Harry’s been telling me I should create my blogposts in MS Word and then copy/paste them into wordpress. So I’ve done that with this post and the next, and it seems to have worked…for text, anyway. It should help us while the internet’s down, too, since I can write at home and then just post when I’m at a wi-fi hotspot. We’ll see what happens with the next post, which includes pictures. Keep your fingers crossed!
Thursday afternoon, May 22, was the annual end-of-year recognition ceremony for all Fulbright awardees. We asked to have our return train tickets delayed until Sunday evening so that we could stay in Stockholm as tourists. Our friends in Linköping were excited for us, telling us what a beautiful city Stockholm is, and many of them adding that they wished they could live there. The weather forecast, unfortunately, was for cool weather – in the mid-50s. Other than that, though we were looking forward to a good trip.
Our first challenge upon getting to Stockholm was finding our hotel. We thought this should be pretty easy, since the map showed it being down a little street directly across from the station, and the hotel’s literature said that it was only a two-minute walk. It took us about half an hour to find the hotel! The biggest problem was that we didn’t realize that the streets in downtown Stockholm are on two levels, and we exited the train station on the wrong level. Adding to the confusion was a construction project that blocked our view of the hotel. At any rate, we were able to check in, freshen up, and board a bus to take us to the US ambassador’s residence in time for the ceremony.
Amb. Mark Brzezinski is the son of Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Advisor. He’s been in Stockholm for 6 months now, and I could relate when he said that his 3-year-old daughter speaks Swedish far better than he. While mingling with the guests prior to the ceremony, he was informal and congenial. And so young! It was hard to believe that he was an ambassador. Other than the obligatory speeches by the ambassador and Dr. Lars Haikola, University Chancellor of Sweden, and the awarding of certificates and pins to each of the awardees, the ceremony consisted mainly of brief reports by the student awardees (but not the post-graduate awardees, like Harry) of their personal and work experience in Sweden. It was interesting to hear the broad range of their studies—everything from modern Swedish folk music to stem cell research. Given that range, each of us found some of the presentations fascinating…just not the same ones! Harry listened most attentively to the two stem-cell researchers, while I could have listened much longer to the cultural linguist describing her research among the Lapplanders, whose dialect is being suppressed. I would have liked to hear more about the scholars’ Swedish Adventures; or maybe they found, as Harry has, that “everything in the lab is in English anyway.” One student thanked her host for “making it seem like I’d never left home.” I hoped she didn’t mean it literally! It reminded me of Anne Tyler’s book, The Accidental Tourist, whose main character wrote tour guides for Americans who had to travel abroad but didn’t really want to leave home; instead of focusing on what set a country apart, he told them where to find McDonald’s. What a missed opportunity!
After the reception we made our way back to the hotel. By the time we arrived at this “conveniently located” site I was sure my feet must be bleeding from my relatively-new sandals. (They weren’t.) We’d gotten off the bus prematurely, and then once again had trouble finding the hotel. While sight-seeing the next day, we realized that about half an hour before we reached the hotel we’d come within a 5-minute walk of it! Although we referred to it often, the city map was little help: it seemed backwards. Sadists should not be allowed to study cartography!