Why did you choose this profession? It’s depressing!


I’ve received this question many a time with different wordings. But it all boils down to this: Why would anyone ever do anything for the environment when we are doomed anyway? Why would we fight and battle to improve our living when these battles are bound to fail?

I guess it’s one of the biggest “Whys” I have to deal with right now. Since my arguments are so unordered, I decided to make a list. That’s the way I solve problems: With lists and sketches. One pen stroke at a time.

  1. I receive meaning from environmental activism. I struggle right now to find purpose in my life and I question my every decision. I write fancy diagrams with my values in them but then I rip the paper in pieces and sit in my room, my feet dangling from my bed. In the end, the most important one of my goals is to make the planet a better place in my lifetime. Since I’m learning that here in Uppsala, I seem to live in the right city.

    sun
    Uppsala with a tiny bit of snow and sun – both things we don’t see much right now.
  2. When you push boundaries, you move them. A family member told me: “You will always end up feeling depressed because at many points, you won’t change anything.” I will fail and then fail again. But today, on one of my more hopeful days, I say: If you keep pushing the walls of your world a little at a time, they will move. If you throw yourself against them with all force, they will move farther than if you just tap your finger against them. And if you get many people around to throw themselves against the borders, they fall. Like they did in my hometown Berlin in 1989.
  3. Every profession depresses you if you look from a certain angle. You can work in a bank and give loans to small business owners in order to decrease inequality. You fail because of how economics work. You might treat patients with cancer. You see some of them recover through your help and you see many of them die. Or like me, you might work as an environmentalist who wants to make society more equal, more fair and more sustainable. And you fail just like everyone else. But still, all of us who want to have a positive impact on the world sometimes do. We should fight for these moments of success.

    jul
    Uppsala is beautiful around this time of year. It is so calming in a moment I really need this calmness.
  4. University exhausted me this week and every evening I sat down and re-watched one of the Harry Potter films. So here’s a lesson from Dumbledore: “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” It’s difficult to put yourself out there, to struggle, to change. But I feel working in sustainability is the right thing to do. I listen, I read, I learn. From everyone and everything I can find. I’m not at the front line of environmentalism. I do not occupy trees to save forests, I do not chain myself to train rails to prevent nuclear waste movements. In my small world, though, I already cause change. And I will just keep going.
  5. With privilege comes responsibility. I am a white, able-bodied woman with the means and the support system to do a masters programme abroad. I have a family who has my back and who cheers on my every step. I have many privileges that I’m eternally grateful for. Because of the way media (and the world in general) work, my voice will more likely be heard. That’s why I feel a responsibility to do something meaningful with the power I have. I want to use it to promote people who are marginalised and ignored in society. I want to give people a voice who are suffering from the horrors of climate change. A climate change, that mostly privileged people like me in rich countries have caused and go on to worsen.

    lake
    The shore of this lake is perfect for running. Sometimes I just sit down for a while on a pier, though, watch the water and think about life.

So every time now when I sit in a lecture and feel the despair rising up in my throat, I will pinch myself with my pen and remind myself of what I wrote here. And every time a family member asks me why I’m doing all this I will answer: “I know it is the right thing to do. That’s why.”

 

Title Picture: Alder Fire in Yellowstone National Park. By Mike Lewelling, National Park Service (under Creative Commons)

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Gratitude and the First Snow


I’m having a bit of a difficult time at the moment. I feel disconnected, isolated, not really present. It’s hard to see all the wonders around me and to acknowledge how far I’ve come. In these instances it’s good to take a step back and look at where we are. So let’s do that.

halmstad
I took this picture last year in Halmstad when there was the first snow. I was out early in the morning and the paths in the forests were still untouched. I stood there, looking at the sun peaking through the trees and thought: I would like to be in Sweden again next year and I would like to walk through a forest when it first snows. This, I have been blessed with today. 

uppsala

It put me in a place of reflection, it made me consider my life and what I’m doing with my time. This week has been one of searching for meaning. I’m not at the end with these observations but we’re getting there.

I wrote down what the most important things are to me, the values which make me do the things I do: First of all, it’s Love. Love for life, for nature, for art and it’s also happiness.

love
I know this is not the best of photos. But it has a huge meaning to me. I took it after our choir rehearsal this week. I have always had a difficult time being a good member of this choir because I didn’t understand everything they said and I myself didn’t have enough words to say what I wanted. But in a conversation with a friend there, she told me “Ta det lugnt”- take it slow. It will be fine eventually. Until then I will just keep going with what I love and what makes me happy: singing. Also, the fact that I could utter my feelings in a way she understood is probably an indicator that my Swedish isn’t as bad as I sometimes think it is.

The second one is Balance. I feel really out of sync at the moment so I try to do things that get me on track again: reading actual physical copies of books (not hunching over my laptop with the website of Elsevier or Springer open trying to decipher articles about mining wastes), it’s meditation and it’s long walks.

cafe
One idea to find balance is also to meet up with people and just talk or have a tea somewhere. Many horrible mornings have been improved radically by this… We found this cute little café in Falun this week. Isn’t it just adorable? And it looks so calm and inviting. 

The third motivation for me is Learning. I love to learn, I love to study and explore new things. I love to widen my horizon.

mining
We had an excursion to the Falun mines this week. It was quite impressive and also terrifying what we have done to nature here for centuries. I learned a lot about minerals and the environmental impact of such mining activities. It gave me so many new insights.

All this learning leads to a fourth aspect: Change. I don’t like being stuck in one place for too long, mentally or physically. I have moved around quite a lot in the last year (Halmstad, Berlin, Münster, Cottbus, now Uppsala. It’s been a journey) and as I know myself, I will keep doing that in the future as well. But psychological change is also really important to me since it improves my life step by step.

snowman
Within four weeks the leaves changed their colours, fell down, and were coated with a frosty layer of snow. Time goes so fast. And this little guy that I made this morning will probably have melted already. Change is what drives our lives and what makes it interesting.

I’m grateful for being here. I’m grateful to be able to live this life and to be in such a beautiful country right now with so many talented, amazing people around. And I’m grateful for the time I’m being given- time to write, time to be with friends, time to sing and laugh and walk through the forest, time to learn. Time is so valuable and we should use it the best we can.

 

Torn Between Hope and Despair


I suppose it is an occupational disease: always being torn between “The world is doomed, we’re all gonna die!” and “There are so many amazing people out there with amazing ideas – we will safe the planet and our lives!” I have studied environmental management for three years and now I’m here between all these wonderful people who now have the same symptoms.

It’s difficult to not lose your hope. It’s difficult to imagine a different world than the one we live in right now. There will be no smooth transition. “Around Christmas, people usually get really depressed in this programme” our lecturers warned us. I see why: The presentations are flooded with horrifying statistics and upwardsloping exponential lines. And these lines don’t seem to stop. On some days I just want to curl up under my blanket and never go outside ever again.

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And then I think: I have a responsibility. I learn all these things in my studies in order to do something good. I educate myself to be able to bring people together and to find solutions. I am trained as a problem solver and that’s what we need to do in the next few decades. Sure, it will be difficult. Sure, we will be hopeless on some days. But losing hope altogether paralyses us. Yet, we need more movement than ever before.

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To fight against this negativity, against all these gloomy statistics, I decided to write some nonfiction again for NaNoWriMo this year. I have participated for three consecutive years now and it’s always been a highlight of my year. I’m going to write about climate change. I’m going to write about what we can do and why it is good when we do something. And voilá, here’s my working title:

Beyond European Climate Solutions: What We Win When We Fight Against Climate Change

This will be my project for November. I’m excited. And a tiny bit terrified.

uppsala

In class this week we talked about environmental discourses and how different people see the environmental crises we’re in. It was fascinating.

Promethianism. “Technology is great. Technology will fix everything. Live, Technology!” That’s the Elon Musk kind of discourse.

Survivalism. “We’re all gonna dieeeeee! There are limits to this earth and we jumped over them and it’s really bad and only politicians and smart scientists can save us now.”

Economic Rationalism. “Markets are great, they will fix everything. Leave it to the market, make a carbon tax. Also: Money money money moneyyyyy.”

And then we have a few less dramatic ones that focus on collaboration but that are nationalist and those that are focused on sustainability but in the end put humans on top of every hierarchy. It’s fascinating analysing texts and speeches in connection with these discourses. I think I will go into these in more detail in the book I’m writing. Because they do have a huge impact when it comes to how we see our environmental solutions.

Would you like to read a sneak peak of what I’m writing every day this November?

lopapeysa

Enough of the doom and gloom: Last weekend I finally managed to cast off my lopapeysa, knitted with original léttlopi yarn from Iceland. I’m always torn what to knit my pullovers with: Sheep or alpaca wool is not vegan and I cannot ensure that the animals are treated well. Cotton needs huge loads of water to grow and is harvested in areas where there isn’t a lot of water. Acrylics is made of plastics aka crude oil. And linnen or hemp fibres themselves are not in any way soft and easy to handle. Do you have any suggestions? I’m having a really difficult time deciding on what to knit with. Do you know any good fairtrade organic yarns that you can recommend?

 

Visiting an Organic Farm


The last two weeks have been super busy which is why I didn’t get around writing anything. I’ve been in university for lectures every single day and have read so many articles that their contents blur in my mind.

But I’d like to tell you about an excursion we made to an organic farm just outside Uppsala. The farmer has huge areas of land and he holds cows, farms wheat, lupines, barley and all kinds of other crops. He doesn’t use any industrial fertiliser and his animals have a lot of space to themselves. He told us about his farm in a presentation in his workshop. All that time, a cat ran around our legs and jumped on the occasional lap that looked comfortable to her.

barn

In the past few years, the farmer had pigs and let them dig in the forest. You could clearly see where they had been and where they were restricted by a fence: The forest regrew much faster through the pigs’ digging. “This forest is entirely pig-planted”. This kind of integrated agriculture was fascinating to me. In Germany we tend to mark clearly what is “cropland”, “forest” and “animal-land”. Clear structure, no blurred lines.

field

In summer this year I had a course called “agroforestry”. It’s a system connecting farmland with trees: You plant rows of crops and in between them rows of trees. They protect the crops from storms, retrieve water from much deeper sources and provide habitats for bees which in turn increases the yield of both crops and trees. I have been studying and planning these systems on paper, but never actually seen them. Now as I’m in Sweden, I get to experience how they work in real life, which was pretty cool.

alleycropping
An alleycropping system: in the middle there will soon be crops and at the two edges you can the the rows of trees…

In general, the whole farm excursion was really inspiring to me. Agriculture contributes so much to global carbon emissions that a change in it could spare us big deal from the horrifying consequences of climate change. Alternative farming techniques like the farmer proposed are so important and I loved that there are things we can do. I might go into agriculture for my master thesis actually. Study more traditional agricultural systems that have worked for millenials and that today are forgotten due to mechanisation, industrialisation and profit pressure. “Us farmers, we love big machines. If you propose something that replaces them, we’ll fight you” he said. There are other ways, though…

Autumn has been beyond wonderful. We have been blessed with a golden October. Today, a few of my classmates and I met at a friend’s tiny house and sat on the lawn, all of us knitting. Yep, we founded a sustainability knitting club. More about this one next week 😉

path

That’s all from me this week! Let me know if you’d like to know about any specific topics in the future!

Sunday Meditations


I’m listening to songs from old choirs I have been in long ago. I remember the rehearsals we used to have. We sang right through the church bells ringing six in the evening. The windows were always wide open. We giggled and shared our stories until the cantor asked us to be quiet. We broke our tongues with the latin masses and sang our hearts out when we finally knew what we were doing. Remembering those wonderful moments of shared tones. Of community. It makes me a little homesick.

trees

I have a cup of hot tea next to me. I’m wrapped in a shawl I knitted and feel some wool next to me of the jumper I’m working on right now. The knitting needles are cold. It’s going to be a lopapeysa, my first one. I’m going to hide myself in it when the winter gets too cold and dark.

sky

I’m enjoying a calm Sunday. Outside, rain is pouring down. I can hear the raindrops that platter on the streets. Autumn has come. I can sense it in the air and see it in the trees. Their tops are already changing their colours. I’m getting adventurous whenever autumn comes around. For me, it’s the most beautiful season of the year. Everything is quieting and walking outside becomes a way of discovering nature anew.

street

I can hear autumn in the birds that fly over our heads, south, away from here. Away from the cold. I’m wondering where they are going. If they will fly over the land that I call home. Please greet my hometown when you pass it, I want to say to them.

birds

I finally went for a walk again today. All the things I used to do- writing, painting, walking- I couldn’t find the time nor the energy to do them in the past few weeks. But now, I’m coming back. Slowly. It takes time to adjust yourself to a new chapter in your life. It’s difficult but I will get there.

Impostor Syndrom 101


During breakfast I checked my subscriptions on youtube and saw that Ahsante had uploaded a new video. It perfectly summarised everything I had felt this week: Feeling like a fraud, being the wrong person to sit in the rooms I was sitting in, feeling that I had to work three times as much on my tasks to not be thrown out because “Who allowed her in here?”

 

I sat in choir rehearsal yesterday, well prepared. I had copied all the notes for my alto parts into a computer programme so that I could play them over and over, slower then faster, to be able to learn every note perfectly. Because I struggle so much with the songs we sing. They are in either Latin or Swedish. My Swedish is decent, I can communicate, but I don’t know how to pronounce everything the right way. And Latin… I mean I did learn it in school but that doesn’t prepare you to spit out syllables crazy fast.

music

Our choir leader gave us chords that we had to sing and you had to find out which note to sing according to which harmony you are. I failed miserably. I only managed because a dear friend noticed my desperation and turned towards me so that I could copy the tone. So I am standing in this room with magnificent singers and a choir leader who is also conducting perhaps THE choir in Uppsala, Uppsalas Domkyrkokör. And here am I, don’t know how I got in. I feel like every minute someone is going to come up to me and say: “Hey, we tried. But that just doesn’t work. You don’t know how to sing from sheet music. Please leave.” Impostor-Syndrom at its best.

Because… I got in. I auditioned and I got in. I even got to sing at a concert after one week of rehearsals. It can’t be that bad, can it? I’m taking Ahsante’s advice. I need to get out of my head, see how much I worked for getting into the position I am in today and connect to the people around me, talk about my difficulties. “I have a hard time following everything and I have a hard time singing from sheet music because I’ve never done it like that before. Also, I cannot follow anything when you speak that fast.” It’s ok to say that. It’s ok to talk to people if you feel a little lost.

house

“I just had to laugh so hard. You overworked yourself a LITTLE?!” my friend said. Yep, she was right. I had treated my university impostor-syndrom with overworking. There are so many cool people around, people who have worked in many different workplaces, who have done so much in their lives, who have seen so much of the world. And here I am, 21, just finished with my bachelors, barely any knowledge of life. So what did I do to counteract this? I buried myself in books. And completely lost it. Probably not the best idea.

New strategy: I will admit that I have a hard time and I will review the path that got me here. I’m in Sweden now. This is not out of pure luck. I worked hard for the place I am in today and it’s a lovely place. Ahsante said: “Congratulations, you have levelled up!”.

Pat yourself on the shoulder whenever you feel like an impostor. Connect to others, see what you can still work on and what is still to learn and then enjoy the ride. Because you have come much farther than you thought you had.

Running Until I Fall


Sunrise and sunset are chasing each other, battling on who will be able to inch closer towards midday. The same fight every year. Every year after heatwaves and exhaustion, autumn comes to soothe. I can feel autumn approaching, I can feel it as the icecold wind on my arms in the morning when I bike to school. I can see it in the warm evening light that illuminates the wooden houses and the trees in the forest. I can see it in the apples that seem to be everywhere and that people put in front of their garden fences with little signs saying “Varsågod”. You’re welcome.

house
As I biked home from the city yesterday, everything was bathed in this gorgeous golden light. 

I’m thinking back on how summer was. I’ve never been a fan of summer, to be quite frank. For me it was a time of desperately trying to kill Time. Of purposelessness. Autumn meant “back to school”, back to reading and learning, two things I enjoy so much. And now it’s autumn and I’m reading again, learning.

stockholm
I visited friends in Stockholm two weeks ago and we went out to the archipelago with the boat. On these islands, life is so serene, so calm. I could imagine spending an entire summer there just walking around and admiring the houses, the apple trees.

I overdid it, though. I stayed up nearly every night in the past two weeks to get my reading done. I read until midnight, went to sleep, woke up at seven and read until my lecture started. After school, I came back home to my books. It’s true that we have to read a lot. But this was not coming from school, this urge. It was coming from my inside.

I am pushing myself more and more because I need to perform, I need to be good at this. I need to take everything in as fast as I can, as much as I can. Now. And when I take breaks I calculate the trade-off. How much time did I lose during this break, time lost to read and write assignments? I have accelerated a lot over the years. I have become more efficient in my work. I read fast. I type fast. I think fast. But this did not aide me to calm down because I would be able to bring the results. No, it encouraged me to do even more, because I could. “You’ve always got by, haven’t you? It was always ok when you took on an additional task, wasn’t it?”

I had two visions in my head the other day. First, I didn’t know how old I was. I didn’t know how I had got here. I got my bachelors degree two weeks before I came here to Uppsala. I am a masters student now but I have had no time to process that. I didn’t know how I had got here. To Uppsala. My new home.

And then I envisioned my life in the future. I would sit in some small room with blank walls with all of my degrees but with the big question in my had: “How did I end up here?” Because everything had been a blur. Everything had gone so fast. And is still accelerating.

church
This is a picture I took right before the service we sang in last weekend. Right now, we are rehearsing for the next one which is taking place in two weeks already. Choir gives me so much at the moment and it lets me forget my work for a few beautiful hours. I’m so grateful to be able to sing with them, to be part of all of this.

It’s ironic because in my course literature, the authors often discuss that “growth” is our interpretation of “progress”. We need to make more money in less time, with less workers, exploit all the resources that we can. GDP growth, yay! I’m doing the same. You could say, in economical terms, I’m growth-addicted. I’m accelerating, maximising output. The problem is that I don’t consider my inputs of time and mind space.

There have been many authors advocating for a steady state in our economies, for a balance against the unlimited exponential growth. Because we cannot go on like that with the limited resources we have: clean air, furtile soil, clean water. I need to do the same. I need to find a balance in my life, between working and just enjoying life. I need to acknowledge my most important resource: Time. Time for friends, time for long walks in the forest, time for knitting and painting, time for ridiculously long philosophical chats with my friends back at home in the middle of the night, time for just being in the moment.

A friend of mine said: “I could never do what you are doing. I need my time off, going on holidays to some city and just eating cake for a week.”

For whoever needed it this week: Breathe. Take your time. Eat some cake. It’s going to be ok.

Climate Frustration


This week I understood why I’m doing a masters in Sustainable Development. 

I have been pretty much circling between five different activities this week:

  • Sleep (of which I didn’t get much)
  • Eating (I realised how much I miss the organic stores in Germany. All the organic food here is wrapped in plastics which sparks the question which sustainability fail I can accept: plastics or glyphosate)
  • Learning choir songs (I was able to sing in the choir concert after only one week of rehearsals because I came in as a newbie. So I had to learn all the songs in a really short time. It worked really well, though)
  • Classes
  • Reading (which probably took the most of my time.)

We have received quite an intensive reading schedule for this first course. Since I haven’t done much reading in my bachelors, let along reading for critical review… I have been a bit lost. And overwhelmed. This week has been about setting the goals for our study programme. They told us what we would gain through it and where we would be at the end. Which I find fascinating. This is a completely new approach for me.

library
This is Carolina Rediviva, the most beautiful library in Uppsala in my eyes. It’s so quiet and calm, I didn’t even dare to close my bag afraid that it made too much noise. But you get the best study atmosphere there. 

We had lectures on sustainability education and how we students could actively design and contribute. Education in Germany is like: “Here, take this book from the 1950s. It’s sacred. Don’t ever question what you read there. Learn every single sentence and graph, repeat it on the exam, and then forget it as soon as possible.” Uppsala feels different. Our opinions, our backgrounds, our insights are valued. We have a group work at the moment where people from all kinds of fields came together to solve a geopolitical sustainability issue: We have anthropology, agricultural studies, environmental science, tourism, social sciences and finance… It’s wonderful!

I will do a separate blog post on what my goals for this study course are. I think it is valuable to have that beforehand and to later evaluate how it went.

forest

I need to tell you this story. We had a skype lecture with a quite famous climatologist, Kevin Anderson. He’s a controversial figure. But I think he states things how they are. The climate change reality that we live in really is that depressing. We are hoping for a technical fix that might (probably won’t) ever come. We made committments in the Paris Agreement that are far too low to reach the 2°C increase that we promised. We are much rather aiming for a 4°C increase. That’s not a four degree increase in your hottest summer days. They mean Global Average. This in case comes with an increase of 6-12°C on top of the hottest days. (I think you can find these assessments in the IPCC report that is published every few years where they make estimations of how bad it gets.) The world is in big trouble.

In his lecture, he talked about all the things we are currently not doing: We are not divesting from fossil fuels (Our university isn’t either. But there is a group of students pushing them to do, which is great), we are not changing the way our society is organised to become more equal and better adapted to climate change, there is no effort to reduce consumption and to move towards more recycling and rebuilding. The future looks pretty dark.

This was the first part of his lecture. In our break, we stood outside and vented. We were angry, frustrated, that the earth as we know it is drastically changing, that we are endangering ourselves while doing nothing to prevent it.

Then came the question session. We now saw him sitting at his table and he saw us in our lecture hall through the screen. We asked him: “What can we as students do?” He explained that first, it was a good thing that we were sitting there. Learning about sustainability. And then, he challenged us to make noise. To use our knowledge, our voices. He said that we would get angry (I was fuming, actually. A colleague of mine had to put a hand on my shoulder to calm me down a little.) Anger is good. But you have to channel it somewhere. That is exactly what we will be doing in the next two years.

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We will learn how to get angry at injustice, and we will learn where to channel it so that we can do something about the injustice. This is why I’m here. And I feel like I’m in the exact right place at the exact right time.

If you are interested how we can transform our economy to better fit this century, then I recommend Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth. It was part of our reading list and it’s brilliant!

Back to Uni


It’s late in the evening as I’m writing this. I’ve only just finished taking notes for my course that starts on Monday. There is a huge literature list that, of course, I have already started working on. Hermione-style, reading all the books before the term starts. I’m that enthusiastic. And with every article I read, I feel more and more like having made the right decision with this programme. This is what I want to learn more about.

And yes, I confess, I have been buying expensive notebooks. I just love notebooks too much.

notes
Notes, notes, notes. I really enjoy being back to sketchnoting. Last semester I didn’t really have the opportunity to do it but now there is a lot of course literature to be sketched 😉

My week has been wonderful. I have explored the city with the people from my programme. We have had so much fun and have made great connections already. We are in the same boat with this programme but we also have similar worldviews and values, which is pleasant. There are law students, neuroscientists, journalists, psychologists, agricultural students… everything you can think of. And just as diverse as our backgrounds are, so are our origins. I’m studying with people from all over the world and we all came here, to Uppsala.

During our welcome reception I just sat in awe for a while, letting it sink in how I had come there. I considered all the decisions I made thus far in my life and I’m so grateful how well everything has worked out. I breathed the air of excitement, of wonder, of solemnity. I breathed the air of centuries.

uni
This is the ceiling of the aula in the main university building. Since my former university was so new and modern, this is even more inspiring to me. I’ve always wanted to study in an old university where the bricks tell you of the many people they have seen. And now here I am in Scandinavia’s oldest uni…

I’ve also had an audition for a choir and have been accepted to Schola Cantorum, which is a choir that sings in the largest cathedral in Uppsala. It has been a lot of fun and since everyone is speaking Swedish, I’m not only improve my singing but also my language skills on the way. It was a completely new experience for me to have a rehearsal in Swedish. I cannot say that I understood everything but then again, it’s music and gestures – it makes it much easier.

After this first rehearsal I felt a bit more at home in this city. I’m starting to grow my roots here. I’m starting to settle, to connect, to discover all the wonders of this place.

wrap

I’ve also been knitting this week to keep myself warm and cosy and relaxed. Alexandra Tavel, a knitwear designer, published the pattern for her “Coast to Coast Wrap” on her blog. She designed it during a road trip through the US, from coast to coast. She wanted to capture all the different landscapes in a piece and I think it’s beautiful.

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It’s a wrap! I finished the last stitches in the forest today because I really wanted to be outside.

That’s been my week thus far: Some uni work, some trying to learn latin songs because we have a concert next weekend, many new people and lots of fun.

Late Sumer in Sweden


The mornings are cold, I awake with a sore throat and a little shiver. The air smells of apples and roses, of autumn. Yet the sun still sends its long beautiful rays out to us, to warm and to remind us of the past months.

apples
An apple tree that I found in my neighbourhood

Last week I have been in Jönköping, to visit a dear friend I met in Halmstad. She is studying to become a biologist and whenever we wanted to do something, we would choose the “nature option”.

bag
Her dream is to be a marine biologist, so I sewed this bag for her and made a little embroidery. It was so much fun!

One day, we went to a little island in the middle of lake Vättern. It looks more than a sea than a lake, to be honest.

sunflowers
Visingsö

We cycled around the entire island and sat down on the steps in front of a red barn to have our lunch. Leaves were flying around us and the air had this special taste that told us that autumn is not far. It’s so strange since in Germany, the heat wave is ongoing and summer seems to have a long breath this year. Here, we are already done with it.

landscape
Exploring the island

The countryside is beautiful and reminds me so much of my childhood and the books of Astrid Lindgren I have read. “It’s so Småland” my friend always said: red wooden houses, blue skies, yellow fields.

houses

We have had a lovely time together and it almost felt like a dream, exploring this new place. It was a good idea to travel a bit around Sweden before going to Uppsala. This way, I adjusted myself again, calmed down.

And now, I’m in Uppsala. Today, I took the bike into town to see how long it would take me. I visited the university with its beautiful old buildings, the castle, the cathedral, and walked along the river. This is the city I will be studying in now. These are the streets that I will wander on.

city
Fyrisån in Uppsala

I’m so excited for this. I bought some notebooks today for my courses that start next week. I got some new wool with which I’m making myself a little wrap (I’ve been pretty much knitting all weekend since I was so exhausted that I needed a break. What better way than to knit and sit calmly)

kyrka
The big cathedral in Uppsala. I have an audition for a choir next week and if I get accepted, I will be singing in this one!

It will be fascinating what I think of the city in two years time. Here is what I think today: It is quite busy with people but at the same time, there is a lot of space. It feels majestic with its old buildings and the atmosphere of the university. I almost feel the chatter and footsteps of generations of students before me who have chosen this place. I feel honoured to be able to study here. It is a place full of things just waiting to be explored, a city of streets that lead to new places and a city, where you can have everything you need. A city where old and new seem to clash but not in a negative way. Somehow, the balance is still maintained.

And finally, here is a painting I made for my friend back in Halmstad. I had so many unfinished paintings under my bed and she said that I should finish them one day. She particularly liked this one so I made it for her.

frida
My portrait of Frida Kahlo