Sunday, June 29, 2014

Swedish Food - Post 1

Hej hej!

This is going to be the first of what I'm sure will be many posts about food in Sweden.

Let's start in order of what I've had so far:

1) A Shrimp Sandwich from the Heaven 23, a restaurant located on the top of Gothia Towers. The restaurant had a view overlooking the city, but since I forgot my camera, I don't have a picture to share. I was, however, able to ask someone to take a picture of my food for me. The sandwich was great - good balance of shrimp, mayo, eggs, and a bit of rye bread.

2) A co-worker brought in "crispy" bread for me to try. It kinda tastes like plain crackers. The one that I'm holding in the picture is the traditional version because the hole in the middle was used for drying the bread. A pole could carry multiple pieces of bread on it (through the holes) to let them dry and become crispy. 
3) Richard, my co-worker, also brought me sour milk to try. It was basically thin yogurt that smelled a bit sour. Apparently it's good for your digestive system. I had some with sugar and most people here also put crispy bread in it. 

4) Richard then brought in this salted licorice candy for me to try. Let me be honest - I wasn't a fan. The licorice was coated with an ammonium chloride salt that made it taste really odd and then once the salt was gone, the hard licorice stuck to your teeth. After passing the candy around the room, I've concluded that only Swedish people who had this candy as kids, liked it. All of us "foreigners" don't seem to like it. The package of the candy has a screaming monkey on it! 

3) Next, someone brought an amazing almond cake to work. It was a bit dense and absolutely scrumptious! I didn't take a picture of it, but I stole one off the internet of what it looked like. 

  4) One day at lunch I went to this Indian-Italian Restaurant near Chalmers. It sounds odd, but my professor told me that I had to try the kebab pizza. I ordered it expecting it to be a pan-pizza size, and it turns out it was on a plate bigger than my head. I only had half of it for lunch, but it was delicious. The ranch balanced out the kebab nicely. 
After eating at multiple Thai restaurants in town, I've figured out that Thai food here is the equivalent of Chinese food back home. It's quite popular and there are restaurants everywhere. My mentor explained to me that Swedes often go to Thailand on vacation during the winter months in Sweden, which is why the food is so popular here. 

I also visited the Pizza Hut here with some co-workers. In Sweden it is more of a sit-down restaurant kind of equivalent to Chile's back home, but with fewer menu options. We all ate the pizza with a fork and knife even though it was a deep dish pizza I would have scarfed down with just my hands back home. People in Sweden tend to use utensils a lot more than we do in America, and way more than people do in India. Luckily no one has made fun of my table manners yet! 

Lastly, here is a picture of the candy aisle at just about every grocery store in Sweden. It's very popular to bag your own candy here. I haven't tried it yet since I'm still finishing up some Finnish Chocolate, but I'm sure I'll have trouble making decisions when I do start to pack my candy. 

On a random note, I figured out the significance of the statue I saw in the downtown area of Gothenburg. It's called Kopparmärra and is a statue of Charles IX who founded the precursor to Gothenburg. There is some interesting history behind the statue that you can find by clicking here. Here is my touristy photo in front of the statue! 

Alright - sorry about the long blog post, but food is important. Hope I didn't leave you too hungry! 

Until next time, 

Friday, June 27, 2014


Hello! (or should I say Hej!)

So I've been in Sweden for just over a week now and finally recovered from jet lag. It's about time I wrote about why I'm in Sweden and tell you all a bit about Chalmers (my new second home).

I am funded through CISEI - a great program through the material's department at UCSB which sends two interns per university to several universities throughout Europe and to Fudan University in China (shout out to Vishaal's blog about his adventures in China). Applicants who tend to get chosen have previous research experience, which I had through the EUREKA! program last summer in Santa Barbara. I was fortunate enough to be chosen by Chalmer's Institute of Technology here in Gothenburg, Sweden and am doing research in Professor Martin Andersson's lab. His group focuses on using nanomaterials for biological applications which fits hand in hand with my last research project about using nanoparticles for drug delivery.

Over the past week I've been working with my mentor, Mats Hulander, on reviewing some of his previous research and talking about my project for the summer. Interestingly enough, the lab group just got a new AFM (atomic force microscope) delivered a few weeks ago and a representative from the company in Germany came to help us set it up earlier this week. I spent the first part of the week trying to learn what an AFM measures and then learn the protocol for this new device I'll be working with for the rest of the summer. It's been challenging so far, but I know it will be a very rewarding summer! The only trouble is that you need to be dead silent while working with an AFM so that there is no background noise in the measurements - for me, being quiet for that long will be a challenge, but I think I can do it!

A few logistics about the blog before I leave some pretty pictures of the campus:
a) My goal is to post every Wednesday and Sunday or roughly two times a week except for the weeks I'm on vacation. There might be more mini-blog posts within that time frame if something exceptionally exciting happens during the week.
b) Please leave any comments on things you want to hear more about! I have a list of future blog post topics on hand and I'd love to actually talk about what you all are interested in!

My tram stop (the university is going through some construction).

Bike racks are different here, but the bikes remind me of UCSB! A lot of people commute by bike to work in the city.
  The next few pictures are of the park that is in the middle of campus.

The Chemistry Building, aka Dilpreet's new home.
Some wall art on the chemistry building.
A cool bridge connecting two buildings.
One of the many lounges in the building.
Interesting statue on campus.

Bye for now!

Sunday, June 22, 2014


So yesterday my fellow intern, Alex, and I decided to go explore the midsummer festivities. Only problem was that we showed up a few hours late to see formal Swedish dancing around the Maypole. We still decided to walk around this really cool park called Slottskrogen and explore. The holiday reminded me a bit of July 4th back home because it centers around families and friends gathering together, having picnics, celebrating the midnight sun and (I believe) having a delayed celebration of National Day of Sweden. Some girls had these pretty crowns on their heads that were made of flowers and small branches (not going to lie, I really wanted one!) I'll just fill the rest of the blog post up with pretty pictures!
Me in front of the Maypole. (Yes I'm actually alive and in Sweden!)

A fountain by a small restaurant in the park.

Small memorial in the park.
Small stream in the park.
Families having picnics in the park.
A cool looking building in the park.

Trail in the park.
Some ads placed on bicycles by one of the tram stops.
The park was a mini-zoo too. Here are some tiny penguins, there were also sea lions and some birds.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Getting Around the City

The past few days have been a bit chaotic adjusting to a new time zone and a new city all without my luggage. Luckily my handbag arrived yesterday and I should be receiving my main checked bag today! My handbag arrived at the perfect time because the weather went from being super warm yesterday to being fairly windy and cloudy today. Luckily I packed a pair of boots and a warm jacket in my handbag so I'm good to go!

Everyone here has been super friendly and welcoming! Its hard to arrive in a new country without your luggage but its been easy to adapt and adjust. While almost everyone speaks English here, most signs are still in Swedish. Grocery shopping yesterday was an adventure because here you weigh your own vegetables and print tags for it so its easier to check out. Its a great idea, but it can be difficult when you don't know the names of the vegetables in Swedish. Luckily everything has pictures next to it so after a bit of guessing, I was eventually able to find and tag everything.

So the best way to get around the city (in my case) has been using the tram. The tram is actually really cool because it is mini shuttle train type things that cycle about every 20 minutes. So getting to the university and around the city has been very easy. I will try to remember to take and post a picture of a tram in my next post.

Because I arrived just before the Swedish Midsummer Festival, which is supposed to fall on the longest day of the year, the days here are ridiculously long. Here is a picture I took outside my window at 10:30 PM last night.
Eye-masks are the key to sleeping here! Speaking of sleep, the jetlag of changing 9 hours between time zones has been terrible. I find myself yawning throughout the day, but hopefully I will rest up this weekend and be accustom to the time zone next week.

I'll leave you guys with a picture of a statue of a horse in the Gothenburg downtown area, I'm not sure of it's significance, but I'll try to figure it out the next time I go downtown!

Bye for now!

I've Landed!!

As I found my seat and settled in to my connecting flight from JFK to Stockholm, I noticed a couple guys in suits wearing a security pin and having those fancy secret service ear pieces. Then enters an older gentleman who started shaking everyone's hand. Being sleep deprived and not super up-to-date with politics I assumed it was someone important but didn't know who. But then I heard the whispers of "I've never shook a president's hand before" and "I guess former presidents still like to interact with the American public". Then it hit me, Former President Jimmy Carter had just shaken my hand. Here is a blurry picture I got of him as he left the plane. I sat two seats away from one of his Secret Service agents and I can confirm that they are real people who also eat, sleep, and watch in-flight movies on the plane.

Flying over Sweden all I could think is "it's so green!" Back at home, California is in a drought but here there are lush forests everywhere. Also, there is a bunch of rivers and lakes here and many cities have islands as a main part of the city. I believe the city of  Stockholm is at least 14 islands connect by a lot of bridges. Here are a couple pictures I took on the taxi ride to the train station!

I have a curse - airlines have a knack for losing my luggage. This time I thought I was prepared, I packed a handbag with just enough clothes for a few days in case they lost my checked bag. Sadly they checked in my handbag at LAX in an effort to get the plane to leave on time. So I'm currently in Sweden with just my backpack and no spare clothes. I guess this is the world's way of telling me to go shopping and help the Swedish economy?

Bye for now!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Past 72 Hours

Let me recap the last few days: 

Thursday 10 PM: I arrive back home and unloaded the car packed with everything I crammed into my dorm last year. 

Friday 10 AM: Arrive at the dentist for a regular clean-up. 

Friday 12 PM-2 PM: Grab my last In and Out Burger with my little brother then drop him off at robotics. Shout out to the Buchanan Bird Brains!

Friday 2-8 PM: Various errands. Highlights including going to get boba, shopping at Ulta, and buying new sandals. 

Friday 8 PM: I was supposed to start packing but watched Modern Family for a few hours instead. 

Saturday 9 AM: Woke up, finished laundry, watched more Modern Family. Grabbed a few things from Target and started packing. 

Saturday 9 PM: 70% of my packing is finished.

Sunday 2 AM: 90% of my packing is done, I head to bed knowing I'll be exhausted in the morning. 

Sunday 6 AM: My mommy wakes me up to get ready for Gurdwara (it's a Sikh place of worship). Despite my exhaustion, I get up to help volunteer for an event my family helps put on annually to honor Sikh Saint. It was great to see my family and friends at Gurdwara for the first time in months and the last time before I leave for Sweden. 

Sunday at 3:30 PM: I treated myself to pedicures with Sydney and Jackie (a much needed reunion and pedicure!). 

Sunday at 5 PM: Google maps choose the longest way to lead Jackie and me to another boba place. I needed to satisfy what was hopefully my last boba craving before leaving the country. 

Sunday at 6 PM: I came home exhausted ready to take a nap, but ended up helping my parents learn how to use their smartphones so that they can still talk to me in Sweden! 

Sunday 9 PM: Packing is 99% finished. Time to come up with a blog title (I hope you all like it)! 

So as you can probably tell, the last few days have been really busy. Since I need some sleep before heading to the airport tomorrow I'll try to keep this post short and write a longer (better) post on the plane. For now here are the important details:

I leave for Sweden June 16th and comes back September 7th. (I'll miss the Fourth of July in the US but I promise I'll try and celebrate it in Sweden!)

I will be doing research in Professor Martin Andersson's lab in Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. How did I get this internship? An amazing program through UCSB's MRL (Materials Research Laboratory) called CISEI (I'll give more details in the next post). 

What I'm most looking forward too: I've recently found out that Sweden has a lot of old castles....the little girl inside me who wanted to be a princess growing up is beyond excited to visit castles! 

What I'm most afraid of: I've been spoiled by Santa Barbara's beautiful weather for two years, so hopefully I'll be able to adapt to a chiller climate. 

How to contact me: Since I will not have a working phone right away, email and facebook will be the best ways to get a hold of me!