[edit 9.10.2013: Ich habe einige Ergänzungen und Klarstellungen gegenüber dem Originalpost vom 4.10. hinzugefügt. Ich habe diese im Sinne der Offenheit und Vollständigkeit hervorgehoben.]
„Ich glaube diese 'leichten Autisten' faken es nur.“ schallte es mir vor knapp sechs Jahren im Wiener Dialekt entgegen. Es war eine kleine, gesellige Runde, und irgendwie kam nach zwei Bier dieses Thema auf.
War ich bis dahin vergleichsweise unbeteiligt an den teils lebhaften Diskussionen davor, kam ich hier nicht umhin eines der vielen von mir über die Jahre einstudierten Rituale einzusetzen: ein Räuspern. Der Aufmerksamkeit der Runde sicher verkündete ich: „Ich bin ein Autist.“
Damals wie heute war und ist die Reaktion meistens identisch: Ungläubiges Staunen, erhobene Augenbrauen und Anmerkungen vom Schlage 'Aber du bist so normal!'
Der Knackpunkt, zusammengefasst in fünf Worten.
Not too many news up in the frozen wastelands of the north™.
It's basically the in and out of sitting in the train, trying to explore some of my surroundings (I'm still having a hard time adjusting to the 7-days-a-week open grocery store nearby) and get a hang of things. Applications are in progress, but seeing as I'm still at the butt end of vacation time here it might take a bit before the final replies begin rolling in.
In a rather surprising twist - and despite the rather... generous pricing levels when it comes to alcohol - I recently found one of my preferred cider brands at Systembolaget recently. Oh, and it was actually cheaper when compared to the times I got it in Austria at Bobby's. Doesn't change though that I more or less exclusively drink water and fruit juices these days.
The biggest disappointment to date was discovering that turkey was hard to come by in the grocery stores. Chicken? No problem. Beef? Piece of cake. Pork? Also not so much a challenge. But I'll be pretty baffled if I ever stumble across a turkey steak or filet, at least one that's affordable. I've found smoked turkey ham though.
Still a bummer for someone who loves to use copious amounts of that bird in his meals. Guess I'll have to switch over to chicken for the time being. Or eat more fish - there's hardly a shortage of our delicious oceanic friends here. Now to learn how to properly prepare fish besides the frozen baked varieties I'm used to from home.
German tourists seem to be a target market as well. Or so I thought at least when I stumbled across this:
My German-speaking readers will probably get a chuckle out of this on the first glance. The bad positioning of the print makes the tittles (yes, this is an actual word) disappear on a cursory glance, turning a "Nötbratwurst" (Beef bratwurst) into the rather hilarious "Notbratwurst" (or literally translated 'Emergency bratwurst').
I guess Sweden gets enough German tourists every year that, on the way home from Norway in their camping buses, run out of bratwurst and have to buy them here as emergency rations.
Oh, and one more fun thing I saw on the shelves, to be filed under the category of "uh-huh, what the hell were you thinking?!": Cactus juice.
The general politeness of the people over here is almost British to a point. Being used to the rather grumpy "Wiener Schmäh'" and the daily dose of road rage display directed at pedestrians and cyclists, I found it to be a rather welcome change that cars actually care to stop here when you try to cross the road. And it doesn't even necessarily require a zebra crossing.
Aside from all that, I'm not sure if I just pick bad times to go out these days, or if it's just bad luck. While the weather so far has been consistently relatively warm and only dotted with a few scarce, short rain showers, I seem to have a knack to pick bad times for leaving.
Showers might only last five to ten minutes, and are not particularly intense so far - but they always start a minute or two after I have left the house. Hilarious in a way, and luckily not enough to soak me - with current temperatures it doesn't take long to dry those few wet spots.
That's all for now.
Sour cream & onion chips. Bacon in all thinkable variations. Blodpudding. Frozen Renskav. Yep - I'm in Sweden alright. Compared to Austria, the variety of bread is smaller and decidedly different from what I'm used to (though not bad in the sense of Japanese bread - selling normal wheat bread with dark food coloring as European style dark bread? Barbarians...).
Still, there is a whole new array of wonderfully weird tastes to be explored. I'll have plenty of time to do so, considering my plans.
The flathunt currently looks more and more like one should save up on cardboard boxes. Bostadsförmedlingen is useless with waiting times measuring in the better part of a decade, and as for second hand contracts such as subletting or flatsharing - well, good luck. Scams aside you'd better be either female or a student. Or willing to move every 8 weeks. Securing a job here is considerably easier than finding a place to stay. As my cousin stated to me, I'd probably be better off buying copious amounts of lottery scratch tickets and buy a modest flat with the proceeds of the next big win. Oh well. One can dream.
Shopping in itself isn't all too different from the experience in Austria, overall. Only less people bumping into you, grumbling along the way. Also, the stores feel more like a maze. With delicious amounts of Bacon™.
Oh, and if you noted: the price tags are all electronic. And that's for a reason. Whoever has a ICA member card can swipe it at the entrance and get one of these: Meet ICA Självscanning, the electronic shopping basket. Pick it up, and scan your items while you're shopping (the carts happen to have a rather convenient holster for the scanner). All said and done you can proceed to the self-checkout and pay with your ATM card. Occasionally your cart might be inspected by a ICA employee (after all, you should not go out with a cart full of foodstuff when you only scanned a piece of chewing gum). Other than that, simple, convenient and quick for the most part.
As I don't have a ICA card (yet), for me it's the same old story of checking out at the registers manned by overly cheerful employees.
All that shopping just makes me want to relax though.
The first few days have passed surprisingly quickly here in the North. Weather was mostly fairly nice and somewhat warm, though the occasional rain shower and some thunder and lightning now and then served to bring some variety to the plate.
Besides of getting a hang on the immediate surroundings and my means of transportation to the city itself I already took one trip to the city center of Stockholm, especially near T-Centralen and Drottninggatan. I have been to Stockholm before, also to the areas I visited now, but I don't know if they simply changed in the past few years or I simply never paid that much attention.. my initial reaction after half an hour of wandering around there is simply summed up in one picture:
Transportation, however, is as nice as I remember it to be and can easily be described with on par with Vienna so far. Naturally, I don't have the hang of the bus lines yet, so I can't say whether or not they are up to snuff; The subway lines however are easily on par, simple to navigate... and convenient.
I especially like the ticket system with the electronic card (kr20,- if you don't have one yet); Go to any place selling tickets and load up. Your ticket only activates as soon as you actually use it the first time. This made the monthly ticket by far the best deal (and hardly any difference in price, really, for me, compared to what I used to pay in Vienna).
All you do is swipe your card over the card reader at the entrance of the bus or near the steps down to the subway system; Or in case of the Roslagsbanan you simply show it to the conductor who proceeds to read the card with a handheld device. Quick and convenient.
First order of business was visiting the DICE offices near Slussen.
A thoroughly interesting experience, I must add, seeing the offices of DICE from the inside (I didn't take any photos beyond the above for pretty obvious reasons).
Commuting right now takes a bit longer than I am used to as there is some major construction going on until September. Until then I'll just have to put up with the commute being about an hour, or by some stroke of luck find an apartment that is somewhat closer to the city proper. However, how can one argue with a view like that when coming home for now?
I did it. After braving the sheer insurmountable odds of security checkpoints and the confusing layout of it, plus the rather awkward route back to the gate (which had me running in circles for a while), I arrived at my plane, with plenty of time to spare.
The flight, overall, was relatively uneventful, if bumpy due to weather. One thing I repeatedly find to be rather funny on inner-european flights, especially with German or Austrian airlines, is the rather thick German accent I get to hear whenever the pilot or crew speaks (or rather tries to speak) English.
Weather in Stockholm upon arrival was a rather murky grey dotted with the occasional rain shower (so, technically, not much of a change over Vienna), with a rather cool 16°C. Not that I noticed this. Three pieces of luggage containing all the lifes' essentials distilled to a bare minimum still weigh a fair bit (boy, this made me glad once more I got out of the mandatory service.) and broke a sweat alright at Arlanda.
Overall, a strange feeling being here - Sweden, for the first time on my own instead of tagging along the parents. I'm not sure it really has sunk in completely yet, but it will fairly soon.
Agenda of the day: Monthly ticket for public transport, scout out a few possible routes and the location of various stores. And, oh yeah - pestering a few companies with the information of my new whereabouts!
It's less than 24 hours to take-off now. Most preparations are done, though I still have to apply my Tetris™ skills to stuff a lifes' worth of material down into one suitcase and one carry-on bag. Plus some bribes.
Despite all my planning beforehand it is surprising where money can disappear to if one isn't careful. For example, a new weather-proof jacket to replace my (by now at least 15 years old) present one. Good thing I still have a fair bit of reserves... I'm pretty sure there will be loads of unexpected expenses once I'm in Stockholm proper.
Anxiety and skittishness however gave way to a weird mix of eager anticipation with a serene touch. The calm before the storm, probably, until the reality of the situation hits me with touchdown at Arlanda airport.
My room is now cleaner than it has been in months, possibly years, and it almost resembles a place an organized and orderly person would dare to inhabit. The most important documents are neatly stacked into folders on the desk, awaiting their place to be put into my carry-on luggage besides my netbook and various other stuff. Funnily enough I took the time to look at my bachelor diploma once more, and the overview of all my grades from my university heydays. One thing is evident when looking at my grades: I'm not one for theory, but a hands-on guy, as evidenced by the consistently better grades of practical assignments over theoretic exams.
Welp. 24 hours to go.
I can't claim to be bored. Not really.
It's been barely two weeks since my last days at A1. Being unemployed, at first glance, tends to evoke images of people lazily lounging on a couch or in bed. While I took the opportunity to sleep in a bit now and then, I don't think that image could have been further from the truth for me.
Run-ins with bureaucracy, extended trips to various shopping malls, scurrying to obtain some supplies. Looking up some more regulations. Creating battle plans for once I arrive up in the north.
I really can't claim to be bored.
For now, it seems like most of the preparations are actually done, all I need now is a cabin-compatible backpack. Beyond that we will see whether or not my hours of playing Tetris and the stacking skills acquired within that game translate into the real world and challenge of packing down a life worth of stuff into a suitcase and a carry-on bag.
As far as I can tell, my next few weeks are going to be very interesting. Sadly, all the processing power that's following me up there is my old, trusty netbook. Reliable as it is, I doubt it will have the horsepower to stomach Photoshop or let alone 3D Studio MAX. As much of a speed increase the Little Monster experienced once I stuffed in an extra gigabyte of RAM, the dinky Atom processor does not lend itself for the heavy lifting required for those two programs. Not to mention that my selection of games will be severely limited... Two of my favourite hobbies gone within the blink of an eye - I guess Mario Kart will have to do in the meantime.
It is a rather strange feeling, sitting at the desk I've spent working at for as long as I can remember; Seeing all my hardware and the rather extensive film collection, the brimfully filled bookshelf to my right - and realizing that I'm not going to see those again for quite a while, if all goes according to plan. I haven't moved before (well, discounting my stay at the dorms of my alma mater), at least not with this permanence in mind. I always knew that I would see those familiar walls again fairly soon. Now... the book is still to be written.
Welp, 48 hours to go.
Inspired by a Reddit comment somewhere (that I can't seem to find anymore. Le sigh.)
Don't read if you haven't finished Mass Effect (1)!
I turn my head, gazing at each of the floating pictures.
The form a long wall in an otherwise empty and white, dull plane.
Some big, some small. Some faded, some fresh in my mind and vibrant in colour.
"Do you always feel so empty?" a voice speaks up. All too familiar. I crack a slight smile, turn around in one swift motion.
There the companion stands, enigmatic as ever, in sharp contrast to the white nothingness that surrounds her black and wispy presence.
There are times, when the hyperactive subconscious I have, and the dreams that result therefrom can be a burden. Other times it is a blessing. Most of the time it is simply neutral, odd, or so plainly weird that the apposite reaction can only be the uttering of a hearty "what the fuck!".