Today we went to an island, not that far from Lulea. Here is a map link: island location. The boat ride took almost 1 and half hour. Despite very high (20 degrees) temperature it was chilly on the deck. The winds here are really cold.
On the island there were free saunas and a lot of BBQ places. For the first hour we went around exploring the island. The paths were nicely build with wooden floor few inches above grounds. Grounds were covered in different kinds of mosses. Above them there were conifer trees reaching the water. For me this looks weird, because we are used to see conifer trees at high altitudes. After a while we found an observation tower on a small hill and went up. Despite not being too fond of heights the climb was worth it. The view was amazing, you could see whole island (and beyond) from the tower.
After that we went to a BBQ place to cook lunch. While we were cocking there were some people running from saunas to the sea water for a quick dip in 13 degree water. I think they are going to try and go swimming when there is going to be ice as well. 🙂
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).
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.
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.
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.
So I should probably start where I ended last time. Student union up here has its own “club” at the university. You need LTU student card to get inside and drinks are approximately 3 times cheaper than in a normal club. Somehow I managed to go to the BBQ, before going to STUK (name of the club: student something something something) at 11’o clock. I’m not sure if it’s just prejudice or is it real but it felt like Swedes on a dance floor are further apart than what I’m used to in Slovenia. You could almost walk right through the thickest crowd and almost didn’t have to touch anyone.
The drinks are still very expensive a beer is around 35SEK (4€), spirits start from around 100 SEK (10€) per shot. We have a saying in Slovenia “Rola se mi tudi brez alkohola” (quick translation: You can have fun without alcohol) I guess we’ll be practising this a lot. We went home at around 2 am.
On Sunday morning we had a trip planned to a close by shopping centre. Everything still hurt from previous day but somehow I managed to rode a bike for 20min to get to the shopping centre. After forgetting to buy half the stuff I should have bought we went home. This was pretty much it for Sunday as I was too tired to do anything else.
Today morning we had a “welcoming” event at the university. Vice chancellor and all other staff from university gave speeches. The chancellor had a really interesting speech. It was something like this “Don’t forget to study, but while you’re up here go out, have fun, go skiing, on trips, you’re not likely to come to this environment ever again.”.
In the afternoon we played some fun Swedish games.
In the evening we had another BBQ this time near the university. Here we firstly played some kind of Swedish baseball. It’s OK I guess but I prefer normal baseball. After that we went to eat something and play the game with the sticks (see post #11). We also met with a lot of new people. It’s really fun, you just go around and talk to strangers, and you are strangers no more.
Yesterday I managed to do enough work on gallery that I can say it’s finished (for now). Currently there is only one album (pictures from blog) but I will (soon) post some other albums as well.
Yesterday evening we had a get to know each other BBQ. It was in a different part of tow so we had to walk for about 30minutes to get there. It was really fun meeting and chatting with all those people from all over the world. There was a guy from Korea, Argentina, USA and of course most countries of Europe. There are really a lot of French and Germans and we are 4 Slovenians (although I still don’t know who the 4th person is). Later in the night we split in to two groups some went to a party in the centre of Lulea others stayed at BBQ area.
Today we were scheduled for a hike to the old town (Gammelstad). We walked through the forest for about 1.5 hours. The track was really narrow and through some swamps again but this time there were wooden boards on the ground so we didn’t sink in to the mud. At the midpoint we came across a (bird) watch tower. I’m sure this will be my favourite destination in winter for watching northern lights.
After we arrived to the old town we went to see the church (again), this time there was a girl singing and playing organ pipes. It was really cool. Later we went to the same coffee place as last time. Today I had this cake (see picture). It was really good but I liked the last one better.
Soon after we split in to two groups. Most went back with the bus, few of us walked back through the forest. When we arrived to the university we were just in time to go on a campus tour. The campus is divided in to several buildings that are interlinked with underground hallways. These will come in very handy when there will be -30 degrees outside, because you don’t have to go outside to come from one building to another
The university is beautifully build with a lot of wood and windows. I will try and take some better pictures of it later and maybe describe it a bit more in to details. So far I’m really impressed with it and it is much better than in Slovenia (until they build us new one next year (I hope)).
After I finally came home I grabbed something to eat and took a shower. It was nice to sit down after a whole day of walking. I almost forgot. Today the last roommate arrived. So now we are Slovenian, German, Spanish and 2 French guys. There was another French here before, but he exchanged place with Spaniard because there was some mix-up with papers and contracts at the beginning so they were in wrong dorms until now.
Now we have another BBQ, but this one I’ll skip because I’m too tired from walking whole day long. Later I will probably go to a welcoming party at the university, if I’ll manage to get up from this chair.