Bye Bye 2014

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And so it is here: the last day of the year. I came to school and decided to have my breakfast outside. Even if the air is cooling the sunshine today is hot and just as bright as at any Swedish summer day.

I guess this is New Year Taiwanese style: Summer weather.

If everything goes smoothly I’ll spend the first minutes of 2015  gazing up at fireworks from Taipei 101. But first I’ll have to get through this day of school.

See you 2015!

A Very Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas all dear ones!

After finishing a lab yesterday afternoon I could finally go home, get some rest, make phone calls to my family back home and dress up. I had some Christmas gifts that’s been waiting patiently in my bookshelf, and yesterday I could finally open them and try all the goodies inside.

The Swedish exchange students had a gathering yesterday night, including some visiting family and girlfriends we were almost 30 people in total. For me it felt like I was in a dream: being surrounded by my mother tounge, having  Swedish food, Swedish drinks and making very Swedish jokes. The man with the biggest beard was chosen to be Santa Claus and had to come and knook at the door and say “Ho ho, are there any well-behaving kids in this home?”, before reading out Christmas rhymes we had written on each others gifts and letting us guess what might be inside. Some Swedes received slippers, coffee or tea cups, others small games or things of very questionable purpose.

The main discussion of the evening was about the moral aspects of having couscous salad for the buffet. ” This is not Swedish tradition!” Christmas is one of the few days we actually eat food with that is from our own culture.

Today I woke up and decided that I might as well eat cake for breakfast. After all, it’s Christmas. Somehow there was new gifts delivered to me while I was out yesterday night. After finishing eating I have to try to track down the girl who gave them.

I’m also trying to figure out excuses good enough to keep me out of the lab today. “I feel a little sick”? ” I got food poisoning from the experiment yesterday”? “I have an important meeting in my dorm”? But I think the teacher will be very suspicious if the only foreigner in the class is absent at the 25th of December.

I should not complain actually. One Swedish friend had an exam last night, and another one left the party at midnight to go and work with his project group. Taiwan, give us a Christmas break!

May your week be peaceful, your hearts thankful and your tummies just full. Christmas wishes for you!

PS. I did buy Taiwanese Christmas cards which I never wrote or sent. Please forgive me. Maybe you can get them next year? Ds.

Lucia celebration in Taiwan

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The other day I sneaked out of class one hour early and headed to celebrate a very Swedish Lucia.

As usual when there is something Swedish going on NCTU it was the Chalmers office that is holding the event. They usually manage to find traditional Swedish things somehow and everyone who wants can attend.

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As soon as I entered the room I realized that they actually had Lussekatter – Real Swedish Lussekatter with lots of saffron. A Lussekatt is a big yellow colored bun in a special S shape, and decorated with raisins. This is one of the things I craved this December but thought I would have to do without. Together with ginger bread and hot glögg the taste almost brought out my tears.

Lucia a very typical Swedish tradition. Originally it has to do with an Italian saint, but after some hundred years and a lot of mixing with folklore and stories it is now something we regard as our own. The night between 12th and 13th December was believed to be a dark and dangerous night, and my Swedish ancestors were probably afraid. In early morning youngsters would dress up and walk from house to house and sing. It’s a celebration full of light and happiness, which is well needed in our dark north.

Today most Lucia arrangement’s take place in schools and workplaces. Youngsters dress up in long white dresses, the girls with green branches, red ribbons or glitter, and the guys with pointy white hats and stars. The main person is a girl wearing a crown of candles in her hair, and we call her Lucia. Nowadays you might as well find gingerbread men or Santa Claus in the parade. They will sing old-fashioned Swedish Christmas carols everyone love but few understand the lyrics of.

Of course the students from Chalmers University dressed up and sung some carols for us. The Taiwanese part of the audience looked happy but slightly confused.

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Afterwards I found a cozy sofa in the back and took some time to talk with some friends. And then the best thing happened!

Apparently one of the Swedish students decided that some of the Taiwanese students should try to wear the outfits and sing a Chinese version of the Lucia song for us.

All Swedish were clapping and cheering. For a short moment they even lit up all the candles for a photo, before hastily blowing it out before any fire alarm would go of.

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The official Taiwanese Lucia at National Chiao Tung University, 2014?

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Now it’s only one more day and it will be Christmas for real. It is hard to get a feeling of it here. We have classes as usual, it’s no snow and little Christmas music.

We Swedes will get together and do the best we can to create some Christmas peace.

Travelling in Taichung

More photos from our trip to Taichung: you can see photos from a flea market we visited here.

DSC_0164DSC_0138DSC_0150None of us where Taiwanese, but I was the only non-asian. Only one of us was native Chinese speakers but most of us where fluent. The constant chattering was in Chinese and I would walk behind the others asking them to translate the jokes and explain again where we were going.

Strangers we met at the street often thought I was the alone foreign traveler even though I was walking in middle of a group of friends.

The day was unique but so much fun. A lovely day with lovely girls and too much food.