Swedish life – How to go through November dark weather

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We are now two weeks deep into November, which is a significant turning point in Swedish daily-life – more than in other European countries I think. Welcome to Swedish November, when days get – way – shorter and sky gets – way – darker.

1. Make plans

Coming from France, I am used to November Nervous Breakdowns as bad weather settles in abruptly. However, Sweden is definitely on another level. Here, the sky is ALWAYS dark. As the days goes by, its color is changing from “shady grey” during day-time to “definitely-too-dark” at night.

One way to go through these dark days is… to keep living your daily life : do not pay too much attention to the weather. Instead, study and meet your friends – I am usually doing both, studying WITH my friends. It really sounds obvious and simple, but it’s keeping motivation going is really hard.

You have to motivate yourself : keep making plans, go to the gym, to the cinema and more. I guarantee you won’t notice the sun setting around 4pm and the dark clouds above your head.

2. Think about snow

The worst weather has been when it started to rain a few days ago. I say rain but it’s not even “real” rain. It’s mostly water hanging in the air, soaking your coat and shoes while you bike through the city. What motivates me during these bad days is to think about the time rain will become snow, and how landscapes will be all fluffy and covered in white. I will be taking beautiful pictures, and playing around like a child.

Bur right now, it is wayyyyy to warm for snowfalls : the temperatures are around 8 or 9°C. It can be regarded as a good thing: considering it’s dark and rainy, we might as well enjoy a little heat.

3. Enjoy mys

If you don’t feel like going out, it’s totally fine. You can just stay home, have fika with friends or spend time watching a movie, cooking or even… decorating your room. Making your interior as cosy as possible is the key. Swedes calls this “mys” – the adjective is “mysig”. You would basically say “Vad mysig !”, meaning “It’s so cosy !”.

Last week-end, one of my housemates had the great idea to clean our kitchen. A few minutes after, we were four of us decorating our living-room with lights, posters and candles while listening to Queen on Spotify – it was just before going to the cinema to watch Bohemian Rapsody. A great way to overcome bad weather !

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“Gender Studies”, what is that?

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This week has been pretty stressful: I had to submit my final assignment to validate the second course of my semester. It was a 3.000 words essay about a topic I was free to choose. I decided to write about “Discrimination against veiled Muslim women in the French labour market”. I have always been curious about the origins of inequalities between people. Where do sexism, racism and all other types of discrimination stem from ? That is what “Gender Studies” are all about.

What do Gender Studies consist in?

First, “Gender Studies” claims to be a transdiscplinary academic field: its aim is to apply a gendered framework to whatever other existing academic field. When I am reading scientific literature for my classes, I can be reading sociological and psychological experiments, as well as linguistic or medical papers – I must admit, being from a social sciences background these lasts are sometimes complicated for me to understand.

Studying Gender Studies originally means studying the roots of inequalities between genders. In order to do that, “Gender

Gender equality symbol. Copyright: Pixabay/janeb13.

Studies” traditionally analyze gendered representations and power dynamics in society and their influence on human behavior and psychology.

But, more recently, Gender Studies went further and extended their way of understanding inequalities beyond gender. They included other parts of human identity, such as social class, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age etc. Nowadays, studying Gender Studies means studying all oppressions – sexism but also racism or homophobia for instance – and working on deconstructing what we think is “the social norm” when it comes to identity.

Gender Studies are not all about gender

In 1989, American jurist Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the concept of “Intersectionality”. According to her research analyzing the social position of Black women in the United States, she demonstrated they were undergoing a “double discrimination”: not only as women or as Black persons, but as Black women altogether.

Since then, intersectionality has been widely used in Gender studies and applied to analyse the social position of different populations such as disabled women – intersection between ableism (discrimination against disabled people) and sexism – or even white middle-class men (intersection between male, class and white privileges).

Gender is of course still a cornerstone of Gender Studies, but it is now often analyzed in relation to other oppressions and types of discrimination.

If you are looking for a Gender Studies program for complete “beginners” LiU’s online master is not the right one.

So far I’ve had two courses: “Introduction to Intersectionality” and

“Exploring Intersectionality”. Both were very interesting and being already familiar with Crenshaw’s concept, it allowed be to go further in my reflection.

What I liked about the LiU Gender Studies master program was that it was very specific. Indeed, its full title is “Gender, Intersectionality and Change“. This means, I was not going to study basic Gender Studies courses but deepening my understanding about gender and other inequalities. If you are looking for a Gender Studies program for complete “beginners” LiU’s online master is not the right one.

However, if you are looking for a program to keep studying or working with gender, identity and inequality issues, this can be a good way to go further into these topics. Many of my classmates are studying this master along with a full-time job – which can be difficult – and are doing it in order to specialize in gender, while remaining in their field. And since it is online, it’s very practical: you can organize your study and work times as you want.

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Hej allihopa !

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Hej allihopa ! (Hello everyone)

My name is Marie and I am studying Gender Studies at Linköping University. The complete name of my program is “Gender, Intersectionality and Change” and it is all online. “If it’s distance learning, why did she decide to move to Sweden then ?” you might wonder. My choice to leave France, my home country, for Sweden is deeply rooted in my former experience as an exchange student in Uppsala University (in the North of Sweden). I will now explain all about it !

Why Sweden ?

Two years ago, when I came back from my Erasmus year in Uppsala, I knew I would come back to Sweden – it was just a matter of time. I had always been intrigued and fascinated by this country and my year there had been really eye- and mind-opening. So when I have been done with my first master in Journalism last June, I decided to take the opportunity to study a second master in Sweden, in Gender Studies.

Why Gender Studies ?

I discovered Gender Studies during my year in Uppsala. There, I studied some basic courses and it encouraged me to dig deeper into certain subjects revolving around identity and feminist theories in social sciences. During my two-year master in Journalism in France, I taught myself about feminism concepts, such as intersectionality*. Studying a second master in Gender Studies became an obvious choice.

Why Gender Studies in Linköping, Sweden ?

I knew I wanted to move back to Sweden and I knew that if I was to study a second master, it would be in Gender Studies. Combining the two was obvious. So, I looked for Swedish master programs in Gender Studies, and found the “Gender, Intersectionality and Change” program at Linköping University. It was PER-FECT. Indeed, I was not looking for a global program tackling basic gender studies topics, but a program allowing me to go deeper into my reflection around feminism and identity. The fact that it was online did not draw my attention at first, I realized it way after and it was actually a good thing : I could work besides, and organize my time as I wanted. So here I am, enjoying Swedish life and studying a topic I am passionate about !

I hope I made you more curious about Sweden, Linköping University and Gender Studies,

Hejdå (bye),

Marie

* I will explain this concept in a later post about my studies. For now, you can learn more about it here: https://www.genus.se/en/wordpost/intersectionality/

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