Last time I told you that I spend hours at the library trying to understand the mysteries of graph transitive closure. When I’m not doing that (my favorite time of the day), I’m probably off doing one of those things:
- Running in the forest. The surrounding areas are really, REALLY nice. Lakes, forests, nice wooden cottages connected to each other by dirt trails and quaint wooden bridges, and there is a nice tropical swimming pool in the center with slides. Yes, I’m living in a Center Parcs resort.
- Going to the Systembolaget, the state-run liquor shop, which sells more than 10.000 different drinks, none of them fairly priced.
- Throwing money away in a fast-food restaurant to eat meatballs (the national dish), or, more likely, hot dogs (the actual national dish)
You’ll notice that I complain about prices quite a lot. That can be easily explained by the fact that nearly everything here is expensive as hell. 8€ pieces of meat. 10€ drinks, in special, low-taxes student bars. 2 euros for the cheapest cup of coffee on campus. Oh sure, there are ways to shop smart (I just bought 3.5 kg of chicken breast for 5€, which, considering the context, is a ridiculously good deal), but when you just arrived in a foreign country with a language you don’t understand and different shop layouts and financial organization, you tend to go for the easiest solution every time, and that’s how you blow your whole month income in a single week.
So far, most of that money was spent on either food or alcohol. Alcohol, as I said earlier, is pretty much only available in the state-run shop (unless you can get drunk on 2° cider, but when I tried I think my liver processed it faster that I could drink it), and boy is this place expensive. The cheapest vodka start at 25€ for a 75 cl bottle, and the worst wine will set you back 6 € (but to be fair, it looks like it will still be some good stuff. I wonder what local hobos drink. Wait, now that I think about it, I haven’t seen any since I’m here… Wow. Well played, Sweden). Since parties are common here, you either have to pick your battles, start being “that guy” who only drink other people’s drinks, or go on a special mission to Germany and bring back 100 L of alcohol.
(That’s not a joke by the way. Most student organizations organize special trips to germany just for the sole purpose of buying cheap alcohol, which you’re legally allowed to bring back, up to these limits:
- 10 litres of spirits
- 20 litres of fortified wine (such as port or sherry)
- 90 litres of wine (of which, a maximum of 60 litres of sparkling wine)
- 110 litres of beer
So, yeah, hooray for EU I guess).
For the food, the good news is that you won’t spend too much buying delicious local food, because there isn’t any. Not that the food isn’t delicious, but it’s mostly not local. Walking on the street in Sweden, you’re likely to encounter hot dog stands, kebab shops, Indian restaurants and a variety of fast-foods, but you’ll have a hard time finding a salmon-themed restaurant. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of culinary tradition in Sweden, once you’ve tried ligonberries, meatballs and one of the 25 different kind of breads. The most typical thing in my city is probably this:
Well if it’s the godaste hamburgare it’s ok.
Food isn’t my only concern however (but you know, I’m french, so I’m legally forced to write a paragraph on the topic). Another difference with my homeland come from the sky. Not from the fact that it cycle from sunny to overcast to sunny again to thunderstorm in less that two hours, but from the fact that it get less luminous by the day. We’re losing 30 minutes of sunshine per week, which means that by the end of the month, it will be dark just after 4:15 pm. In December, the day will only last for about seven hours, ending at 3:20pm. Now of course it means that there will be sunshine for 18 hours come next july, even though most of it will be while I’m sleeping. Of course.
Next time I’ll talk about language. It turns out that English is way more widespread that I expected. Good thing french people are all famously proficient english speakers, I guess.