November Updates

Hi Everyone,

Sorry trip updates have been so rare! This November I did some swing dancing, baked the best brownies I’ve ever had, visited Gdansk, Poland, and went to a ball!

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Nov 6 – Visited Smygehuk, Sweden’s southern most point with Corey. My friend and I both had all of Skȧne transit passes during this time, so we took advantage with a little day trip. I’ve had to buy the all of Skȧne pass each month because going all the way to Helsingborg is far enough to require a pass so expensive that you just get the ‘all of Skȧne’ pass. I know I should be taking more advantage of this, and taking day trips to small towns, but so far I’ve not done much local exploring apart from this small trip to Smygehuk. I had an idea though: since it’s getting cold, I should just take the bus lots of places in the day time, and it will be like taking  very long sightseeing tours. This photo is a burial site, but the grave has been hollowed out.

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Nov 8 It snowed in Lund. A town that is always georgeous became even more so. Before coming to Sweden I’d looked up the weather statistics and thought “Great, no big deal, the temperature barely goes below zero, and they don’t usually get snow until January.” This weather very much resembles the west coast of Canada, so I was pretty confident that I could handle it. However, with the first snowfall I began to worry that my thin north face jacket just wasn’t going to cut it. I went out and bought this lovely douvet with arms at a second hand store.

Photo of Skane Swing in action by Gunilla Lundberg
Photo of Skane Swing in action by Gunilla Lundberg

Nov 11-12 Skȧne Swing, Malmö. This event was super fun, and brought west coast swing dancers from all over Sweden (mostly from Gothenberg and Stockholm) to the south area where I live. I was almost moved to tears at how much I had missed the kind of community and wonderful dances that you can have at regular social dances. This is a luxury I totally take for granted when in Victoria and Vancouver, who both have weekly social dancing. This is the part of my old routine I miss most.

Each Monday, and the occasional Wednesday, I play board games at Lund University’s International Desk and Kalmar Nation. This has definitely replaced dancing as my regular social activity. Board games are big in BC as well, but these environments have been special in that rather than showing up with friends, you can arrive alone and meet people. The board game friends I’ve made here are wonderful, fun, encouraging, and have great leadership skills when it comes to leading a new group through a game. I’m going to use the following block quote to tell an anecdote:

Arkham: One game in particular, Arkham, I cannot imagine playing without the game’s fantastic owner Pontus. He’s really taken the time to get to know the game inside and out. This game has enough cards to fill multiple 3” binders, a huge game board, and it took us 4 hours + to play – and was actually a lot of fun! But be warned, and have a Pontus.

 

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A sitning at Lunds Nation for novisch (new students) I went to in September.

At least once every two weeks I try to volunteer at Nations. These are student organizations that I can’t believe I haven’t written about here before. They are incredible. The only thing I can think to compare them to are Fraternities and Sororities – but without any of the negative connotations that follow those titles. Another incorrect use of block quote:

Nation: There are 13 nations at Lund University, they are completely student run, and take care of 96% of student life here. They own property, they organize and host 3-5 events per week including brunches, lunch, dinners, pubs, ‘sitnings’ (3 course dinner parties with singing and drinking), clubs, and other miscellaneous events like board games, yoga, movie nights or salsa dancing. Their very existence and continuous operation blows my mind. I don’t even know where to begin answering the question “why can’t Canadian universities have this,” because there seems like there shouldn’t be any reason why not. The students are incredibly engaged – especially considering that their degree programs are only 2 or 3 years long. One major factor is likely that they each own property in the city, consisting of office and meeting space, a basement area to use as a restaurant or club, and at least one big kitchen and bar area. Most nations also have apartments above this space that they rent to some lucky students. The history of nations is long, and originates from student organizations based on hometown locations of students, but they have since opened up to allow students from anywhere into each. You can become a member of one nation which usually gives you certain benefits (i.e. free coat check, no cover, 2 for 1 cover), but it doesn’t really matter which one you choose as you can still volunteer and attend events any all of them. *Deep breath* I’m really going to miss this aspect of university here.

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Volunteering at Wermlands Nation Brunch

 

Anyway, all events nations operate are completely student-run and rely on volunteer labour. I like to help out in the kitchen or bar, sometimes at the door and coat check. This volunteer work is helping me fill the gap of Burnaby Rotaract’s community dinners. These are time consuming shifts ranging from 6-10 hour commitment. Tonight (Dec.6) I am volunteering at Kalmar Nation’s Bar. This is the only nation pub open on Tuesdays so it is usually pretty busy, and I am excited for the challenge. In return for your help with set up, working and clean up, you are rewarded with free food and candy during the evening, as well as a food ticket to use another time at the nation.

 

 

 

 

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Dinner parties – I’ve probably hosted dinner parties once a month since I’ve been here. I would like to do more, but my apartment only has four chairs and it is rare that I can borrow extras. I really like cooking at Nations for many people, and I love hosting people for dinner parties, but I find that when I try to combine socializing and cooking I become really flustered. I think I need to start doing meals where I can prepare much of the food ahead of time. So far we’ve made Pierogis and gnocchi (both messy in exactly the same way), as well as risotto, and at friend’s houses I’ve helped make food for a thanksgiving dinner and a nice butternut squash and brussel sprout pasta dish.

 

 

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These are photos from the most recent dinner party endeavor where we made gnocchi with roasted butternut squash. It was supposed to have goat cheese crumbled on top, but I had forgotten it in my purse overnight the previous day so it had gone bad. We actually pan fried our gnocchi after boiling, which was delicious. For dessert Martin brought all the ingredients for lava cake, which here is called kladdkaka. However, a vital mistake was made when we used too much parchment paper and failed to trim the extra. It caught fire on the oven element and we had five seconds of panic. However, before I could grab the baking powder it had burned out (and wow, my oven has great ventilation), there was hardly any smoke and no alarms went off. img_5294We took the cake out of the oven, and then like the slobs we are, even managed to salvage most of the cake and try baking it again – this time using butter and breadcrumbs instead of parchment. It was delicious and exciting! My first kitchen fire!

 

 

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Nov 19 – International Ball. Another glamorous aspect of student life here is that the nations hold balls multiple times per year. They are expensive (typically around 700kr = $101CAD), and require formal attire (suit with tails for men, and floor length gowns for women). Naturally, I deemed both of these requirements too extravagant for my participation, although I loved the idea of a fancy dinner gala. Luckily a solution appeared in the form of the International Ball! Organized by the international committee (made up of representatives from all nations), this ball was more like a sitning dinner party, so still special but with a more casual vibe. Everyone still dressed up, but the dress code was much more accessible (regular suit for men, knee-length dress for women), and it was less than half the price of other balls. It also had a little live entertainment. The nation this sitning was hosted in, Sydskȧnska, has a 5 piece house band who played a few songs. I failed to get any photographs of myself here, luckily these other girls aren’t so foolish so I was able to borrow some photos! There was a photographer walking around, but I haven’t seen the photos yet. If you look closely at my dress you can see a little badge. We got these for attending, they are like girl scout patches of student life in Lund. Some you can buy and some you can earn. Students who have been involved for years have huge collections of these and I love seeing them wear 15 at once. However, someone was telling me that there is a certain ettiquitte that dictates that one should wear no more than 3 at a time.


After party
– one of the perks of the International Ball was that it included a ticket to the after party, which was hosted at AF Borgen, a big castle looking building on campus. This was also the after party for a more legitimate ball hosted by three nations. There were two rooms for dancing, one which played electronic club music (Where we spent most of our time) and the other played pop and old hits (Here I jammed out to Outkast and Håkan Hellström). The highlight was definitely near the beginning of the evening, because before the electronic room got the DJ, it had a live brass band playing – complete with a singer who used a microphone that made his voice sound very old-fashioned. They played a lot of fast swing music, and Peng and I tore it up for a song with some lindy hop.

I’ll make a separate post for my Gdansk trip.

Terrible snapchat photo from the Nov 19 ball after party
Terrible snapchat photo from the Nov 19 ball after party