On K’s birthday

Last month in 2019, Baby K turned 1 year old. It feels cruel, sometimes, how a year can passed you by in the blink of an eye. She was just this tiny red blueish baby not so long ago. Now she’s not a baby anymore, she’s officially a toddler.

She already has four teeth. She’s very messy independent when it comes to eating, but clingy when it comes to socialising :D. She’s a strong willed little girl. She drives me crazy with her unlimited energy that keeps her awake till late. Every. Single. Night. And yet, she makes me laugh with her funny behaviours, and warms my heart whenever she hugs me tight.

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Third Year Reflection*

As the year-end is approaching, I would like to use this blog post as a medium of reflection. A look back to where it all started three years ago. This month in 2016, I moved to Sweden from my home country. Time has passed by and many things have happened ever since, including having an additional member in the family. So it just feels right to see how it was and how it has been as a newbie living in Sweden.

And here are some random facts about Sweden that I learnt during my first three years of living in the country:

Sweden is a good place to raise kid

From free education to nearly free healthcare, Sweden is one of a few places I can think of when it comes to a “family friendly” country. Yes, the system is bit frustrating sometimes and requires lots of things to do—filling out forms, queuing, making calls to name a few. But once you got in, the safety net is always there.

Sweden also seems to care about and is willing to take part in children development. One tiny example is when my baby turned 6 months old, she received a free choice book from Lund’s state library. From what I understand, it’s a part of the program to encourage reading and literacy (such important skills for kids to have indeed).

Apart from those, generous parental leave, celebrated equality and recognition of universal values are the things that Sweden offers. And those are the list I would love to tick as a parent. Anyway, read more about the rights as parents in Sweden here.

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Hang Out Ideas for Newbie Parents*

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I often say to myself, when you’re a parent, life is what happened between fresh brewed coffee in the morning and reheated coffee in the afternoon: you barely have time to enjoy your coffee, decently 😀 Especially when you live away from home, far from the supporting system called family, the struggle is real.

Luckily in Sweden, there are some hang out places that are designed and dedicated for parents so parenting can still be fun. Here are the highlights:

Local library

If you’re new in Sweden and not sure where to go for a day-out with your baby, a library could be a good starting point. The state library in Lund has special section for kids of all ages. There’s this small play area where you can read books with your children and also meet other fellow parents.The library also has baby café and book-reading events for kid in various languages (read more about the events here). The book reading is held in the reading “closet” which is set up nicely and comfy for the parents and the kids.

Open Preschool

In Sweden, due to its generous parental leave, kids are not going to preschool or day care until they turn 1 year old. But, they can join open preschool without registration (just pop up when you feel like it) and it’s free of charge.

There are two open preschools in Lund, Kulan and Söderlek. I go to the first one with my baby and we’re having a really good time there. In Kullan, I get the opportunity to meet and socialise with other adults, while my daughter gets to meet and play with other children. So it’s good for both my kids and me. I can have a social life and talk to those who are on the same boat with me and my kid is enjoyed being surrounded by friends, toys and books.

The open preschool also has interesting activities such as painting and foot or hand casting but the most loved one is the singing section. Most parents come around the singing time (10.30 and 13.30 depending on the day) and leave soon after. That’s the thing about open preschool. We decide when to come and how long we want to stay. We are also responsible for our child(ren) during the stay.

Parents’ Group Play Date

I consider myself lucky because the health centre where I’m registered at provides parent’s group for international parents. We met regularly during the first six months of our postnatal period and I found the meetings were really nice and useful. The scheduled meeting at the health centre has concluded last summer but the parents still continue to meet for a play date every now and then.

If you don’t have parents group at your registered health centre, try online parents groups in your area (such as Facebook Group) or you can use this website to search for local parents group. They often have various activities range from fika to book club.

Barnvagns Bio

I received an invitation to a Barnvagns Bio last June and thought that was a smart solution for parents who want to watch movie without leaving their baby at home.

Barnvagns Bio or stroller cinema is a convenient way to watch cinema in an environment where it is okay for babies to cry 😀 . During the show the sound is muted (or down a bit) and the light is dimmed (instead of completely dark) which is perfect for napping. In the middle of the movie, we take a break for any diaper changes and eating times. Microwave and changing table are available and the stroller is parked outside. Some cinemas even offer coffee. In short, it sounds really cozy.

I haven’t tried it myself but a friend of mine went to one and she loved it. The fact that there’s a break in the middle of the movie and that you can stand up, bounce, rock or even breastfeed if needed, are just perfect for her. And I agree. I’ll definitely go to Barnvagns Bio as it’s already in my soon-to-do list ☺ .

For more information about Barnvagns Bio in Lund, check this and this.

*originally published for The Newbie Guide to Sweden on November 7, 2019

Swedish Sayings I Wish I Knew Before Moving to Sweden*

Like many other countries, Sweden has plenty of expressions, idioms and sayings rooted in history and tradition. Some of them can be found in other languages, or at least share similar meaning like “Beat around the bush” and “Gå som katten kring het gröt” (English: walks like the cat around hot porridge). Some others are quite exceptional.

Despite its hilarious literal meanings, these sayings are actually relatable to everyday life in Sweden. Personally, I found some sayings are helpful in understanding Swedish values, and for that reason I wish I knew them earlier 😀

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Continue reading “Swedish Sayings I Wish I Knew Before Moving to Sweden*”

What’s On Lund?*

Despite its petite size, Lund is the home for many interesting regular events. From January to December, there are always some things going on in Lund. I put a compilation of events in Lund below so you can mark your calendar and plan everything in advance as Swedes do ☺

Lundaloppet

This is a race for all ages that has been organised since 1982 and is claimed as the largest exercise race in Skåne. Join more than a thousand runners in this annual event. Lundaloppet has three races: 850 metres for kids, 5 kilometres and 10 kilometres. It is like a running party in Lund’s IP where organisations set up their booths and provide foods, playground and even face painting.

Lundakarnevalen

Lundakarnevalen is one of the biggest events in Lund that only held every once in four years (quadrennial). It is arranged by the students of Lund and it transforms the city into an area filled with festivities in tents and stages. Also, there is the most awaited carnival parade marching through the streets of Lund.

The first Lundakarnevalen was arranged in 1849 and has since loved by many. People are come from outside Lund to see this event due to its historic story and the fun it offers. On last year event, I met an old lady who came from central part of Sweden just to watch the carnival despite her illness. She said that she didn’t want to miss one of the best times in Lund.

However, since the last Lundakarnevalen was just held in 2018, we still have 3 more years to wait ☺.

Lund Comedy Festival

Believed as Sweden’s most fun festival, Lund Comedy Festival offers humour in any forms range from stand up comedy, improvisation, music, sketch, to talk show. This event is usually joined by over a hundred artists both international and national. The event also accommodates popular artists as well as new talents. Don’t miss it!

Lund Human Rights Film Festival

It’s an international festival run by The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law since 2016. The festival is held in Kino with programs including films screenings and talks/discussions. All films are in English language or English subtitles.

Litteralund

Born in 2005, Litteralund is Sweden’s largest festival for children’s and youth literature. It’s like literacy festival as it gives opportunities for children and young people to read, write and create. Although the focus of the festival is literature,  it also includes theater, music, film and dance.

Kulturnatten

Kulturnatten is a culture event created by and for Lund’s Residents. There are many associations and organisations involved in this event, including the university. Traditionally, it takes place on the third Saturday in September and is filled with activities from morning until late night. This year, the event will kick off on September 21.

Held for the first time in 1985, visitors are given the opportunity to experience everything from music, dance, science shows, crafts, exhibitions, guided tours, and so on. My favourite from last year event is the laser show held by The Physics & Lasershow Lund University.

Lunds Studentsångare hälsar våren

How to welcome spring in Sweden? In Lund, one of the possible answers is by singing ☺ .

And that what the event is about. Lunds Studentsångare hälsar våren is an event when a male choir perform in Lund University House staircase on May 1. This annual event is broadcasted nationally and joined by both active singers and veterans of the Lund Student Song Association.

Kalvinknattet

Usually held around May or June, Kalvinknatet is the race where everyone up to grade 4 is welcome to participate. The distance ranges from 400 to 1500 m depending on the kids age. In this event, the participants receive medal, T-shirt and chocolate milk from Skånemejerier. No wonder it’s really popular among kids 🙂

 

*Originally published for The Newbie Guide to Sweden

The writing that helped Hayu re-find herself*

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The move to Sweden became a major transition for Hayu Rahmitasari. In order not to feel idle, she took up writing. Now she has released her first novel – which may be adapted into series.

December 2016, Hayu Rahmitasari moved from Yogyakarta, Indonesia with her then six-year-old daughter. Her husband, Zaki, had received a doctoral position in Lund and they first thought of a long-distance marriage. But after eight months, the distance became too large so she resigned from her job as lecturer at the university in her hometown and moved afterward.

The couple are both media and communication scholars and in fact they were also “competitors” for a while.

“We applied for the same doctoral position, but at that time we did not understand that it was only one position available in Lund. He was the one who was eventually hired.”

Continue reading “The writing that helped Hayu re-find herself*”

Embracing the Typically Swedish habits*

Living in a new country brings its own excitement and challenges. The first years are usually dubbed as the honeymoon phase. This is the moment when everything seems so bright, fresh and exciting.

Then soon, things become routine and less fascinating than before. In a matter of time, we started to settle and eventually adopted the new habits, including the habits in eating. Either we consciously do it on purpose, or it just comes naturally, we’ll find ourselves embrace the new habit, no matter how strange we thought it was.

This is actually a good sign as you’ve had become part of another culture, and it has changed the way you look at people, life, and even yourself.

After living in Sweden for almost three years, here are the things that I found unusual at the beginning but now I got used to them:

Eating boiled egg with caviar (in a tube) for breakfast

Most of the newbies would probably think that tube was only used for toothpaste or acrylic paint. But here in Sweden, a tube is also associated with the smörgåskaviar, a fish roe spread that you use as a topping for a boiled egg. Whenever you go to grocery shops in Sweden, you will see these distinctive tubes and will notice that almost every customer grab at least one of them :D. The most famous brand among all is the blue and yellow tube called Kalles Kaviar.

Eating meatball (and pancake, porridge and anything but bread) with lingonberry sauce

If you’ve been to IKEA and try their meatballs, you definitely had tasted the iconic lingonberry sauce. This sweet and sour dip is widely used in Sweden. Though it looks like a jam, it’s rarely used as a spread for bread. Instead, you will find it on your dinner plate when you’re eating kåldolmar or stuffed cabbage rolls. This was my daily menu when I stayed at the hospital after giving birth to my second daughter. No wonder I got used to the taste now.

Choosing crispbread over loaf

I’m a huge fan of the fresh-baked loaf. But since I moved to Sweden, my other favourite breakfast menu is the classic crispbread (knäckebröd) with avocado as a topping. At first, I just tried it out of curiosity because there’s always a lane dedicated only for knäckebröd in a Swedish supermarket. But then I like its crispiness and I read that it’s actually healthier so more reason to eat it regularly. I haven’t tried eating knäckebröd with pickled herring though. I think I need more time for that!

Eating Smörgåstårta on birthday party

In my life before Sweden, when I heard the word “tart” I never picture shrimp or salmon as part of it. But that what Smörgåstårta is. This savoury cake is like a mix between a sandwich and layered cream cake and you will find shrimp, salmon, cucumber, tomato and mayonnaise in it. I had my first Smörgåstårta on my friend’s birthday party and despite my lack of enthusiasm at first, now I find this cake as refreshing and tasty.

Eating candies (a lot!) on Saturdays

Lördagsgodis, that’s the Swedish word for this Saturday’s ritual. This Swedish tradition of stocking up on sweets at the weekend has a dark history as it involved people with mental health experiment. However, it now becomes a joyful moment for young and old and actually a good way to manage your kids’ sweets intake. For me, as I have a sweet tooth, this particular habit has been the easiest to adopt.

So, what about you? Which typically Swedish habits are you starting to embrace?

*originally published for The Newbie Guide to Sweden