Sunday, August 22, 2010

Parties and School

Since my last post i have been quite busy. I have met with other exchange students, met my other host families, participated in a triathalon, and explored the city among many other things. Although there is a lot to talk about, i will foucus on two important things, attending traditional crawfish parties and swedish school (if you would like any detail on anything else i have done, feel free to email me Firstly, the crawfish party. These parties only occur in august and are normally held with close friends or family. the first one i went to was a party for the three of us exchange students in my town of Lerum, and all of our host families. The main part of these parties is the crawfish, which are normally shipped in from somewhere else in the world, although they are found in the local lakes. At our party we had both crawfish and large, whole, ocean shrimp. Now here in Sweden, they eat the whole crawfish or shrimp, not just the tail like i am used to (they also eat the whole crab, not just the legs). So, i will describe to you the method of eating a whole crawfish, as explained to me by my family. First, you break off the tail from the body. You then peal the meat out of the tail like you would a normal shrimp, and eat it. Then, you grab the claws and legs of the crawfish, and seperate the body from the head region. Now comes the interesting part. My family told me that although you cant eat the body because thats where the organs and other stuff of that nature is, you can still suck the juices out of it. after talking to other people, not many people do this, but i did it anyway and it didnt taste bad, just like salty water. so after that, you discard the body. then you move onto the head. My family then told me to put my thumb into the head, and get whatever meat i could onto my thumb and eat it. apparently not many people do this either, but once again, it was good. so after that, you break open the small claws and eat whatever meat you can find in there. And that is how you eat a crawfish or shrimp in Sweden. I am sorry if the description is gross, but that is what is done here, and it really isnt that bad after you get used to it, and in fact, is quite good. The crawfish parties also have another key component, singing. when my family mentioned this at first, i thought they were joking with me, but they weren't. apparently, swedish children learn swedish drinking songs from a very young age (although we were quickly reminded that they were not allowed to drink at such age). so at these parties, at seemingly random points in the meal, people began to break out into drinking songs and then say the swedish version of cheers at the end. although this was a bit awkward at first as i didnt know any of the songs, it was nice because everyone joined in on the singing and it was just very festive. So in the end, the crawfish parties were good, although it took a bit to get used to.

Now for school. Although i dont actually start school until tomorrow, i did get to go visit my school a couple times and decide which program i will do (that will be explained more later). So in Sweden, the last schooling you go to before a university is called gymnasium. Gymnasium has three grades, and is divided up into different programs or courses of study, some of which include Economics, Life Science, Industrial Technology and stuff like that. So the three of us exchange students who are in Lerum and will be attending Lerums Gymnasium all had a meeting with the school principal to decide our course of study and which year we will be in. I decided to do the Aesthetics line which includes music, art, and theatre in the third and final year, and will be specifically studying music. John, one of the other exchange students in Lerum, also chose this course and year. Although at first they said that there might not be room for both of us, they managed to fit us in and said that we should come take a tour of the music building. so a couple days ago, we went to the music building at the school. It was amazing. there are tons practice rooms and teaching rooms and all sorts of different music related rooms and instruments. One thing that was odd and very cool was that they have three full recording studios in the building, which the students can use. I found this quite sweet. So after a tour of the building, we got our schedule and headed home. The schedule is very different than say a high school schedule. every day is different when it comes to what clases there are. Also, the number of clases i have and the times at which these classes are are different from day to day. for example, monday i only have a music class from 10:00 to 11:40, and then i am done. thursday on the other hand, i have 4 different classes starting at 8:20 and ending at 2:20 at random times and with random breaks in between. Although this is very confusing, i think it will be nice to have a bit of variety in classes and times. As far as i can tell my classes include, English, Swedish, Religion, Civics, Choir, and Modern Art. I also have an optional 30 mins of instrument or voice lessons, and 20 mins of lessons on learning a new instrument. Also, there is a class period in which students practice in different groups on their own, which to my understanding means a class made for jam time, which i deffinitly approve of.
So yes, although i dont know much about how school is yet, i start tomorrow and will definitly have more to tell then. Hope to write again soon.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Getting Settled

Well, it was only a little bit longer than a week ago from when i first arrived in Sweden. Now thankfully, I have fallen into a somewhat normal schedule. Here is what it is like. I wake up around 10 30 and get ready for the day and then I have a breakfast of cereal at around 11. as my host parents are typically out working at this point, i either read (which i have been doing quiet a bit), go for a walk, or do chores. Then after lunch, my host brother ludvig and i will head out and do something in town or in the near by city of Gothenburg. After said activities, we return for supper at around 7, and after supper we watch a movie on TV with the family until bed time. Although it is not a super crazy schedule, i like it quiet a bit. Now, for a quick commentary and a related story. The Swedes love nature. My family and i spend most of our time outside, either walking or biking or sailing or swimming. the majority of the things to do here are done outside, which i love. also, most places you go that aren't actually down town Lerum (the only way to describe the city is its like they took a town and placed in the middle of the boundary waters, everything is surrounded by woods and lakes), the paths and woods are linned with edible berries. This thankfully includes my backyard which on its own contains at least four different kind of berries or fruit, which you can pick and eat as you walk where ever, which includes the berries in public. The most common by far is rasberries, which is everywhere here but i have also seen wild blue berries and other berries i dont know the name of. Another common activity is swimming. First off the lakes here are amazing. The water is not incredibly cold, and it is very clean and clear. The lakes (there are many around the town), are surrounded by forrests and what i would call, short mountains. So a common thing to do on a summer day is head off to a lake for a day of swimming and grilling by the lake, which is in my opinion a great day. so this leads me to my story. So my host mother and brother and i decided to go to a near by lake for a quick swim one evening after supper. so i grabbed my swim suit and we headed off. after a short drive, we pulled over on the side of the road and got out to walk the rest of the way to the lake. so after some hiking and picking of wild blue berries in the woods, we arrived at our destination. It was a small rocky clearing by the lake, just beautiful. I was the first to arrive to our destination and noticed two women swimming in the lake. i couldnt see them that well, as i did not have my glasses, but it appeared that they either had very light or skin colored swim suits, or they were out for a nice naked swim in public. so after waiting at a safe distance for a bit, my host mother and brother arrived. Ludvig walked on down to the water so i began to follow as my host mother talked to the older woman and her daughter in swedish. then as i got the water i was informed that in fact the two women were naked, but didnt mind if we swam, as long as we were in the water when they got out. So as we hopped in, and in a little bit they got out, and despite being a bit suprised at the situation everything was good. But yes, besides that, nothing incredibly funny has happend to me yet, although i am sure it will. The rest of my time has been spent attending a Rotary Meeting which was ok, going to a going away party and meeting a bunch of cool Swedish and Rotary kids, and exploring the town of Lerum. Nothing crazy new, but still an amazing time thus far.