God Jul och Gott Nytt År

So Christmas has come and gone and everything is fine. Christmas, as most people can imagine in Europe happens on December 24th evening, and not on the 25th as it does in North America. I actually prefer the 24th for some reason, but maybe it’s just because I’m imherantly European or something!

So I got the crazy news about what was going on for Christmas. Robb, of whom I was staying with and is a great friend of mine told me that we would be going over to his parents flats across the street at about 16.00, so that I had to get ready or something. So I went and wrapped the presents for Nelly (his niece), and his parents. Robb’s presents had already been wrapped and such, so I just had to make sure he didn’t peek, which wasn’t too hard becasue we were just busy watching films all the time! I decided that I would glue myself to Nelly and entertain her, assuming she liked me. All would be seen in time I suppose. So we left for the flat, and arrived and I met his mother and grandmother which were both really nice, and I didn’t realize it until later but I was by far the tallest person there. The whole family is fairly short, which is weird for me being the tallest, but it was just kinda funny. Robb’s dad was just a little bit taller than him, so still much shorter than me, just an odd dynamic.

So grandmother kept asking me if I spoke Swedish, and of course I answered yes politely, but she’s Finnish so she mostly just spoke funny things. She turned out to be hillarious during dinner, which was the best meal I’ve ever had . I played with Nelly, which is Robb’s sister’s daughter. As you can see she really liked me and we played clapping games. She couldn’t stop holding on to me, which is weird because usually children hate me. She’s really adorable and I loved playing with her. The best part by far is when she grabbed the newspaper and pointed to a picture of Carola, and kept saying ‘mamma.’ I hated to break her the bad news that it was Carola, but she wouldn’t have any of it. Who would want that evil witch to be their mother anyways? *shudders*

So I taught her how to count to five, she couldn’t get past four, but I figured that I was at least usefull. She loved the little doggie toy that I got her too, so I was glad. Robb’s mom nearly had a stroke when she saw the glass figurine I got her; she loved it and added it to her collection right away and then continued to praise me forever and ever. It was very awkward being with a family I didn’t really know, and the worst part was when dad sat down and started to ask me like everything. Where do you go to school, where you are from, how are things, how is your family. All the creepy questions that I didn’t know how to answer, and with my silly Swedish accent I answered them and he laughed and I figure that it was all good because it turns out they thought I was very nice and polite! Go team me.

We went home and then watched some films on television. I was pooped after being awkward for hours, with the hillarious grandmother, and talking to mother whom was very curious and even wanted to practice her English. I accepted, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be, but it was easier to communicate in Swedish, honestly! Anyways, after the films we went started to get ready for bed and finally went to sleep, but not before we opened each other’s presents and ate some desert chocholates. He loved the huge bear I got as well as the salt / pepper shakers, both of which he didn’t have so it was a perfect gift! Again, go team me! Then we watched some TV and went to bed after by far the best Christmas I had ever had. I will never forget it, and the many awesome memories and moments. I never thought that Christmas with a friend could be so awesome, but I was proved wrong right away!

Christmas day for North America came and we slept in because we were up quite late, and then we got invited back to parents house for leftover meals, which were just as good as the meal itself. I felt guilty for not bringing anything so I got recepies from my mom to do apple crisp and we went shopping and got all the stuff to make it. I burnt it sorta, but it still tasted good and the family was just shocked about it; I never sease to amaze them. In any case, I will never forget my favourite drink there, Julmust, which is only made at Christmas and Easter, it’s so wonderful and is addictive! *drools*

After dinner I thought it would be nice to call family all around and wish them good things. So I did so, and then the next day I called the family gathering and it was quite lovely! Everyone was very happy to hear from me, and were shocked really. I think I surprised most of them really, but surprises are nice, and thank god for Skype. Anyone who doesn’t know what it is, or doesn’t use it, you’re fools and should figure it out now! Click here to find out more (I’m great advertisements for companies).

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Robb likes shopping, it’s just something odd about him. I don’t mind shopping as long as it’s not for shoes, but I’m so indecisive that it turns into a fiasco anyways. We had promised that we would go to H&M to go on a shopping spree before I came, so it was necessary to plan it. We decided to take the bus to Luleå to shop there. We arrived 2 hours early because we were too lazy to realize that stores don’t open until mid-day. So we were cool and hung out in the bus terminal for a few hours reading news and talking about Melodifestivalen this year and the show that would be on that night. Isn’t the bus terminal so sexy, for a northern city? I think so, but I’m weird so who knows!

So we walked around in the meantime and looked at the city which is quite small obviously, but it’s quite nice to see snow on the ground and feel a little Christmas feeling. The church was very cute and traditional, and it’s right next to (even along) the main road, so everything is within 5 minutes walking distance. It’s deserted in the photo above, but that’s because the mad rush wasn’t there yet. When we came back to the mall it was crazy, people lined up and women pushing each other to get in. We went into the back way and waited for them to open the windows and people ran in, literally, and we began searching for things we liked. I grabbed anything I thought was good looking, cause I needed sweaters, and then we went to try them on. I spent about 600:- (60€) or so, which is a lot for me, on 4 sweaters and a scarf. He spent far more, and then further more later, but he had the access to his bank card and such, not I. I didn’t want to spend that much anyways, I hate spendi
ng money (totally my dad’s fault).

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So we were lined up to pay and this drunk guy kept asking everyone if what he was holding came in green, it was creepy. We went down the whole street shopping and the guy turned out everywhere we went, mégaübercreepy, but it’s funny because now whenever I see a drunk around I think of him and my time in Luleå. Doesn’t sound like a good connection, but it’s a funny memory! In the picture on the right, you can find the SVT building in Luleå. I like TV buildings, it’s not a fetish, just something that interests me. Don’t judge me (not that I really care at all) but I just wanted to make a note about how cool this one is. On the left you can find the coast on Luleå with everything frozen (whoohoo winter) and the ‘city’ which is really small. This is when Robb and I were talking about going to another town but I was tired of walking and shopping (I really do hate it sometimes), so we went home and fell asleep on the bus. It was Kodak moment, but I dare not take photos!

For the next couple days we slept, and just did random stuff around the house and relaxed. Robb got mad at me because I cleaned his apartment and then kept doing the dishes. I guess I am just a compulsive cleaner! He was determined to make sure I did nothing because I was on ‘vacation’ but I can’t live without doing stuff. Yes this is a good quality (about cleaning) and yes it will take awhile for people to appreciate it. 😉

A happier note from last time, as I went over to Ginette’s room to see how things were and to see if she had a pair of scissors (of which she didn’t), and then wandered down one door to find Zahra’s room. She’s one of the British people that are here, although I think she’s Irish, and we found that there were about 10 people in her room watching Shrek II, so we joined and then talked a bit. I think I am remembering their names finally, which is a nice chage from not knowing anyone! Anyways, I then went to bed after putting on some face creame, and it wasn’t so good afterall and I smelled like sulfur.

Waking up at 7.00 for 8.30 classes is useless. So I waited out in the rain for awhile and met the other people that were here from the group. I totally forgot that we had dinner tonight at the Lycée, but never-the-less finding out that our test was pushed back until 14.00 was a pain in the ass. So Dr. Lee and a few of us with names towards the end of the alphabet went to the bank (who’s computers were down, and therefore useless) as well as the Agora to make reseverations to meet with someone regarding out carte de séjour. That was a pain in the ass, but I was super excited today to finally have a meal that was under 5€; 1,95€ to be exact! Thank God for C.R.O.U.S. cards which will now allow me to stay within budget!

The test was a pain in the ass because of course I didn’t know what the hell to write, and sitting in an Ampéthéâtre isn’t the easiest thing to do with a CD recording that ecoed like hell. Oh well, I did my best with what I had and hopefully I will get placed in the upper-levels, or at least the intermediate one. The building that I will be in is really nice and clean, but now I want to eat some and take a nap, but the stupid plumber people are outside making a shitload of noise.. BAH!

After taking the test I went home for a 30 minute nap, before we had to go to the Lycée Jean Sturm to meet the headmaster and get some tour and then have dinner. We met there, and Dr. Lee was late (as always) and we met up with some friends the others made today with some guy from North Carolina who awkwardly stood with us while Dr. Lee did his little spheil and then he went away. We walked over to the Lycée across the street and then met the principal which seemed really weird at first, but it turned out to be a lovely evening. We met in the little area for children who don’t go out for breaks, and with ‘les hommes d’animation’ who look after those who don’t leave. We talked about ourselves a bit, and then he told us many things about the educational system and random things about Alcase. It seems that there are a lot more things i in the region, and a lot of culural things here than I thought. Their own language, their own dialects, their own styles of wine and cheese. It’s all so different and interesting that it’s hard to pass up.

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So about this dinner thing. It’s about 5 courses, a lot of food spread out over a lot of time, and a lot of freaking wine. I had about 6 glasses of different wines, but that wasn’t by choice, it was sort of something that just happend; he kept serving me. He probably figured that because I was the only male in the room, that I could handle it, but I’m a lightweight and I struggle on a daily basis. The food was fantastic, and apparently was all prepared by headmaster Michel Jermann, in his kitchen. After showing us the lycée, his apartment is just upstairs and it’s huge. He lives with his son, Timothy, who was very shy with us anglophones, but showed us many magic tricks in the evening. For someone that’s only 15 years old, he’s pretty deep voiced and already has a lot of facial hair. That makes me feel very self concious about myself, but I’m well over that.

Dinner was chit-chatting about random things, and took a few hours, and really was a lot more pleasant than I thought it would be. I imagined that it would be this thing that is so strained, but it was quite natural (apart from the drinking). We were accompanied earlier in the evening by another Michel, and Olivier who are people at the university, and while we were touring we actually met a wonderfully cute woman from Texas who is at the English department there. She was delighted to make our acquaintance and was a bit over the top, but cute none the less! We even were invited by all the staff and people there to come back and get introduced to some students. All we have to do is e-mail the school at some point, and then they can set something up so that we can come talk with the students. It would be very helpful for conversation, and he realises that for some of us it’s quite a struggle with oral expression.

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We got to see a movie about the Christmas performances put on at the church, and as well as a bunch of foods and wines that we got to taste. We even got to hear a bit of Alcascian (local dialect) which is quite frankly a mix between German and French!! I’ve decided that it was quite nice, and I am seriously considering going back at some point in order to improve my status as a non-francophone (especially considering the tests that we took today).