21/03: Equality Day

Today, 21st of March, the entire planet  has the same hours of light and darkness. There is no distinction between North and South, centre or pole we are all the same.

We could call this ‘Equality Day’ instead of Equinox.

Swedish society is very conscious of gender equality. which also extends to social classes. This country is well known for its advanced gender-equality policies that are truly light years ahead of the rest of the world (as far as I believe).

A series of laws over the past 50 years have  notably shaped this society. Before there used to be the same ‘breadwinner society model’ we are used to in Europe but thanks to a reform that taxed the individual (not the married couple) many women were forced into the labour market. With these laws everything has changed. This economic reform made women wage-earners and contributors to both the State and family’s overall wealth. This gave them power to be more independent, free and create another life outside the circles of friends and family.

Equality, not a battle but a project.

There is no need for women to wear the feminist uniform and chant their slogans, most of which were written in the 60’s and 70’s and force them to surrender their individuality to open fire in a battle against the oppression of men.

Instead what we as a society need to do is self-analyse ourselves and understand what we are doing wrong and how we can avoid it and ‘change our ways’. A bit like going for counselling, every one of us should spend some time thinking about the problems related to sexism and discrimination and try to find ways in which they, as individuals, can change things.

Things need changing: both in broader society such as laws and policies but also in our everyday lives.

I’m no expert in social engineering and laws that could change society but a lot of inspiration could be drawn from the Scandinavian countries; what I can try to point out are a series of common sense everyday things that both men and women need to do to truly obtain equality.

End the Gentlemen-era

  • Men should stop letting ladies on buses first to be polite as the entire concept of ‘ladies first’ is patronising and not flattering.
  • Men do not necessarily need to ask a woman out on a date but vice-versa could occur
  • Scrap Valentine’s Day, anniversary and all the massive expectations that most females have about Romeo organising (and paying) for a romantic dinner or holiday, why can’t the opposite happen too?

Change in the Clubs:

  • If a woman gets a drink from a guy she should offer to pay the next round. This is what girls do in Sweden and it is done so that nobody feels psychologically ‘in-debt’ or ‘inferior’ to someone else and this ensures that equality is guaranteed.
  • Girls should hit on guys: it is odd to think this, but automatically the thought of a girl asking for a guy’s number or buying him a drink is seen as a move of desperation or a new level of slutiness in Europe but in Sweden it is totally normal and that is how it should be.
  • Send the right signals! Body language is key in many situations and sometimes problems arise when there is a misinterpretation of signals.
  •  Refuse to go to clubs or bars where there are only female (or male) ‘professional dancers’.

Change in Society:

  • Abolish single sex schools and teach everyone in the same way.
  • Promote sport amongst girls and boys in the same way and create mixed sex teams.
  • Stop using sexualised bodies for financial gain.
  • Discourage the lad culture and competitive aggressiveness.
  • Abolish gender roles, expectations including blue and pink ribbons.
  • Don’t generalise by saying men and women (although I’m doing it myself in this post) but referring to individuals.
  • Scrap the figure of ‘Woman’s Officer’ but create the institution of the gender-equality officer.
Only in Sweden (courtesy of Thomas Weber)

Only in Sweden! (Photo courtesy of Thomas Weber).

Women

  • Are not sluts if they chat up a guy or ask for his number.
  • Can dance with a guy instead of waiting for him to approach them.
  • Should become good at DIY and not be considered dikes for doing so.
  • Should not accept that men always carry the shopping or lift heavy weights. There have been scientific studies that have proven that men are naturally predisposed to having stronger bodies then women by only 6% so the fact that guys are stronger is down to a series of habits not nature (you can’t lift it? Go to the gym!).
  • Do not all have massive tits and are waxed from head to toe.

Men

  • Can have emotions and should not need to repress them to be respected.
  • Are not sissys if they show emotions.
  • Can have Justin Bieber on their mp3 players which does not necessarily state their sexual preference.
  • Still have a dick even if they aren’t part of a football or rugby team.
  • Are allowed to be shy.
  • Can cook, clean, take care of children and it is patronising of women to think that they do it best. A man isn’t a failure if he is a househusband whilst the wife does a 9 to 5 job.
  • In case of separation should be allowed by law to spend the same amount of time with their kids as the mothers does
  • Should not be expected to be more polite and understanding towards women as that too would be patronising them.
  • Do not all have a 6 pack, athletic figures and a massive dick.

These are just a few ideas but overall the number one rule is:

Love and respect yourself before expecting other people to do so and always try to use your common sense.
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Club Music in Uppsala’s Student Nations

Many international students complain that the music playlist is always the same in all student clubs here in Uppsala and to be honest I can’t blame them. It is undeniable that the following songs are going to be played in the main dance hall at some point during the night and in some ways, it’s almost comforting.

Everything changes yet everything stays the same.

The following are the YouTube videos of the most played songs in Student Nation Club nights in Uppsala:

Swedish House Mafia classics.

The key word when it comes to talking about Swedish House music is Mafia. Swedish House Mafia’s hits are the most played in clubs and you can see the excitement amongst Swedes when there music comes on.

Greyhound

Don’t You Worry Child

Save the World

Loreen

This song was Sweden’s chosen song for the 2012 Eurovision song contest, that here in Sweden is a massive thing. This year’s final will be in Malmö (south of Sweden) and apparently tickets  have sold out ages ago!

Avicii

I Could Be The One

Levels

Alesso

The Spanish artist is quite popular in Sweden although people from other countries don’t know who he is, you can be sure to hear at least one of these two if you go out at any point in Uppsala’s student clubs.

Years ft. Matthew Koma

Ingrosso & Alesso – Calling (Lose My Mind) ft. Ryan Tedder

Nause 

Hungry Hearts 

Made of

Others you may hear:

Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl ft. Georgi Kay

In My Mind (Axwell Mix)

Otto Knows 

Million Voices 

Far East Movement

Turn Up The Love ft. Cover Drive

The Aston Shuffle vs. Tommy Trash – Sunrise (Won’t Get Lost)

Sunrise (Won’t Get Lost)

Most annoying of all is when the DJ puts a slow sad melancholic song to end the night when many (both men and women) make one final drunken attempt to find someone to share a bed although the odds are against them. The following is by far the most popular for this annoying practice .

Adele – Someone Like You

What is Happening?

One afternoon not long ago,

I was walking down the street going from Engleska Parken (humanities campus) to the main library and as I walked people appeared on the side of my path and kept shouting at me trying to hand me flyers, loads where chucked on the ground and similar posters littered the surroundings. Another person went along with a loud radio, 2 guys were walking up and down with a massive sign. This had never happened before! Loads of people were shouting, I could not understand what they were saying, but honestly neither was I interested…

The day was grey, it would not stop raining, a bus driver carelessly sped through a puddle and drenched me in muddy water.

As a consequence my light-coloured trousers were stained, but nobody took much notice, I think… There was a girl with a smartphone in her hands, that might have been taking a picture of me. What if she did?! No doubt I would most liked post on ‘Spotted’..

Once I got to the PC cluster I immediately had to check the all-telling page. Nothing there, possibly a comment could apply to me, but no way to be certain; at least there were no photos!

So many people surrounded me, a feeling of self-conscious paranoia prevailed, as if everyone was judging each other.

I decided I could take it no more and decided to leave.

Outside there was a starless sky, the cold darkness and dampness surrounded me together with a sense of unease and fear, as if something bad was bound to happen.

The people I saw earlier had disappeared instead they had been replaced by others: some were puking; people were pissing on the street;rude, aggressive gorillas were arrogantly perched outside the over-rated club doors like giant gargoyles…

You get the picture?

Soon after, a group of blokes in hoodies with glass bottles in their hands congregated.

They glared at me, why?

I did not know…

They started to edge closer and closer, I felt powerless, so I started running, panic stricken I ran and ran but couldn’t keep going…

They started punching and kicking me;

What did they want from me?

I gave them my phone, my wallet, my bank cards, the pin codes and even my jacket but still they didn’t stop…

What more could they want?

I gave them all I had but they kept punching and kicking me, angrily, as if I had something they could not have.

The final blow was strong, I lost my balance and whilst I fell I realised that what I had was ‘hope’, a ray of light that maybe one day I might succeed in building myself a bright future, as I want it, something they all didn’t have and by hurting me and depriving me of my belongings maybe they wanted me to be the same as them…

My heart was beating fast, I kept on falling for a surprisingly long time, I wondered when I would reach the ground, then with an odd sense of relief I hit the pavement.

Press Play on The YouTube Video for musical background.

My Student Room

I jolted up and as I opened my eyes, a ray of sun-light blinded me. I saw the familiar east-facing window with the half-open blinds, I realised…

It was all just a dream Alex, nothing but a nightmare. You are still in Uppsala, it is nowhere near and nothing like the gorgeous city in which you normally live and study.

This fictional dream is dedicated to the ‘Manchester Study Abroad Team’ that are doing an AMAZING job in encouraging students to take the opportunity to go on exchange somewhere in the world, far far away from the charming city I know and love.

 

The Museum has ‘Evolved’

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Visiting Uppsala’s Evolution museum I was amazed to discover that the cafeteria had free tea and coffee, a microwave and a large seating area for its visitors.

This is an evolution of the museum I’m used to as not only it was free for all students but even this small gesture of offering free hot drinks and creating a warm environment  makes a positive difference to the overall ‘cultural experience’.

Museums are a temple to human knowledge and discoveries and in them men of all cultures and academical background should feel at home and learn about the achievements mankind has reached in the course of the centuries.

Pope Factor: Jorge is crowned the winner

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I realise that some people may be offended or consider blasphemous part of what I say in this post and to avoid that from happening just don’t read this. Click here for links to other articles.

White smoke and bells ringing = the presenter announces: ‘voting is shut and all votes have been counted…’

Abemus Papam = the Winner Is…

Jorge Mario Bergoglio know as Francis I

Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio at the window of the balcony at St Peter's Basilica after being elected Pope

Massive cheers, applause, excitement, anticipation in the audience people go crazy…

The crowd erupts when he finally appears on the balcony and takes to the mike. Nobody expected him to sing, because that is not the requirement for this kind of talent show.

How did they choose the Pope?

They were led by the Holy Spirit. 

Not the Holy Wine but they went for spirits?!

I can imagine the range of drinking games that must have been taking place inside the Sistine chapel. And after a few rounds of ‘ring of fire’ (‘never have I ever’ must have been hilarious)  everyone was in the right spirit to start deciding who would be the new Pope.

But still, what did they discuss? What are the criteria to become a Pope? Did you have to be..

..the most drunk or sober after the drinking games?

..the winner of a round of musical chairs?

..the one with the most money at the end of a few Poker rounds?

..could it be like a lad competition on how many people they slept with?

..the one with the biggest dick? No that would be stupid, if not we most likely would have had a black pope at some stage.. Possibly the opposite?

Or maybe it’s something more sinister such as global political and powerful connections? Out of all the criteria I hope they did not use this last one but I have a nasty feeling they might have.

All these are just guesses but I honestly do not have a clue.

 After the elections all the media talk about the winner, life, gossip and so on is splattered across the front pages globally  Just as the British press does in the aftermath of the ‘X-factor Final’.

A reader looks at the first edition of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano after the election of Pope Francis

The first series of the program started back in the 1276 when Innocent V won the title and has been highly popular ever since.

Different from the normal X-Factor: you don’t get a contract with a record company and you will not be number 1 on the Christmas Top 40, but you still get quite a lot.

The following are a few examples:

  • Free rent of a massive luxury apartment in the centre of Rome (bills included).
  • Absolute Power over the Vatican’s kingdom.
  • Strong political influence on Italian politics and on the other Catholic States across the world.
  • World fame.
  • A life long multi million euro contract.
  • Millions of followers on Twitter.
  • Devoted by many people on earth, almost as much as Justin Bieber, but to be fair, who can beat that boy?
  • The responsibility of being a ‘spiritual leader’, an ‘inspiration’ for thousands of people.
  • Has unlimited access to the Vatican Library and historical archives (any historians’ dream).
  • The realistic chance to change the world for the better (no easy but achievable).
  • More chances of becoming a saint than the average priest.
Beyond the ‘media craze’, that is typical of the modern era, the bishop of Rome has now been elected and the 76 year-old man has a lot to deal with.
The fact he chose ‘Francis’ as a name is a sign of hope that maybe he will do what the saint did and leave all his wealth to devote himself to loving nature and helping others. We shall see if the new pope will be this radical and if he is, how long will he last before he suddenly dies of a heart attack in his sleep?
Useful Links:
Vatican Bank Reformation (New York Times)
Pope John Paul I (Wikipedia)

The Good Society

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Quote by Swedish politician Per Albin Hansson (1885 - 1946).

This is a quote by Swedish politician Per Albin Hansson (1885 – 1946).

His ideas are at the heart of the Swedish society that was ‘created’ during the course of the 20th century.

What do you think? Would you like your society to be more like the Swedish one? What would you sacrifice to work towards it?

Leave a comment!

 

Click here to read more posts about Sweden and it’s society.

Washing Dishes

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Everyday you learn something new..

The other day I went to my friend’s flat and noticed that when he was doing the washing-up instead of squirting the liquid onto the plates or sponge he sprayed his dishes with a  washing up liquid diluted in water.

I bought a similar one for my flat and tried it out; it really works well! It uses less product and it applies it in a more efficient way as you use a small spray on the exact spot you need to clean instead of doing what I normally did (put a load of liquid on the sponge) that partly got wasted going straight down the sink.

Try it at home!

These little things help the environment whilst saving you money…

 

More posts about Sweden.

Forgot to Write a Campaign Motto

People say that Student Union elections are shallow as they only focus on slogans and cheesy photos without having any real substance.

I totally disagree. I believe the philosophical background, skill and poetical depth that goes behind an election motto is a true work of art, sign of ability and passion incomparably superior to the greatest of theories and ideas.

Many candidates in the Manchester SU elections spent lots of time and effort creating the most eye-catching slogans but I forgot.

Anyway, as it is one of the most important aspects of the electoral campaign, I feel the necessity to write down a few.

You can choose the cheesiest one by voting in the poll at the bottom of the post.

If you have any further motto suggestions leave a comment!

Here goes:

  1. Vote Maxia for #1 community! Imagine combining an authentic Italian pizza, with Swedish meatballs after a night-out in Sankeys.
  2. Value for Votes: why go for small or regular if you can have MAXia for the same vote?
  3. MAXIAmising your student experience and improving the community
  4. If you are hungry for change in your community get A. MAXI(a) portion of community. 
  5. Vote MAXia, because size matters.
  6. Let Alexander the great become  your community mate.
  7. ‘Latinized form of the Greek name Αλεξανδρος (Alexandros), which meant “defending men” from Greek αλεξω (alexo) “to defend, help” and ανηρ (aner) “man” (genitive ανδρος).’ Oh WOW Alexander, defender and helper of the people, is running for Community Officer! I know who I’ll vote..

But my all time favourites are the UrbanDictionary definitions, some are so accurate! LOL

Click here to read up about my ideas to improve Manchester’s Student community.

Rubbish Money

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It might not be much, but still £0,30 is not bad for chucking 3 cans of beer.

In Sweden Cans and Plastic bottles have ‘Pant’ and depending on their size the amount of money you get varies from a minimum of 1kr (£0.10) to a maximum of 2kr (£0.20). Still, if someone was to collect loads of rubbish they could make quite a bit of money by being ‘environmentally friendly’.

Rewarding Loyalty and Participation

Working together with the entire exec team in the Union, I would like to create 2 point-based reward systems:

  1. For students who work voluntarily at the Union on a regular basis.
  2. For those who often use the services (Cafe’, Shops, Union-Bar, buying tickets for socials and events…).
  3. Student Community Award; a rare prize that rewords people giving as much as the Union possibly can to the few who prove outstanding bravery, selflessness  and community spirit.

REWARDING PARTICIPATION: for all the Students that work in the Union life and are creators of the ‘Student Community’

WHY BOTHER?

  • Incentive people to work voluntarily for the Union and RAG
  • Encourage societies to improve and achieve higher ranking.
  • Promote growth within the Union’s Student Media and motivate its contributors to participate more actively.

Getting involved in our Student Union should be a rewording experience: a place to socialise, learn new skills and try something new.

All of this is only possible thanks to many great people, that without getting paid dedicate a lot of time and effort to create a great experience for students in Manchester.

From society’s committee members, to organisers within the ‘Residence Association boards’, RAG volunteers, student-media contributors and student workers for the union’s services; everyone should get recognition for the work they do.

Starting from a ‘basic card’ with minor advantages, one can build-up points to obtain higher ranking cards that would give more bonuses.  Criteria would need to be established regarding  the amount of points given for an hour of work or for carrying out a certain project or covering a certain position of responsibility within the Union.

Different levels of involvement, different cards.

The more you work, the more advantages you get. From minor discounts and special offers to considerable reductions and free meals,entry passes and so on.

  • Basic Involvement: Anyone who works as a volunteer for 3 shifts (6-8 hours long) or writes 6 articles for the Mancunion, is involved in the production of 6 radio or TV show episodes. It has a validity of 2 months.
  • Considerable Involvement: For those who holds a position of responsibility and spend around 16 hours per week working for the Union.
  • Outstanding Involvement: For those who for one reason or another is voluntarily working for the Union for 25 or more hours per-week.

REWARDING LOYALTY: for all who regularly use the Union’s services 

WHY BOTHER?

  • To increase the number of people in the Union, making it an even bigger student social centre.
  • To Increase Revenue and re-invest it in funding activities and lowering prices

There should be a basic reward system in which you get points for every purchase you make within the Union or on the website, whether it is for buying food and stationary or a ticket for a social, every time you make a purchase you should get some points, that once reached set targets could give you freebies from the Union. Possible examples: drink and food vouchers, tickets for gigs and Pangea, shop vouchers, free entry pass for the club night… 

‘Student Community Honorary Award’ Card:

  •  Awarded exclusively to students of our university who prove outstanding bravery, selflessness  and community spirit.
  • Very few students will receive the award as it is meant to be something unique and an immense privilege.
  • The idea is that who receives this card was willing to give everything for a good cause and the Union, as a sign of gratitude, would try to offer for free every service it can afford (food, drinks, event and social tickets, society membership fees…).
  • Lasts for the entire duration of the card-holder’s studies.