End of the semester – Dancing in Flamman!

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Photo: Unsplash/Modesta Žemgulytė

 

The semester is ending this week, and everyone is coming back from Christmas break for exams. However, I don’t have any of them. I only had to submit my final assignment before Friday – which I already did.

End of the semester also means some students are leaving after their exchange semester. This comes with a lot of farewell parties, where we all meet again after weeks apart and have to say goodbye at the same time – kind of sad.

Flamman, “the flame”

That’s how last Saturday my friends and I decided to go to Flamman, which is one of the best place to party in Linköping when you are a student. Only students can attend it, so you need to bring your LiU card in order to prove you are one. Then you have to pay the entrance fee, which is pretty cheap – 60 crowns (around 6 euros).

It is usually kind of crowded, and you might wait a bit long to enter. The best you can do is come early, around 11pm. The club closes at 3am, so you have plenty of time to enjoy the music. Usually, it goes from international hits to Swedish classics. Perfect for a Saturday night out!

 

 

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Coming back from Christmas break

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A house under the snow. Credits: Unsplash/
Fabian Mardi

 

Hi everyone ! I have been off for a few weeks now – I was back in France for Christmas.

First of all happy new year to you.

Second, I must confess one thing: the picture I used at the top of my article does not reflect at all the atmosphere here, in Linköping. I must admit that I am a little disappointed: I was convinced that I would come back under snow falls and extremely low temperatures, but I did not. In Linköping it is still pretty warm (2°C) and no snow on the horizon… Meanwhile, in the north of Sweden snow has been falling like crazy, entailing huge electricity blackouts and storms all over the place. My phone’s weather forecast is telling me it should be coming soon, but at that point I don’t know if I should believe it.

 

The “Vinterstad i Ljus” event was organized to lighten the street light for Christmas in Linköping.

Anyway I had a very good time celebrating Christmas with my family and spend an amazing New Year’s Eve with my best friend in Brussels. Plus, in December I had time to enjoy the all-christmassy atmosphere in Sweden, and I loved it ! I am going to tell you why.

 

Swedes go crazy on traditions

 

In France we have a few traditions that keep existing for Christmas, such as the advent calendar or the Christmas tree decorated in gold and red – or blue and silver, depending on tastes. But here, in Sweden, Christmas traditions exist on a whole other level.

First, they organise a big celebration on the first week-end of December to light the streets. In Linköping the event was called “Vinterstad i Ljus” (The winter city enlightened). Concerts, speeches, videos… the city center was full of people waiting for the lights to shine in the night – it was 4pm.

Starting from there, each Sunday before Christmas is an advent Sunday. Swedes usually have a set of four candles, destined to be lighted one Sunday after the other. And while you light them, you must say a short poetic line, which almost sounds like a witch incantation. You can see the candles my Swedish housemate handcrafted herself on the picture below – the fourth one is missing, but don’t worry we made it on time.

On the second advent, my housemates and I were also invited to an “advents fika” at our neighbors’ house, to share pastries and coffee in a very warm atmosphere.

 

Our set of candles to celebrate the Christmas advent.

 

Christmas markets

 

Of course in France, we have a lot of Christmas markets. But I think it is nothing compared to the ones you can find in Sweden. Here in Linköping, the main one is settled in Gamla Linköping (the old town). It is very traditional and you have a wide range of corners where you can buy woolen gloves, hot wine (glögg) and biscuits (peppar kakor).

It’s only organized two week-ends in December, but it’s worth blocking one afternoon in your schedule to enjoy the Swedish Christmas atmosphere !

 

Gamla Linköping’s Christmas market.

Food & drinks

 

I told you in the previous section about glögg and peppar kakor. These two are the main reasons I love Christmas here. But what are they exactly? Glögg is a wine you can buy light in the supermarket (2% of alcohol) or strong in Systembolaget* (up to 14% of alcohol). You usually warm it up in a pot and put some almonds and other dry fruits in it to give it a nice sweet taste.

Peppar kakor are ginger biscuits, Swedes eat all the time during Christmas. You can bake them – I did not – or buy them in the supermarket. They usually have some meaningful shapes, such as hearts. Then you can also decorate them with a special paste you can also buy in the supermarket.

Finally, I strongly recommend to organize Christmas dinners with your friends. I organized one with my housemates, where we all cooked and baked traditional dishes from our home country and we had a really good night!

 


* Systembolaget is the state shop where you can buy strong alcohol (over 3%), I will write about it in a later post.

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Swedish life – First snow & beginning of (true) cold

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My alley under the snow.

 

When I studied in Uppsala three years ago, it only started to snow around the end of December. At that time I was back in France for Christmas and could only start enjoying the snow in January when I came back to Sweden after New Year’s Eve.

This year, everything is different. It has started to snow maybe two weeks ago. However, it suddenly stopped because it became too cold. The temperatures dropped to -13 degrees celsius and instead of snow, we had frost. I must admit it was kind of disappointing. But the landscapes were still covered in white, and were glowing under the winter (autumn?) sun. I took many pictures to immortalize sunsets.

 

 

Right now, snow is back (see picture on top of the article). I love this weather: (very) cold and sunny. However, at first, I did not think it would be that cold in November. So, I kept biking, wearing my cotton gloves. Until one time, I could not feel my fingers anymore. Then I started using what I call my “Lapland gloves” (because I bought them in 2016 to go to Lapland). They are supposed to keep your hands warm until -30 degrees celsius – let’s say that it works pretty well.

Right now, I don’t feel like biking anymore. I am going to start using buses I think. Or walk. I will let you know another time about transportation in Linköping!

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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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