Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gothenburg (Part 2) and Other Adventures

Hej hej!

Around this time last year I flew back from Gothenburg to California, it's only fitting that I finish the blog sooner rather than later. Let's get started!

Ain't No Party Like a Crawfish Party

Towards the end of the summer, one of my co-workers threw a crawfish party. I couldn't remember the last time I had a crawfish and I remember feeling very odd breaking apart an animal to grab the meat inside - but it was delicious. 

Crawfish parties come with their own very colorful decor. We all wore paper caps and wore aprons in a slight attempt to stay clean. The host of the party wanted to make sure we had enough food, so aside from the crawfish he bought a lot of bread rolls....almost enough for each of us to have our own pack of 12. While the rolls were small, he had enough leftovers to make a lot of sandwiches for the next couples weeks! 

After we were all done eating, we had fun throwing streamers at each other. Looking back at these pictures, it seems like I may need to throw a crawfish party myself! And in another Swedish tradition, I remember that it was raining when we left the party so we all huddled under the bus stop together in attempts to stay dry. I remember hating the rain before getting to Sweden and now I kind of miss it. With the right rain gear, it's nice to have a change in weather! 

Food, food, and more food! 
So in my last few weeks of Sweden, I was very focused on getting the most out of my experience - a large component of that was trying as many different foods as I could. 

The first of my many food adventures was a soup and cake buffet in central Gothenburg. Above is a creamy seafood soup with saffron and to the right is just a glimpse of all the cakes I tried - yes I tried them all! I chose to get tiny slices of all the cakes to make sure I didn't miss out on anything. It was a great lunch and really makes me wonder why I don't know of a place like this in California - I think it would do very well here! 

Some might be shocked to hear that I've only ever been to Ikea once, and it was when my mentor took me during a lunch break at work. Who knew Ikea had such affordable lunch options? The meatballs were good, and the dessert was surprisingly decadent. It was really cool exploring Ikea for the first time and knowing that the first Ikea I went to was actually in the country that it was founded. Also, I tried to buy cheese slicers as souvenirs, but Ikea was out of them for the next month - this is when I learned just how seriously the Swedes took their fresh cheese slices.  

Surprisingly, Sweden was also the first time I had Tapas or a variety of Spanish appetizers as a meal. One day, on an impromptu plan with Saba at an After Work, we decided to grab dinner. It was very yummy cuisine, and it was really nice being able to taste several different dishes instead of just one plate. Looking at those shrimp now makes me want to go back!

This picture below is from my last "Friday Fika" at work. I tried to be very Swedish and made rhubarb pie using my host mom's recipe. She wasn't there to help me, so I was happy to hear that it was actually tasty. We also had some pastries and some homemade vegan apple muffins that were so yummy! 

One day I noticed that my friend from UCSB was in Stockholm and found out she was on her way to Gothenburg. We found some time to do fika together and I tried to show her as much of Gothenburg as I could in an afternoon. We also split this delicious and huge cinnamon bun in true Swedish style. 

At Chalmers, my department took an annual retreat to promote team building and develop other professional skills. This retreat happened to be during the last week of my stay and I was able to score a ticket to attend! 

This spa resort right on the ocean made me miss UCSB. I have to say, the west coast is always the best coast ;) During our time here, we visited a World Heritage Site called the Grimeton which is an Radio Station used during the 1950s to connect to Long Island, New York. The location of the Grimeton was ideal in transmitting transatlanic radio waves to connect the Swedish Navy to the United States.

While at Varberg, I participated in some team building activities and some workshops. The one that I remember the most is the "Talent Show". Our team decided to do some stand up comedy and we all did jokes in Swedish that involved some sort of pun - a type of humor that is very common in Gothenburg. It was really funny because of the 5 of us telling the jokes, only 2 of us spoke Swedish. I practiced my joke a lot, and I think I managed not to butcher the accent too badly.

For dinner that night, we had this awesome fish entree and dessert. I can't quite remember what the flavors of each were, but they look so delicious that I had to share the photos.

Closing up this blog, I wanted to reflect a bit more at my time were I worked. I had some awesome coworkers, many who I still keep in contact with through the wonders of the internet, and a lot of really good food. Let's look at some of my last fika meals:

I believe my co-workers called the Oreo chocolate chip cookies I made "The Most American Dessert" they could imagine. They were delicious and I'm contemplating making them again. The second image is Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies which is a dessert I've made several times since then, and is always a hit. The last is an assortment of cakes which I believe was at one of the last few Friday Fikas I attended.

Above are the pictures of the Fika room. I remember when I arrived to Chalmers one of the first things my professor said to me was "Let me show you to the Fika room. We have Fika twice a day at 10 and at 3. Friday Fikas are special because we brings treats. Oh, people also eat lunch in this room". I miss having Fika breaks during my days here at the states.

Above is a picture that proves I did more than just travel and eat in Sweden - sometimes I dabbled with science. The second picture is of my mentor Mats Hulander and my professor Martin Andersson. I learned so much that summer and had a lot more flexibility than I was used to with my summer research. A lot of the skills I learned at Chalmers in terms of planning my own schedule, learning to ask people for help, and reading up on old work were skills I applied to my last internship at Clorox. The next time I visit Gothenburg, I'd definitely stop by Chalmers to see if the construction that was going on ever finished!

My Swedish Family
The most lasting connection I've had since leaving Sweden is with the family I lived with.
From left to right there is Jasmine, me, Malte, Richard, and Lotta. I remember watching movies with the family on Friday nights and going to the Gothenburg festival together. Most of the travel suggestions I had were from Lotta.

On my last night in Sweden, I decided to cook Indian food for the family and Lotta made dessert.

The family loved the food so much that I left them the recipes for it! I miss catching up with them on the daily, but it is still nice that I get to keep in touch with the family even when I'm half way across the world.

On a slightly random note, here is the park near my house were I ran during the summer:

It was a moderately challenging run because it was very hilly, but it was also very scenic. By the end of the summer, I was able to run the equivalent of a 5K on the hilly trial. If I had kept up the momentum, I probably could have ran a half marathon by now, but I got side-tracked with engineering at UCSB and am now finding my way back to running.

Fourth of July in SF
This past summer I was able to show my Swedish Family what it was like to explore SF and celebrate Fourth of July like an American!

It was really exciting to show my Swedish Family around a city I knew and be in the state I grew up! I remember eating a delicious Ghiradelli Brownie Sundae for dinner the first night I saw them and the next night we all had Starbucks hot chocolate as we waited for the fireworks to start. The Ghiradelli "G" was even lit up in the America flag color on the Fourth! 

1) I took way too long to finish this blog. The next time I blog, I'll have to hold myself to a more rigorous time line.
2) Looking back at my blogs, it's been really nice to reflect on the places I've been, delicious food I've eaten, and amazing people I've met. Going to Sweden for a summer definitely set me outside my comfort zone and made me grow a lot as a person. I have much more confidence in traveling alone and am more open to trying new things.
3) Thank you all for reading! If it wasn't for the encouragement I received, there is no way I would have been able to complete this blog. I apologize for it being so late, but I'm so excited that I've finished it!
4) I'd once again like to thank the CISEI program for the incredible opportunity!
5) Everyone should go visit Sweden - I definitely plan on going back to visit!