July 23, 2011

There is no bad WEATHER, only bad CLOTHES

Hej alla,

These past couple of days has been a roller-coaster ride. I finally got admitted to SFI (Swedish for immigrants) after 11 months of queuing, my rent fee went up by 600 SEK, got a pink new bike, my problems with spine started again and I can’t move, one of best friends is leaving, bunch of CIRC business, found several job offers that I could apply and finally working on my portfolio (since I cannot move)… I’m not even mentioning “love” life issues. So taking all of this in consideration, I think I’ll be on a break for a week or so.
But let’s get down to business. The shopping list! As you can see, I quoted as a title saying they have here, one that you will remember very often during your stay. It doesn’t say anything about shoes, but same statement applies.

First thing to know: WINTER IS COMING…

I guess you are probably scared about cold, Swedish winter. Don’t be. Unless you are from Africa… Or South America… Or any other warm place on the Earth.

All jokes aside, I didn’t find it so cold. This doesn’t mean that you will agree with me, once the rains start in October and first snow by the end of November. A typical Swedish wardrobe consists of not so many things. Or to put it this way: it can be A LOT of things, but variations are small.

If you are a girl, it contains, roughly, these things:
1. oversize jacket (unless it is a leather jacket, then they are undersize)
2. oversize shirt (two options: either a very saggy t-shirt that uncovers your belly button, or a white man’s shirt for formal occasions)
3. pair of converse all-star or similar
4. pair of high heels or platforms
5. leggings
6. long simple dress
7. short more complicated dress
8. man’s suit jacket (kavaj in Swedish, I actually cannot remember the English word)
9. ray-ban sunglasses
10. either a very small or a very big bag
If you are a guy, things get more simple:
1. extremely tight pants in bright colors
2. one pair of sneakers, presumably converse all-star (during winter you are allowed to buy boots, but you don’t really have to)
3. v-cutout shirt or a v-cutout sweater (you don’t wear them together)
4. one jacket (anything you want)
5. ray-ban sunglasses

Before I start, a special tip to my friends from warmer countries: don’t buy winter clothes/shoes at home!

First of all, I’ll guess the quality isn’t that good since you don’t actually need them where you live. Second, if the quality is good, I am almost sure that it is more expensive than here. They have a real market for winter clothes and you can find anything and everything…
Other tip is - once in Gothenburg, search for sales: REA in Swedish. Probably there won’t be any (winter clothes) sales the moment you arrive, but during winter there will be many. I am an H&M www.hm.com/se member and they offer me 20% discount almost every two weeks. I can use it even on stuff on sale (awesome!). Now that I mentioned H&M - it is a Swedish brand, similar to IKEA if you ask me. So be smart and use that information, shop clothes cheap. Some other stores with similar prices are BIK BOK www.bikbok.com very cheap Belle shoes www.belleshoes.se and with wider range of prices DINSKOwww.dinsko.se

Easiest way to shop is going to Nordstan www.nordstan.se the biggest shopping mall in the city with all the stores you need located inside. Pay attention though, since not all the shops have same clothes and same sales. At this very moment, only one H&M still have clothes on sales, all the rest are filled with new season looks. There are more shops, but if you aren’t a shopping maniac (like me), you won’t even need them.

Also, I am a huge fan of MONKI www.monki.com and everything surrounding this Swedish brand. You should enter the shop just for fun, if nothing else. They aren’t as cheap, but during sales you can have some really good pieces for less than 50 euros.

And now - vintage! It is, if you ask me how you say secondhand in a polite way. But it is extremely popular here. I guess reason behind it is a mix of hipster culture, awareness about sustainability and consumers society, and the easiest way to look cool since nobody else will have something similar. What you must understand is that some of the stuff in these shops was never worn. I took a Brazilian friend to buy some jackets and she took one that even had the price tag on - from the original store! You can find them all over the citywww.emmausbjorka.se or Myrorna, Järntorgsgatan 10. I listed only two, since my infatuation lasted shortly. I figured out I could buy new stuff on sales for the same price as the secondhand ones, only if I wait a little bit longer.

What I am obsessed at the moment are car sales… www.bagageloppis.se

There will be one week after next, so you’ll see pictures. Rarely do I find something to buy there, but the experience is great and you can see interesting stuff. Other awesome experience was swapping clothes - everybody brings stuff they don’t want anymore and change it for something else that other people brought. You couldn’t believe the queue for that event! We waited for an hour just to give clothes and one hour again to be let inside the “shop”. Unfortunately I lost pictures between my laptop and external hard disk.

So what to bring? From what I remember of my first days these were the necessities:

A light jacket, light/heavy sweater, jeans/pants, autumn shoes and sneakers, t-shirts, skirts… End of August and September were warm last year and only thing I had to add to this list was an umbrella or a raincoat. After that you can change the light sweater for a heavier one but stick to your leather jacket. Or have a shirt but wear a coat. Lovely thing about Sweden is that nobody cares how you look, which lead to 4 or 5 of us in the street couple a days ago wearing from boots and shorts to summer transparent dress and sandals. As long as you are feeling comfortable, it is ok. You will also notice that what Swedish people wear in the summer and winter doesn’t change so much.

Secret behind it - wear clothes in layers so you can always add more or discard if you feel like it. That is how you can end up in a summer dress even during winter.

Talk to you in a week,

p.s. heating works perfectly here and I found myself taking off not only gloves and heat, but also a coat when in tram/bus. Also, Chalmers is a warm place, architecture and student union buildings for sure.
p.p.s ups, this was a loooong one

July 18, 2011

In the meantime

While I am trying explore some more about shopping in Göteborg (and don’t spend all the money I have during the research), here are pictures from one year ago, when I first came here.

Just for the record, I have more than 3000 pictures taken during these 11 months and I still couldn’t find the ones I wanted. So these will have to do.

And also, feel free to ask me about anything you want, if I can help with my advice - I will. Couple of students who contacted me gave excellent ideas about topics for the blog, so if you have any ideas, let me know.
First, my phadder group. We were all so lost those couple of days in the beginning.

Pictures from the trip to Archipelago… This year’s CIRC will organize the same event.

I had to test the water! It was quite warm given the fact it was September.

Universeum… Unfortunately I forgot my camera and had to take pics with phone. Hence, only one photo I like.

Paddan boat tour - Göteborg from the canal. You should definitely do it during first days.

And we got these awesome umbrellas as a reward on test “how much you know about Göteborg”.

This is how they do it now - with a bus (and also a paddan). As you may notice, raining seems a theme when it comes to sightseeing in Göteborg.
My first visit to IKEA! We don’t have it back home, you can only imagine how happy I was. This is the only normal image, rest of it is just me jumping all over the place.

View from my first flat. To your right is the Frölunda train stop, as I mentioned couple a blogs ago. These buildings are now completed and they look wonderful.

Visit to Stadsmuseet, again no camera.

And last but not least, photo from Alingsås. A small commune outside the city, where they organize wonderful light events during autumn.

Till the shopping blog, good luck with packing

July 14, 2011

Scavenger Hunt

How to begin?

First of all, tomorrow I am taking two Russian tourists (couch-surfers that are staying at my friends place) to see the city - new fresh pictures of Gothenburg coming up.

Second, I really want to write about the clothes and fashion. In terms of: what to bring from home country, what to buy here, where to buy it and so on... I can even go crazy about it and explain some of the most common way to dress as a Swede, but it will take some time. So I guess I’ll make it a weekend project.

Third, the reason behind today’s post - scavenger hunt for objects that other people don’t need anymore. For months now I want two things in my (shared) kitchen: a microwave and a blender. One of my roommates brought a microwave for all of us to use, so there was nothing to do about it. And today I got a blender. You may ask how…

When you get to Sweden, there are basically two options: either you have a furnished flat or you don’t. In first case all you have to worry about is buying a new pillow and a cover (for my taste SGS cover is two thin and pillow too bad to sleep on). You can do it at JYSK or IKEA. Probably a few other places, but these are the most common and cheapest. In second case, since IKEA is available (we don’t have it in Serbia) + it is a Swedish brand - go for it! Almost anything you want can be found in their stores and it is cheap. They have a nice online catalog where you can browse for stuff even before coming to Gothenburg.

Other option is a hunt for stuff left by other students. Or directly ask if somebody has extra stuff that wants to get rid of. Oh yes, at the end of semester you will be buried by your friends “junk” since half of them will go home. Just not to forget that.

Sometimes students know the next person who will rent the flat, so they leave everything for them. There is a case of _country_ flats where each semester lives a _country_ person. They all leave useful things to each other. But if you aren’t in that situation, you can always search in common rooms for bulky waste. Every building (or a group of buildings) has one and people leave stuff there when they want to throw them or if they don’t need them anymore. For example, TV I had in my first flat ended up in a place like this because I was too lazy to bring it with me to Olofs. A big screen TV that works just fine, hopefully somebody retrieved it.

Other stuff you can find: fridges, sofas, chairs and bed frames, tables, lamps... One friend swears to me that he found a laptop. A working laptop! Still, I wouldn’t go overexcited by it, because it is extremely rare. Ending of a semester or beginning of the new one is the best times to search for this stuff.

So, how did I end up with a working blender? A friend made me go with him in search for it. And I did find one, in the first bulk room, right next to the door. It will of course need a lot of boiling water and cleaning (it looks clean, but still…).

Point of this rambling - I am not really sure. I guess it’s because I am really happy over this blender thing and to let you know that not everything has to be bought and that sometimes you should wait a little bit as well.

Till the weekend,

July 9, 2011

Afterwork or something like that

Yesterday was Friday. Lovely thing about it is that you are done with work till next week. And Swedish people, social as they are, decided that finishing with work is good enough reason to make a small celebration - every Friday.

Afterwork as the name says is what you do after work (only on Fridays (I feel like I am in Rebecca Black’s song)). It's a special threat for being good all week, I guess. Almost every restaurant, pub and bar (sometimes even a club) opens up its doors from 16 or 17 till sometimes around 19, depending how much food they have and how hungry guests are. Because on this day (FRIDAY :D), for the price of one beer, cider or wine glass (it has to be alcohol) you get a free buffet and all you can eat service. It is, by far, the cheapest way to eat good food here! And after some time you will know what place is better or what they regularly serve.

I guess concept isn't Swedish, but since I first encountered with it here, for me it will always be a Swedish thing.

But there is one small detail about it. Since it is supposed to happen after work, they don't hold afterwork during holidays and vacations. About first I knew, about latter I found out yesterday. So, after 15 or so minutes of searching for afterwork, my friends and I decided that it is in vain and opt out for dessert instead. As you can see:

And we ate it in a lovely kök&pub on Linnegatan, while the rain was pouring down. It is, after all, Swedish summer, and weather changes all the time. Yesterday it was raining and I had jeans, today we are heading to a beach for some time in the sun. It is never too cold and you can dress in almost anything, as long as it suits you.

Alice in a classic summer clothes - athletic shirt, deep cut pants and ballerinas. And me, wearing "warmer" clothes such as jeans and a light sweater.

And in the end, it doesn't really matter what you wish to wear, because every place has a blanket for you to use while sitting outside. And a heating stove which I dislike because it gets too warm too fast.


Till next time,

July 5, 2011

We care about our customers

Hej alla,

As promised - pictures from Floby. But before that, I have to write about something that blew me away.
Now, I know all of us here wrote about Swedish hospitality and how helpful they are or how much they value opinions of individuals (giving a feedback, sending an email about your experience and so on).

This is a short story of a delayed train. I am sure you are all familiar with it: train being late or train that has to stop in the middle of nowhere because something happened further on the tracks and it can’t get through. So there we were, in a train wagon for animals (4 dogs barking and 1 cat that pretends to be sleeping), somewhere in Alingsås, waiting for the train to start moving again. But it doesn’t. What’s happening, as we were explained - and I am thrilled to say my Swedish was enough to understand the information given to passengers - is that we are waiting for traffic control center to give us more information, but the train will probably stay in Alingsås for two more hours!

Since there wasn’t much to do, Alice and me decided to turn on the laptop and watch True Blood during the waiting period. First time I travelled in Sweden I didn’t know that busses and trains come with power outlets, so I didn’t bring any electrical device to shorten the ride. Now, I bring at least my iphone charger to watch shows or browse through internet (or write meaningful blogs). Anyhow, while we made ourselves comfortable, another announcement was made: Västtrafik arranged busses for everybody in the train, to get back home faster! I couldn’t believe! If I was in my country, we would stay in that train whole night if necessary (without internet or any power source). And here I am, going back home with another transportation that I didn’t have to search for or pay, plus there will be a refund on the ticket since my ride wasn’t comfortable enough. Amazing…

I guess Swedes really do care about their customers.

Packed for the weekend + Pippin the cat

Our lovely temporary home, from afar and from close

Waiting for the hamburgers, blue book of Swedish language and computer addiction (we needed to play language lessons on something)

Our running track, just 5 minutes from the house. I left my heart and soul there, it's been more than 10 years since I ran last time. But it feels so good, especially in nature.

Pippin and I love to climb

Floby is a town. Small town. But super-cute

And, for the end of this blog - a picture made without flash around 22:30.
Night falls very late during these months and in the countryside it was never completely dark.

Hope you are preparing for arrival!

See you soon,