Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas in Sweden

Time for yet another blog post, however, not from the Baltics this time. Currently I'm in Sweden spending some lovely calm days with my friend Melissa from Germany. She's an exchange student in Växjö, which is not really-really south, but located kind of south in Sweden. 

Previous week I left my little room in Tallinn just before seven in the morning. At Tallinn's Lennart Meri airport a small Flybe/Finnair plane was waiting for me. A Finnish one, since its callsign started with OH-. In less than an hour we were in the promised land: Sweden. We flew towards Stockholm's Bromma airport and therefore spotted the city center from an extremely low altitude, beautiful. I took the public transport to Stockholm's Cityterminalen and that worked out perfectly fine. The people I came across were all very helpful in guiding me the right way. Such a delight, and oh, so many people speaking English perfectly fine.

I waited for some hours in Stockholm before I could take the bus to Växjö. The city centre was filled with last-minute Christmas shoppers. Luckily I found myself a little quiet spot at the Kulturhuset where I looked through two lovely photography books on metro's and Danish design.

The bus from Stockholm to Växjö was fully booked. It was lovely to feel and see the Christmas atmosphere. Instead of big boring suitcases the bus driver put many Christmas-themed jute sacks and unavoidable, practical blue IKEA bags into the bus' trunk, filled with dozens of presents of course. Next to me, at the front seats of the bus, was a very kind Swedish lady who was on her way to visit her daughter and grand children in Alvesta. She told me about her family and we furthermore talked about stereotypes concerning surrounding countries. I thought it was quite unique that she whispered to me that she thinks Danes are more friendly and open than Swedes. When I asked her about her opinion about the Finns she sighed, stating they're... 'different'. We also shared some laughs when imitating the southern Swedish accent (from Skåne). When I told her my home university is in Lithuania she looked kind of puzzled. "It's close to Russia", I said. Her eyes grew bigger and she made a sound which didn't seem to be too positive. I felt a bit sorry for the Russian couple which was sitting right behind us, but I doubt if they understood our conversation. After 6,5 hours of touring through Sweden I finally arrived in Växjö. Melissa was waiting for me and it was such a delight to finally see her again. 

I've been here for almost a week now and I've not been bored for a single minute. The last few university weeks were pretty hectic so it feels so good to have some days off now during which there are no obligations at all. I can sleep a little longer, walk and cycle around through the beautiful nature here, eat some delicious food and just take it slow. Being surrounded with fun people is also very comfortable.

So, what have we all been doing lately? I have no clue about days and times simply because it's a holiday now, but I can sum up some of our activities. One of the most typical for this time of the year was probably the fact that Melissa and I got ourselves a Christmas tree. Not a bought one, but a self-cut one, from the forest. We got it down with a simple IKEA kitchen knife and transported it home by bike. Now it's the pride of the living room. There are lights in it and self made decorations and there is even a collection of booze under it from 'Santa' (Belgian/Austrian contribution). Besides this I've:

- visited the campus of Melissa's university
- strolled around Växjö's city centre
- walked around cozy neighborhoods in the dark
- hiked around one of the many lakes
- been amazed by a random Swede on the fire stairs telling he was so lonely, asking if I wanted to have a friend for an evening
- climbed the roof of the student dormitory
- had a cozy Christmas diner
- offered some food to a curious Greek handyman who was so kind to come over to the dormitory on the evening of the 25th after the electricity in the kitchen had disappeared
- even visited the church, which is quite uncommon for me
- had a lot of fun
- eaten a lot of candy

And now it's time to make a gingerbread house!

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