18:26 Mon.
13 Jan, 2014

Woop woop!

Day 158 , -12 remain
Lulea , Sweden
-14 °C
Cloudy
9:24 am
1:57 pm

Being so warm lately I was a bit worried about skating over the lakes, although I think the ice must have been more than 30cm deep. But still it’s not easy to go on a lake when you see water all around (upper layers of ice melt, while below there is thick layer of solid ice still). So we decided to go to a hockey arena which is open for public (free) multiple times per week.

Veronika did surprisingly good job on skates, she didn’t even fall despite me being prepared to capture the moment on my camera. 🙁 Too bad we didn’t have time to try out hockey.

Veronika ice skating.
Veronika ice skating.

On Monday there was hockey match in the arena next door. We decided to go and see it. We bought the cheapest “sits”. We were actually standing and not sitting, later on it proved to be a good decision. During the game while all the swedes on the sits were just sitting and maybe clapping from time to time, here on stands people were actually yelling and cheering for Luleå team.

Luleå
Luleå

This was the first time I (we) saw hockey game in real life (not on TV). It was really good, fast and exciting. Lulea team is one of the best teams in Sweden, and Sweden if I’m not mistaken won World (or something) cup last year, so we really were watching a good game.

Coop arena Luleå
Coop arena Luleå

Our team (Luleå) won, naturally! =)

Winning team
Winning team
22:26 Sun.
1 Sep, 2013

Going on a trip

Day 24 , 123 remain
Lulea , Sweden
16 °C
Fair
5:06 am
7:53 pm

On Friday morning we had a tour of Luleå city (centre). Our tour guide was a person from LURC so he showed as some commodities (cheapest barber’s salon etc.) along the way. After the tour we visited the city hall which is one of the highest building in the city. We were allowed to go on the roof where the view is amazing. After that, we were greeted with by few people of the city council, sadly mayor was missing because he was in Finland. They gave us some free promotional stuff and then we were off to a nice lunch, which was paid for by Luleå (mayor). The lunch was really really good, it was a self-service in regard that you picked up as much food as you wanted and drinks were on the house as well. If I compare it with welcome dinner; it wasn’t as fancy but it must have cost a fortune nonetheless (we are around 250 exchange students after all).

Luleaå's church
Luleaå’s church
Panorama overlooking Luleå's harbor
Panorama overlooking Luleå’s harbor
Luleå downtown panorama
Luleå downtown panorama

In the evening we had a “tetrathlon” on a nearby field. We played some made up Swedish games, which were really weird. I don’t know who comes up with this games but they are either weird or disgusting.

Allen running toward his team.
Allen running toward his team.

On Saturday morning we had a trip planned to rapids in Storforsen. It is an hour and ten drive with a bus. Interesting fact; we had to fasten our seatbelts on the bus, you usually don’t see that in Slovenia.
The river was wide and the rapids very strong and long. We took some pictures of them and then we went to one BBQ place (which were all around the “park”). While we were eating/chatting by the fire, some people went swimming (not in the rapids of course) but on a nearby pool of calm water. I’m not sure why they can’t feel cold.

Squirrel in the city center
Squirrel in the city center

In the evening we had a welcome dinner. We had to dress as a Swedish icons so there were quite a lot Pippi Långstrump and hockey player. I went as a king of Sweden.

The dinner was really fancy (I’m not sure if it was prepared by university kitchen staff), there were 3 courses, appetiser, main dish and dessert. I didn’t bring camera with me so you’ll have to satisfy with my description of the dishes.

    • Appetizer: Canapé with smoked salmon salad, fresh herbs and lemon vinaigrette
    • Main course: Marinated chicken with ratatouille & baked potato gratinated with cheese
    • Dessert: Chocolate & coconut cake with raspberry cream

The food was really good, but the portions were quite small, it looked like those meals in fancy restaurants. You could probably put whole appetizer and dessert in your mouth in one big bite and main course consisted of half potato and one chicken breast.

While we were eating/waiting for next course we had some entertainment program, LURC guys had a sketch were they showed how a typical Swedish person behaves (stereotypically shy) it was really funny, later we had a male choir who sang 2 songs in Swedish and lastly a song I understood: “The final countdown”.

It actually sounded very good. Later there was a girls’ choir as well, among the song they sang I recognized the Harry Potter theme song and a “Help!” from beatles (if I remember correctly).

Later we had a treasure hunt which we (our table) actually won (I still don’t know how), and finale from previous game nights. There were some performances from exchange students as well.

Today we only had a relaxing picnic where we hang out and chat. Tomorrow school starts. Tomorrow I only have Swedish course so I’ll have to wait until Tuesday for “real” school to start.

16:20 Mon.
12 Aug, 2013

Bank incident

Day 4 , 143 remain
Lulea , Sweden
18 °C
Partly Cloudy
4:04 am
9:06 pm

Yesterday I went for a walk around Björkskatan (district where I live now). The walking/cycling tracks are really nicely maintained and there are a lot of them, through the forests, near the sea, through town, everywhere. I finished the walk near university (yes I still don’t have internet) and found something between pond and lake full of (baby) ducks; a great setting for photos.

Duck near campus's pond
Duck near campus’s pond

Later I managed to set up my Swedish phone number and with a nice surprise, I got a (bonus) 500MB of data for free. I paid 100SEK for fill up card, and got for (it says) 800 SEK worth of mobile data, it’s really handy now that I don’t have internet at home yet. Although the amount of data provided is not enough for normal web browsing, it’s enough to check e-mails and some chat over Skype. Oh yes, and they have 4G coverage everywhere (in the middle of forest, although this middle of forest is in the centre of town :)).

Today I had a long day. I started at 11’o clock, and went to the landlord to ask for translation of one paper and to fill in complaint about fire alarm and window. Fire alarm was buzzing all the time, they told me to change the batteries (I knew that, but wanted to get away without having to buy new ones; sadly this plan didn’t work). The window is causing more problems, it’s almost impossible to close and trust me, here you want to close windows in the evenings. Lastly I asked about the internet and they gave me phone number of ISP support.

After that I walk to the centre of the town to pay rent at the bank. The main street was surprisingly crowded, I didn’t expect so much people there. Shortly after I found a bank and went it. When I asked if I can pay the bills I was in for a shock, I would have to be a member of the bank in order to pay the bill, so I went on a search for another bank. I found a small bank / currency exchange thing, where I was told I could pay the rent. After waiting in line for quite some time I was finally able to pay 2 bills (rent for 2 months) and I was in for a real shock next, the fee was 50 SEK (around 6€) for each bill (I changed bank in Slovenia to get 10 cents cheaper fees per bills…). Guess I’ll try to pay rent over Slovenian banks from now on.

After paying rent I went for a bit of sight-seeing through centre of Lulea. The main street is very nice, full of shops, restaurants and hotels. There are very few traffic lights in the town and even where they are, people just go over the street even if there’s a red light on. Maybe there is some rule that you can cross if there is no traffic, I’ll have to check this one out. On my way home I took some pictures and found few people swimming in the sea. What the heck, I was wearing jeans and long warm shirt and was still a bit cold, and they were swimming? Well at least when the girl was going in she was screaming so it must have been cold.

When I came home I decided I should call ISP support line to try to get my internet going. After 15 minutes of explaining the problem (and spelling my name 8 times), we determined that it’s not possible for me to register on some form because I don’t have Swedish security number. They said that they will forward my problem to the IT that is configuring internet in/for Lulebo (landlord) apartments. Hopefully I’ll be able to connect before end of the week.

20:53 Sat.
10 Aug, 2013

New Home

Day 2 , 145 remain
Lulea , Sweden
16 °C
Fair
3:51 am
9:16 pm

After few steps I realize just how cold it was. It looks like the train had heating turned on, so I was only wearing shorts and t-shirt, later I learned that it was 8 degrees, at 7 AM on 9th of August 2013. I think I can safely say, that I haven’t been anywhere near this cold in the middle of the summer yet.

I was supposed to meet with Fredrik (he is taking care of Erasmus students arrival up here) at 9 AM at the university, so I figured out I could just walk up there rather than sit in that cold. In retrospect this was one of the stupidest ideas I had in a long time. I had 2 suitcases and one bag with me, total of 50kg. As I later learned the distance from train station to university is around 6km. At first the walk went easily but after midway my hands really started to hurt. One suitcase has some weird wheel-handle thing so I was basically carrying it all the way instead of dragging it on wheels. The walk went very slowly after midway as I had to exchange places of suitcases, to rest the arm that was carrying the weird one. To top it off my hands began to sweat so the handles began to slip away every few meters. As a result of this, I’ve arrived to university shortly before 9 AM, with no feelings in my arms (part from heavy lifting, part from cold). Now it is 1 day later, and my arms and shoulders still hurt.

Shortly after my arrival at university Fredrik had come. He handed me some contracts to sign, keys to the apartment and gave me basic information that I’ll need while I’m staying up here. After that he got me a cab and I was on my way to Väderleden 11, my new home for the next 5 months.

After unpacking I went to sleep and I really needed it, I don’t think I slept for more than 5 hours in the past 2 days. After that I noticed that I have no internet connection (Fredrik warned me that it’s possible that my account for internet is not set up yet) so I decided to make a walk to the university and to possibly take some photos on the way.

Sunset in Sweden.
Sunset at 10.30PM

I’ve arrived to the university at around 9 PM. I was surprised to see how many people were still walking around campus. Shortly after I found a table with benches where I was still in range of university’s Wi-Fi. As I was sitting there I noticed that there were really a lot of mosquitos flying around and trying (some actually succeeded) some Slovenian blood. I left for home at around 10.30 PM with still enough light so that street lights needn’t be turned on.

Sunset on the lake
Sunset on the lake

This was one of the reasons I was so excited to come up here in the middle of summer. There is light from around 3 AM to around 11 PM and then the sky never goes completely black, but turns red at horizon. My room is facing north, so I was able to look at red horizon through all the night (not that I was able to, I was so tired I fell asleep in minutes, but I had my alarm set every hour to check the sky). It was interesting to see how the brightest part of the sky slowly moved from west to north and to east again. In Slovenia we are used to the sunset on the west and then teleport of sun to the east in the morning. It’s too bad I couldn’t arrived a month earlier, back then there was no night at all, but still I have experienced the longest lasting day of my life.

There is no darkness in Luleå during the summer.
There is no darkness in Luleå during the summer.