Welcome to Sweden

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There’s only one thing young ladies should be inserting in themselves…and that’s knowledge

Yesterday I participated in an activity for my university because they are apparently making a video about foreign students in Sweden. What is this, the fucking National Geographic?

Anyway, there was six of us. We were in a tiny room and each got an envelope, which we were instructed not to open. I was convinced at one point the guy in charge was going to turn into the homie from Saw. WANNA PLAY A GAME??? That didn’t happen. Instead, each envelope contained shapes and we had to create 6 equal sized squares with no verbal or non-verbal communication and we could only give away shapes, but not take them… while they filmed us. Then they filmed us studying. In hindsight, we probably should have signed some kind of waiver so this footage doesn’t end up in some schoolgirl porno.

Moving on.

I moved to Sweden when I was 23 years old. Like many major decisions in my life, I didn’t really think this one through. I had the thought to apply to graduate programs in Europe the previous December after spending two months backpacking said continent and subsequently coming to the realization that I probably shouldn’t be a waitress for the rest of my life.

I was, however, living in New York at the time, gainfully employed and didn’t really have any intention of leaving either. I just decided to have one brief moment of rationality and apply to graduate school as a potential future plan…which was good since my life proceeded to completely fall apart about six months later.

“Why Sweden?” is the million dollar question.

I have a wide variety of answers for this including, but not limited to:

“Well, I wanted to study in Europe and Sweden had a great program so I just applied.”

“I wanted a cultural experience.”

“I’m not really qualified for graduate school in the US, so I just sent my applications overseas and hoped that minor detail would get lost in translation.”

“It’s been over a year of people asking me that and I still haven’t come up with a good answer.”

They’re all somewhat true. The fact of the matter is, I was living in New York, wandering aimlessly through life, when I decided I ought to do something productive, like apply for continued education. Continued education is oftentimes legitimate, but in my opinion, it’s basically the way 20-somethings feign actual productivity for a few years. So I looked up schools. The majority were in the UK and Scandinavia. I explored the application process, remembered I was lazy and when I saw the two magic words on the Swedish website, I knew I was sold: Common Application. And that my friends is how I ended up moving to Sweden.

So, back to my arrival. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, fresh off a two-month revival period in Hawaii. During that time I had shed my New York puffiness, got my tan back and restored some of my dignity. Long gone were the days of working 18+ hour days in New York and spending the other 6 holed up in some grimy bar with the promises of broken dreams and head lice. Gone were the days of serving drinks to sleezy bankers in a black cat suit and visually prostituting myself for tips.  I was moving to Sweden, getting my masters and getting my head back in the game.

I moved into the dorms with a bunch of other youths, engaged in non R-rated group activities and started dating a Swedish guy who will probably forever be the nicest guy I’ll ever know.

“I think I’m doing this right!” I thought, confident that at 23 I had it all figured out.

Unfortunately, you can dress me up any way you want, put whatever title in front of my name and move me halfway around the world, but a hot dog is still a hot dog, even with all of the fixings. Pretty sure that’s not a saying, but it probably should be.

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Me getting pooped on by a bird. 

Incident 1:

“Hey Douglas [boyfriend], can you come help me with the wash? I can’t get the dryer to shut.”

“Sure, I’ll be right down.”

Fixes dryer.

“Alycia?”

“Yeah?”

“Where’s your laundry soap?”

“It’s right there,” I say pointing to the bottle.

“Alycia?”

“Yeah?”

“That’s fabric softener.”

 

Incident 2:

One of the perks of being a female is enduring things like bladder infections every so often. Like many women, I subscribe to the flush it out with cranberry juice at first sign of trouble method.

So when I first felt that uncomfortable “hot pee” as I used to say as a child, I headed straight to the store in search of some cranberry magic. After searching for what felt like forever, I finally found what appeared to be a juice box of cranberry juice. The lack of straw should have been my first indicator that something was going to go awry, but I soldiered on, bound and determined to not have to see a doctor for something as trivial as a bladder infection.

Outside the store, I tore into the carton of juice and I chugged like my vagina depended on it.

“Wow this is really sweet,” I thought, but shrugged it off and kept chugging. Once I had defeated the carton, I went home, feeling victorious. My feelings of triumph lasted all of two hours, however, when I suddenly rushed to the bathroom with the worst stomach pains of my life (except for maybe Cancun). Not long after, Douglas showed up to check on me.

“What happened?” he asked.

“I don’t know, I thought I had a bladder infection so I drank some cranberry juice and now my stomach just feels like it’s waging a jihad on itself,” I moaned.

“Are you sure that’s what you drank?”

“Yeah, the carton is in the trash, it says “cranberry” on it.” I replied matter-of-factly.

Douglas walked over to the trash and grabbed my “juice box.”

“Alycia?”

“What?”

“This is cranberry juice concentrate. This is supposed to make like 6 liters of juice when you mix it with water.”

Needless to say, not only did I end up with a horrible stomachache, but also my bladder infection didn’t go away and I got a yeast infection on top of that from all the sugar I had ingested and probably also diabetes.

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It’s not easy being me. 

Incident 3:

“I wish the gym had a sauna. The others do,” Douglas complained to me one day.

“Well you should put that in the suggestion box. I put stuff in there sometimes,” I suggested helpfully.

“What suggestion box?” he asked.

“You know, the one right by the entrance on the wall. The blue box,” I informed him matter-of-factly, impressed that I was able to teach him something for once.

“Alycia?”

“Yeah?”

“That’s not a suggestion box. That’s where you’re supposed to put your personal training slips.”

“Oh, well guess I should stop putting suggestions in there then.”

He then looked at me with what I’ve come to realize is the, “God, you’re so embarrassing,” look. We didn’t go to the gym together for a while after that.