Saturday, September 14, 2013

Be good to yourself

Fall is really in the air now....the breeze is crisp later and later in the morning and earlier and earlier in the evening. The days are still beautiful, leaving us soaking up the last bits of summer until there are no more sweet, sunny, and warm days left. The skies have been deep blue with warm breezes. They say it's the best summer in 19 years, I suppose I couldn't have picked a better time to come. The popping summer green in the leaves is slowly fading to hues of yellow, gold, and red. The pears, apples, and plums are in full season, a natural sign that the brink of summer and fall is tetering closer and closer to full-fledged autumn. Leave it to the fruit to tell us what time of year it is. Speaking of, we've got pears, apples, and plums coming out of our ears! It was so windy yesterday the ripest pears fell to the ground, perfect for Valter and I to collect together, instead of having him reach too high for his small stature and pick unripe fruit followed by the celebratory "mmmmmmmm" with a winning smile every time whether sour or sweet. Although, I peak and see his face wince when it's sour, although he still wants me to believe otherwise. We went through this routine while picking plums, tomatoes, and blackberries this weekend. Green plums, tomatoes, and plums were still followed by "mmmmmMMMMM" and a large, proud smile, even if he spit it out after. The color of the plums is beautiful, you could design a room around the mix of maroons, pinks, and gold. Pictures of our produce to follow.

Since I've posted last, most of my pictures I have realized are centered around food. Last week, Anna-Carin and I prepared a Lebanese dinner and a traditional Swedish apple cake for a dinner party. We spent two days cooking and preparing the food, and I was in cooking heaven. I think my favorite past time is cooking with someone, it makes the flavors more intense, the food more delicious, and the aromas more enticing. It's just not as satisfying alone. That's not to say that I don't enjoy baking alone, because I spent close to my entire day today baking three loaves of bread, and making loads of fresh apple and pear sauce. Scrumptious! Not to mention that the house smells amazing! I was elbow deep in pears and apples, and wrist deep in bread dough! Tomorrow I'm making challah and Czech plum dumplings! The girls (my au pair friends) are venturing out into the country here for a picnic to celebrate the last of the warm days wearing dresses and short sleeves and enjoying the scenery of the backyard, not to mention the lake down the road, and the canal as well. I'm excited to "host" a small gathering! We are a total of 6 au pairs from US, Germany, Austria, and Spain.

I've begun running close to every other day either down the road past the stables and to the lake, or along the trail that paralells the canal. Sometimes I stop mid-stride and stand there alone taking it all in, and recognizing that I really am blessed to be living in such a beautiful place, and to have been given a job that is not a 9-5 with a grumbling boss in an office building. I may not be making money out of my ears, but then again, who does straight out of undergrad these days? Every knrona I make is worth the life I have been given for the next 9 months. This is not to say that some days I don't struggle with the loneliness of isolation, or homesickness, or feeling as though I'm not doing a job that is necessarily "building my resume." But I will never have this opportunity again to live in Sweden the way I am now, with a laid back lifestyle under the care of a loving and caring family who treats me like a family member rather than an employee, free Swedish classes, free university classes (in the spring), and a student study stipend (also in the spring). I recognize that I am extremely lucky to be a Swedish citizen in which case I haven't had to worry about visas, work permits, or not being qualified for Swedish class or bank accounts. Right now, I am trying to relish in every moment, happy or sad, rewarding or lonely, because collectively, they will all give me an experience that has challenged me and caused me to grow and learn about myself. It's much like a sabbath year....I guess I'm taking a sort of sabbatical. A time to do research about myself, a time to enjoy myself, and learn to love myself again, because school and learning is great, and I miss academia, but I can rip you apart in ways you couldn't have expected. Not to mention, that our society doesn't foster relaxation and taking time for self, rather it's a fast paced, go go go, be the best, and do everything you can to build your resume lifestyle.

Speaking of relaxation, spending a long weekend on the beach in Skåne walking along the beach, going to lighthouses, and maybe horseback riding. Swedish starts next week!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fall is in the air

I've finally gotten around to posting about my post-departure adventures since I have arrived here. It's officially been two weeks from Saturday that I arrived here in Norsholm...and I can't believe it is already September! In these last two weeks, I have watched late summer slowly turn into the beginnings of autumn as the breeze is more crisp, and the morning and evening air is a piercing cold that doesn't accompany the smooth, summer breezes. That's not to say that we still aren't experiencing our fair share of beautiful summer-like weather. The report this week is projecting sunny skies (other than today) and temperatures upwards of 75 degrees (Farenheit)! We are happy for that. I have already experienced the ups and downs of moving to a new place and settling in. My first challenge was an old friend that arrived who always seems to come and keep me company when I have just moved somewhere new. This is the same friend that visited me the first three weeks of school at Willamette freshman year, and the same friend who payed me a visit during my first two weeks while settling into my life abroad in Uppsala....this is the friend who makes me sick. Not just a simple throat cold sick, but rather a full fledged fever, soar throat, runny nose, and this time the ever loved nausea and throwing up. I think I had a 24 hour bug as my first Saturday here I was in bed all day. I caught a nasty cold as well that lasted about a week and a half. I know that picking up and moving is both emotionally and physically stressful, but I was hoping I'd be spared this time. Luckily the worst of it only lasted about a day and a half and I have since recovered. In the mean time, I have taken to exploring both Norrköping and Linköping, trying to take some university classes (to no avail), playing with Valter and going on our daily afternoon walks through the country side, making home made apple sauce from the apples we picked, attempting to master a wonderful bread recipe, mushroom picking, and going to Stockholm for the weekend this past weekend.
Stockholm was great. We had a lot of fun, and all of us were eager to get away and see something new.....the big city. On both Friday and Saturday Anna-Carin (my host mom), Valter, and I spent our days walking through the city and strolling through small shops as well as big name stores. We met Filip (my host dad) for lunch on Saturday after an intensive fitness test to get him ready for the NYC marathon in November, and then we headed to meet with their friends for dinner that night. We stayed with Filip's eclectic and outgoing sister who we sadly weren't able to spend much time with. Sunday morning Anna-Carin, Valter, and I walked around the famous Söder (Girl with the Dragon tattoo, most notably) and then went to the Fotografiska museum where they had three beautiful exhibitions of very different kinds of photography. I'd been there once before, and I love it every time I go. We then met up with Anna-Carin's friend from university for a thanksgiving style hotel all-you-can-eat brunch where we ate so much it was painful to walk, and we weren't hungry for a solid 4 hours after. The food, as you can tell, was delicious, and we kept going back for more. We then drove home, ate a light dinner, and finished the night in our onesies (well, Anna and I), drinking tea, and watching our new favorite series....Broadchurch.
So far I've made two friends in the area who are also au pairs from Germany and Austria, and we've planned to meet up again this week with more au pairs in the city possibly to watch soccer, or enjoy a fika. Soon I start Swedish class where I will begin a daily routine of going into the city, going to class, and hopefully meeting some more people....not to mention learning some more Swedish!!