4 Years of Blogging 

On the 8th of February 2013, barely 1 month into my Erasmus exchange study program, I published my first article in ‘Lost in a Cup’. The title was ‘Sweden at Heathrow‘ and talked about my first contact with Sweden on the tarmac of the busiest airport in the UK.

Since then I wrote other 84 articles and published 40 odd pages through the years although most of my work was written in the first half of 2013 during my exchange.
If you want to read more about the choice of title for this website/blog and its chosen content check out the About page.
If instead you want to find out more about me, the writer, check out the Biography page.
Plans for the future are to keep analysing Swedish society and student life as I’m now once again in Uppsala to study although things have changed a lot since 2013. This time I believe I have more direct contact with Swedish people as opposed to last time in which I hanged out mainly with internationals. Also I am now an ‘ämbetsman’ (officer/elected worker) of 2 student nations here which are at polar opposites in the ideals they have and way they function (lots of interesting material, hurra!).
As always keep comments flying in either publicly or in a private message (check out ‘Get in touch’).
Last but not least give a Like to the Facebook page which if you enjoy this so that you will get the latest publications on your newsfeed: http://www.facebook.com/lostinacup
Stay lost and drink espresso!
Alex
P.S. Are you in Uppsala this evening and want to celebrate with me 4 years of blogging? Plan is to have a few beverages at my place, some tea and a good cup of Italian espresso and then off to the student club ‘Valvet’ at Östgöta Nation. Fun times all around!

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Fulvio Fo (1928 – 2010)

Exactly 6 years today (17th November 2010)the great artist Fulvio Fo lost his battle to cancer and passed away in Rome.

He was a great man, who I had the privilege of meeting personally and work with during a ‘basic theatre course’ he held in the evenings in my high school in Sardinia.
Known to many as “animale teatrante e scrittore” (theatre animal and writer) he had a long career working in theatre and cinema mainly in Italy but also has some stunts abroad.
Born in Luino (a small place near Varese, in the north of Italy) in 1928 he was noble prize winner Dario Fo’s older brother.

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He was a scenographer, theatre director in Turin and Rome and wrote several books too. In 1996 he moved to Sinnai, a village in the mountains just outside Cagliari, in Sardinia.
The following is a direct quote from Fulvio who wrote this a few weeks before he died:

“Quando arriverà il mio momento so che seguirò questa schiava-padrona con animo limpido, consapevole di potermene andare serenamente lasciando il mio riflesso, la mia impronta positiva sorridente di gioia illuminata e rassicurante”(Fulvio Fo).

This is my translation of the original Italian version above, although it does not sound half as poetic written in English:”When my moment will come I know I will follow this slave-master with clear spirit, aware that I will be able to leave serenely leaving my reflection, my positive and smiling mark with joy both illuminating and reassuring.” (Fulvio Fo)

 

 

The practical course I did with him in 2008 helped me immensely in winning over my timidness as at the end of it we did a live performance. During rehearsals he kept advising me: ‘speak slowly, make pauses and respect them. The pauses you make are just as important as the words you articulate’. If you think about this it is so true, one just needs to watch a speech from the best orator alive, Barack Obama, to realise the accuracy of Fulvio’s teachings. Pauses makes it sound as if you are stopping to think and give your words an air of importance.
Since that course speaking in public became much easier and the year after, when I got elected ‘representative of the students’ by my fellow school mates, I was able to chair school assemblies with an audience of a few hundred people without succumbing to nerves.
His kindness, good spirit and enthusiasm will always be remembered by those who were lucky enough to get to know him and I know I speak on behalf of everyone in the theatre group who in a short period of time learnt so much from him.

Passive Aggression: a Beginners Guide

A few years back I did a hint of psychology classes in which the teacher/psychologist explained that human beings have 4 main different behavioural types: aggressive, passive, passive aggressive and assertive.

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In an ideal society everyone should be assertive, unfortunately under this aspect, this is one of the rare times you will hear me say that Sweden is not an ideal society. This is the Mecca of passive aggressiveness to a point in which I might be experiencing a mild form of ‘culture shock’. In Italy and southern Europe in general people tend to be very open and if they have an issue with you they will let you know, you might have a confrontation, everything that needs to be said comes out and once that’s done you either work things out or go your separate ways. Everything is clear cut, no misunderstandings, no repressed tension.

In the north of Europe however, things don’t work this way.

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What is the point of being ‘passive aggressive’? That’s a really good question to which I struggle to find an answer. I guess it’s in Swede’s nature to avoid confrontation at all costs so being aggressive isn’t an option yet they don’t want to be completely passive either. So passive-aggressive is the middle ground, perfect solution for the Swedish way of going about life. Another useful aspect of passive-aggression is that when you accuse someone of behaving that way they can deny it, making you look like a paranoid psycho.
In fact, the key to passive aggressiveness is to be subtle. Sometimes it is so subtle that it can be difficult to perceive.

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Most important thing to remember when dealing with passive aggressive people is never to start letting it affect you. If not it becomes a downward spiral in which you start thinking everyone has got it in for you even if they are just in a bad mood for other reasons or maybe they didn’t say hello to you because they genuinely didn’t see you.
I have learnt to be passive-aggressive and I use it sometimes to prove points and make people have a taste of their own medicine. The best way to deal with a passive aggressive is with overwhelming kindness bordering sarcasm; massive (fake) smiles, lots of super duper sweet words (Ned Flanders style), high pitched voice and vaguely camp attitude. You will see them slowly burning inside , guaranteed (although they will never admit to it).

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One day people will realise how pointless being passive aggressive really is and hopefully will find alternative solutions to dealing with disputes.

My Favourite Swedish Songs

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This is a selection of my favourite artists and their songs that I really like. For some like Avicii, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, Zara Larsson and Swedish House Mafia I just put one song but I could put many more (as they are particularly  great in my opinion).

Have a listen, enjoy!

Avicii – You Make Me

Tim Bergling famously known as Avicii is an amazing DJ from Stockholm who produced many dance floor fillers and this single is probably my favourite one, although it was a tough call to pick one song.

Axwell /\ Ingrosso – Sun Is Shining

This duo formed in 2014 after their experiance together in ‘Swedish House Mafia’ with Steve Angelo which disolved in 2013. They produced many hits, this is one of them that came out roughly a year ago but is still popular now.

Daniel Adams-Ray – Gubben i lådan

First song in Swedish I really liked and appreciated back when I was on Erasmus in 2013. I did my best to learn it by heart even if it is 100% in Swedish and I can’t speak the language. I kind of managed thou, which is good! #proud

Familjen – Det snurrar i min skalle

Jakob Karlberg – Fan va bra

LALEH – Bara få va mig själv

Laleh is a Swedish singer and songwriter with Persian origins. She became famous in 2012 with her hit single ‘Some die young’. Many of her songs are in English, this one is her latest big hit and is in Swedish. The title of this song translated literally means ‘just get to be myself’.

Måns Zelmerlöw – Fire In the Rain

Originally from Lund (the other big University city in the south of Sweden). He won a talent show in 2005 and won Eurovision song contest in 2015 (with the single ‘Heroes’). This bellow is a big hit now that they keep playing on Swedish radio.

Norlie & KKV – Din Idiot

Norlie & KKV are a Hip-Hop duo from Stockholm. They have produced quite a few hits since they started in 2008 but they are mainly known in Sweden as their songs are all in Swedish. I broke the rule of 1 song per artist as they are not known outside of this country I thought I would give you a broader flavour of their music.

Norlie & KKV – Du får göra vad du vill med mig

Norlie & KKV – Ingen annan rör mig som du

RMK & Toppen – Oss

Swedish House Mafia – Save the World

Released in 2011 this is probably the band’s most famous hit. They have made many great songs and most of them are extreamly popular in Sweden (understandably) and are still played in clubs.

Veronica Maggio – Jag Kommer

Veronica Maggio is my favourite Swedish singer, born and raised in Uppsala. Her mother is Swedish but her father is Italian and the great thing is that she inserts a few Italian words in most of her songs (including the two I posted here).

Veronica Maggio – Välkommen in

Zara Larsson – Lush Life

Zara is a young Swedish artist (turns 19 in December) from a place just north of Stockholm. In 2010 she won a Swedish talent show and in 2013 she released her first big hit ‘Uncover’ which reached the top of the charts in Scandinavia but made it to the top 40 in many other countries too. She sings mainly in English as many Swedish artists do. People say that Swedes need to make it big in Britain and USA to be truely appreciated in their home country.

Related Articles:

  • Songs about Uppsala!

Songs about Uppsala!

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These are the 2 most popular Swedish songs on Sweden’s 4th biggest city, known also as ‘the city of students’, Uppsala.

 Veronica Maggio – 17 år

Veronica Maggio was born and raised in this beautiful city and in this song she talks about when she was 17 and mentions a few street names and places in the city including the road where I live. At the beginning of the video you can also see my student housing area (the white buildings at 00:14).

Labyrint – Välkommen hem

Another group from Uppsala sing ‘Welcome home’ and talk about their city describing it and naming many of the neighbourhoods and part of the video was filmed on the Flogsta roof-top (Flogsta is the biggest ‘student ghetto’ in the suburbs of the city with tall buildings all inhabited by students).

Related articles:

Guess Who’s Back?

Ladies and gentlemen after 3 years of absence I’m back in Sweden to live for at least 2 years as I’m doing a Master course in Cultural Anthropology at Uppsala University.

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After all observing people and drawing cultural comparisons is what I’ve done as a hobby in this blog for years so might as well try and get a qualification in it! I returned to Sweden on the 19th of August but didn’t get round to write as life has been quite hectic. Now that the days are getting shorter, colder and greyer I can turn my attention on writing the things that I observed and over analysed.

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Watch this space, lots of stuff coming soon!!

Passero Solitario

‘Passero Solitario’  is one of the few poems I know off by heart, not by choice but I was forced to learn it as a punishment for chatting during class with my friend Riccardo when I was in middle school.

Translated literally ‘lonely bird’ it talks about a bird that does not follow the others but it chooses to do its own thing avoiding the crowds, being happy and having a beuatiful life, similar to the one of the author, one of Italy’s most famous poets Giacomo Leopardi.

D’in su la vetta della torre antica,

Passero solitario, alla campagna

Cantando vai finchè non more il giorno;

Ed erra l’armonia per questa valle.

Primavera dintorno

Brilla nell’aria, e per li campi esulta,

Sì ch’a mirarla intenerisce il core.

Odi greggi belar, muggire armenti;

Gli altri augelli contenti, a gara insieme

Per lo libero ciel fan mille giri,

Pur festeggiando il lor tempo migliore:

Tu pensoso in disparte il tutto miri;

Non compagni, non voli

Non ti cal d’allegria, schivi gli spassi;

Canti, e così trapassi

Dell’anno e di tua vita il più bel fiore.

Oimè, quanto somiglia

Al tuo costume il mio! Sollazzo e riso,

Della novella età dolce famiglia,

E te german di giovinezza, amore,

Sospiro acerbo de’ provetti giorni,

Non curo, io non so come; anzi da loro

Quasi fuggo lontano;

Quasi romito, e strano

Al mio loco natio,

Passo del viver mio la primavera.

Questo giorno ch’omai cede alla sera,

Festeggiar si costuma al nostro borgo.

Odi per lo sereno un suon di squilla,

Odi spesso un tonar di ferree canne,

Che rimbomba lontan di villa in villa.

Tutta vestita a festa

La gioventù del loco

Lascia le case, e per le vie si spande;

E mira ed è mirata, e in cor s’allegra.

Io solitario in questa

Rimota parte alla campagna uscendo,

Ogni diletto e gioco

Indugio in altro tempo: e intanto il guardo

Steso nell’aria aprica

Mi fere il Sol che tra lontani monti,

Dopo il giorno sereno,

Cadendo si dilegua, e par che dica

Che la beata gioventù vien meno.

Tu, solingo augellin, venuto a sera

Del viver che daranno a te le stelle,

Certo del tuo costume

Non ti dorrai; che di natura è frutto

Ogni vostra vaghezza.

A me, se di vecchiezza

La detestata soglia

Evitar non impetro,

Quando muti questi occhi all’altrui core,

E lor fia vóto il mondo, e il dì futuro

Del dì presente più noioso e tetro,

Che parrà di tal voglia?

Che di quest’anni miei? che di me stesso?

Ahi pentirornmi, e spesso,

Ma sconsolato, volgerommi indietro.

campanile


Ma sconsolato, volgerommi indietr

‘Bastu!’ Sweden’s Sauna Culture

Sweden is a country full of surprises and the sauna culture is no exception.

 

First of all what you need  to know is that Swedish saunas have a strict no swimming costume rule and all you can bring is a towel and something to drink. The first time I went to a sauna was in 2013 when I lived in Sweden during an exchange. It was actually on a ferry crossing from Stockholm to Helsinki and that possibly made it worse as the Finns are known for being hard-core sauna lovers who like it extra hot and will pretend not to speak English if you try to ask them to tone it down.

Although my other exchange friends I was with were slightly confused at the idea that I wanted to pay to spend time in a small room full of naked men, my answer was that in Scandinavia it is a big part of their life so I had to try out this cultural experience. I managed to convince a friend and went. The experience was overall good, although I found it too hot and had to run out to have a cold shower every 5 minutes.

 

Three years later I finally returned to Sweden to visit a good friend in the southern most region called Skåne. He’s American but Swedish at heart so he came up with the idea of going for a sauna. At first I was a bit wary, but then I decided to go for it. It was a bit unexpected as we were at a house party playing drinking games and at one point the host shouts out ‘half an hour to sauna time’. So half an hour later the party moved to a small room in the basement with a wooden interior and a special heater on which you would pour hot water to make it steam. Once you surpass the Victorian style thinking process about nudity and British prudishness , you feel quite relaxed.

 

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On my last day  in Sweden, my friend took me to another sauna this time a public one by the sea and that evening entrance was mixed, for both men and women. This was by far the best sauna experience, partly due to the big windows overlooking Malmö and the sea and also for the fact that you could throw yourself into the cold sea water when feeling too hot as opposed to just showering. Funny thing is that nobody seemed to care that people were swimming naked in broad daylight off a pier.

 

This was the ‘real experience’ as you had a bunch of Swedes that did not know each other in the same room, relaxing. And if there is one thing Swedish people are famous for is being shy and awkward around strangers in normal day to day situations, but oddly enough this did not happen there. On the contrary they were chatting away in Swedish, so I did not understand a word, but my friends managed to hold a conversation as they are both fluent in the language. Apparently they talked about everything from cultural comparisons to society and so on, all this whilst completely naked. I was left startled. As you can see the British/Victorian sense of prudishness is something hard to overcome, but I’m working on it!

 

Greeting People

The first thing that happens in a group situation, with people from different parts of Europe that gather in one place for a training course, is a meet and greet session. In my books, this was also the most entertaining part of the first few days of the course I followed, as you can tell cultural differences a mile away.

As the course was in Spain, the organisers used the Spanish way to greet the participants so a hand shake and two kisses on the cheek. Most entertaining was seeing the reaction on people’s faces, the majority of which could not mask their sense of surprise and slight unease to all this southern affection. Most taken aback were the Palestinian girls who were totally shocked by the forwardness of the spaniards.

Also I had some difficulties: when greeting one of the city councillors I went in for kissing her right cheek first whilst apparently in Spain you start from the left.

Overall very entertaining, I strongly recommend this experience just for the fun of it.

Student Traditions

The concept of ‘Student Tradition’ is something that if one asked me a year ago I would never have imagined it being of such importance let alone a possible topic to write one’s dissertation on!

What are these traditions?

They are a series of rituals, costumes and ‘ways of being’ that have distinguished the student population from the ‘normal people’.

In some old universities you can still feel this atmosphere but it is not easy to get into these closed communities and if you are not a student you can see only the outside of it.

J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter captivated the world with beautiful the castle and student traditions songs and rivalries that pick up a lot of authentic traditions in the university world.

My mission is to try to uncover the past of these traditions and comparing the differences between the various universities and the different countries.

Did you have student traditions in your university? What were they like? What did you enjoy most?

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