to write a memoir of some sort, so I decided to write it on ASP, which has been one of the most influential parts of my life as I've grown up. It took me a little over an hour, but I finally finished with six pages, however I do not feel I can share all of my stories on this blog.
I would like, however, to mention a passage that I don't think I came up with on my own. The title of my piece is called The Hard Road: Stories from Appalachia and this is my favorite part, prior to editing:

Maybe that was what made us so different. Not that she referred to the paved road as “the hard road” but that she was on “the hard road.” She was too young to be a mother [...] she didn’t have financial stability, and they were trying to keep from losing everything. Who knew if the next rain, running down the mountainside, would literally wash away their house? Who knew if they would get their plumbing and kitchen floor fixed, so the dishes that lay stagnant in the bathtub could be washed once again in the sink? At the end of the week, we would pack up our vans and sleep on the way home to our sleep number beds and multicar garages. At the end of the week, they would have to figure out how much food they could afford and prepare for another group of strangers to enter the most intimate parts of their lives.


Well, it's awfully late here, so I'm going to bed. More later!

peace.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

procrastinating...

I still need to deep clean my room and finish up some homework, but first I'll take a break to talk about this weekend.

A bunch of the girls have been getting packages from home. Marine got a package that was so heavy, once she got it home she just set it down and took a break before opening it. Nerea's mom sent her and Cristina a few things, including a toy cat, since Cristina has been missing her cat. Everyone gets really excited when they get a package, so it's fun for us all.

As I mentioned in the post before this, we had sunny weather on Friday. Pretty much everyone went out and took pictures, especially at the beach.
Well, Saturday was bright and sunny, too.
Friday night, I made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for the Jamaican girls and Louise. We hung out in the kitchen for a while after that, playing cards with anyone who wanted to join. When I returned to Sommarstaden some time between eleven and midnight, I went to the Mexican boys' room for Abihu's birthday shindig. It was crazy. A lot of people packed into a little room, but everyone had a really good time. I ended up leaving after a few hours, because I had booked the laundry room for six in the morning (not a good idea ever, but there was no other time and I desperately needed to do laundry).
The laundry room was booked for me from 6 until 9. After 9, I can no longer get in. At 6, I woke up, put my clothes in the washing machine and went back to sleep. At 7, I woke up, took the clothes out of the wash and put them in the dryer, and put another load in the wash. Then I must have set my alarm wrong. At 8:30, I woke up again, in a panic, because I had a load of clothes, including two jeans and a bath towel, that needed to be dried. Fortunately for me, the dryer was in top form yesterday and got the job done with only moments left.

I went back to sleep again until 1. I've been exhausted and very stressed lately, so it was a good sleep. By 2:30, I was on my way to Central Station with Marine, Alice (Australia), and Valérie (France).
We went to the Turning Torso and went inside the gallery, since they do not allow people entrance to the Turning Torso (it's residential). For those of you who don't know, it's Malmö's highest building. The only thing really impressive about it (other than the unique architectural design) is the way that it stands out, which is only because all other buildings are small.
After that we went to the beach again. It was too cold for me, so I went back to the buildings nearby, where there was less wind.
We tried to find a costume shop, since some of the girls wanted Viking horns for the Viking party, but we found it at 4:30 and found out it closed at 3.
Marine and I stopped at China Box and watched the employees freak out because a lady brought her dog inside the restaurant. Then we got on the most crowded bus ever. When we were on the bus, there was a couple nearby me who spoke English. The guy bumped into me and said "I'm sorry" but I just sat there, as the Swedes would, without saying anything, just because no one apologizes for anything here. I felt bad for not say "oh, that's fine" or something, but enjoyed listening to them speak. While most people here speak English, they only do that if you engage them in conversation first. It's always fun to get on the bus and hear other people speaking in a language you understand.

I had time for a quick nap and then started getting ready for Shatarra's Valentine's Day party. It turned out to be a few girls and a couple of guys stopped in for a moment, to get food, so not exactly what we expected. This was the information we were given beforehand:
"Come celebrate new friends and new experiences on V-Day in this lovey dovey free-for-all where you are free to celebrate with all of your new valentines at once. There will be music, games, rum fruit cocktail, fruit and sweets dipped in hot chocolate, cranberry vodka punch, and goodies galore for eye and the sweet tooth. Dress code is simply sexy (but you may want to layer it up if you're bold enough for strip poker)
Cost of admission: something sweet"

There was music, there were fruits and sweets dipped in chocolate, and plenty of "goodies" ... but there was no rum or vodka (fortunately) or games or strip poker. Shatarra and Shaniece had thought that the System Bolaget (ABC store, and the only place where you can buy alcohol higher than 3.5%) closed at 4, but it actually closes at 3 on Saturdays (and isn't open on Sundays). So there was beer in the chocolate, punch, and fruit salad, but not strong enough to tell.

After that party, we went to the Viking party at Celsius. Marsha and I were told that we looked like American Indians or English warrior types. At this party, people decided they would teach me about American history and geography. Apparently, North and South Carolina are the same state and South (and North?) Carolina's capital is Savannah. The Carolina state has the Appalachian mountains, which are close to the Rocky mountains. It is also not possible for the Carolina state to have just one professional American football team.
I found this information all very informative.

Marine and Louise left the party to catch the first bus home, since it wasn't the greatest party ever (super lame music and a ton of people we didn't recognize, once people actually showed up), but I wasn't ready to leave yet. So I hung out with Marsha and when we left, I slept on her floor in a sleeping bag. I left at 11 this morning and there was no one in the kitchen or game room or common area, which I have never seen before.

Today, I was contemplating going to have lunch in the Spanish girls' room, but decided against it. They are asking people to bring 50 SEK, which is about $6 to pay for the ingredients, but I don't think it would cost that much, if they are having lots of people join. Plus, I have frozen lasagna that I was planning on eating today.

So now I'm off to do what needs to be done. Tonight is the Appalachia Service Project spaghetti dinner/auction at church at home and I'm very sad that I'll miss it. I've donated an evening of babysitting and one home cooked Swedish meal, so I'm hoping that those go for a bit. Our mission trip depends greatly on this fundraiser, and last years' auction was so successful that it was our only fundraiser, to send 3 teams. This year, I've heard it estimated that we have enough people for 5 teams, so I'm praying that everything goes better than we could hope for. I am so very much looking forward to ASP this summer.

peace.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

perspectives

The last few days have been rather uneventful. Yesterday, there was sun. And not just for 20 minutes- for the entire day! I was amazed and Marine and I went bus riding and window shopping, just to be outside. Yet even more amazing was the night sky. I forgot how different it would look. There were our constellations that we're so used to looking up and seeing, but they were in different places. Orion's belt hung just above the horizon, instead of high in the sky. When I pointed it out to Louise, she reminded me that she has never seen the northern hemisphere stars before- kind of crazy to think of, huh?

When I'm at home, I try so hard to prioritize my life (don't get me wrong, I'm still prioritizing here, but that's not to difficult, as I have just school, weekend social events, and no money) but I think I may have been mistaken.

I find myself getting caught up in things so easily, and not being able to fairly self-evaluate until I'm out of the situation. That is what I find myself now doing.

I'm left wondering if I had my priorities (in no particular order) of family, school, work, friends, and personal growth in the right order. I'm left wondering if I should have studied more or better or if what I was doing was sufficient. I'm left wondering if I should have actually told that person that I would miss them so much next year. I'm left wondering if I couldn't have sacrificed just one weekend to catch up with old friends and if I could have spent just one more night sitting in a restaurant on Franklin St with new friends. I'm left wondering if I did favors for people because I genuinely wanted to see them happy or because I thought it would make them like me more. I'm left wondering if I could have been a better musician, when I stopped learning each time because I was scared to try something and fail.

As I have a few months left away from home, I will continue to mull over these choices and figure out what I need to do next year. How I need to get involved and what I can cut back on. What I do know already is that I'm treasuring the days that I'm driving down the highway, worrying about getting a tan line from the seat belt because it's summer and the top's down, blasting the music, with my friends. I hope that I'll get to see my Simon again and take him to the park one more time. And I know that while Kayla and I will have our difficulties figuring out how to be roommates again this summer, we're going to have a "totally awesome" summer.
I mean, look how far we've already come.


"Whose work is it but your own to open your eyes? But indeed the business of the universe is to make such a fool out of you that you will know yourself for one, and begin to be wise."
-George MacDonald, Lilith


peace.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

good job

Go Carolina! Great job beating Dook.
And...
Go USA! Great job beating Mexico. (soccer)

Also, go me! For waking up early to go to the 9 am class, when I could have slept in and gone at 11.

Yesterday, Marine and I went to Nerea and Cristina's room for movie night. We watched Notting Hill in English with English subtitles, so the girls could practice their English. Then the Mexican boys showed up and were loud, so I was grateful for the subtitles. Nerea had burned her arm making soup, I hope it feels better today.
That was the first time I had seen Notting Hill, but was familiar with some of the lines.
"I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy..."

And I finally used the birthday present that Meg gave me. I had an iTunes gift card for $15 and I spent $11.99 of it on The Lonely Island's new album, Incredibad, which included several music videos. Great purchase. Andy Samberg is hilarious and his band is even more hilarious, even though their music wouldn't be appropriate for listeners of a young age or with sensitive ears.
This morning, I was riding the bus and listening to the songs and had to try so hard not to crack up, because then people would think I am a crazy, which isn't exactly true.

The students from my Children's Lit class joined with another class taught by one of our teachers, which was interesting. We had fun and were allowed to leave early, since they were working on another project. When we left, we just stood in the hall for a long time, talking. It was good times.

I don't have class again until Monday, but I have plenty of stuff to do to keep busy.
For now, I've decided to take a short break- I'll eat and wash dishes, while I listen to George MacDonald's Lilith, for funsies.

I think that's about all, but I would like to remind people to send me their addresses. I promise, I will write, even if I haven't sent you anything yet!

Peace.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

the story of the snowman

Today it snowed.

A lot.

At 11 pm, Marine and I were walking home from the bus stop.

Epic snowball mini-battle.






We got back to Sommarstaden and got Nerea.



Nerea and I slipped on the sidewalk.





Then we made a game out of it.











It was time to build a snowman.




The three of us set off to build him.




Snow kept falling, covering the ground.


















Growing quickly, the snowman was rolled around!











I found the arms for the snowman from nearby trees.



















Look at those... snowballs!









Marine was quite toasty from all her work.





Here she is, standing next to the head that I accidentally ran over with the large middle section.










Nerea worked so hard to keep dirt from getting into the snow, but it was very difficult work.




Cristina joined us, once she was off the phone with her brother.



She immediately pelted us with snowballs.





We still managed to have a good time.













It took all four of us to put the middle section on the bottom.



It was so heavy!




One arm was weak and we had trouble keeping a glove on his hand.












Cristina and Nerea put the finishing touches on him.





Adding a hat, scarf, glasses, and a mouth, he was finally complete.



















We named him Lars, since he is very Swedish.




















I gave Lars a big kiss goodnight.





We will check on him tomorrow, to see if he survived the night.

















Holding his glove, Cristina shared the love.





Lars looked very pleased.

















Nerea also kissed Lars.



He was looking happier than ever.


















Poor Marine, Lars was borrowing her glasses.



But she still managed to take a good picture with him.





Goodnight Lars!













Many thanks to Marine, our resident photographer, for the pictures, the glasses, and the gloves!



Très belle!







peace.

Monday, February 9, 2009

one month

I've been away from home for five weeks and in Sweden for one month (easy enough to remember, since I arrived on my birthday). So, I'm missing home a little bit.
I have so much to look forward to upon getting home - summer skies, summer weather, the pool, the ocean, my car, Kayla's graduation, barbeques and cookouts, and seeing my friends and family again. But all of this can wait, since I'm enjoying my time in Sweden.

What I'm not enjoying, however, is the attitudes of people towards Americans. I can't count how many times I've been told that Americans are lazy, fat, stupid, uneducated, people who are only concerned with themselves and have no concept of the rest of the world. How could this be true when we are the rest of the world? Every single nation is represented in our culture. Even trying to find something "American" to cook the other night was a challenge, since at home we eat everything from Italian lasagna to Polish pierogis to Mexican tacos. My dad told me that one of his coworkers picked up some Thai food for them the other day.

Maybe what bothers me more than people assuming we all fit into this preconceived notion they have about Americans is that (more often than not) it's being told to me by people who have never been to the US. (Quick digression: I really appreciate when people ask me about my home and tell me that they would like to visit. I understand wanting to experience new cultures, obviously, or I wouldn't have given up six months to see something new. For instance, Marine has told me that she would like to visit America some day and I would like to go to France, we don't dwell on how our countries think of each other, because that would be stupid and you can't pigeonhole an entire nation. Tack Marine!) Anyway, most of the people who decide that they would like to complain to me (why me?) about my country have no real idea about the nation. They have all of these bad things that they can say, yet most of them would love to vacation there. The only thing these people "know" about America is that George Bush is from Texas and they've been told to hate him.

A few people have told me that I'm "not very American" because I don't fit into their stereotypes. I take this as a compliment, since their stereotypes are mostly negative, but here's the truth: I'm just as American as anyone else from my country. I was born and raised there, said the Declaration of Independence each day in grade school, have memorized the Star Spangled Banner and the Preamble to the Constitution. I'm familiar with my rights, liberties, and freedoms as defined by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I celebrate Independence Day by eating hamburgers and watching fireworks. I also am American in the need I feel to help others - American youth are really big on volunteering and community service. I grew up down the street from Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson's summer home and have seen George Washington's fake teeth (which were actually set in lead, not wood). I grew up picking berries from brambles with my sister and cousins on their property, shooting cans with our bebe, visiting Civil War battle grounds with my family, and learning about American heroes such as Dr. King and Paul Revere.

On a more local level, I feel pride not only in my nation, but in my state and my school. Yes, we have our flaws, on all levels, but part of being American is being able to see those flaws and question them- we have the freedom to do that without fear of reprimand. I love being from North Carolina. While I might not sound like I am (for this I blame my parents, but thank them for it, too), I consider myself a North Carolinian, having spent most of my life there. I love our mountains and our beaches, the agriculture, our rich history, our ever increasingly diverse demographics, our education systems, our college sports, our contribution to barbeque, soft drinks, and food service establishments, and our pace of life. At Carolina, I love our opportunities like a decent study abroad program and numerous schools and majors, but especially our basketball.

Sure, the US has only been around for just over two centuries, but we have already done so much. I think that must be because of the make-up of America. No two states are the same, the heritage is a "melting pot" of so many different cultures. If you were to ask me my heritage, other than being American, I would say "I'm a quarter Dutch and the rest is pretty much Scotts-Irish." While others might disagree, I think it's awfully cool to be part of this nation that has so much potential and so much drive to use that potential. True, we still have a long way to go, but look how far we've come already.

So the next time someone would like to tell me about Americans, I would like them to stop and think what they really know about us, rather than what they've heard. We're more than our government, our fast food industry, and our entertainment.

I am not writing this to say that America is superior in any way to other countries. I'm writing it because I'm tired of people dissing America to my face. You don't have to love us or hate us or share your opinions about us with me. I don't mind joking around about it, but seriously I am proud to be an American and I want this trip to be a learning experience where I feel free to broaden my global perspective instead of focusing on how I can get people to stop telling me these rumors they've heard about my country. Sorry.

And to my close friends in Sweden- I am not writing this about you. I love that we joke about our countries by talking about what we call the third meal of the day, sharing our fondness for different types of food (from bread to vegemite), having differences in being promptly on time or perpetually late, and wondering what would happen if Canada tried to invade the states. This is just a means of venting for the people who don't actually know me or my country and would like to tell me about Americans and America. And I'm not really upset, I've just been thinking about it a lot and felt that I should somehow try to put my thoughts and feelings into words.

peace.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

tying up the loose ends...

My cooking didn't turn out to be a total disaster like Bridget Jones's, but it wasn't rescued by Colin Firth either (I guess you can't win all the time). I made my barbeque chicken and I think I'll make it again sometime soon. The garlic mashed potatoes could have been better with more time to boil the potatoes, but I enjoyed them. My room, however, has a new permanent odor of sauteed garlic and onions- gross. The other food items tonight were really tasty and I particularly liked the Swedish pancakes, as until tonight I had yet to find any Swedish food that really interested me.

Not only did I cook a meal with no major flaws, I also cut my own hair. Nothing noticeable to most people, but it sure feels healthier to me (bye bye split ends). This was a very good thing though, since I was a little nervous about it. See, I never go to a salon, since I'm fine with saving some money and having my mom cut my hair- she's really good and I trust her to make it look nice. I have cut hair before, but not my own (except my bangs, which I trim about twice a month, so they don't get in my eyes). And now I will cut your hair, too!

I'm convinced that the Valentines displays in every store are to help guys out. With all of the publicity, how could a guy forget V-day? And even if he did, he can grab a pink teddy bear and box of chocolates on his way home from almost any shopping center. Too bad there aren't big reminders of peoples' birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates. I guess that's what BlackBerries and other PDA's are for...

Bedtime!
peace.

culinary genius?

I just pulled a major Bridget Jones move.
When I was in the grocery store just now, I decided that I am actually a very good cook and an inventor of recipes. So, I picked up the stuff to make my "American" dish and I'm still riding that feeling. If you've read the book or seen the movie, you'll be familiar with Bridget's blue soup and failed everything else. I really hope it doesn't turn out like that for me...

Oh my.

peace.

you know you're from north carolina when...

So, I've compiled some lists of "you know you're from NC when..." not all of them are necessarily true, and they certainly don't all apply to me, but I found them humorous, so here goes...

  • "Vacation" means goin' through Rocky Mount on the way to Kings Dominion
  • You've seen all the biggest bands...ten years after their last hit
  • You measure distance in minutes
  • Down South to you means South Carolina
  • You know Pepsi originated in New Bern, Cheerwine in Salisbury, and that Mountain Dew was invented in Fayetteville
  • You know Coke tastes better in the little bottles and that peanuts make coke taste even better
  • You have an opinion about UNC. You went there and loved it, or you hate everyone who did
  • Your folks have taken trips to the mountains to look at leaves
  • Your school took a field trip to the State Fair in Raleigh
  • You would elect Richard Petty or Ric Flair for governor if he ever ran
  • You watched as Dale Earnhardt was the only man who ever lived who could go 200 mph, spin somebody out, flip them the bird, call them a you-know-what, and win the race all in the last lap
  • You skipped school to go to Dale Earnhardt's memorial service
  • Your friends have to buy gloves and winter coats if they go to college at Appalachian or Western Carolina
  • You know a bunch of people who have hit a deer
  • You know a few that have also hit a bear
  • You remember watching the ACC Tournament on television at school
  • The local newspaper covers state, national, and international headlines in one page, but sports require six pages
  • Most men in town consider the first day of deer season a national holiday
  • Fifty degrees Fahrenheit is "a little chilly"
  • You have no problem spelling or pronouncin' "Conetoe" or "Top Sail"
  • Your school classes were canceled because of cold
  • Your school classes were canceled because of heat
  • Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waitin' to pass a tractor on the highway
  • Your school classes were canceled because of a hurricane
  • Your school classes were canceled because of hunting
  • Your school classes were canceled because of a livestock show
  • You've rode the school bus for an hour...each way
  • You know more about ACC basketball than professional basketball
  • You know the Carolina League is the greatest baseball league in the country
  • You think South Carolina was dead weight well shed
  • You know tea is served sweet unless you specifically asked for unsweetened
  • You've ever had to switch from "Heat" to "A/C" in the same day
  • You think ethanol makes your truck run a lot better
  • Stores don't have bags...they have sacks and are called Piggly Wigglys
  • You see people wearing bib overalls at funerals
  • You see a car running in the parking lot at the store with no one in it no matter what time of the year
  • You end your sentences with a preposition, for example, "Where's my coat at?" "What's that made out of?"
  • All the festivals around the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, or tobacco
  • Priming was your first job...and you know what it means
  • Your idea of a really great tenderloin is when the meat is twice as big as the bun and comes with cole slaw on top
  • You know the difference between a deer dog, a bear dog and a coon dog by the way they bark
  • You put security lights on your house and your garage and leave both of them unlocked
  • Your four seasons are almost summer, summer, still summer, and highway construction
  • You can tell if another North Carolinian is from Eastern or Western North Carolina as soon as he opens his mouth, or by the barbeque he eats
  • You know Krispy Kreme makes the best doughnuts!
  • You can spell words such as Ocracoke, Fuquay-Varina, and Chocowinity
  • You know the best BBQ is found in Lexington
  • You think the four major food groups are beef, pork, beer, and Jello salad with marshmallows
  • When asked how your trip to any foreign, exotic place was you say, "It was different"
  • Hyde County is considered a foreign or exotic place
  • In the Piedmont, you see all the grown-ups go out and play in the snow
  • Schools and churches hold barbecue fundraisers with banana puddin' as the dessert
  • Your folks would rather eat at Bojangles's than McDonald's
  • You have actually uttered the phrase "It's too hot to go to the pool"
  • You consider being a "Pork Queen" an honor
  • You carry jumper cables in your car
  • You know the following: Duke-Smart Asses, State-Farmer's Kids, Carolina- Preps, ECU- Drunks.
  • You faithfully drink Pepsi or Mt. Dew everyday of your life.
  • You know what "cow tipping" is.
  • You have your own secret bbq sauce
  • You visit the NC State Fair mainly to see your neighbor's prize chicken.
  • You know where Barney Fife stays when he goes to Raleigh. (The YMCA.)
  • You say, “it don’t” instead of “it doesn’t.”
  • At least one of your female relatives has dipped snuff.
  • You eat collards, hog jowl, and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.
  • You sometimes eat country ham, grits and eggs for supper.
  • You measure your heating bill by the chord
  • Your luxury car is a 4x4
  • You know what a turkey shoot is
  • Ya know what a pig pickin' is
  • A seven course meal to you means a pack of Nabs and a Pepsi
  • You remember when Easter Monday was a Holiday
  • The tractor is under your carport instead of your car
  • You know how much a "mess" of anything is
  • You say "tater" instead of "potato"
  • You say "skeeter" instead of "mosquito"
  • You say "possum" instead of "opossum"
  • You say "coon" instead of "raccoon"
  • You brag on your new John Deere
  • You know that "barbeque" means cookin pork on an open pit and a "cook out" is grilling hamburgers and hotdogs
  • Your past tense of the verb "to see" is "seen", as in "I seen ya at the auction yesterday."
  • You know that "Pop" is a sound; and "Soda" is used for baking
  • You call it a "buggy", not a "shopping cart"
  • You know "fixinto" is a word
  • You know what a tar heel is
  • You use "fix" as a verb - example: I'm fixing to go to the store
  • You know the four main spices: salt, pepper, Texas Pete, and ketchup
  • Saying "ya'll" isn't just a cute expression; it actually means something
  • There are big labradors in the back of every truck
  • You give directions using KFC and Waffle House as landmarks
  • You still see Dale Earnhardt tributes on cars
  • You can't imagine life without Bojangles' sweet tea
  • You have a sunburn from May to October
  • Your 'heavy winter clothing' consists of some turtleneck sweaters, a fuzzy jacket, and your daddy's boots
  • Your family has fried chicken at least once a week
  • You can tell the difference between cotton fields and tobacco fields while driving
  • You've been "properly raised", and yankees love it when they hear you say "ma'am" and "sir"
  • You get your carbs from biscuits, rolls, pancakes, and grits
  • You know the difference between a "redneck" and a "hick"
  • You own at least one t-shirt from Bert's Surf Shop, AB Surf Shop, or The Sanitary Fishmarket
  • No matter what those people in Ohio say, we are still "first in flight"
  • The Coca-Cola 600 is as big as the Super Bowl
  • You prefer Chick-fil-a to KFC
  • You know pastry is a chicken stew, not a dessert item
  • Every time you visit someone you’re offered something to eat and a glass of tea
  • In summer you have home-grown tomatoes with every meal
  • When it rains and the creek rises, everyone gathers to see how high it rose
  • You know that "chunk" the ball means to throw it
  • You've had a burger "all the way" - chili and slaw on it
  • You can recognize a copperhead and your heart drops when you see one
  • A tobaggan to you means a knit cap, not a sled
  • You sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts for a school or church fundraiser before those glazed doughnuts went global
  • When you're traveling out of state, people ask if you're from Mayberry
  • You know it’s pronounced APPALACHIAN and not “App-a-lay-shun"
  • You know that "Carolina" refers to UNC-Chapel Hill, while "State" refers to NC State. 75.
  • After church you either stay for the barbeque lunch or the pig pickin'
  • You've driven with "Carolina Hurricanes" flags on your car because WE WON THE STANLEY CUP!!
  • You've seen One Tree Hill and/or Dawson's Creek being filmed in Wilmington
  • You learned ALL about The Lost Colony in 4th grade...(and you know where Blackbeard's treasure really is
  • You listen to beach music and you can shag
  • You can pay the mechanic who worked on your truck with a quart of moonshine in return.
  • Your school was declared a "Tobacco Free Zone", but there are tobacco fields right outside
  • You constantly see signs for tractor pulls and turkey shoots while driving through eastern NC
  • You mash buttons and eat creamed potatoes
Hope this was amusing to everyone back home. If you feel like 100% of this applies to you, I suggest checking out Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck if..."

Peace.

ehh

I don't know why I bother sometimes.

Tonight I wished to be home for a while, but next week will be better because... well, just because.



peace.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

the doctor

I would just like to document that tonight with my amazing grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, Marine had her first taste of Dr Pepper. Best reaction ever...


she likes it.


Peace.

chasing pavements

I'm back in the blogging mood, I guess. Really that's more about me having a moment of free time when I'm alone in my room and not cooking or cleaning.

First of all, I would like to say that I saw the clip of Lil' Wayne announce the "top 10" on the Late Show with David Letterman and it was stupid. And his new single Prom Queen is terrible, too. I'm glad I'm not at home to listen to the radio DJs overplay that one. (And I don't like Miley's new song, either.)

There is a bring-a-dish thing tomorrow night with Interact. Those who are attending are supposed to bring a dish from their country or region. I'm at a complete loss. What is "American" food, or more specifically southern food that I can actually make? If we were at home, I'd drive by a Smithfield's or Bojangles' and pick up some fried chicken, but I can't do that here. And I can't make that either, since my only experiences with making fried chicken have been with a deep-fryer, which I do not possess. When I think of American food, the first thing that comes to mind is steak, since no one can do steak like we can (sorry everywhere else in the world, but it's true).
Another issue is my culinary skills- while they're not bad (but definitely not refined) at home, I have so many other issues here. From going to the store and not knowing what type of flour to buy, to having to convert my recipes from Fahrenheit to Celsius. And my oven has super powers, as we discovered last night. The first time Marine and I cooked a pizza here, it was in her oven and took the recommended 15-20 minutes. I think the one we cooked last night (in my oven) took 5-10 minutes and we were so freaked out. It tasted great though.
Also, the event is taking place in a different building, so I have to make something that I can transport and will still be good after a bus ride. That just made me think of all the times we went to covered dish dinners with my family and whoever called "shotgun" had the pleasure of figuring out how we were going to get the food there, since it would be sitting on their lap, no matter how hot it was, haha. Drawing on those dinners for inspiration, green bean cassarole was very popular, but I don't think we have French's onions here.
Oh my..

John Cash once wrote, ""I myself can't go too long without real Southern fried chicken, skillet cornbread, and all the other wonderful staples of my home food. It's one of the disadvantages of a life spent traveling internationally that that particular kind of cooking isn't much exported. You can find a burger almost anywhere in the world and dine well on French or Italian or Chinese food, but just try finding fried okra or black-eyed peas or skillet-cooked cornbread in Sydney or Singapore or Stuttgart."
From Cash: The Autobiography (HarperCollins, 1997).

So true...

I just found a simple recipe for frying chicken, but I have issues with frying a whole chicken in the frying pan, since I would hate for any of the meat to not be cooked thoroughly. I can't make cornbread here, or Brunswick stew, or anything. Here comes the regionalism. I am a culinary failure, but I think this summer I'll try to work on cooking while I'm at my parents' house with recipes and ingredients that I know. Nostalgia sets in and you don't know what I would do for my mom's apple crisp. We used to make that when we were little- we'd get a bunch of apples and Kayla and I would peel and core them with something that looked like this (I'm trying to provide links for people who aren't familiar with what I'm talking about/can't read my mind, haha). That was always so much fun! I'm really looking forward to spending time with my sister- she might be able to visit me here and we have the summer together before we both leave for school. We used to fight like dogs all the time, but we're good friends now and I think we've realized that even though we can still both annoy each other, that's not our goal and we're a better team now (while I know all the stuff to say that upsets her, I also know what she's thinking when we're together and we have what I reckon could be called a code where she'll say one thing and I know exactly what she's talking about, when everyone else is lost).

Sorry for the sidetracking, back to my recipe debaucle... I'm realizing more and more that the ingredients we cook with at home aren't easy to find here. Yes, tonight I plan on making grilled cheese sandwiches and Campbell's tomato soup again, but I don't think that qualifies as actually cooking or being a regional food. Everything is peaches this, sweetpotatoes that, grease, grease, and more grease. Apparently, we like apples a lot for our cooking. And barbeque- vinegar based. Even though I don't eat pork or like NC BBQ, just looking at these pictures and recipes is making me hungry! UGH! Ever recipe I find has an issue, for instance the shredded cheddar needed for one- no other cheese would work.
This is not actually a big deal, I'm just consumed with trying to find something I can. In the end, I'll probably settle for mashed potatoes or scrambled eggs with cheese, etc. It only has to be enough food for four.
However, if people from home would like to contribute ideas, I'll take them into consideration.

In other news...
I've been watching Criminal Minds. Love it! So many great characters. Elizabeth reminded me of the show the other day and how intense it is. Ahh!
The site that I'm watching it on has Chinese subtitles, which makes me feel absolutely terrible. I can hardly read any of it. Next semester I have to audit a Chinese class, just to refresh my memory, since it will have been a year since my last course.

Ok, I can't write anymore right now, my stomach is growling at me because I looked at so many pictures of delicious country cooking. Snack time!

Peace.

this place

I like Sweden a lot, but sometimes I just love being here. Today was one of those days.
Enough said.
Peace!

Friday, February 6, 2009

fried chicken

I forgot to share the story of Southern Kitchen Cafe. This is a little "mom & pop" place, as we would say in the States. I went to SKC with Marsha, Shaniece, Marine, and Louise. Marine and Louise had never had fried chicken before, so that was a fun and new experience. The meal was just over $7 US and came with a glass bottle of Coca-Cola, fried chicken, "garlic" mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob. The chicken was ok. However, I've decided to attempt frying my own at home. The potatoes were disgusting. They had what appeared to be some kind of curry gravy on them and they tasted more like cold sweet potatoes, but I still ate them, since I was hungry. The corn on the cob was so small, maybe 1/4 of the ear, but it was delicious. I attempted to get coffee, but couldn't figure out to pour the coffee from the pot. That was probably a good thing, as I'm sure the coffee had been there for hours.
When we were paying, I saw a small advertisement for Gray's American Store (which I have yet to locate). So I asked the guy at the register where the store was and he asked if I was Swedish. Obviously, I'm not, so I said no... I'm American and he brightened up and explained for a good 5 minutes how to get to the store. After that time I know this much - it's near Gustav Adolfs Torg and there is a canal there (which I already knew). Oh, and they have marshmallows. Thanks creepy guy.
I've decided that within 24 hours of getting home I will eat at dark chicken snack with hush puppies instead of fries at Smithfield's Chicken and Barbeque.
That's all.
Peace.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

the goose boy

In my Childrens' Literature class, we've been reading a lot and the second part of this week, we read The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. This is a story written about 100 years ago that tells the geography of Sweden through a series of adventures that Nils, a Swedish boy enchanted by an elf to becoming very small, who travels on the back of a goose. The story is extremely long, but I found it interesting because Nils is constantly doing something new. Since my class is supposed to be Childrens' Lit in a Global Perspective, we're reading tales from all over the world- except America. And there is a lack of representation of African stories. We have at least three stories from Sweden, which are all very good.

Today is Thursday and I don't have class again until Monday. I really like the scheduling here, but I am glad I attend an American university. Everywhere else students get their BA in three years (which I'm sure is nice), but I feel I am getting a better experience with two years of general liberal arts studies and two years of major concentration. I just wish I knew what I want to do with my degree.

Last night was the diploma ceremony for our Swedish lessons. We received certificates of participation (aka diplomas) for having taken three weeks of Swedish language (4-5 days a week, for 2.5-3 hours a day) and "passing the exam". While it was frustrating to go from Childrens' Lit class to Swedish class to dinner to doing homework for all three of my classes, I am glad that we took the lessons. It's been helpful enough- we can go to the store and not speak English at all or order food at some restaurants completely in Swedish. It was fun, since almost everyone was together again. Since lessons have ended, I only get to see a handful of exchange students in class or in Sommarstaden. I would have liked to stay longer and have more fun, but I had to leave at midnight, since I had class at 9 this morning.

The naps are back... I keep taking siestas in the afternoon, since everything ends so late here and my classes tend to be at 9 am. Also, on days that I don't have classes, it is so hard to wake up and actually get up, when it stays drearily dark most of the day. I've decided to combat that tomorrow- by booking the laundry room at noon, I have to be awake and showered by noon and then after 3, I'll be able to go to Mobilia or maybe into town. Chances are I'll end up staying in Sommarstaden most of the day, since I bought groceries yesterday and have no desire to spend money if I don't have to.

I'm still waiting on a package from one of the best people in the world and waiting to hear that my family received my letters, especially my sister's birthday card, since I sent it last week. It would be great if there was a set time that it takes, but Shatarra has been getting her mail somewhat faster than me. However, I am not complaining, since I'm so looking forward to receiving my mail. :)

Sorry, I don't know what else to write about, since I recently awoke from a three hour nap and I'm procrastinating cleaning. Blah...
well, I should go, so that I can clean before dinner.

Peace!

Monday, February 2, 2009

six rings!

Yesterday I was worried that I would be stuck watching the Super Bowl on my computer, or worse - having to constantly update the score on my computer. However, I ended up going to Copenhagen with some people (including four American girls who just arrived in Sweden) and we watched the game there. It was great. Most of the people in the bar, including five of the people in our group were cheering for the Cardinals. I think I was the only person there actually wearing a team's colors. :)
Needless to say, it was a good time and a good game and I didn't get home until 7 in the morning.

I'm so glad the Steelers won and it's Groundhog Day because that means that it's my sister's 18th birthday!!! WOW.
Happy birthday Kayla!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Come visit me!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

the cadbury bunny gives me the creeps

Marine has acquired some Cadbury candy that is chocolate with poprocks in it.

This week has been crazy. I've had Swedish lessons and regular class, as well as some stuff for my other class. In addition, we had SingStar night (karaoke with Interact) and our Swedish final exam.

Last weekend we had a Casino Royale party at Celsius. That was fun dressing up like a Bond girl, or whatever. Yesterday was a going away party for some people in Ronnen, which was kind of fun.

While I've had my share of fun, I won't bother you with the details. Today we went to a park and Marine, Louise, and I climbed a tree. We went to Harry's pub afterward, since they have good buffalo wings. After that we headed to Golden. Then we got snack foods and hung out in Marine's room.

Tomorrow is going to be IKEA day, I think. Even though everyone has warned us not to go on the weekends, I am going out of necessity. I think Marine is going because of the chocolate.
Also, we might go ice skating, but I'm not sure just yet.
I want to see the Super Bowl, especially since the Steelers are playing, but I'm not sure where I can go yet.

I'll update more later, when it's not 1 in the morning.


BUTTTTT I would like to say: Wow! My little sister is turning 18 tomorrow! That is some crazy stuff.
Happy early birthday Kayla!! :)