We finally settled into a comfortable groove in our second week in Mora. For a rather “normal” week we did a lot: we battled through early classes, survived Vegan food, witnessed the kick off of the Vasaloppet, and resisted heart attacks after too many Fikas with too many sweets. So I’ll call it a success!
Our politics classes with Lennart Sacreadeus began at a brutal 8:15; far too early for any normal college students. I for one was rather worn out after a week of it, and realized just how great college schedules really are. Of course, that’s not to say that I did not enjoy dear Lennart’s class, far from it in fact. Lennart is a neat fellow, and his life experiences alone make him a useful asset to the course. Having served in both the EU and Swedish parliaments his class walks a fine line between pure book learning and learning from his own time living the course material. Despite the rumors that Lennart was a harsh task master, he has been a rather lenient teacher, assigning minimal homework and giving us several breaks during his three hour classes- including that ever important Fika break. Along with political science, we’ve had Swedish class with Chelsea for some more mental calisthenics. It has been eminently rewarding to apply what I’ve learned in class in conversation with Swedes, and vice versa to take skills I’ve gained from conversations with Swedes and use them in class. Those random conversations with Swedes are like linguistic protein shakes, if you’ll allow the metaphor. Think of learning a language like lifting weights. So my normal workout routine, learning from my text book, has remained unchanged, but I’ve got a new source of nutrients- those little, seemingly unimportant conversations in Swedish- that enhances my normal classroom performance. And truly, learning a language is a great deal like lifting weights; after a long class in only Swedish my brain feels a lot like my thighs after a tough set of squats.
Our trip to the Sustainable Lifestyle course in Skattungby remains the highlight for big group activity for the week. Perched high in the mountains, Skattungby is a dreamy place with a truly breathtaking view of the landscape. No wonder those nature loving hippies flock to that place; frankly I can’t blame them. The students all gave us a very warm welcome, and it was nice to get to know them. That being said, I have some, uh, reservations about the students’ lifestyle at Skattungby. Without giving all of my long winded opinions, I’ll just pose the question to you, dear reader, I posed to the Skattungby folks: “What relevance does this lifestyle have in a post-industrial society of primarily urban dwellers with a diversified private sector?” If you have a good response, I’d truly love to hear it.
Vasaloppet has begun, with an influx of eager racers. It actually reminds me of home, as it’s a little bit like the Indy 500: racers and fans flock from all over the place to see a race of preposterous length. It’s a 90 kilometer ski race, but the current record is 3 h 38 min which just blows my mind. Mind you, *the* Vasaloppet is next Saturday, but there are other races- like yesterday’s Lady Vasa- that run throughout the week. The adjustment to the Vasaloppet crowd has been quite smooth indeed, and I appreciate the town of Mora dealing with the situation with grace. This isn’t their first rodeo. Of course, it’s not on the same level of madness that the Winter Market was in terms of people taking over a town, but the crowds are still impressive.
And Fika. Oh Fika, you wonderful high calorie and caffeine rascal. See Americans just go to a cafe or they just have a coffee break; there’s no pomp and circumstance about grabbing a cup of joe for most folks. But for Swedes it’s a whole different story altogether. Everything stops for Fika- work, school, even free time- and we’ve begun to fall in love with Fika too. I will argue Fika’s importance is born from the Swedish reserve and the need for a specific time and place to socialize. Americans never shut up, so we don’t need a place to feel comfortable and talk. Fika gives Swedes that safe space to branch out and be social. As a result, the event has gained a special importance that does not translate to American culture well. If you’re ever in Sweden and want to meet people, be assertive and ask someone to Fika. It’ll help cut through that icy outer layer and get to really know Swedes.
And with another fun-filled weekend we finished another week in Mora; may the next be just as fun as this one. I’ll leave you with some pictures from Mora’s cathedral because it’s just so pretty. Thanks for reading!