What to Bring from Sweden

I have been quiet here for a while, mainly because I am starting to say goodbye to life here in Sweden. As a part of that process, I have to decide what to take with me from Sweden to Ghana.

My first year in Ghana, that list was quite long. Edibles like kaviar, nyponsoppa, knäckebröd, and then loads of books formed a substantial part of my luggage. With time, the list has grown leaner both because I have learned to live without certain items (kaviar, nyponsoppa), but also because many items can now be bought in Ghana (knäckebröd, for instance – I buy the Ryvita bread at any supermarket).

This time, I am traveling with a Kindle in my bag, so most of the books I’d like to read carry no physical weight. (I’m still in awe, isn’t this amazing?)

This year, I think the list is down to:

  • Cheese and Coffee – the amounts and qualities I need cannot be found within my budget in Ghana
  • Swedish candy (Although, now I can apparently order it from Candy from Sweden)
  • Swedish Home Decor magazines (with that special blend of Scandinavian design and IKEA).

But of course, what I most want to take with me, I can’t. In my case – my Swedish family and then the bandwidth…

What do you have to bring from home when you travel?

Pic from Candy from Sweden

Swedish Society and Culture Lecture

Tomorrow I am lecturing on “Swedish Society and Culture” at Malmö University.

It is a topic I should know very well. I am a product of it. I studied Political Science with a focus on Scandinavia/comparative politics. In addition, it is a presentation that I have given earlier to students in Ghana (with good help from the Swedish Institute).

But maybe what makes me most suited to talk on this topic is that I have lived outside of Sweden for a majority of the last 10 years of my life. I think experiencing other societies (US, France and Ghana in my case) makes the specificities of Swedish society stand out more clearly. Also, living abroad makes you – or at least it has made me – an ambassador of my country. I find myself describing the Swedish model (defending the high taxes), explaining why Swedes are thought – see pic – to be overtly sexual (a myth stemming from artsy Swedish films in the 1950s) and displaying Swedish traditions and joie-de-vivre (disproving that Swedes would be extremely suicidal because of the darkness up north).

Tomorrow I will do it again. Wish me luck!

PS. My blog being messed up means that I have not felt inspired to post lately. Sorry to anyone who still follows this space! I think I will just keep posting and worry about the look when I have time. Update: It is now fixed!

Picture borrowed from the Swedish Bikini Team.

Swedish “Holiday” – IKEA Catalog is Out!

Today is the day – the yearly IKEA catalog is here! IKEA is of course the Swedish furniture company which furnishes most Swedish homes and homes around the globe for that matter.

So WhileBabyIsAsleep (a new category of posts), I have acquainted myself with this year’s issue, its news and smart solutions. I am sure many other Swedes are doing the same! This could almost be called a Swedish holiday as Swedes love home decor!

Luckily for you who did not get the glossy 386-page catalog sent to you, a YouTube version is also available.

Happy Furniture Holiday!

Roosters Prohibited in Residential Areas

Today when I was reading local newspaper SydSvenskan, I came across this piece of information (not yet on the web) apropos a home for elderly that have dogs and soon will have five chicken to liven up its inhabitants.

I feel this news somehow illustrates one of the differences between life in Ghana and in Sweden (homes for the elderly of course is a difference in itself).


According to Vellinge’s environmental officer Lars Robert Göransson, roosters are forbidden within residential areas (detaljplanerat område in Swedish) because of the risk of their cocoos disturbing.

However, so far there are no close neighbors to the hencoop (at the home for elderly).

– “I do not want to promise anything”, says Göransson. “But if the elderly would appreciate a cocooing rooster as well, then we will have to look into the possibilities of issuing a temporary permit.”

(my translation)

On the one hand, I love that there is legislation on this type of nuisance, but on the other I also feel strange about the whole idea of paperwork being carried out because of a rooster.

Which world would you like to live in? The world where life is planned in detail or where there is room for a rooster?

Photo by Robert Åslund/tupp.se

Low-Key Celebration of National Day in Sweden

Today is sixth of June, Sweden’s national day. National day? you say and think of parades, flags and fireworks flying about and families getting together to mark the occasion with foods and festivities.

However, it might be the most low-key celebration of any nation. Ever. Only a few years ago, the sixth became a holiday in Sweden and we Swedes are frankly still not sure what to do with it. We do not have a history of parading, as we are not a military nation and have been lucky (or aloof) enough to avoid wars for more than 200 years. Waiving a Swedish flag in Sweden is not encouraged. We feel it is somehow boastful and much too nationalistic. Fireworks would not work against the light summer skies – remember the midnight sun?

Some Swedes say that our midsummer celebrations at the end of this month is when our Swedishness really shines though: families meet, traditional food and drink are prepared and strange nationalistic behavior like building a flower pole, dancing and singing is proclaimed – so maybe that would be a better national day?

See my earlier five (!) posts about midsummer celebrations here. Typically, I have never written about the national day before.

Pic from last year’s midsummer celebrations with family in friends in Sweden.

Should I Change My Name When I Marry?

Today, I have been married for three years.

It has been a helluvaride. If my better half read my blog, I’d send him kisses through this post, but he doesn’t (!) so I will just go ahead and say that I am happy I did.

Also, for anyone thinking about getting married, I have this advice on name change (as earlier conveyed to a dear friend in an email):

About last names and marriage. I think the best advice I can give is
do not change your name.
Do not even add one, like I did. It is a HAZZLE and also
a weird tradition – why should I change my name just because I marry?
(actually it is not the tradition in Ghana and many other countries).

In hindsight, I do not regret adding Adu, just because that is kind of the only thing that makes me blend in a bit more here in Ghana, “aahh, so you are Ghanaian??”, but I am not sure you need that in [the country where you presently live].
Also many times, people call me “Mrs Adu” without ever having seen my
name in official print and that makes me think “why was it so
important to me to take his name officially?”. Finally, the name laws in Sweden
also prohibits me to give Hallberg as a name to my children now as it is now my “middle name”…
So, read the fineprint or just keep your name and live happily ever
after!

Photo from my wedding day by Kerstin Alm.

Magnus in Ghana on Swedish TV

tv4 Ghana Magnus Ericsson

Yesterday, I was seated in my friend Magnus Ericsson’s house to see how his TV-debut came out in the TV4 program Felix stör en ingenjör (translates into: Felix – a well-known Swedish TV-personality – disturbs an engineer).

Well, Magnus did wonderful!

The program provided (a tiny bit of ) information about the Sweden Ghana Medical Center Magnus is working on and featured some truly wonderful footage from Ghana. There were also some funny episodes including a wall gecko, a fetish priest known from Facebook (see pic below) and a tailor made fantasy coffin that made us Swedes present in Magnus’ living room shriek with laughter!

See the program on TV4 play.

Today Afrika 2010 Starts

Afrika 2010
A selection of the writers on their way to Gothenburg. Source: afrika2010.se

…and I am not there!

Afrika 2010 is this year’s book fair in Gothenburg, Sweden – this year with an Africa theme. There will be African writers, Swedish kulturtanter or “culture ladies” (this concept should probably be its own blog post), African publishers, world class artist Dobet Gnahore, a few of my friends and books, books, books!

You who are there, enjoy for me too!

When I Visited Rijksmuseum at Schiphol Airport

Riksutställningar Ghana Amsterdam SchipholWhen was the last time you went to an art museum at an airport?

For me, it was in August.  I wrote a snapshot article  for Swedish newsletter Spana! from my experience Rijksmuseum at Schiphol Airport in Holland.

With Google Translate (and some translating services on my own) it goes something like this:

AMSTERDAM: Between two flights I haste to Terminal D at Amsterdam International Airport Schiphol. Passing VIP lounges and chocolate disks you can find a branch of the Dutch Rijksmuseum. Here some 20 works are displayed, mostly paintings from the era of Dutch great painting. Three visitors of all ages – and a suitcase – are scattered in the room and below we can see the excitement travelers.

Dutch Lisa is standing viewing a portrait.
– I always take my time to go by here. Anyway now the money is finished!
She laughs and holds up a shopping bag.

Despite a gift shop which is at least as large as the exhibition space, the Rijksmuseum at Schiphol provides a unique opportunity not to consume during the waiting time at the airport. With its very existence the museum site challenges the space – are airports really public places when they most closely resemble shopping palaces?

Lisa with the bag is also critical.
– The selection is too narrow. At the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, there is so much more.

Apparently, the Rijksmuseum thought the same thing, for later this year will open a new, larger museum at Schiphol airport.

Find the article in original in the Spana! September edition (click on Netherlands).

Surprisingly, there was an article on Ghana too in the newsletter, but not by me but by fellow Ghanablogging member Osabutey Anny – translated into Swedish! I must say this network is going places…

Stressful Sunday

Now the world is spinning too fast.

Grading, art project, did you see my email? contract, research, graduation,  lunches, Google conference, malaria. Twice. (hope its gone).

And tomorrow evening I am supposed to fly out of Ghana for a long vacation. Seven weeks. Lazy days. Newspapers and coffee. Dinner with long lost friends. Hugging my parents. Surfing on fast, fast broadband. Speaking Swedish. Being one in the crowd.

My plan is to keep posting here on my summer. Hope you are ready for vacation!

But before the lazy days – am I ready? What shoes should I wear? Do I have a gift for my sister? Did I read your email? Where’s my phone charger?

This Is Swedishness

In preparation for my summer in Sweden, I stumbled across the webshop Swedishness.se. The shop ships Swedish design world wide.

And bliss, they have a Swedishness Blog too.

In the pic, a towel from Växbo Lin, a game from before Wii and some baby felt slippers.