Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpor natt

Jennifer You know, I really can't believe that they don't do Halloween here. What do you do at Halloween? You dress up, eat candy, and, if you're an adult, perhaps you have a party at which you drink beverages that cause you to loosen your inhibitions. As far as I can tell, Swedes excel at all three of these things. Europeans, though, know it more as the day before All Saint's Day, when "... we go around to graveyards in the freezing cold and and rain and then go home and talk about dead people all day. Not so fun," explained Polish student Z. American-style Halloween has been creeping into Sweden somewhat, to the dismay of the youngish parents ("One more thing to do, and more things to buy..." groaned one of them to me) and traditionalists. Swedish student N. said that within the past couple years, there have actually been protests against stores displaying Halloween items, from people who feel that All Saint's Day is solemn and sacred and should not be associated with children running around having fun.

Even More Weather…

JoeI had this week off, so naturally the whole week it's been hovering between 1°C and 3°C, with near constant rain. We're done with that now, though: as the sunlight has faded over the past 30 minutes, the rain has finally turned into snow. Maybe this weekend is the time to put those studded tires on the bike…

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Weather Update

JoeJust a quick post to answer that always valid question, "What's the weather like?" Conditions on Blodstensvägen at 4:45 PM: 3°C, and a little foggy.

Monday, October 27, 2008

And the Kaja Goes To…

JoeLast week was this year's Short Film Festival in Uppsala. I had hoped to go to a few screenings, but obviously my week didn't go quite as planned, and by Friday we hadn't made it to a single film. Fortunately for us the festival didn't end until Sunday, so Saturday morning I was at the ticket office when it opened in the morning to buy us tickets. We decided to get the small festival pass for 130 SEK (plus the required 20 SEK membership to the film society), which entitled us to attend 3 screenings, where each screening was a thematic collection running about two hours.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Autumn in Uppsala

Jennifer This autumn has been quite beautiful in Uppsala. For one thing, the weather has improved. In August and early September, it seems like it rained every day; in contrast, October has been generally pleasant and sunny. Some mornings have been wonderfully foggy, and my walk to, and wait at, the bus stop is often quite lovely indeed. It has gotten cooler, of course, and a few mornings have seen frost lining the fallen leaves and still-green grass.

Another Long Week

Yesterday at 6 PM the final project in my constraint programming class was due, officially marking the end of my first term at Uppsala, and let me tell you, it came right down to the wire. I hadn't done any real work on the project before this week (beyond choosing which of two problems I wanted to do, reading over that, and thinking about how I might solve it), but I had the whole week to work on it, so I wasn't too worried. The week progressed about like you'd expect:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

An Unexamined Life

On Friday I had my first exam here at Uppsala. I'm not ashamed to admit, I freaked out a little bit as this exam approached. I did this for a number of reasons:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Picture Source:sweron
Joe While working on the post for Cinnamon Bun Day last week, I wound up trying to work my way through a bakery review at the website of our local newspaper, Uppsala Nya Tidning (UNT). They were rating the cinnamon buns of several local bakeries, and each one received a ranking, a number of poäng, some comments, and finally a number labeled "kajor." This last was new to me, so I flipped over to my trusty Swedish-to-English widget, only to be told that "kajor" was Swedish for "jackdaws." Now, when I say that my Swedish-to-English widget is trusty, you must understand that it is trusty only for words that are not uncommon; it fails a fair percentage of the time when attempting to deal with words encountered on the web. I tell you this so that you will understand that when it assured me that the cinnamon buns at Forsa had earned 3 jackdaws, I naturally assumed that it was mistaken, and I was quick to scoff at its failure in Jennifer's general direction.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A royal visit

Jennifer As I may have mentioned before, everyone in my department gets a scheduling email from our advisor at the start of every week. Tomorrow we will be having a visitor. I quote from the email:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sweden From the Not-So-Cheap Exam Seats

JoeThe first study period here at Uppsala University is suddenly (and somewhat unexpectedly) almost over, and if the first couple of weeks seemed to be moving along a little slowly it would appear that the breakneck speed of the final two weeks will more than make up for it. Despite, or more likely because of, the frantic push in all of my classes to get finished by next week, I have gleaned this week what I expect to be a deep and enduring insight into the workings of Uppsala, namely: everything I expect to be difficult is easy, and everything I expect to be easy is difficult.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Name day

JenniferDid you know that today, 6 October, is Jennifer Day?

Neither did I, but today my office mate S. wished me a happy name day. The name days in Sweden are a little different than the saint days, and the calendar includes all officially recognized names, whether they were saints or not. This way, traditional Swedish names like Linnea and Torbjörn and Malin and Magnus get their proper day, and no one need feel left out. S. said that it is traditional to get a small gift, or maybe breakfast in bed, on your name day. I didn't know about it in time to ask for breakfast, so instead we're going to split a beer with dinner. Happy Jennifer/Jenny Day, everyone!

Find your name (or the closest Swedish-government-sanctioned equivalent) here!

Coming Home

Jennifer As Joe already mentioned, I got back just a few days ago from an unexpected trip to Michigan for my grandmother's funeral. Eight months in Sweden has not been enough to wipe out all memory of home, of course, and Michigan felt like it usually does (although sadder than usual, of course), but here's a few culture-shock sort of things I did notice.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Kanelbullar Dag

Joe It's 4 October already, and you know what that means: Cinnamon Roll Day! OK, so you probably didn't know that—I certainly didn't. Nevertheless, for the past ten years or so, 4 October has been National Cinnamon Bun Day in Sweden. It was first celebrated in 1999, when Sweden's Hembakningsrådet wanted to celebrate their 40th anniversary, and picked kanelbullar as the symbol of home baking in Sweden. The day was apparently celebrated with such gusto that it became an annual event, with bakeries across the nation produce vast swathes of cinnamon buns to sate the sweet, cinnamony cravings of the masses. After all, what better way to celebrate Sweden's tradition of home-baked goodies than with a trip to your local commercial bakery?

Friday, October 3, 2008

There and Back Again

JoeAs you've no doubt noticed, Cheap Seats has gone dark for the past few weeks. For those who don't already know, the explanation for our silence is that we made an unexpected trip to Michigan following the death of Jennifer's grandmother. I returned to Sweden last week, and have spent the intervening time catching up on schoolwork; Jennifer got back yesterday morning.

This is, of course, a blog about our life in Sweden, so for the most part we'll probably let our sojourn in St. Joseph, with all its ups and downs, go without comment. Being back in the US even for a few days did provide some interesting contrast to life in Sweden, however, and we'll probably talk about that some. But just to get the ball rolling again, here's my return to Sweden: