Thursday, May 16, 2013

Swedish Tradition Gets Spicy!

Sweden's National Dish: Tacos?

Sweden has a tradition of curling up on a Friday night, eating and enjoying family time, called "fredagsmys". What may surprise you is that the most common favorite Swedish dish to have is...wait for it...tacos. Who would have thought, right? Its true! More Swedes eat tacos for "fredagsmys" than any other food.
tacos photo: tacos tacos.jpg
Swedish grocery stores have sections completely dedicated to this new tradition. So don't be surprised if you are invited to a Swedes house and they serve you tacos instead of some classic Swedish meatballs or or smörgåstorta (Swedish sandwich cake). I have been living in Sweden for almost 2 years and have still not yet had the pleasure of tasting this traditional Swedish party food.

I have to honestly say, though, its a bit of a disappointment to live in a European country, hoping to experience the traditions that I romanticized trying, only to end up getting the same stuff, I usually had back home. I mean really; I want some #traditionalswedishfood  ! Isn't that what living abroad is all about, getting a taste of the culture.

Now, don't get me wrong I love tacos just as much as the next person. I am all for the movement on Facebook to get Taco bell here in Sweden, nothing like those cheap tacos. Then the Swedes may get bored and go back to #authentic Swedish food.

Well, anyway,when in Rome...tomorrow is Friday, so time to indulge in the new Swedish National dish and maybe get creative and show some of these Swedes something even better, enchiladas. I will continue to hope to be invited to one of those traditional Swedish fests, where they serve authentic Swedish cuisine, like meatballs and Swedish sandwich cake. Maybe one day.....I will get a real taste of  the Swedish traditions and customs that I was hoping for....

What do you think??? Wouldn't you want to see a little of that old tradition when you travel abroad?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Living in Sweden and lessons learned thus far....and a little venting.......

There are many things I have learned while I have been living here in Sweden that have been life
changing and that I feel have made me a better person, such as in Sweden, one really must learn how to
budget, vacations are important to a persons overall happiness, and when you move to a foreign country you need to learn the language to get a job (unless you have some specific degree) and it is especially hard to learn Swedish if you are a native English speaking person.

When I lived in the US, I worked as a waitress, bartender, and promoter. The money was a daily thing and you never really knew how much you would have from one day to the next. This type of daily income lifestyle makes budgeting very hard. But, because I have been on my own since I was 15 years old, I was never taught how to budget either. Since I have been living in Sweden, I have not been able to find a job, so we live only on my husbands pay, which he gets once a month. This requires us to plan for everything to the last detail. There is no longer frivolous purchases or spur of the moment shopping for us. We literally have to plan for every meal, every pack of smokes, and anything else we might want or need for the whole period of the month and all of this is done after every bill is paid first. I only wish I had known how easy it is to do this when I was younger and had a great income, but better late than never, they say. I have to thank my husband for teaching me this valuable life lesson among many others he has taught me.

About Vacationing, here in Sweden it is just the normal way of life, greatly in contrast to the average American life. Swedes almost seem to plan their life around their vacation times. When the Summer comes suddenly the spirit is lifted here, as the people prepare themselves for their adventures abroad. Parties, festivals, barbeques, are happening everywhere and the mood is happy. The lesson that all your hard work throughout the year is for the genuine purpose of enjoying life, as opposed to simply living to work and pay bills.Summertime in Sweden feels like Disneyland, you know the phrase "the happiest place on earth". It's really amazing. I have never seen so much festivity and happiness as I have here in the people, during the summertime. It's truly inspiring and gives the hope that there is more to life than the daily struggle. This life lesson I learned from Swedes, "one works to enjoy life".

On the language job issue. I have done SFI to learn the language. I can read Swedish pretty well, however, I struggle with speaking or understanding what I hear. It would be easier if I didn't speak English either, because a good portion of the time when I try to speak Swedish, as soon as the person I am speaking to realizes I am American they say in their perfect English "oh you speak English ok we can just speak English," which I must say makes me feel like a complete failure at my attempt to learn the language, because I am obviously so bad they dont want to speak to me in Swedish. Needless to say this limits my ability to learn and become better. The biggest drawback to all of this is that most menial jobs that I can qualify for, due to my lack of a college degree, require fluent Swedish. I can read and watch Swedish programs until I am blue in the face, but if people would have the patience with me like they would if my other language was one they couldn't speak, I might actually become fluent. Ok yeah, I guess that was a little vent of frustration, sorry about that. Its just frustrating to want to learn and to need a job and no one seems to understand how many resumes I send out with no result. So I try everything to carry my own weight, such as blogging, building a website while continually looking for work, but the mere fact that I am not fluent and don't have a job, I am somehow useless in this society, trying like crazy doesn't matter. If I were in the US, I would have had a job, but I married a Swede and thats why I am here!! Again a little more venting, but yeah a lesson learned. If you move to a foriegn country take it from me, either make sure you have some exceptional degree, or you are fluent in the language!

All in all, my point is simply living in Sweden has taught me many valuable things. Some of which like learning how to budget, and the value of ones personal leisure, have been great eye opening experiences. On the other hand, the frustration of trying everything to make my place in this society is a constant thorn in my side, and I am so grateful for my husband and that I married him. In my personal experience here however, I have not found anyone to reach out to me, other than him and help me learn how to integrate into this society, I have only felt judged for not knowing how and this makes me very sad, because no one knows how hard I am really trying to make my own way. Yet, the good still out weighs the bad and my experience here is one I am grateful for.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Things to do in Gothenburg Free, This Spring and Summer.

The Spring is here, and summer in Sweden is just around the corner. Alhough, it's no secret that Sweden is expensive for tourists, there are many activities you can do in Sweden for cheap or free. If you are feeling adventurous, why not pack a nice lunch, a bottle of wine, and a blanket and visit some pretty cool places for free, but you will need to buy a Västrafik kort (travel card), which does cost a little. Here are a few suggestions of the places I found to be both incredible and free.

Keller Park:
You can get there by the 5, 6, or 10 Gothenburg trams and stop at Wieselgrensplatsen, in Hisingen. Follow the sign for Ramberget and walk up the mountain. Be sure you are in the mood for a bit of a hike.

This video is at the top of Ramberget. The views are simply spectacular. I can only say that you would have to see it in person. You pretty much have a view of the whole city. You can sit down on the hillside, with your lunch, on a blanket, and simply take in the sites or just enjoy the sounds of the boats and seagulls.

The Archipelagos:
From Brunnsparken you can take the 9 or the 11 tram to Saltholmen, from Saltholmen you can take the boat using your tram card. The boats go to all the islands so you can get off wherever you like. If you want a private island area you can find one. The boat ride is awesome for us foreigners who have not experienced that, but even better, it is the chance to explore these Beautiful and very Scandinavian islands.

Sunshine and Beach
What more could you need for a lovely Scandinavian afternoon in the spring or summertime.

The picture to the left is from one of the islands, unfortunately I can't remember which one. I guess you will just have to explore. The beach was amazing and the water was pretty shallow so we were able to walk out a good distance and still be in only waist deep water. In the summertime, the water temperature is perfect and refreshing.

Boat Trip Photo by April Ranki
The Boat Trip Back from the Ö (ö= Island in Swedish)
The boat is really cool. You can step outside on the deck, take in the wonderful fresh air, take some great photos, or just watch the sunset.

The photo to the right is a picture we took from the back deck of the boat as the sun was setting on our return trip to the city.

I can honestly say if you are in Sweden it would almost be a crime to not take the boat out to the Archipelagos. Since you have already probably paid for a tram card to get around, this is one Västtrafik journey you dont want to miss. You simply can't beat the cost for such a nice boat tour anywhere, it's free(if you already have a tram card)!!

Ok I'll admit it, I like to do things on the cheap!

Eriksberg on Göta Älv
To get to Eriksberg you will need to take a bus, you can find information on the busses through Västtrafiks website in English.

 Eriksberg is in the heart of Gothenburg and you can enjoy the nice walking paths along the Göta Älv
(Gothenburg's river). There are many interesting boats to see and the paths are lined with lovely cafes and eateries. If you look around some of the cafes are decently affordable.

Eriksberg Photo by April Ranki

Ostindiefararen Skepp Photo By April Ranki
Ostindiefararen in Eriksburg
When i saw this boat I imagined Captain Jack Sparrow was somewhere running around with his bottle as his ship set docked and waiting for his illustrious return.

The ship is a 17th century replica built with authentic parts. You can take this ship to  various European locations such as Germany and Poland, or even around Gothenburg. But, if thats an option out of your price range don't fret! The fact that you can get close and check it out for free is still really cool and fun.

One idea that i think could be really fun, would be to dress up as pirates and do an awesome little photoshoot here. People may look at you strange, but hey you're on vacation right? At the least, you will have some pretty unique photos for your scrapbook or facebook, google+, or whatever.

Well that's my suggestions for now. I hope you have enjoyed them and have found them also to be useful. May you enjoy my tips for things to do free in gothenburg and enjoy your summer in Sweden. Please leave me a comment as I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Räksmörgås (shrimp Sandwich) at Heaven 23, Gothenburg style

I can honestly say after living in Sweden for a while a person can begin to miss the food from home, however, its always a wonderful experience to try somethig new. For our first wedding anniversary my husband took me to an amazing place called Heaven 23, where we had räksmorgås. What is räksmorgås you might ask? Well its this delicious yet simple and fresh tasting shrimp sandwich.

Räksmörgås is made on a piece of toast with fresh lettuce and tomatoes, then a ton of fresh shrimp is piled on top with a dollop of mayo and some fresh lemon to squeeze on top. Although it is such a simple dish, it is really fantastic!

When a person gets to have an experience such as this its not hard to forget all about those foods you are missing from  home. Let me go into this special little treat a little more.

Like I said, my husband took me to this awesome restaurant here in Gothenburg for this sandwich on our anniversary. Typical me, but I was thinking, "What kind of anniversary meal is a sandwich?" "Where's the steak?" all in all it didn't sound very romantic to me.

What I didn't know was how fantastic the place was going to be, and how romantic it was, or how delicious a simple shrimp sandwich could be. I am not completely sure wether or not it was just the sandwich or it was how incredible this place was.

The Restaurant was called Heaven 23, it is at the top of the Gothia Towers with incredible views that overlook the city. It has large windows all the way around so you can basically see the whole city from them. They make the sandwiches right out in an open area
so you get to watch as you are waiting for yours to come to you. Therefore, while you're salivating and waiting for your turn to dive into one of those yummy  räksmorgås you can really take in the scenery.

When the sandwich finally came to the table I couldn't believe my eyes, it was massive. With the first bite I was hooked, I couldn't believe how fresh and wonderful it was. I must say  for me, a person who doesn't eat a lot of fish or seafood, this sandwich was amazing. I guess I am getting a little more scandinavian everyday.

The waiter was awesome also and when he came by he even kindly took some pictures for us.....overall it was just a really cool experience. If you are ever in Gothenburg, you really should check out Heaven 23, I think as far as food and atmosphere is concerned it doesn't get much better than this.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thanks For the 1000 Views :)

 Just Wanted to say a big thanks to everyone who has visited my blog. As an American living in Sweden finding a job is no easy task, especially when you dont have a formal degree and are not fluent in Swedish. Your support has helped me reach my first goal.....1000 views yay!!!!!Thanks everyone

Why its Ridiculous to Believe What Americans Have to Say About Sweden: What Do They Know Anyway?

As an American living in Sweden, I have to say nothing makes me more angry than when I hear Americans claiming all sort of lies about Sweden, its culture, way of life, or economic model.It seems everytime I read an  American article written about the positives of Sweden, they are followed by negative and outright belligerent comments by other Americans. I have seen many articles and blogs written by Americans that I personally feel, are the majority, based upon absolute ignorance to what Sweden is really about, rather than based in actual truth. I plan to write a factual response to these people who make the claims such as, "Sweden lives off the backs of Americans" and many other ridiculous and rather ignorant claims. That will be a further article but for now, I am only attempting to present the facts regarding Americans' actual and personal knowledge of Sweden. By actual and personal knowledge I mean those Americans who have in fact traveled to Sweden or have spent any great amount of time here. After the data is presented, I am sure it will convince you to take these claims made by many Americans about Sweden or its way of life with a grain of salt. My goal with this presentation of facts is to ask my fellow Americans to keep an open mind about what you read and hear about other societies. It really makes us look bad as a society when we judge others and yet know nothing about them.

Let me start off by defining what I mean with regards to "ignorance", the word itself means having no true, actual, or personally experienced, knowledge of something, so it doesn't mean stupidity,as I am not saying Americans are stupid, just ignorant to Sweden and its way of life. So how do I know this to be true, lets examine the straight out statistics.

According to the US Census bureau the population of the US in 2012 was approxamately 312,780,968 of this population 113,431,943 citizens held a valid US Passport ( passport statistics).  Which means approxamately only 33% of US citizens have ever even traveled outside of the US. Now if we look even further into theses statistics the highest amount of passport applications correlate greatly in numbers with the states in the US which also have the greatest numbers of foriegn born citizens. The greatest number of foriegn born citizen are of Latin American decent followed by Asian decent.The two graphs below are the statistical data collected from the US Census Bureau and the Passport agency. When viewing these statistics its not hard to infer where most US Passport holders in fact travel. Its easy to see the correlation between thoses who are foriegn born and in which states the reside compared with those states that also have the highest passport applications per fiscal year.

It is estimated according to various sources that approximately 7%( wich is a rounded off estimate) of US passport holders actually travel overseas. When you consider London, Paris, and Rome, as being the top destinations for American leisure travel abroad, one can only guess how few Americans really have actually even been to Sweden.

To learn about a culture in order to speak truthfully about its complexities one would need to immerse themselves completely. One must learn the language in order to understand the way that particular culture relates to one another and the world around them. According to the statistics for The Swedish Migration Board, in 2011, 6145 Americans were granted residence permits that year, of these half of them were here for family reunification reasons, and the other half being here for jobs or educational purposes with a small number accounting for EU agreements. This number accounts for only .005% of US passport holders and only .002 % of the US population overall. So its easy to see that the amount of Americans who would have intrinsic knowledge to speak truthfully of life in Sweden is incredibly small. Yet, look at any news story and you will see tons of them commenting with conviction, why they know all about Sweden and its policies.

 I can only say in closing to this presentation that, I have lived in Sweden a total combined time of 2 years and I definately would not post anything claiming I know the heart of what makes Sweden tick. I have studied the language in school here, I have learned about the politics, taxes, workplace etiquette , and family relations. I can only say that as much as I am not fluent in the language I am also not fluent in the culture, nor the true understanding of it. therefore, it would be foolish of me, even have lived here to speak with conviction with regards to Swedish policy. Finally what it comes down to is I am tired of seeing so many negative and uneducated posts, just because there is an article written giving Sweden praise for the countries overall socio-economic status. Please be informed and get the truth before believing everything you read.

Foreign Born infographic image  [Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

StateFY 2012FY 2011FY 2010FY 2009FY 2008FY 2007
AMERICAN SAMOA1,5641,5091,9121,4661,8261,940
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA145,086155,947183,072187,228205,477191,072
NEW HAMPSHIRE58,84054,92269,82265,66180,49796,747
NEW JERSEY501,108446,964550,767495,521629,308728,454
NEW MEXICO49,20947,47671,16670,55782,24081,683
NEW YORK1,008,588923,8881,129,7351,055,5301,231,2001,425,715
NORTH CAROLINA257,914255,548304,380283,628345,993369,822
NORTH DAKOTA25,21322,75029,76531,63931,76736,783
NORTHERN MARIANAS3,0512,4113,1913,3124,6294,092
PUERTO RICO93,83687,638109,327120,150159,212234,221
RHODE ISLAND44,05841,77150,23546,37058,31974,110
SOUTH CAROLINA210,722178,371134,439124,831164,361170,118
SOUTH DAKOTA23,60321,64228,64225,32931,10737,658
VIRGIN ISLANDS9,3188,84410,11810,70712,00413,723
WEST VIRGINIA31,60530,15636,15033,15138,95543,176