The remainder of January has been bloody exhausting, to be honest.
It’s still early days of course, but I’ve been able to make some friends so far through the various integration social events hosted by the students union (that’s Karlstad Studentkårif if you’re really integrating here).
The housing available here for international students is, upon early impression, a pretty great set up. Situated almost a kilometre from the university, about 20 buildings form the village "Campus”. The flats being so close to each other encourages a greater sense of community; the friends I’ve made so far are all just a minute-long walk from my room, meaning impromptu coffees breaks, dinners, game-nights and parties are so easy to put together.
I’ve also been introduced to the Swedish culture of "Fika". To the unwitting anglo-centrist who’s only been in the country two weeks, fika is a cheeky break in the day, an excuse for some coffee and maybe a cinnamon bun. This, I found, is just the surface; fika is an action in itself, a verb for putting aside the outside influences of life and focusing on what really matters, socialising with family, friends, even work colleagues and peers in an informal and relaxed setting.
Of course it sounds all well and good written down but I didn’t fully appreciate the concept until I was sitting alongside near-strangers, half of whom I had no idea the names of, discussing what everyone’s favourite type of cake was. It’s a weird fascination but it’s a simple facet of Swedish life that continues to take on a deeper meaning and speaks to a greater mindset and social approach. I’m feeling inspired to, once settled completely, do some sort of project around the tradition as a microcosm. If I’m being honest, I’m surprised a certain Mr Martin Parr hasn’t already been-there-done-that; rest assured, I’ve checked.
Sport has played a rather big part of my identity back at Coventry, with consecutive relevant success in practicing karate for the university and helping to bring home top accolades at the British University Championships for fighting. Therefore I was gutted to find out that Karlstad doesn’t actually have a karate club in place; the closest alternative being offered is the slow, stiff discipline of Shorinji Kempo. Whilst I was (and still am) silently worried about potentially picking up bad habbits, through the university’s week long sport trial I was able to give it a shot and actually found it good to move around and use breaks within lessons to shadowbox and sneakily do my own thing. I’m still on the fence as to whether to bite the bullet and purchase membership but the availability of other fitness classes within the same package may tip me over the edge. We’ll see.
The course title, ‘Cut/Uncut, The Theory of Editing’, is somewhat misleading.
I myself was preparing for a theory-heavy endeavour with informal practical elements as opportunities to contextualise such work. In truth, I’ve been told within both “Welcome” lectures that it is split entirely 50/50, with theory and screenings every Monday and practical sessions the next day. Reading back through my excitement at re-sinking my teeth into academic readings before returning to my final year at Coventry, I have to admit that having half my grade instead dependent on how I perform at a discipline I am entirely new to may just be a blessing in disguise. From the recommended reading list to Patrik Sjöberg’s opening lecture, I’m sure my itch for critical translation will be quenched (cringe). Simultaneously, Stina Bergman’s practical sessions have already got the ball rolling in building a foundation of film editing with Adobe Premiere Pro. Setting week-long out-of-hours group work to 24 students with less than 24 hours knowledge of each other’s existence must have been intended as a fun experiment but the exercise has actually proven rather successful as one should hopefully see in my first vlog (‘The Swede Life of Milo Lethorn’, by the way).
In short, it’s been a comfortable first week in terms of work, but I’m all too aware that this is just the beginning.