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Monthly Archives: September 2013


This is a pretty long post, and really badly written, because I’m exhausted. It’s also a roller-coaster post.. starting with Friday.

I had an awful day on Friday. I was really homesick and sad. I had been feeling it for a while, but it all came to a head because – well – we had visited Emil’s family. Don’t get me wrong at all – I love visiting them because they are so friendly and nice, but it does sometimes make me miss my own family a lot because they’re quite similar some of the time. I was already feeling down, but I was also terrified because of my impending volunteering stint at a CISV weekend camp in the absolute middle of nowhere, and I had absolutely no idea how I was going to get there.

So – Emil arranged to meet me in town after his work so that he could go and pick up his new android tablet. He texted me to say he was almost there, but I hadn’t even left the flat. I was feeling really miserable and sad and was actually quite seriously considering leaving at this point. I went to Korsvägen to get the tram, and then realised I had absolutely no idea which one of the six stops i needed to get on at. I had a look and couldn’t find it, so decided to just walk to the station. Needless to say, it took quite a while.

Anyway, I got to the station only to find Emil wasn’t there. I then got a call from him where I asked him where the hell he was ( I was feeling even worse by then) and found out that he’d gone home. He said he had texted to ask whether to just come to the flat, but i didn’t receive the text until an hour later. We arranged to meet at Brunnsparken near the station. I walked back over to Brunnsparken, feeling more alone than I had in a very long time.

When Emil arrived, I burst into tears and told him I wanted to go home, that I felt so lonely and that everything just seemed to be wrong and that I just missed Reading so much that I didn’t want to stay in Sweden any more, but that I felt like I was failing at something by leaving so early. He looked really wounded but apologised profusely and talked me down a bit until I calmed down and told me that if I really wanted to go, he wouldn’t stop me but that he’d really miss me, and that he loved me.  We agreed that I’d at least give it this week – when he’s off and we have time to actually enjoy living together before I actually decide whether to leave.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon in Trädgårdsföreningen, my favourite place, discussing stuff, and then collected his tablet. I was at this point totally uncertain of whether I wanted to go and volunteer, but eventually I decided to go after getting a phone call with details of my lift to get there. My things were all packed. Emil fed me curry before I left and I got in the car to the absolute middle of nowhere.

My lift was with the parents of one of the kids who was going to the camp. He was really friendly, and apparently used to live in my apartment building, which is why he knew where it is. After a journey through the woods and down some pretty creepy looking lanes, we arrived at the camp. Härsjönäs is in the middle of nowhere, in land where people are no longer allowed to build homes because it’s too close to the airport and so a bit loud sometimes (although I never heard anything). It consists of two buildings in a small clearing in the forest: one is a bunkhouse and the other contains a kitchen, small living room, and a dining room/activity room. It is located right beside a lake and has a little jetty onto the lake. I must admit, it’s absolutely beautiful, even if the toilets are in their own little shed.

Anyway, I arrived into the sheer chaos that is a CISV camp. there were 21 delegates between the ages of 11-13, and five camp leaders. I was thrust straight into the kitchen to help with the supper, after which loads of silly games occured as icebreakers. I also nattered to the leader of the Molndal CISV, who was really lovely. I did all the washing up and then nattered to the leaders, both in te kitchen whilst I did this and afterwards and they asked me if I’d like to do an activity with the kids on the Saturday, because I had suggested a game we had done once at school with sweets simulating trade between countries. Either way, people were awesome and one of the leaders was a total geek and was a gamer, the rest were pretty awesome too. The also got me to introduce myself, and I told them that I could speak a little Swedish but not much, and they all understood me, which made me smile.

Everyone stayed up until 2 or 3 and then I went to bed, after cleaning up the kitchen.

On Saturday I was first up and got all the breakfast ready. The person who was helping me arrived and then we cooked potato soup and made taco pie. This doesn’t sound much, but I got up at 8 and didn’t sit down to rest until 3pm for 20 mins. After everyone ate lunch there was suddenly a huge shout from everyone and it was really loud and they chanted something. I later found out that they were saying thanks for cooking the meal (in Finnish). It was a bit disturbing at first but when I understood it was pretty darned cool.

So we cooked the taco pie up and after dinner some of the leaders offered to wash up so that I could go and do my activity.  I had five boxes of sweets, one for each group. Each group was a country, and each bag was meant to be a different resource. Some countries had more sweets than others. The aim was to get some of every type of sweet. Seems pretty simple, but it’s never as easy as it sounds! We then also did it the hard way, where some countries couldn’t talk to other countries because they were at war with each other, making the game even more difficult. When countries finally all had the resources, everyone realised that each country had ended up with different numbers of sweets, so there were some richer than others because it simply wasn’t fair. My response: exactly!

It worked really well and they didn’t even need translation into Swedish from the group leaders who were watching me, which was pretty great. I let them have the sweets afterwards but asked them to share with other groups so that no-one got left out too much and so it was fair, which went down well.

After this came the real insanity. We played ‘Dracula’. Now, Dracula works a lot like hide and seek, in the dark, only better. You start with one Dracula, and no-one knows who it is. Everyone stays in the kitchen and one by one go out into the darkness of the rest of the house to hide. It’s pitch black in the house, and impossible to see so it was hilarious trying to navigate to a hiding place only to hear a squawk as you accidentally sat on someone. Anyway, the dracula, when shut out of the kitchen, goes outside, and waits. eventually, when all are hidden, someone shouts ‘DRACULA KOMMER!’ (trans. dracula’s coming) and dracula has a set amount of time to come and find one person. the Dracula then has to find their neck and touch it with two fingers across the jugular to ‘bite’ you.

When the time runs out, it’s morning and you go back to the kitchen and start over again, only now there are two Draculas. the next time, there’ll be four Draculas, and so on. Out of thirty people I was one of the last few people to be caught, and I know who got me as he told me afterwards! The draculas come into the kitchen like everyone else, so you never know who’s still Dracula until you count all the people outside!

It was insane, I hit my head a good few times, but it was great fun. we did kinda play for three hours though. The winner had been hiding under the sofa. yes: UNDER the sofa. When we finished I washed up ( they had gotten hungry and raided my kitchen. I also found out that one of the leaders at least watches Dr Who and knows what a TARDIS is, at which I could have hugged him!)

So once everything was clean. I set up for breakfast ( which had to be defended from the ravenous kids in the activity room who were still awake at… 3am I think it was). I fed the ravenous crisp-bread and butter to sate them for a bit and to save the breakfast foods from demolition, and then went to bed.

When I woke, there was frost everywhere. I put out the milk, the yoghurt and the fridge-stuff and everyone appeared as if by magic just as I put on the kettle. It turned out that today I had not one volunteer but three to help me! This meant I had time to tidy up some of the chaos caused the night before by Dracula, and to make sure that everything was really good and nice.

We made Hamburgers for lunch, which the kids were all really excited about, and it was really quite nice. They did the food-thanks thing again and it was so loud it made my ears hurt.  Over the course of the weekend they all became used to me and loads of them came and asked me for stuff and spoke English to me which was really good. A pity I didn’t use the chance to speak more Swedish but Simon at least occasionally asked me what things were prompting me to remember the words I do know. It helped that he asked me about things that were in the kitchen!

And then we were done: packed up and ready to go. I rescued the butter and some milk and said my goodbyes, got rounds of applause for my help and hugs from most of the leaders and then I was in a car home, with a lift from a kind parent and three of the kids in the back.

The weekend did me the world of good. It was insanity; sheer insanity, but it was brilliant insanity, and I loved it. I put a post on Facebook when I got back thanking people, and got the following response:

‘Thanks a lot for your help in the kitchen, for your activity and for the talking this weekend and I hope that you want to do more CISV activities, CISV is like the tardis after all! ‘

Sometimes, it’s amazing how much helping out a group of strangers can help yourself. Thank you CISV Goteborg and CISV Molndal for basically making me feel so very very welcome. I feel a spree of more volunteer activities coming along!




Emil’s gone to bed: he has work ridiculously early in the morning. I’m curled up on our 3-seater sofa, the place which has become my favourite spot in the flat.

And I feel so lonely and homesick it’s unbelievable. There don’t seem to be any jobs that I can do here, and I haven’t met anyone of my own to make friends with. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve managed things like topping up my vasttraffik card in swedish without help, and that I made it to Partille on my own today, but it’s very frustrating. I feel like I’m ten years old again and going out to town on my own for the very first time. I’ve always loved being independent, and it’s really quite difficult going from total independence right back to needing help to read the basics in the supermarket.

And I’m not feeling very well either. Funny stomach and the beginnings of a cold and just generally feel really ugh! It’s awful! I think it’s making me feel worse. I’m meant to be volunteering over the weekend in a kitchen for a camp – I can’t do that if I’m ill!

To be fair, I suffered from homesickness when I went to Uni too, and it passed, and I felt better eventually, but I made so many friends instantly there, and so many of them are brilliant and I miss them very much ( hello Uni-people…. you know who you are). I guess I just feel a long way from home today.

I really hope I haven’t made a very expensive mistake by moving here. I love Emil with all my heart, and his family have been wonderful so far, but at the same time, it feels a bit lonely here.I need to go and make friends with people and *do* stuff… so far my time has been spent as a house-girlfriend waay too much.



torkskåp = airing cupboard

Sunday night was my first night in my new bed and by the gods it’s so comfortable and absolutely massive. basically, the bedroom is just under 2 metres wide. If we bought a smaller bed, we would either have to get a head-board and put the bed lengthways down the room, losing the balcony. So we did the sensible thing: we bought a 180 x 200cm bed, and are sleeping on it sideways. That’s right: sideways.  This means our bed is 2 metres wide and the same length as a UK bed (Emil’s feet poke out at the bottom if he lies straight but he never sleeps like that anyway). It also means we get to keep the balcony. It’s kinda a ridiculously huge bed, but it also means there’s more than enough space to just spread out! If I have to return to the UK and squeezing ourselves into tiny little beds I will cry. No word of a lie. I will also fall out of it!

An electric airing cupboard

An electric airing cupboard

Yesterday was washing day. We’d booked the afternoon slot in the laundry room downstairs with our little laundry key ( there’s a big board with holes, you put your lock in a hole to book the slot) so I could use Emil as a human translator as he’d be home from work.

I discovered that it takes *forever* for the dryer to dry, but I also discovered the existence of electric airing cupboards. This might sound strange but imagine a large upright freezer, with hanging rods in it. Basically, it heats up and dries the clothes inside. Sensible, but strange! At home we always had a cupboard where the boiler was which we used to dry out clothes which were a bit damp. It never occurred to me that there was an electric cupboard version!

Emil seemed confused by my mild amazement at the existence of such things:

‘well of course we have them: you need them in winter for when kids go out playing in the snow and their clothes get all wet’

Makes sense. It just seems like an invention that the UK could do with to dry off all that rain!!!

IKEA och Ironbil

Yesterday we visited Emil’s favourite place in the world: a little workshop and store which sells metal rods, plastic rods, little screws and nuts and bolts. He has a workshop in the back.

As it happens, it was the village fete ( or equivalent) so we also had a look around. We bought some honey and a pretty little straw bird. We also watched a blacksmith making horseshoes. It was all pretty much the same sort of thing as we have at home at the small-scale fairs I have gone to since my childhood. One of Emil’s childhood friends was there too: Anton, so I got to see him and natter to him for a bit.

I met the infamous Goran, and had a lovely long chat about sewing machines. He’s offered to let me have my own space in the workshop too so I can do some of my sewing there. It’s a wonderful offer and means I can sit and work in a warm space where I can do everything I wish to. Brilliant!

Today was taken up by furniture, and my first ever visit to IKEA. I must say it reminds me of Argos on crack! You think it’s massive, and then you get to the warehouse and you realise you had absolutely no idea what massive was. We bought a huge amount of stuff, including the bed and a lovely little blue lack coffee table, which is currently sat with a cup of tea and a smorgas on it. My flat now looks vaguely like a flat! It’s a miracle!

We do, however, need a ridiculous number of bookshelves to hold the library that is my boyfriend’s book collection. At least all of my books are on a kindle!

We also received a free sofa second-hand from one of Emil’s relatives, and a set of drawers and a bureau, which I have adopted as my desk and little base in the living room. Emil has the hallway. I’m using a box of books as a stool for my desk at the moment, but we’ll see if we can do better 🙂


Lilla flygplanet! Stora flygplanet!

The journey home was quite a quiet affair for the most part. The first leg of the journey was completed in a train that was only one carriage in size and clearly not expecting so many cases, as they wouldn’t fit. The next leg was quietly spent in the vestibule, and the journey across london was quiet and uneventful. The final leg was amusing as the guard on the train knew what Steampunk was as he was a re-enactor. He called us ‘steampunkers’ though – but can’t complain too much – he was lovely. We also had a long chat with a businessman on the train who was interested in steampunk simply from seeing our clothes.

My evening in Reading was wonderful. It felt great to see all my friends after the last couple of months away. I had a lovely chat with Faith, and she told me some things that I really needed to hear if I’m honest, and it was all-round a great evening. My friends made me laugh just as much as usual and we took great pleasure in winding each other up about stuff. Tom, Adam and Phil were great to put us up for the night too.

On Tuesday daytime I spent the day with Anna and we had lunch at Wagamamas. It was lovely. We had a wonderful long chat about the world and everything in it, and it really did me good. We went to see Abi at work, and she was on a post-asylum come-down so hard it was painful. Gave her a hug or two to make it better ^^. Anna also bought my xmas/birthday present of the new His Dark Materials compendium, which is possibly the prettiest book I have ever seen!

And then came time to go home. We packed our bags, said goodbye to our friends and hopped on the bus to the airport. Bought some alcohol in the airport ( rum and whiskey for those interested) and got on the plane, pith helmet on head. The further through the flight the more i began to feel terrified about the prospect of moving to Sweden. I began to feel rather out of my depth, which was worrying. The trip was however very pretty: we flew against the sunset, and the colours of the sky were impressive! There was a bit of turbulence on a couple of occasions ( Emil’s response: ‘That was not pleasant.’) and then finally, we arrived in Gothenburg.

We hopped on a bus which took us straight to where we live. We walked down the road, and I opened the door. Our block of flats is a really old-fashioned one, and it’s decorated in a very old style. The lift is possibly the most terrifying thing I have seen in my life: it’s one of those old fashioned things made of wood and brass with a wooden seat in it. The iron grille across the front looks suspiciously swastika-like, and the thing scares the life out of me, as much as i think it’s rather beautiful at the same time. The stairs are kinda spirally, and it makes me a bit dizzy going down them, but I prefer to walk than the lift at the moment – it’s freaky!

Anyhow, we got in the lift, got to our floor and I opened the door and came in.

And I cried.

I put the mattress into the bedroom and it didn’t fit ( just like I said it wouldn’t). There are small cracks in the ceiling. There’s absolutely no furniture other than Emil’s evil desk-chair and his desk. There was no tea or milk or sugar. We didn’t even have bedclothes for the second mattress!

And so I cried. And Emil admitted that now I had mentioned it, maybe the flat wasn’t as perfect as he had thought when he came to visit the first time. And I carried on crying. It happens sometimes, particularly when I’ve moved house. I get sad and feel lonely and feel the pull back to somewhere else, and all that I need is a good long cry. So I did.

And the next day i spoke to everyone on Skype. I cleaned the kitchen stuff and put it away in the kitchen. We went to ICA and bought milk and sugar and tea, and Emil ended up late for work. We sorted out the internet! And that wasn’t so bad.

And yesterday I went to  the gardens up near the avenue, and it was beautiful there, and I really enjoyed my walk, and we went to ICA again and got some other things we were missing. And then I got upset later on because I felt lonely. I met someone on the stairs but they turned out to be a Jehovah’s Witness and that was some of the only human interaction I had that day. I cried last night too because the flat was crap and we didn’t have furniture and i missed having a chair that didn’t try to kill me when I sat in it.

Which brings us to today. We didn’t go anywhere this morning, but Emil tried to sort out a bank account for me. Everyone either needs a personnumber or for me to have a job already before they’ll give me one. It appears that the best course is to get another card for Emil’s account and to make it joint at the moment, because it’s currently chaos. Also, I paid Emil the rent through transfer, and I really hope we did it right because otherwise it’ll be a costly mistake!

Then this afternoon I went for a few more rambles. I worked out that the building with the pretty dome was/is a hospital, and that the closest postbox is at the end of our road, but there’s another one down the opposite direction too, which is a nice walk away. I then went to ICA on my own ( a different one) and bought some cranberry juice and some stock cubes so I could make some stew, and I managed the whole transaction in Swedish without resorting to ‘Sorry, I’m British’, which is a success.

So I made some stew, sat down, and started writing, hence the behemoth of writing you have before you. Well done if you’ve read so far: you’re doing well.


Also, I can hear people on the rides at Liseberg even now. Might add earplugs to the list.