The first time I heard the word “Semla” was my first lecture this year. Not long after that, it was everywhere! Curiosity got the better of me and then I found out about Fettisdagen. This led me to decide to stick to tradition and wait to have my first Semla on Shrove Tuesday.
WHAT IS SEMLA?
Semla is a cardamom-spiced bun which you can cut off the top and then fill it with almond paste and whipped cream. The cut-off top now serves as a lid which is dusted with powdered sugar. Sounds amazing right? Semla is very delicious that it is said that King Adolf Fredrik (a Swedish King) died because he had too many!
Semla was originally eaten only on Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) as the last festive food before Lent. However, the tradition is not strict anymore as Semlor(plural of Semla) is sold everywhere weeks after Christmas till Fettisdagen. However, after today you’ll have to wait until next year:)
So, this was how I celebrated my Fettisdagen with other international students as we assembled our own traditional Semla. Thanks to the S-chapter!
If you’re reading this right now, WELCOME ON BOARD! This is my first post as a KTH Student blogger (YAY!) and what better way to get this exciting part of my journey started than to let you in on the first few “Stockholm Signatures” that caught my attention.
So, I moved to Stockholm a month ago and it has been interesting so far. “Interesting” feels like an odd adjective to describe the beauty that Stockholm holds but this post is about the first five things that caught my attention in my first week!
Without further ado, let’s get the ball rolling:
GENDER NEUTRAL RESTROOMS
The above icon means the restroom is regardless of gender and to my astonishment, most of the restrooms even at the University have signs like this. I found this very surprising because, in Nigeria, I can’t imagine boys and girls using the same restroom. The thought alone cracks me up! I recall having to use the restroom at the central station and the sign just read “toalett”. I walked in and only saw men! (lol). My natural instincts told me,” Oluchi, you might be in the wrong place” but I had three seconds conversation with myself where I said, “you’re in Sweden; this is totally normal” (LOL!)
These pictures above are very prevalent in Stockholm. As shocking as it is to see this a lot, I absolutely love it! So, the same way we have maternity leave in Nigeria and in most part of the world, the Swedes have parental leave. Parents can share the 480 days between themselves of paid parental leave when the child is born or adopted.
CLEAN YOUR TABLES AFTER EATING
You know that sense of entitlement about not cleaning up after eating in public and letting “some people who have those set of duties in their job description take care of your mess?” This ideology has to be erased from your mind. Yes, there are some restaurants that you do not need to clean up after yourself but some like the ones in IKEA and McDonalds and most restaurants at the KTH Campus operate in this way. So, after eating, you throw your trash away, stack your dirty tray in the provided area for that. In summary, you clean up your table for the next person. So, why is it on this list? Because even in small school cafeterias in Nigeria, most of us do not clean up after eating. There are actual people who have it in their job descriptions to do just that (LOL!) To me, it was an interesting twist and look at it this way, you just eat and then leave seconds after. You do not need to wait for your check or have to tip anyone.
WOMEN AT WORK
I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Lagos, Nigeria and during those five years and beyond, it has been glaring to me how unlikely you find women taking technical jobs independently. Let’s get past engineering, you hardly see women as drivers for the public transport system and even when you do, they are in the minority. However, in my first week, I was astonished when I was walking down Brinnelvägen and a lady was working all by herself at the construction site. As I was still basking in my new finding, I got to the bus station and guess who the driver was? A woman! You might say it may be two out of 100 but I beg to differ. I am studying sustainable energy engineering and to the best of my knowledge, we have an equal ratio of boys to girls in my programme. Personally, I love this! It shows Sweden is really on the forefront of gender equality in the workplace.
DRINKING WATER FROM THE WASHROOM BASINS
This is something I had to get used to seeing a lot, especially at the university. Some people just come into the restrooms just to get drinking water from the same sinks you may wash your hand in after using the restroom. So, yes, tap water has proven to be very safe in Sweden and because of this, you find most people with water bottles as opposed to buying bottled water when they are out of their houses.
So, there goes my list of the first five things that caught my attention in the first week. Does my list match yours? I would love to hear from you.