April 30, 2012

My old elevator

Last year I went to Cortege and Valborg for my birthday. Those are two typical events on 30th of April: one organized by Chalmers and the other being a part of long tradition. It was an amazing sunny day spent with friends and I enjoyed it so much!
This year I am in Belgrade with the two of my best girlfriends, my family and people I know half of my life. Weather is nice and we are spending it outside, eating barbecue and sunbathing. Sounds silly when you think that in Gothenburg it was snowing/raining when I was leaving for Serbia. In any case, I thought I should post some pictures (of myself, since it is my birthday and I am a little bit narcissistic hehe). 
Couple of days ago I posted selected pictures from my studies on Sweden in Touch, trying to remember how it was when I first came there. These here are from 2010 when I was living at Frolunda Torg and had an elevator. Back then I decided to take a picture of myself every time I come back home - it was a way to see how I am changing daily. Too bad I stopped after one month, but here are some of them. I do think I look a lot older now than 2 years ago probably because of all the running around and dealing with stuff lately. 

Happy birthday to everybody born today! Let's have a blast :)))

April 20, 2012

Göteborg on Instagram

I am everywhere! Literally there is no place left on internet that I am not signed up to - Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogger, Google+ and now Instagram! Reason behind downloading the app is my friends, of course. They have a new term for me GESTER - geek + hipster. If you think about it for a while, it is not such a strange combination after all. I have traits of both, hopefully the best from each, not the worst :)

I am mentioning Instagram since it is the easiest way to follow me/Göteborg student life. I am so obsessed by it (at the moment), that I would post almost every little thing while playing with those filters. If you have the app you can follow me as charliebaggins or on twitter where most of these ends up anyway. Let's see what I did thus far:

This was the first post - Oscar Fredriks Kyrkan (if I did this right, it should point out where the building is located in Göteborg).

Next is a picture over one of the bridges across Göta Älv.  It is also a view from the building I will use for my master thesis, one of the reasons I picked the building in the first place. 

Then there are three pictures from a trip to Denmark: a famous library extension, cool student housing and the new opera building. I had these in my phone and was wondering how would they look with Instagram. I am quite happy with the result.

This one is also from the trip to Denmark with Nordic architecture course held in my first year of Master studies. It was really nice, since Chalmers paid for the trip and we just needed to pay for the accommodation and food. I don't think I would have had chance to do a trip around entire Denmark if it hadn't been for this course. Not to mention how cool it is to listen about the architecture from Claes Caldenby. I adore the passion he has for architecture and how he speaks about it.

This is a picture from tonight's fika with my Brazilian friend I mention so often. I am sure you will see a lot of these in the future, maybe not on the blog but definitely on Instagram. Tonight we went to Le Pain Francais - one of the best places to have a sandwich or a muffin, sit in comfy surroundings and still pay reasonable amount of money: chocolate muffin + tea was 50 SEK. 

Finally, we come to the end. This is me packing for tomorrow. I am going home for some personal reasons which also means I won't be able to finish my thesis on time. And that means you will hear for me, on this blog, at least till January. It also means that you will soon hear details about extending your student visa. 
What I can say thus far is: people at Chalmers were very helpful and supportive of my decision and situation. From my examiner to the program coordinator, they are all helping me out with this. And I appreciate it a lot. A big shout out for all the lovely people at University!!! 

Anyway, I don't know about you, but I get super excited before every trip and just become this ball of strange behaviour. I forget where I put stuff, what I wanted to pack (even with a list) and I start being clumsy (broke the ceiling lamp today while taking the suitcase down, luckily insurance company covers that sort of things). These things on my bed have been there since this morning. And they still are - I am writing this post instead of putting them to the suitcase. 

But there is really no point in prolonging the inevitable. I must pack and that is it. Here is what I am listening to at the moment, one of personal favorites when it comes to Swedish music. 

April 15, 2012

Limbo - the game

I do have more important things to do today, but given some personal events going on I decided the best option would be playing computer games. One of the reasons I bought a Mac was that the variety of these time consuming non-productive activities is brought to a minimum. First, there isn't much to pick from, second, it seems I did finally grow up and games tend to bore me easily if they aren't extremely good.

Today's poison of choice (sort to speak) is called Limbo

It is a dark, grey-scale (architect's favorite), extremely violent game that keeps you trapped inside its own twisted world. I am on the 15th screen, so there isn't much I can really say about the game. And I try to keep myself from the reviews, given that revealing the plot-line seems like a part of the actual game. 
From what I have seen thus far, it is a puzzle game with very basic interactions like walk, jump, climb, push/pull. I have no idea who I am, why am I doing stuff and where the hell this whole place is located. You may call it a professional deformation, but I am simply in love with the grainy, grey, disturbing locations that sometimes remind me of projects from RIBA

And talking about the place, this games has one of the strongest scary, dark atmosphere I came across recently (let us say 5 years back). Everything is super dark with just two eyes of the main character glistening. Which, to be honest makes it even more sad when he dies and the only light goes away. And die he will, since almost everything here can and will kill you in a most gruesome manner. I am an easy to scare person so playing a game like this makes my heart kick-start every couple of seconds. For the moment only monsters are giant spiders (I really mean it when I say giant) and some kids who apparently hate me. But I am sure more will come as I progress inside the Limbo. And also more slow, painful scenes of deceptions, impaling, squashing and similar. There is almost no music in this game, except for the atmospheric sounds which makes it even creepier. And of course, the sounds of eminent death approaching. 

But what I really love about the storytelling in this game is the camera. It zooms in and out, travels with you and gives a movie-like feel to the whole experience. Especially when you die and it zooms in on you. It shortens my life spam I can tell you. 

Back to the game I go, since I had to make a break and post this. 
If you have nothing better to do - try this game.
If you love to play good games - try this game.
If you have a lot of stuff and need relaxing - try this game. (though I doubt you will feel relaxed)

April 11, 2012

Reporting a crime in Sweden

Unexpected post about reporting a crime in Sweden.

Here are my lovely cards: instead of just one, now I have two cards I had to cut in half :(

To cut the long story short, I was supposed to receive my Chalmers Master card from the Handelsbank today. My old card stopped working physically, and I needed a new one. They said I will receive the card on one day and PIN code the next one. However I got both letters at the same time, this morning.
Needles to say, something went wrong, so my letter with the mastercard was competely open. And by that I mean CUT on top, not unglued. Everything was in it, contract, information, the card, but still... My aunt mentioned that maybe they delivered it to a wrong person who opened the letter without thinking and then put it back in my mailbox. But if so, that person should have written something to let me know what happened. I don't know.

First thing I did was to call Posten - the postal service in Sweden that is responsible for delivering all the letters and packages. I was not sure if maybe they opened the letter checking out what is inside (it is a strange thing to think, but I was in a state of shock at the beginning). They have an English part at the website with the contact information on it. However, the answering machine is in Swedish, and boy was I glad that I can understand it. Trust me, there is nothing more irritating than when you are in a hurry and something like this happens and you cannot talk to the people who are supposed to help. I made a complaint with them once I finally got through - of course there would be a queue.
The girl from the Post couldn't really help me. She said that it should not have happened and that I should report it to the Police and the Bank. So I did.

In any case, I had to cancel the card (again) and now I am waiting for a new one (again). It is too risky to keep the card when someone was able to get all the data about it. That canceling part was easy, since I already talked with the bank a couple of times before (first time I did it was one month into my stay in Göteborg and I had so much trouble understanding the machine voice). They also have a lovely option of leaving the number so that when an operator is free he or she will call you.

Calling the police felt awkward. This is the second time I did it in my life, first being when my house was robbed back at home. If you wish to make a report of a crime that happened here is the link. Again, you call, answering machine is in Swedish, lovely personel in English. I had to leave my data (personal number, confirm the name and address) and explain what happened. In 5 working days I will receive a report about the crime that I can use if somebody tries to pay with my creditcard. It was really fast and easy to speak with the woman who answered. And I must say that this time there was no queue and I got in touch with an officer immediately.

To sum up, if you need to report something over the phone in Sweden - have a Swedish person standing nearby or learn basic Swedish in order to understand the answering machines. You can also send emails, but if you are in a hurry I would advise against that. After getting through to the real person it will be easy to explain what has happened and they can advise you about the next steps. The contact information is always available on the websites and they usually have an english page as well.

Hopefully, you won't have to do any of these things I dealt with this morning, but you never know.

April 9, 2012

Easter Sunday (Påsk)

Glad Påsk!
Did you celebrate it?

Personally, I don't care a lot about religious holidays. I am embarrassed to say that I really have no clue if Swedes do anything special over these couple of Easter days. I have seen a lot of chocolate eggs around and food in the shape of chicken. I guess it is more or less the same all over the Europe and that is why I paid no attention to it. I just wonder, do they color eggs at home and then they "fight" with them to see who has the strongest egg that won't break? I must ask someone about this...

Anyway, what I do know and like to do is meeting up with friends to dine and wine and have some fun. For a while we had this idea of meeting together, preparing Brazilian food and just getting to relax a little bit. All seven of us are Chalmers students from different departments and it is hard to synchronize the schedules if not for events like this. 

As you might know, my cooking skills are on a very high level for I even have my own secret ingredient. Though, all jokes aside, I can cook! It's just that I need a little bit of a push to do so. And having a Brazilian master chef in my kitchen is a push, trust me. She did the whole work though, I was just cutting the ingredients. 

I am obsessed about leek and onions and garlic , at least when it comes to cutting it. I think the only thing I love to cut more is meat. And here I am not talking about my fingers!

This is our working space, since the kitchen counters weren't big enough for everything we had to chop, cut and mix together. And here am I, looking suspiciously at Mari for taking pictures of me while cutting. "Do you want me to cut myself while I am looking at you?" would be the best description of this photo.

I guess I should explain what we ate. But given that I was just a helping hand, I think it is better for you to check Mari's blog. I know it is in Portuguese, but there is a built in translator on it. We made feijoada, vinagrete, molho nagô, farofa (my personal favorite since even I can make it without fuss) and couve a mineira. Do I really need to mention how delicious it was? Or how I ate only once today since I still feel too full. 

We even ate desert. I have no clue why, I was having problems with breathing even before it. Two "home-made" bought pies that Dani and her boyfriend brought with ice-cream. I don't remember the brand, but I must mention here that I ate some good frozen food here in Sweden. It happens a lot that while you are studying there is no time for preparing food and frozen meals are the only choice. 

And this would be the end of my post, but my friends wouldn't be my friends if something strange did not happen. Maybe it is because we study at a University of Technology, maybe just because we are geeks (and nerds) or there is another explanation. But when the time came to interact with each other we reached out for technology instead of human interaction. Look at this:

    the master chef sits in the middle on this first picture
     I guess you recognize Dani from Sweden in touch.

We are talking to each other, if that is any consolation. Or to be precise, we are drawing to each other. There is this app we adore called Draw Something and instead of playing with a normal board game or whatever, we are playing over our phones! I am honestly confused whether I like it or not. 

So, there you go. My Easter, far away from home and family, but surrounded with wonderful people I met on this journey called studying abroad.  Next time we should try to make some Swedish food. I reckon it could be fun to see how we can interpret traditional recipes.

Happy Easter!

April 4, 2012

SFI test - explanation


So in continuation of the previous previous post, here is more information on the SFI test. What I did was a standard national SFI test for C level. If you ever had any TOEFL, IELTS or similar, you should know what to expect. There is a listening part of 30 minutes for this level. Two reading parts each of 5o minutes. Writing of 45 minutes and apparently no speaking for C-level.

Listening was ok. I thought it would be worse. People we heard in this exercise spoke relatively slowly and with a good pronunciation that leaves you with just the basic understanding of words. There is a dialog, answering machine, people speaking about what they do and so on… All the stuff you know by now, so don’t worry. Next is reading. That was even easier I think since 99% of answers are in the text. By the way, there is only one real text per test (so 2 in total) that you should read and the rest are ads, cards, letters, tables and such short stuff. Usually you connect a picture with a title, or short explanation text with a letter… And there are also charts that you should read and answer the questions underneath. But again, it is really basic!

I think that the main reason why this was so easy (though I am sure I made a mistake or two) is that in “normal” school this would be level A2 I think. Or in best case B1. SFI – Swedish for immigrants is here just to get you started. If you really wish to learn the language you should progress to SAS as soon as possible. And even that is on the level of high school or gymnasium. In any case, it is a great start if you can make yourself study. I must admit I spend 1% of my time working for SFI and that is not enough. They just provide you with information, but the rest is up to you! Work it out!

We had a break of one week between the parts. So, today was the writing/speaking day. I still don't know the results of the previous two parts and it is making me nervous...

Speaking: they said we don't really have to do it since they know from the lessons how much we can or cannot do. I personally dislike it since the amount of stuff I say during the class is not equal to the amount of stuff I can and do say outside of it, but... That is the way it is. Writing took 45 minutes and you have to write an A4 page about a topic they chose. I had to write about a party I attended or held. The goal is to answer questions written in the introductory part of the test. For example: why did you hold a party, where was it, when, what did you do there, how do you feel about it and so on. In order to get a good grade, you should try to answer all of these questions in a natural way (don't make it as points in the text).

Also, while we were discussing the approach to the writing, friends and I decided upon: write as much as you can and as long as you can. If there are mistakes, it still shows that you tried and that you have a vocabulary, but might miss some grammar lessons. If you write too little and than even that is wrong, you are going to have some problems. Also, my advice is to ask for a piece of paper to write everything on and then just rewrite to the exam paper it after you finish.

So, now I am waiting for the results... And luckily, weather is great: sunny, warm and simply gorgeous! One must learn to appreciate this type of weather when in Sweden since it can easily snow the next day. And what better way to spend your days than searching for a perfect sushi place or taking pictures in front of graffiti?

One of the cheapest places for sushi is in the pass from Nordstan (Brunnsparken) to Kungsportsplatsen - Kompassen. Somewhere in the middle of it there is a street cutting the line of shops (either Drottninggatan or Kyrkogatan) and you will see this great but small sushi restaurant. The picture up is from a place at Axel Dahlströms Torg and the lower one is from this Kompassen.

And the other thing I am doing is visiting the buildings for my thesis. Though it ends more in me taking pictures of my friend and her doing the same for me than in the "serious" work of an architect. That is something I do once I am inside the house, but outside, with all this sun I just cannot act like a grown-up.

Kisses from the sunny Göteborg,