15 things you learn when you spend your winters in Sweden.

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This is my second winter in Sweden and I am dreading it already. November hasn’t been too kind and the sun hasn’t been spied. While in between studying, writing, working, I have a fleeting thought. Don’t we learn so much while living in a cold country if I could call Sweden one of these? I have learned so much in these two years and I am sure both internationals and local students can co relate to this post.

This happens to you when winter draws near and you learn the following things. Follow me with some funny GIFs :-

  1. Plan everything according to the weather.

Your day begins and ends by checking the weather app on the phone. You play for a lunch if it is sunny outside else you sit indoors. You plan for outings if it is a sunny day else go for a movie. Wear a dress if it is sunny or wrap yourself in woolens if it is chilly. Weather is a game changer!

  1. Never leave home without an umbrella or jacket even when it is sunny outside.

It can rain or get cold anytime. So even if the temperature goes in double digits, it is better to carry an umbrella with you as it can threaten to rain. Even if it is sunny outside, it might get windy so it is advisable to carry your jacket with you all the time.

  1. Drinking coffee at any place, any time is common.

It is hardly any secret that Sweden is one of the most coffee drinking countries in the world. So naturally the consumption during winters gets even more. So winters mean hoard up more coffee. Coffee cups in between meals, lectures, meetings, presentations etc are very common.

  1. Go to gym when it turns dark, mornings and days are for being out.

Since it gets pretty dark almost around 3 pm nowadays, it is natural to ‘invest’ some quality time in oneself. Running outside makes no sense so the gym is an ideal place anytime after 16.00. Time between 8.00-15.00 is usually to spend outdoors hoping to spy some sun and get fresh air. Evenings are for gym and early dinner then cozying up in front of TV or curl up with a book.

  1. Always armed with lot of scarves, woolen caps, warm socks, gloves and positive spirit!

There is a saying in Sweden, ‘There is no bad weather, only bad clothes’. So be dressed properly and you are ready for any weather. Winters are a time to experiment with lots of colorful scarves, caps, gloves. Each and every item is precious to own. And you definitely need some positive spirit to combat the dark weather. To pep up the positive spirit you need music in your years and spring in your step.

  1. Run to warmer places in the winter vacations.

You get accustomed to run off to warmer places for at least a month for vacations. Sometimes the sun plays hide and seek and it gets dark pretty early. So running to an island or someplace in Asia is never a bad idea. For me the best thing is to go to my country, India and come back rejuvenated.

  1. Search for fleece and fireplaces wherever you go for coffee or dinner.

Winters are all about cozying up. Sweden has some pretty good restaurants for eating out. It is not uncommon to get accustomed to seeing fleece and outdoor heaters in restaurants in winters. Wonderful accompaniment to keep you warm and all cozy.

  1. Keep counting the days (or even months) of how near the spring/summer is.

In November you say that December is near and just 3 months to go. In January you say, just two months more. For every winter month you just can’t stop thinking about what all you would do when summer is here. Hit the pool; join cooking classes or just sun-bathe!

  1. Buy some summer dresses in anticipation for an early summer.

When there is a good deal on dresses or summer clothes, you buy them all. Firstly hoping that summer isn’t that far off, secondly summer clothes would be pretty expensive when summer comes. So it is better to build a better wardrobe by the time the real summer comes in.

  1. Involve yourself in indoor activities to beat the weather blues.

Winter time means playing badminton, table tennis, board games, movies, theatres and lots of visit to friends and families nearby. To take your mind off the boring weather, staying indoors is the best bet.

  1. Bathing everyday needs extra motivation, which you learn!

As it becomes more and more foggy, snowy, rainy and dark, your motivation to bath everyday becomes a major challenge, admit it or not. At home you are in your sweaters, socks and warm clothes and it gets difficult to remove all your warm clothes and get into the shower. So bathing every day- a huge motivation!

  1. Sleep is your most desired thing especially in the mornings.

You share a romantic relationship with your bed as winter draws near. Early morning lectures and rushing to work gets tougher and tougher as it gets dark, rainy and sleepier.

  1. If you just see a tiny glimpse of sun or temperature above 9 degrees, you wear dresses!

Winter days usually mean dressed in full outfits covered with layers of huddled clothes. So once you see the bright sun or temperature above 10 degrees you are tempted to get into your dresses, shorts and t shirts. Anything that gets you out of your heavy jackets is a saving grace.

  1. See the brighter side of the country when the weather turns ugly.

Whenever we are sad with the weather, we tend to see the other bright sides of Sweden. Like so many vacations, the quiet atmosphere, work life balance, and the wonderful summer. In retrospect nothing seems bad in comparison and we trudge on.

  1. Skiing/ ice skating is a must in winters.

Lastly your winters aren’t complete if you don’t learn how to ice skate or ski in Sweden. Even a kid knows them by the back of his hand. I haven’t had tried anyone of the two till now, but I intend to.

Finally, winters in Sweden can be long and endearing especially if you are not used to the weather before. But trust me you learn with time and all the activities around you. So with lots of coffee, warm clothes, schedule, friendly meet ups, books and gym visits, you would soon get over the winter fever and welcome the spring!

Photo credits : Featured image : http://static2.stuff.co.nz/1313357918/139/5445139_600x400.jpg

TEDx Gothenburg

Hej hel guys !!! I really hope you had the chance to assist TEDx Gothenburg. First of all I hope you know what TEDx is, do you?

TEDx are part of the initiative TED “ideas worth spreading”  and I am telling you TEDx is always an inspiring experience! I am going to leave you one of my favorite talks so you get familiarized with TED ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVCBrkrFrBE

When you attend a TEDx event it is impossible not to feel inspired. It gives a boost to your life and dreams! I attended last year but I have to admit this year topic attracted me more.

So this year was about “When life gives you lemons” . What do you do when you get lemons in life ?? The answer to the question is really meaningful because it does not matter if u get 1 lemon or a Kg of them. How do you face the challenges in life and what do you learn from it, makes you the person that you are today. Sometimes hearing from others experiences makes you reflect about yourself and encourage yourself to be better. So I wanna share some of the thoughts from TEDx Gothenburg 2014:

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The first talk was my favorite. Manuel Knight grew up in a ghetto in USA and moved to Sweden for a girl. He  had a hard time getting used to Swedish way of living. Specially the part where you don’t say Hi to each other ;). He mixed humor with nostalgia and made a roller coaster of feelings through his speech. The so called Corn philosopher left us with the thought “If you want corn, plant corn!” which seems really straight forward and simple but it is more powerful than it seems. Sometimes you get tired of something, discouraged or have lack of faith which makes you quit and regret forever. Also, when you think you are working hard to get something but maybe in the wrong way or like he would say “you plant onions and expect to collect corn” so his advice is: faith, preparation and execution!!! Do not quit, work hard! Things do not come for free. Things are not a gift falling from heaven. If you want something, you fight for it and make a refreshing glass of lemonade for every lemon to go on!

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Lemonade or …. ? ;)

From an expert in “Touch” (yes, an expert in touch you read well ;) ). We learned the importance of human contact! Her advice was simple: “TOUCH MORE.”  There is an impact when you touch people. You create a connection with touch and that s why it is so important! It helps you to tolerate stress, to fight loneliness! Baby monkeys will die without the mom’s touch, this is how indispensable to touch is! In a technological society where we are all SO “CONNECTED” we have never been more lonely! It is important to recover the sense of closeness with each other. This winter go out and touch more. 8 HUGS a day are the doctor recommendation :D !!

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From a victim of a raping we learn a valuable lesson. How an act as despicable  as raping can turn into something good. Even though it took her years to recover from her friend betrayal; she made it! Instead of staying in, scared and frustrated, remembering the lemons from life. She added some sugar and started helping people. Now she works with young men. She help them to be aware of the dangers and eternal regrets of raping. Also, she encourage other people, boys and girls, who have been raped to share their stories to help others! Inspiring isn’t it ?

Remember that to make a change you don’t need to start big “The largest of fires can start with a sparkle”. You also do not have to play by the rules “Revolution: Destroy the perfect to enable the impossible”. Be yourself  and learn to laugh “when you can laugh at things they are not so bad anymore.”

This last phrase I want to recall is from my other favorite talk. Angelica Lödwin, she is a transvestite. A man who forever knew that he wanted to look like a girl but it was not accepted. So he did what he was supposed to do. He got married and had a family. His wife, “an amazing human being” how he refers to her, supported him completely. When she passed away he decided to make it public and that is how he became Angelica in London. He came back to Sweden and realized that “people take much less care about you that you would think”. He shared his new life with his daughter and is an extremely proud representative of Transvestite community!

angelica lodwin

An amazing example of courage!

I hope you enjoy my summary about TEDx and decided to attend one of this events. I can assure you, you will not regret it !  I could write you a lot more about all the amazing speakers and many of their lessons and inspiring lives but I think is better when you look by yourself :D !! I hope this will encourage you to do it!

http://www.tedxgoteborg.com/

Vi ses snart,

 Naza :D

Mini Bonus Blog Of The Week: Looking for an alternative place? Come join Frilagret!

Hello everyone!!! I know we are already some months here and many things are becoming part of our daily life: afterwork, fika and so on so forth. But what about a new fresh air?. Yesterday I visited a cultural place just in the center of the city. Frilagret is an art center for young people like you and me. Besides a good coffee you can get alternative music and lots of fun! For example yesterday there were two live performances of really nice bands. Besides that, depending on the schedule, you can find photography exhibitions, film series, theater, literature and more!.

Chilean friends! Are you feeling homesick? Tomorrow there’s a Chilean Evening with a live band in Frilagret, why not bring your friends to try something new? . ;)

Frilagret: Heurlins plats 1A, 413 01 Gothenburg

http://www.frilagret.se/english/

https://www.facebook.com/frilagret?fref=ts

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Lapland, Reindeers and Rollercoasters: Welcome To The WinterLand!

Hello hello everyone! Is it only me or the Christmas spirit is around the city?. Lights and decoration are gracing Gothenburg and everyone is preparing for the first snow.

Reading a newspaper (Yes, I am trying to practice my Swedish) I found that Liseberg would be opened the last Friday to start the season of the Winterland!.

Everyone told me that I had to go there because is really beautiful, and I confirmed myself.

Liseberg Winter Wonderland has multiple attractions for you to have fun there. Don’t be afraid of the cold, get your winter jacket and once there you will be running like a kid so believe me you won’t regret ;).

First of all I visited the Christmas Market where I found lots of handicraft and homemade bakery, besides that there were also the traditional Liseberg wheel of fortune where you can get a giant size chocolate which I didn’t win but I didn’t wanted anyway ( cry cry :’( ).

P1240501All the market is adorned with Christmas lights but not only the kiosks but all the trees are adorned too. This is extremely beautiful but that’s not all, you can find snow!, everything is decorated as if had snow the day before.

Do you have the soul of a child?. Then go to write a letter to Santa in the Santa’s Christmas Workshop where you can see all the procedure of how your presents are being manufactured by hundreds of gnomes. Don’t worry, after work the gnomes have some spare/nap time and you can see it too ;).

P1240456Are you out of budget but you wanna go to the North Pole? Don’t worry in the park you can visit the ‘Lapland’ area where besides snow you can find reindeers and feed them!.

If you are an animal lover go to the ‘Nordens Ark’ where you will have the opportunity to see and pet goats, sheeps and pigs, they are really polite if you are polite with them :).

Since I was in the opening we made the countdown and when we got to zero we saw the enlightenment of the huge Christmas tree in the shock tower of Liseberg, wonderful!.

After that there was a show of Ice Skating, I was beyond excited to see it because I never saw one before. But listen to this, I was really excited watching the ice skating play but can you imagine me ice skating?

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Yes, I did it!, and you can do it too. It was the first time in my life and believe me I wanna do it again!, I enjoyed it so much. Ok, I have to confess that at first I was standing not moving because I didn’t know how to do it but slowly, slowly I learned and at the end I was skating like a pro (no way, but I was moving at least!).

P1240515I have to say that I didn’t expect to try so many new things in one day, but overcoming the cold definitely paid off!.

See you in Liseberg!, I’ll be there again for sure :D.

Something Swedish.

I have finally been able to catch my breath this weekend. Two exams for the first two courses this semester, countless assignments, endless group tasks
and after scanning through endless bout of scholarly articles, I am finally relaxed. The first ordeal is finally over. But then as someone who has been living here for little over a year, is that it? Getting good grades in courses, earning your degree and landing yourself a plush job? Maybe, but what about getting acquainted yourself with the language? Most people feel that they should do their Master’s or (bachelors) first and then go to Swedish classes. I somehow feel that it should go hand in hand. It is very important to learn Swedish and on top of that, Sweden is THE country in the world that gives you an opportunity to learn its language, for free, well almost!

That is why I am studying Swedish here as soon as I landed here:)

Here are 12 reasons why you should learn Swedish now. If you haven’t:

1. Because it is important.

Yes it is. By this time studying in Sweden you would have realized that. It is important as ranging from a website page, to a menu, to a tax office (skattaverket) paper to library (bibliotek), everything is in Swedish. There are English versions of course, but not always. So instead of always running to your Swedish friend with the letter from your tax office or invitation for a company’s visit to your campus, learn it yourself!

2. Because Google translate acts funny.

As much as you feel that you can get away without learning Swedish and can manage with Google translate, it acts funny. Most of the words, tenses and some unique Swedish words (jobbit for eg) don’t have perfect alike words in English or your languages, needless to say. So Google translate might not be the perfect key to your survival in Sweden.

3. Because it gives you that extra edge.

Admit it or not, booking a table at a restaurant, renting a house or maybe just hearing the announcements on the tram earns you brownie points if you speak Swedish. Maybe you hear the English versions if you are lucky, but if you are ‘armed’ with your Swedish, even though broken, you gain an edge. Maybe not just because of the knowledge of the local language, but more because the efforts that you show while trying to master it.

4. Because it is free.

At least the SFI( Svenska för Invandrare) is free. Join the evening or weekend classes and uplift yourself. You might end up in making friends from other lands, get free Swedish CV making techniques, visit to nearby places and even an internship (Praktik) opportunity here. And absolutely no pressure to ‘perform’ here. Take it as you go.

5. Because you get to add a new language in your CV.

Yes it adds value even if tomorrow you decide you want to move out of Sweden. Every employer needs a multi lingual person and you never know when you might need it in future as Swedish is similar to Norwegian and little to Danish too.

6. Because it helps you to win more friends.

Learning Swedish will help you land so many friends. Naturally if you happen to speak someone’s mother tongue, it would get you closer to them as learning a language means knowing a lot about their culture. It would be easier for you to strike conversations and in turn makes you more acceptable.

7. Because it makes you feel good about yourself.

It is very important to be ‘willing’ to learn Swedish or any other language. Almost everyday conversations in the bus, grocery store, reading the local newspaper seems like an accomplishment. By the end of the day, you end up feeling quite good about yourself.

8. Because you are in Sweden!

The most important reason. You are in Sweden and you NEED to know Swedish after some extent even if you are here for short term. So pull up your socks…now!

9. Because the earlier the better.

No one learns a language faster than kids do. So the younger you are, the faster your brain works in adapting to a different tongue. Of course it doesn’t mean that if you are a middle aged person you cannot learn Swedish but the excitement of learning something is still better off in your younger years.

10. Because you never know when it can be of use.

I have heard some internationals cribbing, why should I take the effort of learning Swedish?, I am not going to be here forever. I tend to have a different view. No knowledge is ever wasted. Especially something useful like language skills. You never know where life can take you tomorrow so it is better to learn today rather than make amends tomorrow.

11. Because it is so much closer to English.

When I began learning Swedish, I found it easy and difficult at the same time as it was similar to English. Easy because I could understand many words, conversations as they bore a striking resemblance to English. Difficult because I had the ‘advantage’ of knowing English so I thought in English before converting it to Swedish , which at times was helpful, at times not. But still in the long run, it pays off well.

12. Because it is fun.

Finally, Swedish is THE first foreign language that I am learning and I intend to continue to do so. Not just because it is important, for job and for living in Sweden because I enjoy it to the fullest.

So I would like to advise all the international students that study in Sweden, have fun, do fikas, gobble away Kannelbullars and Meatballs, drink all the coffee you want but learn Swedish while you are here, especially at the same time that you are studying. This is one boat you wouldn’t want to miss in your life. Lycka till!

Photo credits of Featured Image : http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/i/keep-calm-and-learn-swedish-1.png

Mini Bonus Blog Of The Week: Full Belly, Happy Heart!

Hello everyone! The Mini Bonus Blog of the Week this time talks about one of the advantages of being an international student. The last Sunday me together with the people of the Swedish Institute scholarship organized an international lunch. I was lucky to taste food from India, Serbia, Afghanistan, Tanzania and more places! Of course they were also lucky to have tried the traditional Bolivian Api made from purple corn (yes, you read good, purple corn!). We had a bunch of food that was amazingly tasty and a whole new experience!

So don’t wait anymore, call your friends and prepare an international lunch or dinner, what about this weekend? :D

Yummi Yummi!

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