Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I made it! (Or the adventures of Katie and the astounding globalization machine)

Hello everyone!

As indicated by the title of this post, I'M HERE! Professor Lair and I made it successfully through three airports (Heathrow is HUGE) and the accompanying security checks, two flights, and the first night here in Stockholm. The hostel I'm staying at (City Backpackers) is awesome, very clean, very cool, very friendly. It's only been one night and already I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for a cheap place to stay in Stockholm (free pasta 24/7! attn. Brian Denu: tonight there is a thing called the "Swedish Meatball Experience" in which we get to learn how to make traditional Swedish meatballs!! the picture on the flyer is in fact of the chef from the muppets.)
super grainy photo of the outside of the hostel
my home for the next couple nights

Anyway, here's an observation: Sweden looks like Earth.(i.e., looks like Maine, looks like Spain, etc.) I'm not sure why, but I always expect each new country I go to to look in some way distinguishably different from each other country I've been to, but this in fact has not been the case.

#2: Holy globalization, batman! Now I experienced this feeling on multiple occasions last semester while studying abroad, but it is still a little disconcerting to me to travel a day and an ocean away and arrive in a place that quite frankly looks like it could exist anywhere. On the bus ride into the city and during the short jaunt to our respective hotels last night, we passed HP, LG, Ford, Burger King, 7 eleven, what appeared to be a large shopping complex just outside the city, McDonalds (of course), a handful of kebap places (one of which we ate at) that looked just like the ones I saw in Spain, a whole slew of Chinese restaurants... you get the gist. However, we did see one thing that I have never seen anywhere else, a place called Holy Monkey! Is it uniquely Swedish? Who knows.

For those WGS 120 kids out there reading this, I am made acutely aware of the privilege I enjoy as a result of being a native English speaker (invisible privilege!). Find me a major city in the US where every street sign/restaurant menu/important info sign is written in Swedish as well as English (good luck with that). It's crazy to think that I've come to a country that speaks a language I have zero experience with  and still get around with very little trouble just because I had the great fortune of being born in a country that speaks what is quickly becoming a universal language (although Prof. Lair and I did establish that we can say 'thank you' (tack) and 'exit/out' (ut) if necessary). Oh and you know that whole adage 'when all you have is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail'? Well that's me, my hammer is Spanish and all foreign languages I don't understand are nails; every time I hear someone speaking a language I don't understand I start speaking Spanish in my head as if I spoke any other language besides English they might understand. Weird, huh? haha.

For my Urban Soc friends reading this, check out this cool building! I think it's a great example of the whole 'now we can build with steel and glass and it looks really cool so we're going to build it that way' thing:
I apologize for the bad image quality, I couldn't get my camera ready in time to get a better shot.

It's kind of hard to tell but the entire building is made of glass and it of course has the whole flat roof thing going on. Also it's out in the middle nowhere! Somebody show Gibbons and see what he thinks. On a related note, the streets in the part of Stockholm I'm in are very much done after the Parisian model we talked about, wide open and tree lined for the most part.

I know, at this point I'm sure you're just blown away by my picture taking skills. 

In other news, I blew up my hair dryer! 1875 watts > the 1500 watts my adapter apparently supports.  

Well, today is the first day of the conference, hopefully we don't get lost on our way there and I will have more interesting/nerdy things to talk about soon! 

Thanks for reading and enjoy your Tuesday everyone!


  1. Hi Katie! Hope you're having fun. I will look up more on that crazy building.

    One of my favorite students from Eville went with me to Iceland and melted her 100$ straight iron on day 1!

    My vibe is Sweden will be fairly anti car, so pay attention to how contemporary development looks compared to here. And pay attention to what cars are ppl driving to see if you can see a difference from here. And alt transportation.

    Have fun! Love the blog!

  2. Haha! "Holy Globalization Batman!" Is there an "appreciate" button on this thing?

  3. Love your analysis of privilege, Katie. BTW, my "default" foreign language is French. Many years ago, when I was a social worker (in southern California, where most of my clients were Spanish-speaking), I took a Spanish class. Every time the professor asked me a question in Spanish, I answered in French! All these years later, I still lapse into French when I try to speak Spanish. Hope your presentation went well. -Prof. Potuchek