So it's been a slow start getting accustomed to everything. The culture, yes, is different, but it is a Western society nonetheless. There are several parallels between the US and Sweden. In the end, the small differences add up to influence the symptoms of culture shock. One thing that also amazes me is that the shock is not only initialized by what's different, but what's the same. Let me explain. While shopping at the supermarket (and, by the way, so far, shopping for food is more of a scavenger hunt game for me, especially when trying to find less common items) some products catch my eye. For example, I never would expect to see Uncle Ben's rice on the shelf. Or Hellman products for that matter. While we're on the topic of food and the like, I wanted to mention my observation of the bottle of ginger ale I purchased. For clarification here in Sweden, the bottle is labeled as "American Ginger Ale." I never realized that ginger ale was an American product or came in an "American-style" variety.
Anyway, the true purpose of this post is to provide some pictures of the town and my walk to/from campus. One thing to keep in mind: these pictures seem to be dark even though they were taken at mid-afternoon. Currently the daylight hours span about five hours, with sunrise around nine and sunset at about two-thirty. Each day, this area is gaining about six additional minutes of daylight per day. Eventually, come May, it will be a twenty-four hour day.
So here are a few pictures, all captioned of course. Enjoy! -Jonathan
Luleå's main shopping district.
The harbor surrounding the town. "Roads" are currently being prepared around the town on the ice
for cyclists, ice skaters, and pedestrians. There is an island just away from the town.
During this season, the inhabitants of the island will drive their
vehicles across the ice into town.
The trail leading back from campus to my flat. All of the trees here in the north are frosted.
Also along the trail, the residential communities here are either of the apartment
or small house varieties. All of these communities, including mine where my
flat is located, are connected by these trails. Students and families alike
live in these areas.
Although this appears to be a lake, this is in fact one of the many inlets that feed into the
mainland. Just like the harbor, everything is iced over. The thickness of the ice I am unsure
of, however, people bike, walk, and ride their snowmobiles on it constantly (here in
Sweden, snowmobiles are called "snow scooters").
Further down the trail some more scenic views of the snow-covered trees.