Sunday, October 12, 2014

Canoeing the canal

I just finished another class. It wasn't a particularly inspiring class. And with my (probably) last fall in Sweden, I have been trying to take advantage of every moment. So when we were told a take-home essay exam would be delivered to our inboxes at 10 am on Monday, my friend and I decided canoeing the canal at 9 am would be a good release of endorphins and fun before we settled into those uncomfortable chairs at the school library to write our 18 pages of regurgitation. We were right.

My friend had never been canoeing before so there was much laughter. It was a windy day so there were moments we were going sideways, backwards and every other way imaginable through the canal. My friend also wanted to try steering from the back but after scrapping me through a Weeping Willow, bramble bush and into the side of a bridge, I said enough. We had a great time!

It's so funny to me that my options for "escaping to nature," while living in a city means going canoeing on a canal that one-upon-a-time floated human waste and cholera. Peace and quiet involves the time you pass under bridges holding buses, cyclists and commuting walkers dimming the steady roar. Cascading waterfalls are replaced with spouting fountains. But I love this try the city makes to include "nature" into life for people. As a person who likes city dwelling and also moments in nature, I appreciate this effort.

Life is good in my little city life. Fall hasn't been too cold or rainy and I'm doing my best to soak up every moment. Even during exams.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Learning from Thai friends in Sweden

I've been feeling incredibly thankful for my friends lately. This weekend I received a last minute invitation to my friend's house. She decided to cook and have a "few" friends over. I have a hard time with last minute invitations. Even if I have nothing else planned it is sometimes hard for me to change my mind-frame and go with the spontaneous. But I made myself do it and was walking to the train station 5 minutes after getting her call. Several train stops later, after picking up other friends along the way, I walked into my friend's house smelling delicious Thai spices, was greeted with giant smiles and head bows and was happy I made the effort to come. I was the only white face in the crowd and as I looked at my beautiful Thai friends as we ate our spicy chicken foot and blood soup and sang songs gathered around a TV karaoke style, I just sighed with contentment and thankfulness. These friends are continuously enriching my life with each interaction. They make me a better person. They make me more aware of the world. They humble me. Who would have thought I'd come to Sweden and learn so much from Thai people?

Those of us left after a full and wonderful night of food and singing
I almost have this whole song memorized now, a year of exposure has got me this far. Don't expect me to be able to do the dance though. Maybe next year.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Malmö FF and Fall

Europeans have a long relationship with soccer. So people were pretty excited when our local team made it to the Champions League. Malmö FF is the only Swedish team to compete and the first Swedish team in 14 years to make it to the Champions League. While they are facing giants in the league (Juventus (Italy), Atlético (Spain) and Olympiacos (Greece)) they are not expected to finish too high. However, Malmö FF has pleasantly been surprising its fans (and non-fans alike) with holding pretty stead over Juventus (still losing but not being massacred) and even winning 2-0 against Olympiacos this week!

One of my friends grew up in this area and has been a life-long Malmö FF fan. He even went to Italy to see the first game. Some other friends and I decided we would watch the game from home to support Malmö and to see if we could catch a view of our friend as a fan in the crowd. We didn't see him. But we had fun being hopeful for Malmö. And to make it a very pleasant experience, we made apple cider donuts. It is fall after all. And I desperately am missing the fall of my college years these days. Apple picking in Ipswich, laughing through corn mazes, eating pumpkin ice-cream at Richardson's, the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows of New England! Nothing compares. So I rope my friends into playing fall with me and making things that remind me of a sweet time of my life. Lucky for my friend, my "fall" is literally sweet.