24 August 2006

Not a lot to tell lately. We're just packing our bags to leave for Belgium tomorrow, straight after work.
Furthermore, my weddingdress is in the store. It has actually been there since july, but they didn't bother to call us. So my mom and I have been stressing for nothing the whole time!
Bu that's it for now... maybe I will write something else once we're in Belgium... It depends.

20 August 2006


As you can see, we went on a roadtrip trough Östergöttland today. the day started off rather dim and gray, but we went for it anyway (took our raincoats, just in case). Just one hour after we left, it cleared up and it ended up a really bright and sunny day. The trip took us first to Söderköpping, a very pitoresque little city with cute pastel-coloured houses and a broad channel that leads to the sea. The city is flanked by a tall rock, where you can do hikes (which we couldn't because of David's leg). There's about 12000 inhabitants in Söderköpping and, juging by our little walk through town, just as many churches. It's just 18 kilometers away from Nörrköpping (where we live).
We continued our trip taking the 210 east. We had a picnic in the woods along the road. We had our first glance at the sea in St. Anna . Although that part of Sweden is flanked by the sea at two sides, it's fairly green and there's a lot of farmland along the road. The sea isn't such a big attraction here, the big "touristical" spots are mainly for boating. I say "touristical" because this isn't a very touristic region at all. There are some camping areas along the 210, but there are few foreigners in the region.
We turned back via Söderköpping again, to stop and have an icecream at it's infamous Glassrestaurang, where I got a lot more than I could handle.

19 August 2006

Some pics of our new appartment


The dining space in our kitchen

The wonders of Swedish plumming

Maybe it seems weird that I should write on plumming, but it's a rather strange phenomenon that we've now noticed in both of our appartments. Bathtubs aren't built in like in Belgium, they're loose-standing elements in your bathroom. So be it that the drainage isn't fixed either. It's just a hole in your bathtub that spils on the floor. And in the bathroom floor there's alos a hole somewhat situated at about the same space of the hole in your bathtub. So when you flush down the water it literally spills on the entire bathroomfloor. To avoid the bathroom to be entirely flooded, you have to let the water run down bit by bit.

Discovering Swedish medicine (part 2)

So we finally found a doctor on thuesday evening at five. It was in e general health care center (they don't have private doctors like in Belgium). The doctor came, David started explaining and showed his leg. The doctor took one lok at it and jumped back a meter. He started mumbling and twitching. He said he couldn't help us, that he'd only seen such a thing once in his life and that it had spread all over the patients body. He quickly wrote a letter for us to take to the hospital and kindly threw us out. (After we'd had to pay 159 euro for nothing! Apparently our worldwide insurance doesn't work in Sweden - and we have two of them - aparently Sweden is not part of the world?)
So we went to the hospital and there the fun really started. We first arrived at the wrong department of the hospital and were sent to the emergency room. Once there, the unfriendly secretary told us there was nothng they could do for us that they couldn't have done in the general health center. And any way, we would have to wait until midnight (still, there were only three or four people in the waiting room). Meanwhile David was getting more amd more ill, he had a fever and was very dizzy. I didn't feel good either and especially didn't feel like waiting 'til midnight. Luckily Kennert from the company had joined us (because none of the medical personnel nor the doctors spoke any English). He phoned the health center we'd been to first, to get them to call the secretary and explain that we had a serious situation. Then he went to the secretary/nurse alone to chat (I think he seduced her or something). Suddenly she would check what she could do and half an hour later we where taken in by a nurse who took David's temerature and some blood. She told us teh doctor would be there shortly.
The doctor was a big German man, named Franz Rommel. He took one look at David's leg and concluded it was a bacterial infection. He called in another nurse and they treated his leg.
When the doctor left to go and write a prescription, the nurse put a bandage around david's leg and all was done in about 20 minutes.
David got off the bed and wanted to put his pants back on, when the nurse started checking him out. "You look good", she said. Didn't she notice me? It's not like I look as if I could be his sister...
Anyway, we've been caring for David for a few days now and it gets better every day. He hasn't been to work two days, but now he's all better.

15 August 2006

Computers are the fastest way to suicide (Part 2)

I have to explain why I haven't been writing that much lately. As usual it is due to technology taking a turn on me again. Last week, I finally got to install the super adobe première. I was going wild, making movies and all, getting acquainted to the software, getting along fine, when suddenly my laptop wouldn't connect to internet any more. He kept telling me he couldn't find any wireless networks, while there's two of them here and they're functioning just fine. So we restarted, checked all of our settings, restarted again, even uninstalled première (you never know if it might have caused a conflict situation). All systems seemt to be woring fine, software and hardware. We were getting out of our wits and decided to reinstall the drivers of our wifi. And now it works again. I was almost driven to abandon computers altogether.

Discovering Swedish medicine

Yesterday, David woke up with a somewhat weird fenomena on his leg, it was lightly swollen and warm and had some little points on it, kind of like zits. He went o work and as the day passed, it got worse and worse. By the end of the day it was very warm and completely swollen and the points had multiplied enormously. So we called David's parents (who are both doctors), to ask wht it could be (we even sent them a picture and all). We went to the pharmacist to see if she could give us something, but she had never seen such a thing and I don't think she really knew what she was doing. We couldn't get any antibiotics, because you need a prescription. The doctors here stop working at four o'clock, so since it was already six, he wanted to go today.
The very nice representative of this company called the doctor's service and they told him David could just drop in. So he did, and when he got there, they said all doctors where occupied untill thursday (!!!). So now we're just waiting and hoping he can go somewhere else this afternoon. In the meanwhile, his leg hurts more and more and he starts feeling dizzy.
That's what you get for not bringing your full first aid kit as usual, because you want to diminish the waight of your luggage.
Furthermore, I myslef am sick too, but I have only a soar throat. I asked David when he will ever have a normal illness, he laughed.

On being an expat

We've moved house yesterday. Olivier left this weekend and we took his appartment, so Jeroen can get back into his own. Slowly but surely I start feeling like a nomad. But they have the advantage of carrying their house and everything with them on their camel, while I have to adjust every time. But the appartment is fine, it's a bit smaller, but this time it's completely ours untill the day we leave here.
Being an expat does change you. I can only account for myself, of course, but I find myself appreciating things I never thought about at home. Stupid, small things you don't even notice become suddenly clear. I very much miss delicate food. Food that looks like food and tastes like food.
You also notice how quick life is. At home, we almost never bothered to take pictures, unless it was a special occasion, or on holidays. Why take pictures if you can see eachother every day if you want to. Now we now we can't see anybody everyday... except eachother. We're strudding around al of the time with our camera, because frankly: will we ever see these people again after we left? We eagerly ling on to the moments we live, because tomorrow they might be gone. I noticed the same behaviour on Olivier, walking around with his camera all the time, never failing to take a picture when the opportunity arises. For him it must have been worse, since he had been here for four months and made friends. You're never sure when and if you will see them again.
I'm very carefull now, I feel that I am keeping more of a distance to people than usual. I don't want to allow anybody in, because I know I will be leaving.

14 August 2006

On Thursday, I saw what was to me the most multicultural soccer game I have seen in my life. Now, I must mention that I haven’t seen much (a fact on which I am extremely proud). The guys from the company were lured into a match by the local restaurant. If we would win, we’d all get a free lunch. If they’d win, they would all get an ice-cream. So you can imagine the stakes were high.
Now, the team we played against were Arabs who own a Greek restaurant, with an Italian name, where they serve Mexican food. Our team was constituted of Polish, Belgian, Dutch and Swedish people. On the field English, Dutch, Arab, Swedish and French snares were interchanged.
My dear little hubby, who’s somewhat a virgin in the soccer department came up with entirely new tactics, which I think will soon be picked up by professionals.
Move one is the al elegant jump-around-the-ball. A very psychological move where you make the other player believe that you’re going to intercept the ball, but instead, you jump around it in a pirouette, ballet-style.
The second move is mainly for the beginner: if you can’t intercept the ball, or kick it with you feet, throw yourself at it. It’s a bedazzling, but very effective strategy.
Another strategy that was frequently displayed by David’s team mates is the grease-move: corrupt your contesters mind by making seventies moves while kicking the ball. The other player will be so confused that he forgets to follow the ball.

09 August 2006

I haven't written anything in a while, because for the first time ever since we got here, we had a weekend for ourselves. Seen the growing clothing shortage, we went shopping and to my great surprise even found some things.
We also went to what is apparently a traditional Swedish party, on Saturday. It's called a Kräftfest and basically, people come together to eat crayfish and sing songs and have a big community party. As all things in Sweden, this again was a hidden opportunity for them to drink a lot of booze. We didn't drink quite that much, but we had a very good time indeed.

Here's a picture of where we were sitting. At the front left is Olivier, then you've got Adam looking quite interested, and still sober (between them is Nils, but you can't see him properly). From the righthandside there's Johan (orange shirt), Christian and David (who is the boss of the company).
Another funny anecdote on this party is that we were invited by David (the boss) and he told us that we had to bring our own crayfish (and of course our own drinks). We've spend two days to figure out what the hell he ment by crayfish, and we finally turned out uying Turkish crayfish in the shop. We thought that they would be barbecued at the party and were convinced that we needed fresh uncooked ones. When we came at David's place they told us that there would be no barbeque of any kind... So we started panicking. All ends well, since the crayfish we bought turned out to be cooked anyway.

I'm trying to post a few more pictures today, since I didn't put any in in my former posts. Here you've got David and Adam.

The fun thing about the party is that it took place in the middle of nowhere, in the woods, next to a lake. Mosquitobites included of course.

04 August 2006

I had a bit of a psychological breakdown this week. I have been crying for about two days. I feel so alone sometimes. (Yes, mom, you will be saying I told you so, but let me explain first). It's not so much that I am lonely, there's a lot of people around to talk to. I am alone at the appartment quite some time though. It's more really feeling alone, more so than feeling lonely. I am the only woman most of the time, the only wife, the only human scientist, surrounded by technicians and engineers. I'm the only one who is still a scholar. So the thing that makes me feel alone ois the lack of kindred spirits around, someone to talk about what I am doing and thinking, rather than what they are doing.
Next to that the fact that I don't really feel at home (seeing that our appartment isnot our appartment, but somebody elses and that we will be moving there in a week anyway...) doesn't make it easier. Then there's this anxiety that overwhelmes me that it will always be like this, no matter where we are, I'll always feel like a shadow, like I'm alone.
The feeling passes when David gets home, but it's still difficult. I feel like my brain gets cluttered with all types of questions, and there's never an answer, since the only person to dialogue with is me.
But I'm ok, I'll get through, as usual.

03 August 2006

I just want to give a quick overview of what David's boss told us yesterday at dinner about the fun things I will be able to do in Cameroon. There's a company plane, but I can only fly it if I pass my permit in Belgium (I say I beacause David will not have the time to do this when we're back in Belgium). The plane is owned by an old, Robert Redfort type man who likes women a lot, so Sven (the boss) told me it wouldn't be a problem for me to fly in it once I get the permit.
There's also a lot of wavesurfing, but again, you should take lessons somewhere else, because that is rather touristical there, so quite expensive. (I think I will be calling in my sweet brother for this). Futhermore it's a rather nice place for motorbiking, I replied that I didn't have a driver's licency. Anyway, you can buy it over there and exchange it here for a belgian one. He says it's really safe over there, because there's nobody on the road anyway.
Then he also told me taht if I realy got bored, I could go and teach at the international school (but it's grammarschool and I'm not sure I'll be having the time for that).
My nanny was an escort girl

We went to a little get together this Saturday. It was held at the apartment of Nils, who also works at the company. As I mentioned earlier on, people have a tendency to drink something at home and then go out later on. We met a lot of people, and after a while, we started talking about my thesis (since a lot of people seem to like its subject). This subject led to a discussion about prostitution, which apparently, is legal in Sweden. To be correct: it is legal to be a prostitute, but it is illegal to pay for one… Talking about schizophrenic laws!
So the conversation went on… suddenly, when we started talking about escort girls and that they make a lot of money, Nils uttered that he used to have a nanny and that she was an escort girl herself!
Later on we went to the local discotheque, which was rather fun. It’s been ages since I went to such a place and it’s funny to see all the people desperately seeking somebody (we had to almost tie ourselves to a pole not to be picked up. Some guy even grabbed my ass! And no, this wasn’t a pleasant moment, seeing he was ugly and old!
When I went to the bathroom some girl started seducing me (when I told the guys later on they found that particularly enjoyable!). I didn’t see if the toilets where free, and she started talking to me in Swedish. I told her I spoke English and she asked me where I was from. “Belgium”, I said. She shook the water off her hands and took my hand. “Wonderful”, she said, all the while keeping my hand in hers. “And you seem quite wonderful to me, too.” She still wouldn’t let go of my hand and looked me in the eyes with a big smile on her face. I pulled my hand back and said I really had to pee.
Belgium seems to be rather exotic in Swedish eyes. They know very little about it. For example they don’t know what languages we speak, or that there even is ‘another Dutch’.
Somewhat later I started talking to guy on the dance floor, who was a friend of Nils. When the slows started, he grabbed me and started dancing with me, ‘til one of his friends came by and told him something. He stopped in the middle of a movement and looked at me quite startled. “Are you married?” He asked me. I said: “Yes, off course”, showing him my ring and all. “But to whom?” he wondered. I pointed at David. He looked at me quite shocked and started sputtering out words I couldn’t understand, so I said to him that if he wanted to dance with somebody else, he could go. He didn’t hesitate and ran of like a scarred rabbit.
So I went back to David (who was dancing with Olivier) and told the story to them. We did some weird and uncomfortable three-way slow in the meantime, and we had a great laugh.
We had to drink the local beer that evening. It costs 5 euros for one that doesn’t even hold 3% alcohol and still it gives headaches in the morning.
All night long, we tried to find a girl for Olivier. He didn’t like the way they were dressed up, too slutty, he said (ça fait pute – to use his exact words). Anyway, seems like he’s quite the serious guy and he’s looking for a real relationship (hurray for him – quite the last of the Mohicans!). So if there are any candidates, I think he’s a good catch, but you’ll have to be willing to go to Africa… You can send your resume to me.

Guide to Swedish supermarkets

After two weeks we got used to the different food customs here in Sweden, but to say the least, we were quite shocked in the beginning. There are some very, very weird examples of packaging here. They’ve got all kinds of cream cheeses in tubes (like toothpaste, but metallic tubes). TV-dinners are packed in plastic sausages. So is jelly. Bread here is soft and mushy and stays good for over a week. Asian, Indian and Mexican food are very hip over here, and you can get that about everywhere.
Furthermore Sweden’s very Americanized, especially where food’s concerned. There’s a MacDonald’s at about every street corner. The key words for Swedish for seem to be fat, sour and salty… I even wonder if people cook here at all, since there’s hardly any fish or meat for sale (except for burgers or steak). You also see the American influence in the custom of grouping shops together in big shopping malls.
Tuff as we are, we set out to at least try some of it. We’ve tried the astronaut-like cheese (in the metal tubes) and it turned out to be not too bad, rather salty though (but I think that of a lot of the food here). They’ve got a lot of sausage in one piece to go on bread. We’ve tried that too, but it wasn’t good at all. It’s sour! They eat a lot of sour things here, especially fish (at breakfast even!). Now we don’t really want to try any more.
A lot of Swedish people still chew tobacco. It’s called Snuss and you stick a ball of it under your upper lip. It’s filthy and it stings and it tastes disgusting. (And then they say that’s normal…)