Monday, November 15, 2010

Adventures in Swedish Healthcare Pt. 2: Getting the most for your 150 kronor.

Well, I don't know about you, but I had a very interesting morning at Vårdcentralen this not so beautiful Monday morning in Linköping. What turned into just going to see a doctor about something funky going on to my foot turned into a whole dramatic morning for me and the lovely women who work there...and probably some of the other patients. What one earth happened? I think it's more of a what didn't happen....

For a long while now I have had some odd discoloration on my left foot, I went to the doctors about it weeks ago and they said it was something to not worry about, but if it seemed like it was spreading, to come back and have them look at it a second time.

Well two weeks ago, I noticed what I thought was contact dermatitis and started giving it the good ol' cortizone treatment...and this morning I finally realized it was not working and I think the discoloration was getting worse. Ok. Damnit. Gotta go to the doctors. So I arrived at 9 am, 30 minutes early from the beginning of the ticketing time (which determines your order...somewhat I've noticed). And I went back at like 10:45. I had a different doctor than last time (don't let your panties get into a republican twist, kids at home, I paid the total of 20 dollars for all of this, and I'm not even finished yet), and she was looking at my foot and how it's changed, read the previous report etc. She even called in an older doctor to talk about my foot (Borellea and penicillin and blood were mentioned in Swedish, I knew something was up.) Me, "Um....what is going on?" in my worst 5 year old panicked voice.

The doctors were not too sure what was going on with my foot, they do not think it is borellia, or however the hell you spell it, but to be on the safe side, I'm getting a healthy dose of antibiotics to try and kill whatever the hell is going on. But, they want to know what is wrong with me....and what is the best way to figure this out?

Blood work.

Being the tough American Mid-west girl that I am, I cried. Instantly. I have had a major fear/issue/phobia of having my blood drawn/giving blood, etc. The idea just freaks me out. Now, here I am, I had to get it done...and I might have borillea. DAMNIT.

Pull yourself together woman! You can handle this! Your tough! Strong! Your mother would laugh at you right now!

...but I really hate the whole concept of blood, and I was alone. Tired. Freaked out. Ok. Get the blood taken. 5 minutes later I'm on the other side of the office in a little room that is connected to the waiting room with only a curtain for privacy. It was like I was off to the gallows....because I am that pathetic.

Nurse: Legitimation?

Me: Huh (idiot, you know what she's saying)..oh...*gulp* *sniffle*....yes.....

I shakily hand over my handy Swedish ID card.

Nurse: Tack. She went off to process my stuff.

She comes back and I'm sniffling trying hard to pull myself together. She says, I need you to say your name and your personnumber to me. All my Swedish went out the door as a retaliation to her upcoming torture...that's right. I'll get you back. Also, I was just a bit confused because she just handed over my id card...um....didn't you just SEE my name/picture/number? What the hell.

Then it begins....prick!

Shaking gulp and looking away...

It wasn't that bad. This was one of those times, where all you people that say giving blood doesn't hurt, you were right. You weren't actually bullshitting me (most of the time that 'it doesn't hurt' is just a huge crock of bull.) So she took 2 viles. I survived. Shaky, emotionally exhausted, but it was over.

Her: "Are you ok?"

Me: "Yes, just a bit lightheaded..."

I grab my things and start to walk out. (Melinda, this is where you'll start having flashbacks to Fall 2007...). The warning signs are coming. My internal voice is telling me to sit down. I keep walking towards the door, just thinking it was the new blood loss. I remember struggleing to get the door open. I step out into the hallway and I remember starting the tunnel vision. Hearing was going out and I lost ability to focus well...then I grabbed the wall trying to will myself not to faint.

Then I woke up from a really nice dream all peaceful and cozy....on a cement floor.

What the hell am I doing on a cement floor? Where am I?!

Oh. No. I get up and notice a lot of blood.

Oh shit.

Leaving my coat, books and scarf on the floor I stumble back into the doctors office. I must have looked awesome because I am covered in blood and completely incoherent. (Melinda remembers this from when I fainted before, luckily the nurses did not slap my across the face to try and get my back to consciousness). I passed out a second time at the reception desk basically in front of the entire geriatric community of Linköping. Great. Here is the silly American immigrant girl who was trying not to cry when getting her blood taken. HA HA! Now you are covered in blood in the reception room! WIN! Way to go crazy American!

I come to again with two blonde Swedish nurses dragging/escorting me to an office. They get me up on a chair and start cleaning me up and I'm trying to tell them I have stuff in the hallway. I think it was something like meregggbbbbCOAT......mmmmmhhhheeeellllllllluuuuuHALLWAY....

Then they were telling me I busted my chin (I figured something was up with the blood), and that I might need stitches, but the doctor needs to look at it first. I just lose it at this point, now I've earned the right. Sat there crying while they swab my poor innocent chin. (NO! Not the moneymaker! Not the moneymaker!...sorry...) The same doctor as before comes in to look at me, (I'm still slightly incoherent, but a bit more conscious than before. I could understand some of the swedish around me) and she said that I either need a stitch or I need the skin adhesive. I tell her I have had enough stitches in this lifetime for 5 people and my body will have no more.

Skin adhesive it is. So they clean my up and get out the skin glue and tons of bandages. I'm already planning the amount of Vitamin E and coco butter to counter act this scar silliness. So now we chat, and I'm managing full sentences. Doctor asks about my 'enough stitches for 5 people' and I say 'attacked by dog when child. over 100 stitches.' and I slap my leg for loopy emphasis. I am such a dweeb.

Then, all is calm. The nice lady who helped me first is there chatting with me, and I am making her laugh. Good. I'm coming back to normal. I call Fredrik, telling him what happened...which had him in for a shock. Har. And he offers to come and fetch me from the office and help me home. So I sit and chill for 20 minutes just trying to get my head on straight again. He arrives (yay!) and helps me home...the knight in shining armor rescuing his silly girlfriend who just caused a crazy raucous at the local Vårdcentralen.

He walks me home and offers to get me Burger King (10 points to Fredrik!) and we had lunch and I just kinda sat and calmed down and then my mom and I chatted and I told her about my whole adventure this morning. She seemed to appreciate that one week before I'm coming home and at 6 am her time.

So yep. Now I'm here, with a massive bandage on my chin and a prescription I need to get filled out in city center....and Project Runway is on.

So there are 2 lessons to this story. First, do you want to know how much all of this cost me? 20 bucks. Yep. 150 kronor (roughly calculated.) For everything. Overall, I do believe that I definitely got my money's worth today. It was a financial accomplishment. 10 points to the Swedish Healthcare System!

Second, Leave my blood alone. I am quite attached to it, even just a little bit. Bad things happen when you take it away from me. Ok? Ok.


<3 <3

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Is this a bit sad?

As I write, I am currently sitting in Sapphire's flat in Stockholm enjoying some fabulous sunshine....and the fact that her flat is on the corner, has lots of windows, is an 18th century building, and has a working fireplace, is located in a great part of Stockholm, I have wireless access, and tonight is the the big Indian New Year Party, Diwali (excuse the spelling if it is incorrect, if it is correct, please send a cookie.)

And you know what is really sad and is an excellent representation of my life in lil ol' Linköping and my minor shopping issue? I was so excited about shopping, seeing lots of different stores that I could spend money I don't have in. Oh. So. Excited. There was actually a spring in my step. I was..giddy....

Don't get me wrong, I was very happy to be going to Stockholm to visit Sapphire, hang out, celebrate the Hindu New Year etc...but the shopping. Oh. Baby. That's just a different thing all together. It was glorious. Makes me giddy for going to the malls at home.

Plus Christmas decorations are starting to go up in Linkoping and stuff is in the stores here in this part of Stockholm....and Fredrik makes fun of me/Americans for decorating for Christmas too early. Pish. Swedes seem to be just as bad. Which isn't so bad at all.

Luckily my bank account survived, and I had a very wonderful (not sarcastic) experience with Beyond Retro's customer service. 10 points to Beyond Retro in Söder!

Going back to the selection of H&M and...well....H&M in Linkoping is going to be painful...*sigh*

Saturday, October 23, 2010

For Sweet Fudge's Sake

The Local is a never ending source for entertainment and information for me as an American expat in Sweden. I get all of Sweden's news ... in ENGLISH! They really prefer to stick to the hard core, no bull facts, like incest in Kalmar between first cousins who wanted to get married....or brother and sister...can't fully remember (I asked Fredrik if he was related and to no longer mock me about being from Kentucky. He responded that he's never made incest jokes about me, and didn't know there was a correlation to the two. I believe I was over zealous with my HA HA! Whatchu gonna do now! approach.)

But today, Sapphire, sent me a doozy during our slightly obscene ongoing skype conversations. Get ready for this one. It's brillz.


Stop the presses. Holy mother of hell. What did The Body Shop do?! Were they advertising hemp plants in store? Selling weed behind the counter? Special relaxation oils? Seriously, what in good gracious is going on?





Oh Sweet Jesus.


But it actually gets better. Some genius employee of Örebro municipality, actually walked in to their local store, and demanded that the store take down their poster because it is deterring their on going fight against youth drug use...you know...because I know soooo many highschoolers rubbing the Hemp Body Butter all over their body for that sweet sweet high.

I used to do it too...it was a bad addiction, everyday for years...my mother included...until I realized that my beloved body butter isn't so natural (PEG-100...not so good for you if you're into that 'I want natural products in my skin, k thanks, dept.) It was a painful separation. I had to go to rehab, and then I went to Lush. 
But, can we just discuss this, most definitely middleaged person (I'm thinking combover and a bad suit...kind of like the nerdy dad from Charlie and the chocolate factory....the one who's kid had a tv addiction) thinking they were actually going to affect the international powerhouse company that is The Body Shop.  
I also feel bad for the sales clerk being read the Riot Act.  Did she cry? Laugh? Or just sit there looking really confused...like...really...confused.

I think I would have just looked at the guy and been like...um...you realize that The Body Shop is a major international franchise and that this town is the size of a deer tick in regards to size of world cities, and that if you really wanted to do something, I don't think that harassing me about it would do you a lot of good. However if you would like to have a free sample of the hand creme, I would highly recommend it for the dry Swedish air. (I've had lots of training in retail.) And can I interest you in some aroma therapy diffuser and oils? I think you need to loosen a screw or two.

Poor Fredrik feels like he's going to be judged by all of Sweden now...that Hemp intense mousterizing hand creme is in his gym bag. 

Don't tell anyone k? K. 

In other news, it did not snow today. YAY!

Friday, October 22, 2010

If you do not see it. It does not exist.

Apparently, it snowed yesterday.

I'm here to tell you it did not.

I didn't see it. Therefore, it did not happen. (Did I manage to spend all of last night not looking out the windows on purpose? That's a different question, what really matters is I did not see snow. No. Not at all. Forget about it. NO.)

Stop drinking the koolaid.

It's 65* and sunny outside with a slight breeze. Duh.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

JOB INTERVIEW!

Basically a month ago, before SFI started taking over my life, I was haunting Arbetesformedlingen website on an hourly basis. The only (I'm not exaggerating here) job that I was remotely qualified for was a part time position as a yoga instructor. I figured, what the hell, I love yoga, I've done it on and off for several years, and since it's a gym that is connected/close to the University, I thought they would be more open to an English speaking instructor. So I applied, in English, and I wrote my coverletter about how I love yoga and what I would want to bring as a yoga instructor. I've had different teachers with different backgrounds and I know what I like and don't like in a teacher.

I basically forgot about it/assumed they weren't interested since it had been a month.

Until they just emailed me asking if I could come in and do some poses and chat.

I. Am. Freaking. OUT.

It's only for a couple days a week, but it's just so perfect, and it's yoga, and it's teaching, and it's a chance to meet people and take better care of myself at the same time. It's just so perfect.

I don't usually ask for luck online, but all positive thoughts for me and this job would be appreciated, greatly. It was a long shot anyways, and so now I have to go and prove to them that my Swedish language skills are not necessary to be a yoga instructor.

Now I need to work on my breathing. Just. Breathe.

<3 <3

Monday, October 4, 2010

Being American makes SFI hysterical

During my pronounciation class today, my teacher wrote these words on the chalkboard:

Hopp
Mitt
Kock

Thought kock is not the same in Swedish as it is in English, reading this in 'swenglish' makes this hysterical. If you haven't already laughed your butt off. I had to keep myself under control during class...

Gotta love Mondays. Now I get to spend the rest of the day proofreading Swedish like we did in 6th grade, and take an adverb test. Holla.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Crayfish!

A couple of weeks ago, my good friends Emilie and Sebastian invited Fredrik and I over for my very first crayfish party. Traditionally, these mildly pointless (but with a point) parties happen at the end of August and beginning of September, as a way to celebrate the end of summer and welcome the start of autumn. Well, ours happened well into autumn. End of September to be exact, and instead of eating outside which seems to be traditional, we ate inside (it was dark, cold and rainy, so much for summer!) Regardless, it was fabulous. I ate crayfish that were boiled and soaking in a dill and other herbs/spices infused water to give them flavor. Though they were a challenge to eat, they were absolutely delicious. I'm officially a fan. I didn't go as extreme as some Swedes (in this case, Fredrik) and eat the guts and junk inside. I stuck mostly to the meat. Anyways, here are the pictures...what you're really interested in.
Traditional party decorations. Time to say good-bye to the sun!

Our dinner, defrosted and marinated, delicious!

Shrimp (or Prawns if you're British) for Fredrik/Me (if I didn't like crayfish. I actually like crayfish much better than shrimp.)

Our beautiful and delicious table! Emilie made traditional/from scratch Swedish flat bread. You can also see 'traditional' decorations, like placemats and super kitschy hats. I loved the hats.

Getting pumped!

I'm just a bit of a dork. You can't help it when you wear the hat.

Slightly gross...slightly awesome, and really good.

This was when Emilie was teaching me how to eat crayfish.

Fredrik is now showing me how he eats crayfish.

We found Nemo!

Gross crayfish hands!

Fredrik's plate at the end of the meal. At least he was neat about it.

gross. :)


I'm already looking forward to next year's crayfish party....but I'm mostly just looking forward to summer returning. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

4 things I learned in SFI

1.  Abby (or at least the sound, not the spelling) means blue in persian.

2.  Just because his name is Tali, does not mean he is a part of the Taliban. (I was introduced to everyone and this one guy said, 'My name is Tali, like the Taliban, but I'm not a part of the Taliban'...I found it very funny.)

3. Just because you can ask a simple straight forward question in Swedish does not mean you'll get a simple straight forward answer back. Thus resulting in  you not attending the second class of the day because you thought that's what the teacher told you in overwhelmingly fast Swedish...which makes you so frustrated you cry and forget to lock your bike when you're home. (Luckily Nelly was not stolen from me. Thank GOD)

4. In the course of my higher education, I have begun 3 different language courses, resulting in 4 semesters and 1 SFI. 4 out of the 5 'first days' I've cried.

What is it about language courses that always makes me cry a little bit? Here's for a better day tomorrow.

Monday, September 20, 2010

An election of many colors

Yesterday was election day in Sweden (and I'm sure some of you who read this because you have a mild obsession with Swedish ex-pat blogs are very well aware of that, since this morning the blogging community is hardcore blogging about what happened).

Apparently this election was a big deal. Due to several factors, I am just now starting to understand what is going on with the Swedish election process and the different parties. For the most part I was overwhelmed by the different colors and little cottages where they do their politicking. (Seriously, Linköping's square was lined in little wooden cottages painted colors like light blue, green/pink, red, etc.)I found it very friendly and welcoming and also made me wonder what it would look like if the Dems/GOP had their little cottages to politic with. (Oh the possibilities...)

Centerpartiet i Linköping. It was my favorite.*
But the election was important because as far as I can understand from watching SVT1 (mostly just looking at the graphs because I cannot understand what they're saying), reading The Local, and the local newspaper. The Moderates retained control over parliament....barely. The Social Democrats (hold on  to your pants my conservative friends, these are the people you consider socialists...breath...just breath....it's ok...just stay calm) just barely lost. The 'conservative' (I use this term extremely loosely, every political party in Sweden is further left than Obama's pinky toe can even fathom) section of their groups has majority. As far as I can tell, this is good? I don't know.

However, what is really getting everyone into a major stink is that Sweden Democrats got 5.7% of the vote meaning, I think, 20 or so seats in Parliament. The issue with this party is their anti-immigration stance (read: Anti Islam) and older members possessing Nazi party ties. Every other political party can't stand them, don't want to be in the same room with them, and have stated they will refuse to work with them. (Apparently they're taking a page from the Mitch McConnell book, except they have chins, are nicer, and actually care about the people they represent and not about lining their pockets...so they're not actually like Mitch McConnell at all, other than they refuse to work with thinly veiled racist party...oh crap...what am I talking about....they're nothing like McConnell.)

The Swedish Democrats being elected into parliament could have an effect on me. How much? I don't know, but they have a very clear anti-immigration, fear based, stance. When people were campaigning, I asked if Fredrik wanted to go to the Swedish Democrats cottage and ask what they thought about my immigration into Sweden. Would they want to deny me also? I was curious, plus what would they do if they were actually confronted by a Swede who wants his immigrant girlfriend with him?

Anyways, I feel bad for my Swedish friends who are embarrassed by this election..and well..welcome to the club of being embarrassed by your country's politics (Can we say, "Tea Party"?). Let's hope Sweden stays progressive and there are no steps backwards, and that if there are changes to the immigration laws that they are positive.

<3 <3

*Photo from Centerpartiet i Linköping.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2 years?!...and SFI.

Well today is a big day. Today is the 2 year anniversary for Fredrik and I. We started dating the next day after we met. It's hard to believe it's been 2 years since we met, and 1 year since I left Glasgow. A lot of changed, life is crazy, and we're still managing to not kill each other. I'm grateful. :) I feel lucky that our relationship has improved over time. Everything is so much better than comparing to when we first started dating, for us it seems like our relationship has improved much better over time, instead of peaking out early. I'm very thankful for that. I like him. I want to keep him. He folds my underwear.

I mean, I love him so much I moved half way around the world just to be with him. So he must be worth it....

2 years...crazy.



Today, we're celebrating by going to the movies. Toy Story 3 has finally come out over here, and so Fredrik has willing agreed to go see it with me. In 3D. I'm just a *little* excited. I can't decide if it is because we're seeing a movie, or if it is because I get to eat popcorn and candy. Muah-ha ha ha ha. Today is a good day for the two of us. <3

 
In other news, I had an SFI meeting...thing...today. It was not what I was expecting, much different in fact. From what my letter said from the school, was that I was to take an exam to see where my level for SFI is. Well, when I showed up it was a intro lecture to what will be 1-4 weeks of 'testing' (I use this term loosely) to see where I should start my SFI classes. The way it was explained was that there are 3 levels of SFI, and you are placed (usually) depending on your existing level of education. The top level is for a higher educated person, at minimum high school. I understood the purpose of the meeting, and how it is beneficial for them as a school and us as students, but if our previous education is so important in our placement for SFI, why didn't they ask specifically what level of education you had? They asked how long you had been in school. (almost 20 years, thanks). I found that a bit vague, but I guess it was to make the question more applicable to everyone, not just people who have degrees with names. So I know now, regardless of how much education I have, I should be in the highest level of SFI. Ok, good to know. This makes me happy.

Knowing this, for the next few weeks I shall be meeting 3 days a week for half a day to do testing, assessments, etc to see where I belong. Though I believe she said that it could be a short as one week for some people. I do think this is probably because there are just a lot of people needing to take SFI. It should be interesting to see what happens. There is a wide range of people in this group. From a Dane, Brazilians, Argentinians, Somalians, Iranians, Arabs (from a variety of countries I do not know) Asians (again, a variety I do not know), a Ukrainian (who I instantly liked just because she was blonde and named Melinda), and even an English guy. I like the diversity. It's interesting and fun. Plus, I'm really looking forward to getting a schedule and a routine. I feel like it is important for my sanity.

Here's to Monday, the start of 'school'. Weee!

And 2 years for Fredrik and I and Toy Story 3! Double Wee! 

Oh and the sun is shining today, the greatest 'WEE' of all. It's been hiding the past couple of weeks. It shouldn't do that.

<3 <3

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dumb Question of the Week

Fail. Isn't it funny how you always get stupid questions until you decide to write about them and then poof, no more very stupid questions? Lame. Anyways, I just figured I would take this moment to write some of the classic ones and just vent a little. So here's a 'classic', that I get, often. This question always comes after I tell people, "I live here."

"Oh, so when will you move home?"


...what part of, "I live here." is unclear? I don't know how to explain, no, I live here. Like you do. Living. Residing. You know, living.

Not that I didn't get the same thing at home. "I'm moving to Sweden."

"Oh cool! When will you come home?" No. See, I'm moving. That means packing up my life into categorical boxes and shipping it to go across the ocean to a new country. Not visiting, not touristing, not studying. Words like living and moving are permanent words. I'm not studying abroad, and there are no current plans to come home, or, move home. (see?)

It might sound bitchy, but I get that basically every single time I meet someone new. Every time. (Maybe that's why I haven't gotten any good 'Dumb' questions...) It gets old. That's something about this whole thing, is you get a lot of the same questions over and over again. And normally it's fine, and I don't care to talk about it. But when you try to use words that are very defined, and it is still not registered, how else can you explain it? Sometimes, I just want to bang my head against the wall...or give really bizarre answers like, "When will you come home?" August 24th, 2030 at 1:32:02 pm on the back of a red llama.

The other thing that I'm just absolutely exhausted with are a selection of questions. I am always very polite when I answer these questions, because I know that the questioner doesn't know that these have been asked 100x already. (You know, this makes me feel so bad for the foreign exchange students in highschool who had to deal with these questions and other doozies like, "Do you have running water?" I blame it on the excited, innocent, ignorance of the small town I grew up in.) I definitely asked some of these questions below to them and many others from foreign countries. You can't help it. It's always something people want to know. Luckily, I didn't ask/or have been asked about running water. ha...

Now these questions can be interchanged to any country for Sweden/America. So these are the "Don't Ask the Foreigner (Specifically Americans)" questions. With included bitchy internal thoughts.


"Do you like Sweden?" Do you really have to ask? Why would I move here if I hated it? I hate your weather, but that's about it.

"What do you think about the war?" I hate it. I want everyone to come home. I'm mad at my government for sending my friends overseas for a selfish reason, because I don't buy the 'terroist' fear-mongering crap anymore. I just don't. It's like the boogey-man. Please stop asking me about it. You're not going to find anyone to debate with here. I just want my friends home, safe, and happy. And I want my government to take care of it's citizens at home. There's far too much suffering.

"Which do you like better? America or Sweden?" Please. Please. Stop asking people this question. It is so difficult to answer. America and Sweden are just not that comparable as countries. Do you realize that Sweden is the size of a small to medium state (population wise)? You cannot compare. Yes there are differences, duh. Yes there are similarities, duh. But they are not comparable. My home country is a massive beast of a place with different sub-cultures within a larger culture, all varying by region. We are not comparable. Every country has its perks and its downfalls. I can't say I like Sweden better than America because America is the home to my family and my friends. That is my America. Sweden is the home to my partner and politics that I am more agreed with. But I miss home. I love home. Just like when I'm in America I miss Sweden, Fredrik, and Godis. Make sense? Stop asking this question.


"Are all Americans fat?" Am I fat? No? You sure? Well, ok, there you go. But if you must know, where I'm from there are a lot of overweight to obese people. I'm from the Mid-Western medium sized city (Hi Louisville!) Where we have really really crappy public transport (almost non-existent unless you live in the middle of the city), and plenty of inexpensive restaurants. It's a bad mix, and so yes, a lot of people are overweight, where I am from. I never really noticed until I came home from Glasgow/Sweden last year. Then I realized that there is a problem. It's national and regional. I doubt that people in New York City are as overweight as people in Louisville. Why? Well didn't you know that it's a fact that Public Transport helps keep you skinny? Duh. And I just want to add, Thank you Sweden for making me cycle everywhere, my legs are looking fabulous.

"Are there really people that crazy like the ones you see on TV?" This is usually referencing Republicans. (Which I find fairly hilarious). Yes. There are. Just like there are crazy Swedes. Our politics are different. There are reasons why there are Republicans, and you being from a welfare state, have a difficult time understanding why anyone would be republican in your eyes, but please remember, one of our greatest presidents was a Republican. Abraham Lincoln. Yeah..kind of hard to see the connection between Republicans then and now? Yep.

"Does everyone really drive cars?" Where I am from. Yes. Remember big country. This is a different answer depending on region (NYC for example). I live at minimum a 10 minute drive from anything of importance (food, gas, clothing, etc). You cannot walk this. You cannot bike this. No. There are no buses. I live in the country. No buses. We drive. Yes. I started driving when I was 15. Yes I drive mostly an automatic. But don't you dare think that you're a better driver than me cause you have always driven a manual. I can drive a manual too, I just don't, and I'll out drive your ass any day of the week. I have years of experience on you. And Yes, I have my own car, and YES my family owns more than 1 vehicle. No, we are not the normal for families, we have horses, and they require certain trucks that normal families don't. However, once children are of driving age, more than likely there will be a car per person in that family, especially if everyone is working/at school. Different culture, yes it's hard on our environment. Please tell our government and population that. I'm sure they'll love to listen.


These are the major ones I usually answer. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy discussing America and our culture, etc with friends, where the environment is safe and open. Where I am comfortable. When I am at a party though, where I don't really know anyone, I would really prefer not to talk about these subjects, though they are 'easy' questions. They're uncomfortable to answer 95% of the time, and somehow I always get stuck in a position of defending myself/my country once these questions are asked. So, just...let's just leave them alone for now on ok? Ok. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Is this going to make you uncomfortable?

When I moved to Sweden, I was intrigued and, well, relieved by the fact that I will have my medical insurance covered. I am definitely not one of those American's that really gives a damn about 'picking my doctor' or any other nonsense caused by fear mongering in the media about health reform. Actually, I had to go without health insurance while I was home for 6 months. I felt very fortunate that nothing disastrous happened. (and if anyone was interested I should of had health insurance, but my biological father dropped me and the magic age of 23 got me kicked off of Tricare). My option was paying several thousand dollars in "necessary" testing (to make sure I don't have any pre-existing conditions, etc) and premiums, to just pay an insane amount monthly just to pay 25 dollars at the doctors instead of 50. Also to protect me if I go to the hospital, etc. Or just going without and hoping for the best. The point with moving home was to save money, not give it all to Humana, who also has very poor practices when it comes to employee treatment and loyalty and they don't deserve anyone's money.

Anyways- back to the point.

This Monday I had to go to the women's clinic to take care of a prescription. In Linköping, the way the clinic works is that you call an automated number, leave your number, and they call you back. Well let's just say this was hysterical because I didn't understand anything on the phone message. (Oh the joys of a language barrier. I'm getting better though, I swear!). So I had to text Fredrik to call them and leave my number. Not a huge deal. No joke, within 10 minutes of me texting Fredrik, I received the call from the clinic! She spoke a little english and I told her what I needed, she said she would look up an appointment for me. After a not-sooo-awkward silence, she said, "Well, can you come in at 4pm today?" Me, "Yeah, sure!" Her, "Well, you can come in earlier if you want, 1 or 2 pm good?" Me, "Can I come at 2?" Her, "Yes of course. You'll be meeting with B.F. and she speaks English really well."

I came in early to fill out paper work (10 points to me for being able to fill out basically everything on the paper...all regarding health questions, etc). And around 1:45 B.F. came up to me and asked if I was her 2 o'clock, and then proceeded to let me know she was running a little late, but that she will be with me as soon as she can. I'm used to waiting in Doctor's offices, that's just sort of protocol. I also worked at an Audiologist, and I've seen people wait for a loooong time (though it was their own fault because they failed to bring in their referrals). So I was just prepared for it to take a while, and it didn't. Quater past 2 she came and got me.

B.F. is not a 'doctor'. She's a mid-wife. I thought this was extremely cool. This appointment was very casual, and she was extremely nice. She looked at my information and filled everything out. It was very personal and very comfortable. I didn't have to do any tests or anything, and she filled out the prescription on her computer. She said that the prescription was at Apoteket and that since they had just moved into their facility today she suggested I wait until this evening or tomorrow to pick up my prescription. I did not pay a dime. That visit qualified for a free visit. Wee!

Easy. It was the easiest thing, ever. The facilities were brand new, so everything was clean and bright. All the women were mid-wives (and I guess some nurses?) working there. This just really appeals to me. It was a facility for women, by women, and was next to the main health center. It was well run, even for the "just moved in today" learning curve.

I got my prescription yesterday, and it was also ridiculously easy. The pharmacists sit in little, like, bank like, cubicle thingys, with little seats for you. And they chat with you while they get your things. Super easy. All I had to do was how her my ID card and she got my prescription. How easy is that? She also signed me up for this program that is associated with only paying 900:- for my prescriptions and anything after that is either discounted or free. I'm not to sure, but whatevs.

I paid (really inexpensive as well) and left.

As I was leaving, I was wondering to myself why people at home are so scared of this? There was nothing scary about this, nor did I ever feel I was out of my control. And I do think that if I wanted to meet with B.F. again, I could, and I will request her next time I have to go in. She was super nice. All in all, it was a great experience. YAY!

http://easygrowhouseplants.blogspot.com/2009/08/universal-health-care.html
 
<3 <3

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dumb Question of the Week

So, a lot of bloggers have a thing they do weekly. As a way to keep reader's interested and also to give me something to write about on a regular basis. Well, I've come up with my own. It's, "Dumb Question of the Week" (as seen by my blog post title). As an American expat in Sweden, I get a lot of the same questions, you know, the "standards", but sometimes....sometimes I get doozies. Usually they'll come about once a week, depending on how social I am. This new theme will be mostly focused on questions I get asked regarding America, our government, culture, food, religion, craziness, and overall awesomeness that comes with being American. We're crazy, it's just time to embrace the fact that we're not a normal society. Glenn Beck's bastardization and complete disrespect to Martin Luther King Jr. is a prime example of this. Anyways, back to the topic.

Well, last night, I had a good one. I mean, this was a whole conversation of ridiculousness, but I'll just leave it at this one question, and let your imagination go wild as to 1. How this question got brought up. 2. Why someone would ask me this. 3. How I handled this awkward situation. 4. Do you think I referenced South Park in this conversation?

"Does polygamy actually exist in America?"


 <3 <3

Thursday, August 12, 2010

SFI, you are on my naughty list.

Well, not quite, but they are the source of my current frustrations.

I arrived in Sweden as a 'real' immigrant on June 18th. I sent in all my information for my personnummer a few days later, around the 22nd. I got my personnummer around the 28th. Ok? Ok.

The Swedish government has started a program that pays immigrants to finish SFI early. Yeah, I would get paid to be awesome at Swedish. I have a masters degree, I can totally make bank! Sweet!

NO.

This only applies to people who register starting July 1, 2010.

I registered, technically, June 27/28th, 2010.

Bastards. Ok...well...at least I will have classes starting in August to keep me busy and give me something to focus on so I don't become a desperate housewife.

NO.

I called the place on August 3rd (the lady was on holiday until August 2nd) asking to see if I was in the system and questions about classes, etc. Well, to put it frankly, I got shot down. She didn't have me in the system (I dropped off my application July 10th) and that I was supposed to technically kind off start classes within three months of them receiving my application, but they are just so busy now that it could take longer.

Ok, so let's refresh. I arrived mid June. I applied as soon as I could for SFI. Nobody was around to do some office work for over a month? Seriously? I mean, I know Sweden goes on vacation, but did everyone literally take the same days off? Seriously? I mean, really? So they have a whole summer's worth of mail to sort out? Well, I just don't think that was all that brilliant...do you? Not one person to go in once a week or twice a week to check the mail, get the process going for applications to make their life easier? No? Well, ok, if you like coming back to that much work....

But now what it means is that I probably wont start SFI until November...which is just already driving me into desperate housewifery at the thought of not having something to go to everyday to make me feel like I'm a real human being who is going places. I have got to have something to do....or I will go absolutely insane.

So, for now, I have borrowed my Swedish grammar book from the local library, F is speaking Swedish to me, sometimes against my will, and I am going to test out of SFI, ya basterds.

I guess this is just the first of many frustrations with becoming 'Swedish' ...

*sigh*

<3 <3

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Going to the beach.

I have been living in Sweden now as a proper immigrant for a month. It's been great and I have had a lot of fun, but let's just say I've been quite the nomad (it goes like this, Stockholm, Trollhättan, Linköping, Tylösand, Linköping, Stockholm, Linköping, Kalmar *Sigh* Breath...ok...here for four weeks...oh, big comfy couch, dvd player, and big tv...nope keep moving!)

In order to 'relax' and to enjoy the insanely nice weather Sweden's been blessed with, I have spent an insane amount of time at the beach. Is this bad? Not really, no. Why am I a bit blah about it? Well one, I get sun poisoning very easily in Sweden (The second Stockholm trip was brutal, I looked like a leper) and so it has made me a bit hesitant to go out and lay in the sun for hours upon hours. However, with the pain of getting sun poisoning, something magical has happened. Never in my life has this ever happened before without unnatural help.

I, ladies and gentlemen, have a tan. I know. I know. For those of you know have known me for years, this is just unheard of. Abby has a tan. No kidding. Mostly on my face though are freckles. This is also been a shock to my system. I wear spf 30 on my face everyday, still have gotten freckles. Swedish sun, if you ruin my chances of fantastic skin when I'm in my 60s, I'll curse you, I swear!

Anyways, here are some things I've learned about Swedish (European?) beaches and the culture.

1. Just because this country is close to the arctic circle does not mean that the sun is lame. On the contrary, it's insane. Florida? Please. Swedish sol for me...just watch out for the sun poisoning.

2. People change on the beach. They don't bother with changing rooms here (and they also have the infamous unisex bathrooms). There is a unique dance that beach goers do to change into their suits or normal clothes. usually involving a towel and certain amount of coordination and flexibility. I have not mastered this technique and I think a few people caught sight of my snow white bum the other day. Oops....I'm just practicing the idea of being comfortable with my body in front of tons of people..ok.oh well...

3. If you are not equipped with a decent bathing suit, but still want to sun yourself on the beach. It's ok, just wear your bra (I'm talking to you granny a couple yards a way...)

4. Most kids under the age of 5 are naked, and loving the HELL out of the beach. Parents are not concerned about their boy or girls birthday suits being paraded around in public! It's the beach. Who gives a damn. Plus, clean up is much easier.

5. Fredrik does not like being a beach filled with children.

6. Even though the weather is fantastic and the sun is strong. Sometimes, I would still rather sit inside and watch a BBC historical drama.

And...on that note...happy Sunday. Should it be Clarissa or the Aristocrats? :)

<3 <3

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jag bor i Sverige nu.

Jepp.


Den här helgen är det Midsommar.

Weeeee!

More updates later. Our flat is dandy...just now got wireless set up.

<3<3

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tomorrow!

I leave tomorrow for Sweden. I have 3 suitcases packed, aka 150lbs of my life divided into 3 parts.

Oh my goodness.

The nerves have already started to set in...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How many more weeks...err..days?

June is sneaking up faster and faster every day. As exciting as it is, I am still overwhelmed by all the events that will take place. Also, F and I have a lot of things going on before I even move over that have nothing to do with the move.

Currently, he's finishing off his masters in Sweden just being a genius. I was volunteered to be his proofreader since his thesis has been written in English. Joy. I know that his work is really good and successful because I did not understand a single word of that thing. I edited it, critiqued the word use, etc. However, I could not tell you what it was about. Well, not true. It's about composite materials for a joint of some sort. Lots of tests were done. But I think it was successful.

On June 4th is his final day of 'student-life' as he is presenting and defending his work at LiU. *yay* applause applause. He is then on an official three month vacation. September of this year he starts work in Linköping (can we say YAY for that?). The job worked out as did our flat, so that Monday or Tuesday after I arrive in Sweden will be spent in a moving van traveling across Sweden and moving into our first (of probably many) flat.


This past week I have been on a holiday...some S&S if you will. Spa and Shopping. (My mom's phrase). She and I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico and stayed at the Bishop's Lodge Resort and Spa. We spent every morning in the spa (except one day was spent at the 10,000 Waves Spa also in Santa Fe--fabulous fabulous fabulous!). We had a wonderful time, found some wonderful jewelry, and had wonderful treatments at the spa. My mother truly deserved it, and I just got to benefit from it. ;)

One day was spent going to Madrid where the film, Wild Hogs was filmed. Madrid is an interesting place and we had a good time. Lots of hippies, which is always a trip. Another day, our favorite day, was spent at Bandelier National Monument where we got to see 400+ year old cliff dwellings and pueblo ruins. This was simply magical. Apparently, during the high season it can be up to a 45 minute wait just to park at the national park! We were virtually alone. Only crossing a handful of people on the path, and no one was around to disturb us as we visited the cliff dwellings and peeked inside. Words and pictures cannot do this state justice. I loved New Mexico. Here are some of the pictures I took. Please bear with me as most of them were taken from the passenger seat of a Ford Fusion named Molly. :)




 Bandelier. View from over the cliff. Stunning...simply stunning.

 Moi.
 On the walk, cliff dwellings in the distance.

 This was my favorite spot. Very quiet, it's in the cliff, dark, and green. You could hear the laughter. 

 Ruins with three Kivas. They think these was mainly for storage...except for the kivas which are for religious purposes.

Walking around the cliff dwellings.

<3 <3

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Panic Attack...Oh..I mean Packing.

Reality has started to set it once the joy of receiving my pretty pink and blue and green visa in the mail at the beginning of this month. Now it's business time (it's buisness, it's business timmmee, I even got my business socks on..) and I'm starting to plot out and plan how and what I'm going to pack to take on the airplane and what to send by post. It's starting to become slightly overwhelming. All the little things I have to take care of, and only 3 weeks to do it. (I'm leaving for Santa Fe with my Mom on Wednesday and wont return until Monday. This means that, that week is not being spent packing and planning, but instead relaxing and primping. EEK!)

I've visited my local Post Office to discuss M-Bags, they are so popular, that the postal worker has only seen them once in her long career and they didn't have any in stock. Joy. This should be fun. I genuinely do not know what I would do if all my books got lost in the ocean. Makes me tear up a little actually.

I've been to the doctor to make sure that I'm stocked up for a few months in Sweden before I can get to the doctor there and get my new prescription.  They are also pulling my medical records so I can take those with me as well. This was an adventure. My original doctor just up and left town and we didn't receive notification until the Monday after her office closed. So a $54 dollar 10 minute office visit to get 4 months of Sprintec and my medical records could have been avoided if my original doctor had not just decided to leave without proper warning. Sketchy Sketchy.

My Swedish tutor has told me to get my International Driver's License as close to the day I leave as possible. Which is good. Apparently, she would just renew hers every year, since she was in America once a year, and avoided having to do the Swedish driving school, test, etc. This sounds promising. However, if this move is super permanent, I guess I would be better off biting the bullet and getting a Swedish license.

I know to buy things that are easily acquire here than in Sweden. Linköping does not have a L'Occitane so I have to deal with that.

What else do I need to do? I have so much to pack and send. I'm taking 3 suitcases, but I mean, my shoe collection is obnoxious, and I own a ridiculous amount of fabric and sewing odds and ends, that will keep me entertained until I can find some form of employment. How the hell am I going to do this?

Anyone have any advice? This is totally different than when I packed for Glasgow...this is my whole life I'm trying to move...

<3<3

Thursday, April 29, 2010

3 months later and 2 pounds of paperwork

 My visa has been approved! Fredrik received the letter from Migrationsverket today informing us that my temporary residence visa is good until April 2012. Now I'm just waiting for my passport to come back.

Only 49 days until I move! Wee! :D



<3 <3

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Swedish Applications...la de dah

So I had my interview on the 25th and it went really well. Right now my application is chilling in Göteborg and we're waiting for Fredrik to get his paper work to fill out.  My ticket is booked for June 17th. Sooooooooo...yep.

Anyways, Fredrik came to visit last week for 9 days...not enough days if you ask me. It was a great visit that included a crash course in Indiana University student life and hanging out in a cabin in the woods, visiting family, and finally, him rowing me around in my mother's canoe as I channeled Paris, 1920s (and maybe random Ukulele music)


That's about the end of it I guess. Yawn...I'm so boring... :(

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Visavisavisavisavisavisavisavisa

I have received notification from the Swedish Consulate in Chicago that I have an interview scheduled February 25th! EEK-I'm excited!

<3 <3