Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Legolas, The Town, and a Melted Stomach

I am hoping that this last cup of coffee will be the one to propel me through writing this post. Apparently I have a hard time being motivated and getting things done unless I am rushed or haunted by a deadline. When I have an abundance of time it becomes impossible to do, well, anything. Yes. I know. But look at me being all productive and shit writing in my pajamas at two in the afternoon. You like it. Awesome.

[Enter construction noise from above]

[Writer puts on headphones and blasts Icona Pop. Which is perfectly appropriate because they are Swedish.]


Day two in Sweden. I woke up excited, I was beginning to realize where I was and what I was about to embark on. It was a good day. Except... I had no coffee. Or food. "Fuck, where can I get breakfast?? At least...Coffee?" I remember the thought, I remember the feeling, but I can't for the life of me remember what I did to solve the problem. Probably nothing. 

I went to meet Lluis ("Was that your stomach or did you just fart" guy) to head into town. Little did he know that I was banking on him knowing how the hell to get there and what exactly we were doing in town. I was unabashedly clueless. We need phones they tell me. Ok let's get a phone I tell them. I had no idea where these kids were getting their info but I was happy someone was paying attention. 

I was waiting in the lobby of our dorm for a few minutes then decided to go knock on his door. This was such a good choice because...

"Uh..hi?" A beautiful, tall, blonde boy opened the door. Normally, I am not speechless or intimidated but I was. He was so...pretty. It was like if you were to meet Legolas in real life. So pretty it hurts to look at. Ok not QUITE  but..you get what I mean. I hope.

"Uh...hmm..hi? I'm Emily? Is Lluis here?"

"Ohhh yes yes ok. We all go to the town, no?" 

"Anything you say....." Just kidding, I kept that to myself. Thankfully. I just nodded amidst my drool.

Lluis came to the door and he said, "My roommate wants to come as well, is this ok?"

I nodded. Good lord I was shameless! I really had no interest in this guy but I was so surprised by his prettiness that I couldn't get my shit together. I was still shocked by his elvish beauty.

We set off, me following because really I had no idea what was happening, towards the bus stop. Oh, there are buses. Great! How convenient. And happy coincidence, we found my "wobbly friend" who was never wobbly from yesterday. Yay! We all went to town together and I was grinning from ear to ear. Why? I have no idea I was just, finally, happy.

When we arrived in town we decided to get some food and (GASP) a beer! Because, hell yes, you can drink at 20 in Sweden. 

After having my first legal beer we headed out in search of phones. 

What I was learning about my new friends is that Legolas was Italian and Lluis was Catalan (from Catalonia, Spain). So when we went into a phone store and were looking around Lluis all of the sudden perked up.

In a whisper he says, "Those guys are speaking Catalan! I'm going to go say "Hi". Just a moment." 

And then, he turns and waves us over to this group of apparently Catalan guys. So we walk over to meet them.

Never in my life have I been SO happy that Spanish, Catalan, Italian, French, etc. etc. people have the tradition of kissing cheeks rather than shaking hands, than I was in that moment. Why you ask? Because it gives you the opportunity to get a kiss from an attractive guy upon meeting without being whorish. 

It was a group of..I don't remember how many guys because I only payed attention to one. So I met Carles and happily received his two kisses, one on each cheek. What was his name? Carlos? Crap.. My stomach melted. I blushed. And I got absurdly nervous. I don't think I even said a word. Maybe my name. Maybe.

This guy had on a white t-shirt that showed off a beautiful three-quarter sleeve tattoo. His ears and lip were pierced. He had dark hair in a kind of fohawkish (and what I thought was) European haircut. And he had big blue eyes. Crap. Crap crap crap. 

When we walked out of the store I looked at Wobbly Friend and said, "My god... That guy was...wow. I'm in trouble."

I never thought I had a type. I never knew. But maybe I don't have a type. I think it was just him

My mind spent the entire day (and many to come) trying to understand what had just happened. 

I began to rationalize it. It was just an attractive guy and I was missing my boyfriend. Fair enough. Reasonable enough. So I brushed it off and tried not to think about it. I can be such an idiot. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mayonnaise, Starvation, and Three Morals

Yay for posting on post day! Who's excited?!?! Ok enough of that, let's get down to business. (My bad, that sounded dirty. I wasn't trying to hit on you. If I was, I would definitely do it  better than that. But I wouldn't do that because I'm married and my husband is pretty awesome. And probably that only sounded dirty to me because I tend to make things sound dirty in my head. Not sure where that habit came from because I grew up in a house where "crap" was a bad word.)

(I'm making this line so I stop rambling about irrelevant crap)

So there I was, in the middle of the Växjö campus, with all my luggage and one of those friends you can only make while terribly lost or in intense circumstances. You know.. like at a club while you are trying to wait patiently in line for the toilet and you start talking to the wobbly girl next to you just to distract yourself from the fact that you are about to wet yourself in a club. At least you have a dress on and you won't have a pee stain... Some toilet paper and a little bit of that hand dryer action and no one would be the wiser! Except your new bff Wobbly Girl from the line because you are so alike and will stay friends forever because you bonded over wetting yourselves in a club. That kind of friend. 

We found a campus map by the building we were closest to and worked out how to get to the Study Abroad office. We walked in and there was luggage lined up around the walls and students sitting snacking on stuff out of a white paper bag. 

A tall, beautiful, blonde, Swedish woman asked us for our names (Oh alright I'm kidding, she was about 5'5" and a brunette but you were all expecting a tall, leggy blonde so I thought I'd give the readers what they want..too bad I'm an honest person). When I gave her my name she looks on her list and shifts through a few more pages.

"OHHH Good Emily! We were really worried about you!"


"You were supposed to arrive yesterday weren't you? We had you marked for transport yesterday.."

"Oh yeah, I'm fine. I just missed ALL my flights like an idiot so I'm a full 24 hours behind schedule. My bad."

"...Alright, well we're glad to have you! We will take you all now in a van to your housing."

Now at this point I was really only focused on those white paper bags full of goodies because I was starving. The last thing I had eaten was the sketchy meal on the plane. That was approximately 8 hours earlier. I was so caught up in our train mix-up and finding everything that I hadn't really thought about food. But I was HUNGRY. 

Just as I mustered up the courage to ask where I could get a snack bag of heavenly goodness they rounded us up to head to the housing. Damn, still no food. 

About eight of us finagled our way into the vans with all our luggage. We went to a few dorm type buildings and my Wobbly Girl friend was dropped off. All of the sudden I got really concerned that I'd never see her again but I forgot as soon as my stomach rumbled loud enough for the guy in front of me to give me a "Was that your stomach or did you just fart" look. I assumed that when it didn't start to smell he figured out that it was my hungry stomach. 

Finally it was just me and the "Was that your stomach or did you just fart" guy. They took us to one of four identical buildings that looked exactly like the average dorm building. (Sorry for all the side notes but I just went through all my pictures from study abroad and seriously cannot find one of my building..WOW Good job recording memories Emily..Damn) We got out of the van with our guide and she took us first to the guy's apartment that was on the first floor. I helped him to his door and noted which one was his. Because if someone came and tried to murder me at least I'd know which door to run to for help.. Then the guide took me up a few floors (I think it was the third floor) and handed me my keys. 

I walked in to find (THANK GOODNESS) that my roommate hadn't arrived yet. Sweet! First choice! This is the room (after being lived in for awhile):
That's the bulk of the room. On the left is our "closet" shared by two people and pictured below (Why isn't there a down arrow? We have this "^" but no down? Wtf mate..) And yes that is an obscene amount of shoes hidden under my bed. Which worked well until this happened one day:

My "friends" thought it would be funny to trap me while I was trying to find my other shoe... Which after a drink or three being trapped by plastic chairs is much more challenging than it may appear to be. 

 This is my overstuffed closet. My side is on the right and is a bit bigger by the roomie got some shelves in the bookshelf to make up for it.
 Our kitchenette.. Well it was kind of a full kitchen.. Except the oven was a bit miniature.

Annnd the bathroom! Yes that is the shower directly next to the toilet. So if for any reason you wanted to poo while taking a shower that was definitely a feasible option. But whatever weirdo would want that is not welcome in my home. Or dorm that I had 4 years ago. Clear? Fantastic. 

When I walked in to the then empty apartment/dorm mixture I was excited to be the first and have first choice of bed even though they were exactly the same. Now I also had the time to discover that the dorm's previous occupants were awesomely generous and left us a nearly furnished place! They left blankets, sheets, basically all utensils and dishes needed for two people...everything! I was stoked because I realized that if they hadn't..I would have been sleeping on a mattress with no pillow, sheets, or blankets until the Ikea outing planned for the next week. 

I began the process of getting myself settled and desperately tried to find a way to connect to the internet. When I got bored of doing both those things I remembered how desperately hungry I was. And it was like... 8pm. Which is WAY past Swedish dinner time. This is when I decided to go knock on my "in case of murder/was that your stomach or a fart"'s door. I knocked. And then panicked. What the hell was I going to say?

He answered the door. And was surprised to see me, but happy. Thankfully. If he were shocked or annoyed I probably would have run to my room and cried. But he was happy and said "Oh hey!! I was going try find you but I did not remember what room was yours! Are you hungry?? I'm really hungry." 

Music to my ears. We left the building and he said, "I think I saw like a kebab thing close by." At this point I didn't really think about the fact that I wasn't a kebab fan. Well really, I like American kebabs with beef and peppers on the grill. But apparently his version of a kebab was our version of a gyro. Which I didn't actually like. But I was about ready to start eating my own fingers so I couldn't complain. 

We talked a bit on our way and I asked where he was from. He said "Barcelona" and I was all "THAT'S SOOOOOO COOL! I have been to Spain once!" If I wasn't already an obvious American, I became one then. But he was polite and smiled and we had a good chat for about 3 minutes until we arrived at the supposed "kebab" stand. 

Thankfully they had HAMBURGERS! Score!! We both struggled to order from the owner of the food truck. I'm pretty sure his first language wasn't Swedish (which he spoke fluently to all his other customers) so I was just dead impressed that he could manage to figure out my order in English. (1000000+points to the food truck guy who quickly became my bff) 

Now to be clear, I like my hamburgers one way. With the meat and the bread. None of that other nonsense. But because the guy was so sweet and I didn't want to bother him with the particular stupidities of my eating habits I just ordered a burger and fries. And a Coke. My new friend, Lluis, did the same. 

I took a big, very excited, bite into my hamburger. Heavenly bliss. I cannot tell you what it is like to have a hot hamburger after over 24 hours of plane food and unintentional fasting. I ate everything in about 5 minutes. So did Lluis. And we laughed at our manners but shrugged it off because we were just so beat from traveling. It took me until I went to throw away my plate to realize that my hamburger had had some sort of mayonnaise sauce on it. I hate mayonnaise. I hate it so much I never even knew how to spell it. BLEH. But apparently if I am starving, it is an acceptable condiment on a burger. 

Lluis and I made plans to meet the next day in the lobby of our dorm to go into town and try and find cell phones. 

Now the morals of my first day in Sweden: 

1. Never bring two giant rolly-bags and a backpack when traveling abroad unless you are super rich and can afford someone to carry them for you. Or unless you are a musclely freak who can manage two 50lb (23kg) bags and a 15lb backpack. Which I was not. But good thing I had 20 pairs of shoes..

2. When you can, fill up on food, water, and coffee. Don't assume you can do it later. If you do assume, you might end up eating a mayonnaise infested burger and enjoying it.

3. Remember the room number of the random person you meet because you  might need them in case of potential death by starvation or someone coming to murder you. 

See you next week! And YOU'RE WELCOME for the ridiculously long post.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mimosas, one-digit numbers, and "el horno"

Hey readers, thanks for coming back! I will take a second here to apologize for my absence. The last few weeks have been full of family things, paperwork for the hubby to go to the U.S., the last two weeks of work (including a hilarious performance by my youngest students for their parents) and working for some friends. Needless to say my mind has been full of this and that (bits and bobs in the British)and I did not want to give you some half-assed post because that just ain't fair. (I thought I would throw in a little redneck with the British, just to even it out a bit..)

The results of the successful poll (thanks to the cool 10 of you that voted!) were: 7 for some current anecdotes and 3 for just the continuous story. Well...alright then! The three of you that want the continuous story will just have to wait a little bit longer... Suck it up, I know you want to hear about my wonderfully comedic disasters here. I know you do. And if you don't, well, too flippin' bad. 

Crap! I can't think of a story for you! Crap.. I think some wine would help, but it is 10:40am and I'm pretty sure that's a no-no. Unless it is a Mimosa. Or unless you are a 65 year old Catalan man sitting with a cigar at a bar having some sort of brown liquor on the rocks at 10am.. Which happens. A lot. Why can't I be 65 so I can have booze before noon? OK I'm just kidding and before I make my family worry about my drinking habits I will quit with the Mimosa talk. 

I still can't think of a story. There used to be a lot more before I got a stable job that I only really need English for. 

Like the time I was working at the airport for a cruise logistics company and I had to call the port agent to give her some cabin numbers. Basically what happens is some of the people who check-in for a cruise at the airport didn't plan it ahead so we have to call the port to let them know which cabin numbers the guests have so they can get their passes ready. Anyway, I never did the phone call because I was too embarrassed of my Spanish. But we got really busy and I was forced to make the call and I kid you not I gave her the cabin numbers one number at a time. I was in such a rush, and nervous, and 1000% embarrassed. It went something like this:

"Hola. Soy Em-i-ly del Air-o-puert-o"
"Ahhh hola que pasa?"
"Tan-go los noomeros"
"Vale dime"

And it went on like this for six, five-digit cabin numbers. Now normally my accent isn't too terrible and I can pass for at least comprehensible. And I can count higher than nine, you know, like two digit numbers and stuff. Not this time. I sounded like a two-year-old that was learning her numbers. 

By the time I started with the numbers I was already tomato-red with embarrassment. I stumbled all the way through the numbers and the port agent says,

"Oh and by the way, next time you can just tell me in English no problem!"

Fail. Epic and complete fail. She spoke English. Which I should have known. If that wasn't bad enough I hang up the phone and my colleagues, now finished with the rush of guests, BURST out laughing. They look at me and my supervisor says, amidst fits of giggles, "Emily, what the hell just happened?!? Normally you aren't that....bad!" And she continued to do a wonderful impression of my hasty numbers. And my colleagues when they finally could breath, "Ahhh Emily, I needed a good laugh, thanks!!!"

Never. Ever. Again. I never made that call again. Now you are all thinking (I am assuming from experience), "Oh Emily that is just a part of the learning process! Everyone makes mistakes, laugh it off!" And yes, that is absolutely true. But remember, I was at my job where I was supposed to be able to work effectively in Spanish and you know, resemble an adult. And when you sound like a two-year-old it is pretty tough to feel like an adult doing your job. Add that to the fact that ALL of my colleagues spoke at least three languages fluently (Spanish, Catalan, and English) and most of them spoke some French or Italian. I was slightly mortified. America for the win... Ugh! I spent the next months (and still do) cursing the fact that a second language isn't taught from Kindergarten like it is here and practically everywhere but the U.S. But alas, it is not, and I have had to fumble through learning Spanish and simultaneously Catalan. 

I'm not sure why I feel like I should put more of a "lesson" or conclusion to that story. There really isn't one. So if you want one..well make it up. 

It is about time for me to fumble through another encounter in Spanish as the stove technician is on his way. Hopefully I will be slightly less pathetic with my communication skills. At least I've worked out that "horno" is NOT the stove (I spent 5 minutes talking to the manufacturer calling the stove "horno" which is oven...duh). But now I can't remember what the stove is called...yay google translator to the rescue! 

See you soon!