1. As part of the international student orientation last week, a police officer came to the university to discuss Swedish law. Before the segment about alcohol, he asked, “Do we have any Finnish students here?” When a few people raised their hands, he said, “We should really have a separate meeting for you afterwards.”
2. Last week I participated in an impromptu 2:30 a.m. ABBA kitchen dance party, following a kräftskiva (crayfish party) at the home of a vice president of IKEA. I can’t emphasize enough that this is a real thing that actually happened. The only way we could have reinforced more stereotypes about Swedes would’ve been to be Switzerland.
3. After checking out my assigned student apartment, I went back to the student housing office to see if there was any way to get on a waiting list for a room switch if somebody moved out, seeing as my apartment was on the ground floor. The lady at the office told me that student housing is run through the government, and that everyone must be equal, so room switches are not allowed.
“I get that,” I said. “I’m not asking you to switch me into someone else’s room. But if someone moves out and the room is vacant, I’d like to be on the list for that room.”
“We cannot do that, because everyone should be the same, and if we do a room switch for one person, we must do them for everyone.”
What followed was a heated debate regarding the merits of socialism vs. my desire to not live on the ground floor.
As a friend who works in a Stockholm hotel told me, “Americans are polite and friendly and good tippers. They are the best customers. Unless they want something you can’t give them. Then they turn into insane people.”
4. I learned that Richard Ford and Joyce Carol Oates are really big here.
This lowers my opinion of the Swedish reading public drastically.
5. John Williams’ novel Stoner was #1 on the fiction bestseller list at the big bookstore in Lund. This restores my faith in the Swedish reading public.
6. Yesterday I started reading an e-book on my iPhone. Now I hate myself. To which you’ll probably respond, “But why? Ebooks are great! Here look at this thing I want to show you on my phone that you don’t want to see!” I’ll you why I hate e-books: Because they’re not books! They’re not books! They’re not books! I know that my stance is not logical and I cannot back it up in any way other than to say, “That’s how I feel.” But since moving to Lund, if I want to keep reading English-language books, I can either buy them at the bookstore, imported from England, starting at 170 kr ($25) a pop for a Penguin Classics paperback and much more for (not so) new releases, or I can buy them on my iPhone. Sigh.
7. The AIK-Djurgården derby, though disappointing in result, was badass to attend. Here are AIK fans serenading their team with songs and flags and flares.
On the opposite end, here are bourgeois hookers Djurgården spelling out their initials completely by accident.
This was shortly before AIK fans charged the DIF section, DIF supporters tried to break down the fence, and police intervened before the the two sets of supporters commenced hurling live fireworks at each other. Then the game started.
8. On the way to town today, walking through the university, I saw a costume party gathered around a Red Bull car parked on the curb, an apparent day-rave filled with people waving giant Swedish flags, a co-ed group dressed in hula skirts practicing a dance on the lawn to dubstep, and a singing band of cyclists in pink overalls. So apparently the first day of school at Lund University is like Burning Man.
9. You know that Blind Melon video with the bumble bee girl who tap-dances around and nobody appreciates her awesome dancing, but then she finds a meadow filled with other bumblebees? That’s pretty much how I feel every time I walk onto the dance floor at a Swedish club.