Friday, July 19, 2013

T-minus 7 Hours

And just like that the adventure comes to a close. Starting it off where it began, blogging from an airport. This time the location is Canada not Germany and instead of moving in the opposite direction of home, this is the closest I've been in seven months.

Saw the thought catalogue "How to Come Home" recently and found a few of the lines to ring especially true.

Some realizations of the past few months:

1) I am a terrible blogger. This is certain. Hopefully over the next few weeks I will do some retrospective posts with some pictures and comments to share some stories but really just for me to look back on and cry over with my friends Ben and Jerry. Only joking, although I have been warned by many that P.E.D (Post-Exchange Depression) is a real thing.

I foresee this happening a lot when I return home:

1: “Where’s Mireille?”
2: “She’s wandering IKEA trying to speak Swedish with people and fikaing at the restaurant.”
1: “AGAIN?!?”

Yep, if you see me wandering IKEA blasting the ABBA it’s probably safest to just let me be.

 2) Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. Badump chh. But actually, I'm pretty sure bullets have left guns slower than these last seven months have gone by. Usain Bolt called and he wants to know how these months went so quickly. They went fast. Reading through past blog posts (albeit there aren't many) I feel like I just experienced everything last week. Didn't I just get to Sweden?

3) I still like airports. Yep. After 21 planes, 20 different airports (3 of which were slept in), and countless hours spent at 30,000 ft there's still something about the fluorescently lit halls and stern mustachio'd security officers that I still love (I think more often than not they are mustachio'd.) Although, after months of budget airlines the likes of Easyjet (big love for Easyjet) and Ryanair (...less love for Ryanair) I felt like I was kickin' it in first class on my Lufthansa flight back to Canadia. Water? A Blanket? Leg room? Don't mind if I do!

So for now I say "vi ses" (see you later) to the adventures of the past months, and "hejsan" to my lovely home. Perhaps I'll throw a "förlåt" (sorry) in there to all the people I am sure to deafen with my stories and ramblings from exchange.

New adventures await. Maybe not in the form of foreign countries and exotic cuisine but exciting new jobs, new apartment, and who knows what else-- that's the point of adventure right?

Couldn't have said it better myself, Harry. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Netherlands

Ventured to the land of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell a few weeks ago (okay more than a few weeks ago...) to see what all the fuss was about. I first traveled to Utrecht, a small university town that I would describe as Lund with canals. The first thing that struck me in the Netherlands was how easy it was to get around. Their transit signs were basically written in a "you'd have to be a moron not to understand me" kind of way which was a welcome change from the Italian "haha you can't understand me, you moron" manner.

My day in Utrecht was spent wandering the cobbled streets, climbing the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, and purchasing/eating copious amounts of cheese from the market. Then took a quick train over to Den Haag and Scheveningen (not pronounced ANYTHING like it looks) which is a beautiful town right on the coast. 

As it was Easter Monday most everything was closed in Den Haag itself but the beach was hoppin' (and COLD) and I enjoyed walking along the boardwalk with an Easter brunch for one by the water. 

Then it was off to Amsterdam AKA my favourite place that I have been in Europe and possibly the world. I knew that I loved it the second I exited the train station and was greeted with the harbour and glorious sun. I really can't put my finger on what exactly I loved so much about the city but the whole energy and life of the city was just electric (SEWWW CLICHE but so true.)

Took a three hour bike tour (cue Gilligan's Island) of the city on the first day and minus a small bike accident incident (not involving me) it was a great way to get the lay of the land. As in any other trip (and day in my life) the main event was of course the food. I have come to the conclusion that the Dutch are of the philosophy "deep fry it and claim it as our own" which I can absolutely get on board with. Highlights included stroopwafels (wafer cookies with a caramel-like syrup in the middle), Patat met (fries with mayonnaise), Poffertjes (mini Dutch pancakes) and cheese.

Spent a day at the Keukenhof flower gardens that were less "flower gardens" per se and more "empty flower beds because it's still effing cold out." However, the grounds were still beautiful and they had some really nice indoor tulip displays and exhibits that kept me entertained for a few hours. Still worth the trip (about an hour from Amsterdam) so I can't even imagine what it would look like in the height
of bloom. 

Queued up for the Anne Frank house (notorious for massive waits) and was pleasantly surprised when it only took about 25 minutes to get in plus added bonus of free Wifi while waiting in line. Seriously I would line up just to use the Wifi... This was another highlight of the trip (the house not the Wifi) in that it was fascinating to see something in person that I've only read about in books. 

Absolutely cannot wait to go back to this amazing city and see what else it has to offer as I know I only barely scratched the air above the surface.  


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ciao, Italia

No you haven't updated your blog recently.

This blog seems to have gone the way of the dodo but I am determined that it will make a miraculous comeback. Not calling it just yet.

I think I have spent more of the last month away from Lund than in it. I'm going to blame that for lack of update. Destinations have included and are limited to: Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey! Stockholm will soon be added to the list as I am headed there for the weekend.

Rewind 4 weeks and I was in...


A spontaneous trip to Italy was booked 36 hours before it began on a Friday night whim that may or may not have been influenced by a few beers. Through the miracle of Easyjet—god's gift to man in discount airline form— I was booked to Milan for Sunday morning. By myself. Coming to Lund excluded, this would be my first solo travel experience: backpacking, hostels, asking for directions every five minutes—the whole shebang!

Despite two solid days of rain and the fact I forgot to pack socks in my haste, Milan was beautiful. The cathedral is absolutely breathtaking and I probably spent at least an hour just sitting and admiring the architecture (and not just to escape the pouring rain... okay partly). 

Of course inordinate amounts of gelato, margherita pizza, and pasta were consumed... but that all goes without saying. And then it was off to Florence via a casual 300km an hour train ride (!!) 

Florence may possible be the most beautiful place I have ever seen in real life (I think I may have previously said that about Lund... my allegiances are fickle). It looks like a city someone drew and it came to life. 

 Ponte Vecchio at night 

The ceiling of the Duomo on the way up 

While in Florence I experienced a life changing experience. It makes me emotional just to recall the event and I think about it every day since it happened. I ate. The best. Sandwich of all time. I know this is a hefty statement to just throw around, but, like Joey Tribbiani, I don't joke about sandwiches. 

Sweet, rich toppings between foccacia bread
"The best in town" is what that weird guy at my hostel said
Skeptical I was as I strut down Via dei Neiri
Expecting I would find something quite the contrary
But there you were just waiting to be made
Roasted eggplant, zucchini and of course the tepenade
Mozzarella, arugala and that sweet sweet onion
After your beauty I would name my first born son
I think of you every day since we have parted
But you will forever remain in my heart... ed

Yep. Yes. That just happened. 

Next stop: Amsterdam! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Are you there spring?

It's me, Mireille "haven't felt my toes since January" Seguin.

I don't think that would fit on the cover of a Judy Blume novel.

This picture was taken the day after returning from -15˚C Finland. It felt like heaven. What you don't see is that literally every bench, chair, step, and most of the ground are filled with people basking in the glorious sun. When it comes around, the Swedes know how to enjoy it. It was likely only about 10˚ but it sure felt like a tropical vacation to me.

And then winter came back and kicked me in the face. Spring came around for just long enough to remember what it felt like to be warm and then winter decided it wasn't quite through with me yet.

Above photos from the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen where I saw La Bayadere a few weeks ago. I'm not sure which was more beautiful: the actual ballet or the theatre it was in. 

Weather this week has been very spring-like... but it is not going to deceive me this time! I'm on to its tricks and am not hanging up the parka... just yet. 

Oh and Happy National Våffeldagen (Waffle Day)! Time for Canada to step up the holidays. 

Next post: Spur of the moment Italy! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lights, ahoy!

Figured I wouldn't bury the lead and just come right out and say I SAW THE NORTHERN LIGHTS!!! 

Yep, the trip up north did not disappoint as these beauties put on a little show for us not one but two of the nights we were there! This picture absolutely does not do justice to what was taking place in the sky above us and if I were the Aurora Borealis I would actually be offended that I'm sharing this sub-par representation. If I were the Aurora Borealis I would untag myself on facebook in this picture.

Contributing factors to the less than stellar quality of pictures:
1) Too mesmerized looking at the sky to look down at my camera for more than 2.5 seconds
2) Too cold to remove gloves for more than 3.8 seconds without possibility of amputation.
3) Using a camera bag/glove/snow mound contraption instead of a real tripod (I am my father's daughter).

The second highlight of the trip (a distant, far far away in another galaxy second) was just the sheer amount of SUN! When we arrived in Rovaniemi fresh faced and bright eyed after a 13 hour overnight bus ride we were not expecting to be greeted by such blinding sunlight-- but it was probably the only thing keeping us going!

 The fishing town of Bugøynes, Norway. Population: 200. Latitude: 70˚N

Husky puppies. That is all. 

Helsinki cathedral

Next stop: Amsterdam! Planning is fully underway for an Easter trip to the Netherlands to visit Amsterdam and take in my life's share of beautiful flowers (I am my mother's daughter.)

Bonus picture of the day- spelling words the Finnish way: just add a few more vowels! I'm thinking of making the name change permanent.

Next time on Mireille's Sporadically Updated Blog (working title): Has Spring finally come in Lund or will Winter strike back with full force? Stay tuned....

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Live Every Day like it's Cheese Doodle Day

Danish danishes! Oh so many Danish danishes.... All pictures are from my Copenhagen trip a couple weekends ago.

If someone asked me to sum up the last six weeks here is Sweden a few things may fit the bill: new friends, exciting experiences, snow, or maybe travel. But, nej, only one thing comes to mind: food. Yes, this will come as a surprise to anyone who has never met me or ever seen me before. But to everyone else this probably holds a shock value of exactly zero. My days are filled with food and I have no regrets (...except maybe that one Chinese restaurant.)

We receive semi-regular updates from the International Office here about things that are happening at the University, the most recent of which contained this gem.
Here is a sample of some food themed days in Sweden:
12 Feb: Day of the Semla and International Pancake Day  
25 Feb: Day of the Grape fruit 
5 March: Cheese Doodle Day (**my personal favourite day, inspiring my new life motto "Live Every Day like it's Cheese Doodle Day")
25 March: Day of the Swedish Waffle 
12 April: Licorice Day 
11 May: Swedish chocolate ball day 
27 May: Muffin Day and Cheese Day 
6 June: Day of the early potatoes and sill (typical dishes during Swedish midsummer) 
18 June: International Picnic Day 
25 Aug: International Raw Food Day 
4 Oct: Day of the Swedish Cinnamon roll (“Kanelbulle”) 
9 Dec: Day of the Gingersnap cookie (“Pepparkaka”)

I fully plan on celebrating every day on this list. Actually, October 4th (Kanelbulle day) is celebrated almost every day at Fika.

"Fika is a social institution in Sweden; it means having a break, most often a coffee break, with one's colleagues, friends, date or family. The word "fika" can serve as both a verb and a noun. Swedes consider having a coffee an important part of the culture" --- Thanks Wikipedia! 

I moved to a country where it is practically mandatory to take a mid afternoon coffee and kanelbulle break and I am expected to move home at some point??

In my time spent not eating (which truly is a minority) I have actually spent some time in the library (I'm just as shocked!), exploring some more of Lund, and planning future excursions. Next stop: Finland! Tomorrow night I am train-ing, flying and bussing my way to Rovaniemi, Finland (in that order)! Time will be spent cross country skiing, visiting Santa Claus, hanging out with some reindeer, and HOPEFULLY (she says shaking her fist menacingly in the direction of the sky) seeing the northern lights.

Monday, February 4, 2013

It's Official...

You know you're officially living in Sweden when your phone begins autocorrecting words to Swedish!  

Sorry for not posting for a little while I've been super busy with schoolwork (ha ha ha it's funny because it's not even a little bit true.) 

Preface — this is a small update on my life inter spliced with pictures of the Lund Cathedral which I toured last weekend. 

Updates on the Swedish Lyfe: 

Current progress with the Swedish language includes useful phrases from my aerobics class and the Swedish subtitles on Django Unchained. So I can get by just fine if I ever find myself in a situation where I need to be a heinously profane aerobics instructor with a gun, as I often do. 

On the note of Swedish aerobics- I have been regularly hitting up classes at the gym here including but not limited to aerobics, latin dance, advanced dance class (that one was by accident), afro-dance, step and yoga! All were thoroughly enjoyable minus the Swedish yoga. I think I left the yoga class more stressed than when I entered because, as is the case with most yoga classes, the instructor talked us through the poses as we were holding them. This is normally calming, however, because I had no idea what she was saying, from my down-dog position I was consistently looking around me to see what everyone was doing as I had no idea if she was saying "keep holding the pose" or "change to the next pose." She very well may have been saying "you're doing it all wrong— you, yes you, the tall moron who doesn't get any of it" and I would have been just as oblivious.


I have been attending classes, but I only have school Monday - Wednesday (tough life) leaving plenty of time for other fun activities such as traveling! 

This weekend I will be heading to Copenhagen, a mere 30 minute train ride away, and am staying the night with a few friends in a hostel. The only thing on my to do list is to eat a Danish. A Danish in Denmark with a great dane, that's the dream. I doubt I'll find the dog though, so I'll just settle for the pastry. 


At the end of February I am heading north to hopefully glimpse some Aurora Borealis in action! I am going to Finland and Norway for a week and will be staying within the Arctic Circle so I'm getting the winter boots and thermal underwear ready. 

BONUS picture of the day to prove I actually have friends not just buildings... corridor dinner with the roommates!

Corridor dinner with my roommates! 

Next post will more than likely contain stories from Denmark and undoubtedly a picture or two of a Danish... because pastries are my only friends. I hired those last people.