Saturday, August 31, 2013

Orientation at Umea University

Well, the orientation for international students is over! I learned a few things about the university and Sweden. However I think since I've been to Sweden before and my sweetie is Swedish I knew more about Sweden than the average international student, but it was still very interesting! Mostly we listened to speakers in a big auditorium who discussed information such as how to use the library, how to register at the tax office, information about the Sami people, etc. Some talks such as the one about the Sami people I found very interesting. They are a group of people who used to live (and some still do) in Northern Scandinavia and are similar to Native Americans to the U.S. I liked the last post I did with pictures so I am going to do a similar post now with orientation and non orientation related things :).

In the auditorium at Umea University. There were lots of students there but it is hard to tell in this photo. We learned that most are from Germany and France with about 11 new Americans.

Yesterday was Friday and the last day of orientation. Real classes start Monday. Oh dear! To celebrate we went to the Systembolaget (Swedish alcohol shop). This store has a monopoly on alcohol in Sweden and gives you these bags to carry around, so you always know who just bought alcohol. And since it was Friday there were lots of blue bags out today.

These are the beers we bought. All Swedish types. I'll make a post a little later reviewing them. We tried three so far and will probably try the fourth one tonight. :)

Today we went to the grocery store to turn in our cans and plastic bottles. Most are worth at least 1 kr, sometimes 2. That's not very much, but they add up!

Our receipt from the bottle machine! 20 kr woohoo! That is about 3 dollars ish, but 20 kr sounds much better. We bought some cheese (on sale woohoo!) and coffee. And got a 20 kr discount. Oh yeahhh.

This was our lovely walk home from the store. Usually we bike, but it is such a beautiful day we wanted more time to enjoy it. (And to pick berries!)

 We saw this tree today near our apartment. The leaves are turning yellow! I am very excited about Fall and actually seeing seasons, but it needs to wait! I'm not ready for it to get cold yet. I need a little more summer. This video below I think represents how I feel about this.

That is all!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Umea in Pictures

Walking around town today I was taking a lot of pictures and decided to post them to a blog because I think pictures are a lot more fun than reading a long post. I picked a few things that I think make Umea different and things that I have noticed are different in Sweden from the U.S.

Biking is extremely popular here. Bikes are everywhere. I have heard even snow does not stop most bikers. Hopefully I can be as hardcore as people here and bike to school even in the snow.

Exploring campus! Orientation starts tomorrow!

These blue buses are everywhere and go from campus to town and everywhere else. So if biking in the snow proves to be too much for me, the bus is an easy alternative.

The brown sugar I bought for my chocolate chip cookies. Something about it is much different than the brown sugar I'm used to, but it's yummy anyways.

The city center. It's beautiful with a little fruit and vegetable market and shops all around. The building in the background is the Old Town Hall.

In this picture it is a little hard to see but the glass box building in the center says Umea 2014. It is a symbol for the fact that Umea Sweden was picked to be the European Capitol of Culture for 2014! It means there will be lots of special events in the coming year. However right now it also means lots of construction, as you can see in the distance.

Mjukglass! Also known as icecream! I just had to post this because if anyone knows me, they know I love icecream.

In the summer lots of restaurants in Sweden extend their seating outside. In winter of course these disappear and indoor eating will become the norm. But usually these places are packed, especially on the weekends.

Cheese is very expensive here. These are the cheeses that are on sale this week, but they are still expensive. Sad, because I love cheese. Also accidentally in this picture you can see the Swedish prices!

They have Ramon noodles here! I thought any college kids would appreciate this. However even though it is cheaper here than most things, it is nowhere near as cheap as in the U.S. And the lack of nutrition it provides makes buying it in Sweden a bit silly.

They change the names of movies here to Swedish! It makes me giggle. But most movies are kept in English and they add Swedish subtitles. This is because most people speak English here.

Just an extra photo, but we mailed off some save the dates today! Only to the European side of the family (no U.S. ones yet), but still an exciting moment, so we had to take a picture. :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lingonberry Jam Recipe

Well unfortunately lingonberry recipes mostly call for lingonberry jam instead of just the berries, so we decided to make lingonberry jam! It was so easy and it tastes so good. The recipe we used just needed a kilogram of berries boiled for 5-10 minutes with 2 dl (deciliters) of water and then adding 5 dl of sugar and boiling that for a few minutes. Then letting it cool for about 15 minutes before putting in jars.*
The beginning! Fresh lingonberries.

Added the water, looks questionable.

Added sugar! Much better.

Finished product!!

Don't forget to sanitize the jars! Apparently this is an important step that I was not aware of, but it's very easy to just heat them in the oven for about twenty minutes at 130 degrees Celsius.

Lingonberries are very bitter which explains the high amount of sugar. Also notice all the measuring units are in the metric system, I feel so European! It makes converting recipes from the U.S. quite a pain though since all my measuring cups are in metric sizes. 

The movie in the park last night started with clips from films made in Umeå. It was nice because thankfully they had English subtitles. They were promoting a film festival coming up October 8-13! We were a little late since we biked there and had to stop for candy (of course) but found a nice spot to lay out our blanket.
Our lovely view.

When the French movie started with Swedish subtitles...we left after about ten minutes. I'm sure it was a good film, but I had no idea what was going on and it was getting chilly and we still had to bike home. But we had a great time regardless. So we went home to finish our candy and watch the movie The Birds. Sweden has the best candy, I wish I could post a picture of it to show but it was gone too quickly. Maybe next Saturday. Today is just laundry/cleaning/wedding planning day. My international student orientation starts this Tuesday until Friday and then classes start the next Monday, so I will update on how all that goes later.

*Our lingonberry jam recipe is from another blog and is probably the one we will always use because it turned out perfectly. Lingonberry Jam recipe (in Swedish)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Berry Day

Well I have officially been living in Umeå  for a month now! And I absolutely love it. I thought starting a blog might be a good way for people back at home to stay in touch with what I'm up to and for me to share information about Sweden! School starts in a week though so I'm not sure how much updating I will be doing but we shall see. Today we went fishing/berry picking. I LOVE berry picking. In the summer the majority of Sweden is covered in berry bushes (mostly blueberries but also raspberries, lingonberries, cloudberries, cranberries, and lots of others which I can't identify yet).

The pretty picture above is where most of the berries were and in the distance is the water. We didn't catch any fish, but picked TONS of berries. Usually we pick blueberries, but blueberry season seems to be nearing its end. Today we picked lingonberries!! I love eating them raw, they taste similar to a cranberry and I LOVE raw cranberries. But to people in the states they are what is used to make the jam that comes with meatballs at Ikea.

I'm looking at recipes with lingonberries right now, and if I find any good ones I'll post them later on. Tonight we are going to a free movie in a park in downtown Umeå. It's also candy day (Saturday) so I'll be stopping at the candy store beforehand. The movie is in french with swedish subtitles but at least it's a nice day out and something new and fun to do! Plus when you're eating candy, nothing is ever bad. Right now I'm also eating a chocolate chip cookie that I made last night, but it tastes more like a pile of sugar. If anyone finds a cookie recipe using European ingredients I would love to hear it! Something is very different with the flour, butter, baking powder, and sugar. Well I'll post a couple more pictures from the day and that is it for now!

P.s. That is the face I get when I ask him to smile, typical. :)