Mini Bonus Blog of the Week: The Last Cookie…

Awesome week guys! We had an eclipse, the northern lights and a home exam ;).  I guess is the magic of the last week of class almost for all of us.

Listen what happened to me some days ago. Thanks to the best invention in history: Ryanair, I had the opportunity to go to Paris for some days and something strange happened to me. I was in a party with some friends when suddenly I wanted to take a cookie and I reached out my hand to take one. But it was the last one so I immediately stopped. Question: Why did I do this? Normally I would have taken it like nothing has happened, but In that moment I realized that the Swedish customs are really affecting me :) . I also realized that I was not in Sweden when a Greek guy came and ate it without any second thoughts.  Guess who was: my boyfriend!

galleta

For the Swedes the last piece of cake, cookies or pastry, is a sacred piece that no one should take. The name of this last piece is ‘trivselbit’ and if you want to make a good impression for the Swedes listen to me: Don’t eat that piece! ;)

It was funny for me to see how I am assimilating some Swedish customs without even noticing :D!

On Styrsö and hot-dogs…

Styrsö Island, with its 1400 inhabitants, is located in the southern part of the archipelago (57° 36´ 59″ N, 11° 47´8″ E). There are four small villages, the oldest one is called Byn, than there is traditional fishing village Tången, Halsnik and Bratten. The island has two supermarkets, two cafés, two guesthouses, two local history museums and a church from 1752. Three ferry quays connects Styrsö with the mainland. It takes about 15 to 30 minutes to get to Saltholmen and you can use your Västtrafik card (tram 11 from Central Station/Brunnsparken/Järntorget goes to Saltholmen).

Styrsö is crisscrossed with paved roads, footpaths and dirt-roads, which lead to beautiful picnic areas and rocky cliffs with great views. There are plenty of places for swimming and fishing spots on the south.

Anja, Stefan and me decided to visit Donsö Island first and walk from Donsö to Styrsö since they´re connected by bridge. All the locals are using club or three-wheeled mopeds aka “lastmoppe” for transportation, so watch-out for those! When we arrived to Donsö we bought some groceries at the local store and walked around a bit. After some unsuccessful fishing attempts we decided to head out to Styrsö and start a campfire, since we all got really hungry. Through streets of Donsö, across the bridge and walking along the coast we found a beginning of a trail to inland part of Styrsö. Comparing to the other islands, Styrsö has probably the smallest “nature” area so it´s not very suitable for longer hikes. Nevertheless it´s good enough for some weekend retreat! The trail lead us through broad-leaf forest, where you could hear sounds of many different birds, to nice glade with a campfire next to a big boulder rock. We collected some wood and after some struggle we made a fire! We sharpened some sticks and prepared our sausages, halloumi cheese, crackers and beer.

"Campfire hot-dog promo." by Anja P.

“Campfire hot-dog promo.” by Anja P.

When we finished our meals it was time to head back, since the day moved and it was getting dark. We walked through Byn to quay and waited for ferry back to the city. A bit tired, smelly from the campfire, but happy and full of gumption for the next week!

"That´s not a safe altitude." by Anja P.

“That´s not a safe altitude.” by Anja P.

All the best,

Jakub

Swed-Up!: Learning ‘How To Do It’ in Gothenburg

It’s been months since I first came to study in Gothenburg and I have to say that the process of adaptation was exactly that: a process.

The life between Sweden and Bolivia differs a lot! And there are some everyday things that I had to learn and modify in order to adjust to the Swedish culture. Don’t take me wrong, this experience of learning about other cultures is a reciprocal and dynamic relationship where you learn and also share your experience building a mixed version of your customs together with the Swedish customs.

Do you want to know 3 places where I had to learn ‘how to do it’ in Gothenburg? Check it out!

1. How to walk in the streets? (No Zebras in Sweden!)

P1220927Ok, ok. Maybe you thought that I am weird enough but what about this: What do you think if I tell you that we have Zebras in Bolivia? Yes we do! The Zebra programme is a project that help children with a difficult background to work educating people to be a better citizen concerning traffic lights, and pedestrian education, all of this inside a Zebra outfit!. The Zebra, with now more than 10 years of life, has become a Bolivian symbol that represents education in all the spheres of the daily life and they are respected by all the citizens. I have to say that this project was born also because Bolivia is really problematic and extreme in driving patterns and also in pedestrian behavior. That’s why I was surprised of not having Zebras (ok that’s A BIT extreme ;) ) or traffic police in every corner in Sweden as in Bolivia. And I found the reason why. If you come from a crowded place or with a bit of disorder then be prepared to feel the peace for the rest of your stay here in Gothenburg. The love-hate relationship that exist in some countries between the driver and pedestrian here in Gothenburg is only a love-love relationship :D

The people here respect the traffic lights and the zebra crossing as if it was a path to get a pot full of gold. And it could be translated like that if we take into account how peaceful the streets are. I remember that some time ago I heard for the very first time someone honking in the street, which is definitely not common here. Given the fact that in Bolivia we say hello, bye, and how are you with the honk this was a really huge change for me.

2. Between supermarkets and markets

ica_supermarketIn my home country is not that common to go to supermarkets. Instead we have street markets. In the street markets we develop a friendship with the people that sell the products, we do it so eagerly that we call ‘casera’ to our favorite one (there’s no translation to this but is approximately your favorite seller that is also a good person and really caring), in reward she or he calls you ‘casero’ too. Inside this relationship is really common to ask for a reduction of the price and dribble for long time until both parts reach an agreement. Also is really common to ask for a ‘yapa’ that is to request for the seller to put a bit more of the product instead of the correct weight. Over there almost everything is 100% organic, but on the other hand, in the supermarkets there’s no that much organic food and the prices are much higher than the street markets.

In Gothenburg is exactly the opposite, the supermarkets are, almost all the time, cheaper than the organic stores. Also when you go to the cashier you barely talk with them and you have only a mercantile relationship. But with the beautiful gift that is the international exchange and how the cultures mix with each other, I found a ‘casero’ in one supermarket Willys in this city J. Also, I realized that when the supermarkets are closer to student’s residences the cashiers and people working there is more willing to have a nice small chat and let me tell you that this always make my day :D .

3. The public transport: I want to get off!

Västtrafik class M32 in Göteborg, SwedenThe public transport is definitely something that I had to learn from cero here in Sweden. First of all in Bolivia we implement the buses like one month before I came to Sweden so I wasn’t familiarized with them when I came here. The fact that I cannot flag down, that the buses doesn’t have music and that no one talks to you in the public transport was really weird for me. In my country we flag down, we get off wherever we want just yelling ‘I want to get off!’, there’s always happy and mostly tropical music playing non-stop, and the people inside the bus is often talking with each other about whatever thing.

On the contrary in Sweden the transport is really well organized, the bus and tram stop is fixed and the people don’t talk with each other but instead prefer to preserve that time for themselves. It was a process to adjust to this but I have to say that I like it! Is so quite in the buses that is really easy even to read a book. The times for the tram and buses are fixed too, so there’s no way (ok there is many ways unfortunately ;) ) that you could miss a class or be late for an appointment given the fact that in 3 seconds you can check at what time your bus is coming. This kind of system makes your life easier and saves you from being stressed of doing small everyday things.

As you saw, there are different things from country to country, but if I enjoy doing something is indeed to convert this ‘different’ experience in an interchange of thoughts, views and customes. Try it with your friends! You’ll appreciate more this experience of being an internationall student who has the privilege of being in contact with other realities :D .

MEME

Photo credits:

  1. http://www.ica.se/butiker/vara-butiksprofiler/ica-supermarket/
  2. http://www.4rail.net/reference_sweden_gallery2_trams.php

Vernissage tomorrow!

Just a short notice invitation to the opening of “The roles we were born to ffll” exhibition in Galleri Monitor&Rotor 2. Gallery is located Chalmersgatan 4 and it´s run by students and teachers from Valand Academy. Exhibition lasts only couple of days so don´t miss it out.

Vernissage starts at 17:00! See you there!

Vernissage “The roles we were born to fill”. Image by Emma Skerfe.

PS: More info here.

On cycling in Gothenburg…

There are many ways how to get around in Gothenburg, but in my opinion, cycling is the best one!

It´s practically free, you´re doing something for your health, no traffic jams, so you are never late, in many times you´re faster than tram and you get to know the city from totally new perspective. A bicycle was one of the first things I bought, when I came to Gothenburg. For a price of 1000 SEK I got single-speed in very good shape, which I am using ever since on daily basis. 1000 SEK is a standard price for a second-hand bicycle, but you can get one much cheaper or even for free (which I didn´t know back then)!

On Blocket, an online second-hand shop, the price starts somewhere between 400 and 600 SEK. Those bikes are usually in worse condition or they´re children size (it´s not so obvious from a picture sometimes),  but if you´re staying only for one semester, it can do the job.  You can find really decent bike for 800-1000 SEK, which will run forever with proper maintenance. There is of course “a free” option and no, I am not talking about stealing. I am talking about Cykelköket Göteborg aka “bicycle kitchen”. Cykelköket is an open workshop where you can learn how to fix bikes and for small membership fee you´ll get a bicycle for free. They usually have a bunch of broken bicycles in the workshop, which they collect in Göteborg. The condition really differs, some are good just for parts, others need only to pump a tire. The workshop is well equipped and there is always helping hand around. Cykelköket is located in Vegagatan 1 and open every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Check it out!

Another option is to rent a bike, which I never tried, but it seems like a good option if you need a bike only occasionally. It´s call Styr&Stall and here you can find more information.

I am living near Frölunda Torg and I´m cycling to HDK (Valand tram stop) every day. It takes me about 25 minutes, even though Frölunda is a bit far from city center. For a while I was cycling from Frölunda to Hisigen and it wasn´t bad at all! So if you´re worrying about distances, don´t be:)

cykelmap

Gothenburg is criss-crossed with bicycle paths and you´re free from traffic jams. There is a nice little cycling map in every Service Center, I would recommend to get. Great if you need directions, while you´re cruising streets of Göteborg or going for a ride along the coast!

All the best,

Jakub

PS: Don´t mind the weather and go cycling today!;)

On Röda Sten and Carlos Motta…

Hi and welcome! My name is Jakub and I am new blogger for Letters from Gothenburg and this is my first post! Yay!

Picture: Still from Carlos Motta – Nefandus (2013) Retrieved from http://www.rodasten.com

It´ll be maybe two weeks since I visited “For Democracy There Must Be Love”. An exhibition of works by Columbian artist Carlos Motta in Röda Sten Konsthall. I have to come clean and admit it was my first visit of Röda Sten, even though I planned my visit many times over a year and half I´ve been in Göteborg. I was discouraged by its locality and distance from the city…Well, I couldn´t be more wrong. If you hop on tram number 3 from Brunnsparken, you´re there in few minutes. The tram stop is Vagnhallen Majorna, walk under the highway towards Klippan and you´re almost there. I was a bit surprised by size of a place. My impression from photos I saw was that it is much smaller place. Don´t get me wrong, the building itself is not huge, if you´re talking square metres, but it´s a really generous space. I really like the mix of large open spaces with more private rooms, with contrast of ruff, industrial parts and more slick, designed areas. And there is also a nice restaurant I want to try! Definitely cool place to visit and Carlo Motta´s exhibition is just another reason to do so!

In his works, Carlos Motta is questioning constructions of history, sexuality and gender. He is using different formats such as installation, sculpture, video or documentary. Before you enter the exhibition you can take some prints regarding his work. One of them is called “Shapes of freedom” and it is a timeline of events important not just for homosexual community.

When you enter the second floor there is a video projection of “Nefandus Trilogy”, three films about homo-eroticism of pre-Hispanic cultures and its stigmatization during European colonization. There is also a model of colonial ship and story of an explorer who was writing letters to his male-lover. Together with small-scale sculptures inspired by indigenous people, this part of the exhibition connects contemporary queer culture with European and South American history.

Next two floors contains a huge amount of information on questions of identity, democracy, political memory and queer movement in form of books, videos and databases. To be honest, I went through it very briefly, because I was overwhelmed by amount of information I got in second floor.

Röda Sten is a place I´ll visit soon again and you should do it too!

All the best,

Jakub

PS: For Democracy There Must Be Love ends on March 22. More info here.