Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Of Ferries, Estonians, and Exchange students

Well, I have been keeping myself fairly busy, which is why I have not been able to post for over a week. It seems like every day I have some kind of dinner or event that I am going to. But I am enjoying it, because I am able to meet new people and feel like I am involved in things. I have met several new people in my Swedish history class, including a guy from England and a guy from Turkey. On Thursday of last week we went to a place called Gamla Uppsala where there are mounds from Viking times, at one point there were over 200 mounds in one place. Below is a picture of one of the mounds. The museum had a variety of interesting artifacts that they had pulled from the tomb as well.

There was also an old church right next to the burial mound area. It actually had been one of the main churches in Uppsala, built around the 12th century or so. But a fire destroyed much of the church. However the part that remains is preserved remarkably well and appeared to be only slightly changed from the 12th century. It was very interesting to go in. Below is a picture of the church

Last Wednesday there was a welcoming reception for the exchange students in the University Main building, which is a very nice building. We were able to go inside a big auditorium that was nicely decorated, and then we went to a reception room where there was a lot of paintings and things and we listened to a welcoming speech given by the Vice Chancellor. The reception was okay, but the most exciting part was what happened afterwards.

As I was going out of the building, I met the English guy who was with some students from Singapore. I started walking with them, and found out they were going to eat at this place called Pinnochio's Pizza. I also heard them talking about a trip they were going to take to Lapland and a place called Abisko mountain station. They were going to Pinnochio's Pizza to discuss what they were going to do for the trip. So I decided to go, and so within half an hour I had signed up for a trip to Lapland from February 21-25. It was quite interesting the way things worked out, but that is what I enjoy so much about being an international student. I have an immediate connection with every other international student. So the Lapland trip will be my next big adventure, and I am hoping to visit the Ice Hotel, go dogsledding, and do a variety of other things. It will be somewhat expensive, but I think that it will be worth it.

Well, now on to my trip to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. It is a small town of approximately 400,000 people. But the old town had a nice medieval feel to it. So on Friday I and three other students took a train to Stockholm where we went on the ferry. There were a lot of other exchange students on the ferry as well. The ferry was a cruise ferry, so it had a pub, and a casino/stage, and a disco, and a restaurant where they charged ridiculous prices for food, and finally, a tax free store. In face a lot of people take this ferry because they are able to buy beer for significantly cheaper prices than in Sweden. Some people were a bit drunk, but it wasn't too bad. Fortunately my roommates were quiet.

The picture above shows the ferry I was on. The town was very nice. I wandered around with five other exchange students. The old town had a nice medieval feel to it. There were a variety of interesting shops and museums. Part of the old wall had been preserved. All the streets were cobblestone, some were narrow, so it was nice to walk around some.

The prices were also cheap for the most part, the estonian currency was 10 to 1 against the American dollar, which made conversion nice and simple. We also went to the city museum and learned some about 20th century Estonian history and how hard it was for the people being occupied by the Germans and then the Soviets from a guy who was born in 1932. It was very interesting to hear him describe the events, the deportations and the propaganda. I was moved by the courage of the people of this small country. On the ferry ride back we ran into some rough waves and rough weather. Some people got seasick, but I actually enjoyed the storm as it reminded me of God's power (and of course being from Indiana, I never really experience storms on seas). The ship was rocking back and forth noticably, I went out on deck several times and enjoyed watching the sea and the waves. All in all it was exciting. Below is a video I took while I was standing on the exterior deck.

This week has seemed to just fly by with a variety of events. Sunday I watched the Super Bowl at this bar in Uppsala that stayed open. The game started at 12:45 in Sweden. It gave new meaning for me to hear the sports announcers say that they were broadcasting the game around the world. It was a very exciting game to watch, it didn't seem like there were many Americans, mostly people from around the world, but they were into the game. I left at the end of the third quarter because I had come back from Estonia that day and was tired and I knew I had class the next day at 9:00, perhaps I should have stayed, but oh well. I left around 2:45 in the morning. But I was definitely very happy when I turned on my computer the next morning and found out the Giants won. It was the next best thing to the Colts winning the Super Bowl.

On Monday I had class and learned about Gustav Vassa who formed the Swedish state, and about the period from 1520-1710 when Sweden went to war with just about everybody (the only time they went to war with just about everybody). I also stopped by an exhibition in the Carolina Redviva library where they have a lot of old books, the highlight of which is the Silver Bible, from the 6th century or so. Most of these manuscripts were stolen from German castles in the 17th century, when Sweden was a great military power. Next week I have to come up with a paper topic for a comparison between Sweden and the U.S. Monday night was the International Bible Study where we studied 2 Corinthians. Tuesday was another busy day as I had a session on how to use the Uppsala Library catalogue, then I sang in the gospel choir for an hour, then went to Goteborg nation to make Semla as Tuesday is known as Fat Tuesday or Semla day, (they were very good). Finally I went to the Norrlands nation Sports Club and played basketball. I have officially joined the Sports Club to play basketball and they meet every Tuesday night from 10-11. Today I met a guy for lunch, studied some LSAT prep, and went to a dinner sponsored by this organisation called CAMBIUS. The dinner was great, and I sang the Star Spangled Banner for everyone there, as the people from the different countries were singing their national anthems. I forgot some of the words, I can't believe I did that, but I didn't pause, so I don't think anyone noticed. So that is a bit of my life, keeping very busy and constantly meeting new people, which I am enjoying very much. Well, time for bed, and then a new day.

1 comment:

SaraY said...

I hear the ice hotel is quite impressive. Hope you have fun!