I came to Halmstad in the rain. It was such a relief. In Germany, it had been over 30°C pretty much the last four weeks. I arrived in Halmstad and it was 14°C and rain. What a gift!
My dear friend picked me up from the station and going through the city I thought: Hey, I know this! These are the paths I used to walk in winter. It’s only eight months ago but it seems like an eternity.
I remember the vintage shop that always looked closed but had lots of furniture in it, I remember the bakery always advertising for its cinnamon buns, I remember the main street and its cute little cafés, I remember the balcony on the third floor of this gorgous old house that we sang Christmas songs on for the Christmas fair, I remember the paths along the river Nissan which I walked so often to clear my head and to find my peace again.
I remember all of these, and yet, everything is new. The scenery itself hasn’t changed much: Trees have been cut down, buildings have appeared, the bus station has been relocated. But apart from that, it has remained the same since I left.
It’s still Halmstad as I know it and that gives me a lot of comfort. I have changed and I look upon the world with a lot more happiness now, with a lot more gratefulness for what is, and with a lot more acceptance of what was and what will be. That has changed. And thus, my view on the city.
We have had a wonderful time together. It was great to visit my friends again, see where they live now. It is such a calm neighbourhood with little lakes and lots of green around. A great place to live in.
We played Frisbeegolf in the forest (I can’t play golf and I throw a frisbee three metres, but not straight ahead but to the right or left, so perfect sport for me), we took long walks, visited friends and had great food, we went to my friend’s parent’s house for the weekend and had such a relaxing time there, and there was a lot of Fika. Absolutely wonderful times.
It was a time to connect to my base again. I came home for a week. Home to friends and home to a city that is dear to my heart. I’m so grateful for the warm welcome that I received.
Today is my last day here in Germany, which feels really strange.
I finally got all my papers last week. A friend of mine and I went to Cottbus for the last time and picked them up. We took some pictures in front of our main study hall where three years ago it all had started. We had met in a chemistry pre-course, where we tried to brush up on our knowledge. I can’t say that it worked but at least, we became friends during that week.
And all the wonderful things we had done together in our little group of four: We shoveled 2m deep holes in the frozen forest ground for soil science, we participated in a resource simulation where we all played different countries dealing with resources and trying to protect the environment. We lay at the lake with little paper notes with all the exam knowledge on them and at one point just lost it and ran into the lake screaming because our brains were overfilled. We took a road trip together to visit a friend of ours in Poland and the little yellow car we drove in nearly broke down at one point and we stood on the highway and didn’t really know what to do and the situation was at the same time frightening and utterly hilarious. We walked three hours in the boiling heat through the forest and finally went into a valley where mosquitos were eating us up and our professor asked three of the guys to build a hole in the ground so that we could find lignite. Oh, the crazy things we have done. They have been great.
Yesterday, we had a little celebration/ goodbye party with friends and family. I will miss them so much but I’m so grateful that I always have a place to come back to. For Fika, I made some Chokladbollar, aka chocolate balls, which are non-bake vegan Swedish treats.
It was also a time of finishing pieces. For example, I painted this clock for my family, for the kitchen:
And then I made a new portrait of Meryl. Because… Meryl. Obviously.
This has pretty much been my week. Lots of packing, organising, bringing paintings to people, and a tiny bit of celebration along the way. I have to say I’m really nervous right now, I even feel stressed out. I know that I will be fine and that I cannot plan every detail about my next few months, especially since I’m not even in Sweden yet. But my brain is trying to and thus hits a wall. I think I’ll make myself a cup of tea now, put on some music, and try to calm down for a while. And then, back to packing and cleaning and running around the house with fifteen different items piled on top of each other so that I don’t even see my feet anymore. It’s fun, this wandering life. But it can also be quite challenging. Nevertheless, I’m so grateful to be able to live it.
I have a rather complicated and probably four-hour long evening routine. I can only do it in its full beauty now because I have so much free time. During my internship in Münster it was practically impossible. I came home without any energy left, ran to my room past my roommate who always wondered if everything was ok with me, ran out again to my bike, got some groceries and nearly died on the hill I had to cycle up, came home, cooked, ate, slept. You can see, it was a lot of running during that time. And not much time for long chill evenings.
Now, I do the following: I love to take a wonderful evening walk when the sun has already set and it’s beginning to cool a little. I walk all the paths of my childhood and sometimes even explore new ones. It’s like exploring my mind as well.
I come home and I still need to finish some painting commissions for friends and family before I leave. So I sit down in front of the canvas, put a nice audiobook on (currently Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones) and paint. I usually completely lose track of time there.
On good days, on motivated days, I do some yoga with a wide open window in front of me, in the complete dark. Let the cool wind from outside carry my movements. I don’t light candles that much right now because the mosquitos come in and eat me up at night. If I’m really good, I will even meditate for a while but usually I lack the patience for that. Which is sad and I know that meditating is the way of developing patience. I guess I get caught in an evil circle there.
Sometimes if I’m not really tired yet and my mind is still buzzing, I like to work on some choir arrangements for songs that I found and loved. It’s funny because I don’t even lead a choir right now but deep in my heart I know that some day I will have a choir again that I will be singing these songs with. So on my laptop, there is a large folder which is called “Sheet music for the choir”. Pretentious? Maybe. But I love the thought of it.
Since I’m moving to Sweden, I have developed a habit of practicing Swedish every night as well. I use Anki for that and there is a nice card deck that I found online which compiled the most used phrases in Swedish. The words are ranked according to their number of occurences in literature and then put together. I listen to those sentences, translate them, repeat their pronounciation and this way I have made large improvements in my understanding. The last few weeks that got a little boring so instead, I started listening to audiobooks in Swedish. Which was the coolest. One night I couldn’t sleep and started listening to Harry Potter “De vises sten” (Philosopher’s stone) in Swedish. I mean I have read these books so many times that I can practically speak half of the lines but I understood nearly every word of it, even in my sleepy late-night mind, so that made me quite happy.
Talking of habits: At one point during my thesis writing process I decided that I was on my laptop too much and didn’t make enough art anymore. I have a rule that there must always be an empty sketchbook and an empty notebook in the house because I have ideas for new projects all the time. I took the sketchbook from my bookshelf and started doodling what happened that day. It became another way of recording for me. These sketches are really easy and fast, but that is the beauty of it. It also helps me develop my sketchnoting vocabulary, which will be useful when I’m back in university in September. I’m filling this notebook with the events of my days and it’s a lovely thing to look back on. I will probably have more to tell once I’m in Sweden because right now, I could just draw one huge camping chair with a book on it and a glass of water on the side. Maybe some knitting work. But apart from that, there’s not that much happening. Summer laziness, beautiful summer laziness.
And then after all these activities (they usually already take three hours), it’s writing time. It’s usually what I end my evening with. I record what happened that day or my thoughts on whatever happened. This is my work in the first document. I started it in April and it has currently 140 pages. Then, I like to go on to a project I’m working on, like writing a book about climate change or one about forests or a memoir. I have so many documents sitting in my writing folder and each evening, I like to pick one and put some words into it. It’s lovely to see how they are growing. They are all huge works-in-progress and I don’t like to add any pressure because I know that would freak me out. It’s ok if they take time.
I just sat outside in the heat, in the camping chair, quite laid back, knitting. I had a thought that came to my mind, when I gathered some dreams of mine. I noticed that of all the things I like to do in the evening, writing is by far the most fixed one. I always write, no matter what. It’s such an important aspect of my life somehow. Even in the most stressful phases (even during studying for exams or trying to adjust myself in a new country) I wrote NaNoWriMo for three years already – 50 000 words in 30 days. Even when I’m not capable of anything else anymore, I still write for an hour.
(This text was only supposed to be five lines long but in the end it’s become this. I guess that just underlines the point, doesn’t it? :D)
I would love to make a little book out of my thesis (which would be less technical than the actual thing. Less graphs and less “methods and literature review” 😀 ) Maybe also including some other things I have learned about throughout the years in university. Would you like to read something like that?
On Wednesday I defended my thesis which means that I’m now done! I have all the grades for my degree and I only need my papers to confirm it. I have a bachelor of science now in Environmental and Resource Management. Isn’t that cool?
I think I will make a post on my degree soon, what we actually did there. It’s nice as a reflection of what I have been up to all these years and what I actually took from it.
I noticed that since I came back from Sweden around Christmas, I have been running around without stopping. I did an internship, I went back to uni, started a choir, did all the courses I had left, wrote a thesis… I’ve been pretty much working all the time and I demanded a lot from my body. Now, it takes this energy back. I could sleep for three days straight.
I have been sitting around in the garden and knitting. That’s pretty much the only thing I have been doing for the last few days. And that’s ok. Sometimes you need some time off. It’s not like this could go on for a long time: In two weeks I’m leaving again for Sweden. There is still a lot to sort out.
Little photoshotting in the garden 😉
The finished cardigan
But I’m really glad that everything worked out so well and that after three years, I’m through with my degree. I already received my timetable for the first course in Uppsala, which is really freaking cool. I love the lectures I will be attending. This study course sounds like something I have always wanted to do. It is all lining up perfectly now. And I know exactly where I am headed and why.
I want to learn more about our earth, about society. I want to learn how to make the earth a better place, a more just and sustainable one. I want to learn how we as individuals and also as groups can bring about positive change in the world. This is my goal and I think I’m in the exact right place to achieve this.
I love Halmstad so much, it is a wonderful place to live in. Especially if you are a nature lover. I didn’t have that many lectures when I was studying there, so every single day I would go for a long walk up to three hours sometimes. Enjoying the beauty of the trees, the river, the beach and having loads of time to think. To imagine. To dream.
A few days ago I went out for an evening walk and got to some fields nearby. There are not many free spaces left where they aren’t starting to build houses so I especially enjoy this area because it feels so untouched and original. Apart from the plastic bags thrown everywhere and the dog poop all around. But let’s ignore that for a second. There is this beautiful field and sun was starting to set. I waited there for quite a long time until the light was perfect. It looked so beautiful and the atmosphere was so calming. I really loved it.
This week I prepared the presentation for my defence of my thesis. It’s the last thing I have to do for my bachelors. The last thing I need to do before I finally can go on holidays for a few weeks. I’m really looking forward to the free time. Meeting friends, painting, knitting, going for long evening walks…
This week I also finished my Periwinkle jumper. I think I did a mistake with the measurements and took a needle of the wrong size because the shoulder part of the pullover got far too large. In the end, the armpits were sitting at my waist. Not ideal. So I washed it and started going back quite a few rounds. It was helpful that the yarn was still wet so that I couldn’t lose too many stitches. Otherwise, the thread would have gone wild.
I did the decreases much sooner than the pattern asked for and changed some of them completely. I ended up with a jumper that looks not exactly like the one I downloaded the pattern for but I love it anyway. It’s really snuggly and soft- I’m looking forward to wearing it in Sweden this winter. Here are some pictures of it:
This has been my week. Lots of photogenic moments, lots of knitting, and some last working hours for university. I’ll have a big celebration next week after my defence: With my family on the sofam, with some tea, a snuggly blanket, some chocolate and some knitting. Sounds like a plan.
I’ve lived in Cottbus for three years to do my bachelors, from October 2015 to July 2018. Now I’m back home and preparing for the next city to live in: Uppsala. But it’s always good to reflect and to think of what has been good. So here are, in no particular order, the places I loved in Cottbus:
This collection shows me again that after all, it wasn’t such a bad place to live in. Sure, we had a lot of troubles there with our study programme and it wasn’t easy. We often didn’t really feel at home and I must say that I never saw it as such, either. It was temporary. But either way, it has been a good place to live in and I’ve made wonderful friends there. We have our memories and that is what is important.
What a week it has been! My last week in Cottbus. Now, I only have the defense for my thesis left and then I will be done with my bachelors. What a thought.
I moved to Cottbus three years ago and it rained like hell when I did. Today, after these three years, it rained again and I was just really happy to leave the place. Leave everything behind, start anew. I will make an extra post next week in which I will show you my favourite places in Cottbus and which memories are connected to them. So stay tuned!
It was also a week of lasts: I did my last presentation for this programme, saw many people for the last time there, I took my last walk along the river…
I practiced the organ in that little church for the last time…
And I had my last choir rehearsal. We learned two new songs, which was really cool. Since I hadn’t printed sheet music, I put my laptop on the grand piano, where you normally put your sheet music. And then the choir stood behind me, read the notes from my computer programme, while I was playing the piano to accompany it. We sang a really nice gospel that I learned in a gospel workshop last weekend and we sang a Christmas song: Carol of the Bells. Yes, it is July but it’s so funny to sing Christmas songs in July. And most of them are so beautiful that you can sing them the whole year through. In the end, we found that the text was too difficult for the short time, so we changed it to la-la-la. Not much relation to Christmas anymore afterwards.
They surprised me with flowers and cards and little gifts and I was so moved by their kind words and that they loved the choir so much. They all said that it was a great place to meet and I think we have grown so much as a group and got closer and closer. Many said that they couldn’t get the songs out of their minds after rehearsal and that is just brilliant: This is the way choirs should work.
And now I have left the city and moved home again. Home sweet home. After all the stress of the last weeks- finishing my thesis, emailing professors like crazy so that they grade me on time, fighting for my diploma to be finished soon etc- I just fell into bed today. I couldn’t move anymore. I knitted a bit on my jumper…
…drew a portrait again after an immensly long time…
…and other than that didn’t move at all. I’m tired. I think I will need a few days to calm down again after all the events and projects and then I can go on. Also, I got a room in Uppsala on Wednesday, which is really exciting. I will live close to forests and the water, which is lovely. I’m so looking forward to it! Just one month left until I’m travelling to Sweden!
This week has been dominated by the rain. We haven’t had rain in weeks. In the city, all the trees had gotten grey and the air was sticky and you felt like choking on it sometimes. The grass was yellow everywhere and we all longed for a little water. So last week it has been gloomy and rainy and for me it was absolutely wonderful. I went for a walk barefoot today and jumped in all the rain puddles and it was just the best. People look at you funny when you do but I don’t care. I enjoyed the rain, just as much as all our plants did.
The bags under my eyes were big enough to go shopping with them. It has been a crazy time. I didn’t pull an all-nighter to finish my thesis, but it often got really late. And I couldn’t sleep well because this document was always on my mind. But now…
68 pages. Now printed and handed in. It’s glorious.
What’s it about now?
It’s title is “Comparative analysis between regulatory measures for a sustainable forestry sector in Germany and Sweden”.
How did this come about? I was in Sweden, on the road for an excursion. We were talking about forests and that there are so many of them in Sweden. Then David from my biology course said that it was horrible how Sweden treated its forests. They check if the forest has the right age (it’s normally 70 or even less as I found out now) and then they clear-cut the entire area. I would never have thought that. And in a lecture we had, our teacher Lasse told us about a programme he had heard on the radio in the morning: They were planning new nature conservation measures for highly valuable forests. This in turn would make it impossible for forestry to be conducted. As a result, all forest owners ran to their forests and clear-cut them before the new regulation came.
I became really interested in forests and what we do to them and I wanted to know more. So I wrote an article about German forests during my internship and what climate change is doing to them. My thesis was just the next logical step combining everything.
In the end I found out that not governmental regulation, laws etc alone will make forests more sustainable. There has to be a combination of regulation and certification. Certification with – in Germany and Sweden – FSC and PEFC: These are systems where you let your forest be tested if it fits certain guidelines set up by FSC and PEFC and then you get a label for your wood. People who buy your wood then know that it comes from sustainable forestry. This was inititally proposed to counteract deforestation in the world. But it isn’t really effective. This is why a combination of a good forest law and certification is so important.
Also, there is no world-wide forest law. We are talking about climate change and there is no forest law! This would be one of the first steps – stopping deforestation and setting the world’s forests on fire, and planting new ones. Sadly enough, though, it isn’t thus far. Leaves more work for us environmental managers of the future, I guess.
After all the work around forests, I finally have time to go back to my commission paintings that I need to finish before I go to Sweden again. Also… A lot of time to knit. I started a patchwork blanket with all the little wool balls I have left over from various projects. They sit in a drawer in my room and I never knew what to do with them. Now, they have a purpose. I want to make the blanket 180x100cm so I need 180 squares. I’m at 18 right now… That’s going to take a lot of time. I also think that I will probably bring the squares that I already did to Sweden and finish it there one day.
I sat in the garden in the grass, was knitting a jacket and suddenly felt a sting in my thigh. It was no bee or wasp or anything. It was my cat. It had spotted the wool. I never knew that cats can be this obsessed with wool. I couldn’t really get her away from it, so instead I just went on knitting while she threw around the yawn between her paws and nibbled on it from time to time. This game got a little boring at one point so she walked away a few meters and lay down in the shade of the apple tree.
This has been my week. Lots of forest stories, lots of knitting, painting, and singing!
This week has mainly been filled with me typing away on my laptop. On Wednesday, I will hand in my bachelor thesis and there are still some other assignments to be written. I love writing, though, so that’s not a big problem. Only that at one point you lose your motivation. That has been a little exhausting sometimes. It’s been three years of studying now and I’m really happy to have had great teachers and that I have learned a lot. But I’m craving for a change.
It hasn’t been all working and studying though. I also got to enjoy the great weather during a weekend at home…
And when I was back in Cottbus, back at my uni, I rode my bike out of the city every day. It’s so refreshing and so calming to have all the trees around and the river so calm beside you. I’m normally working a bit in the morning and then when I hit the first wall of writer’s block, I go downstairs, hop on my bike, and just ride away. It’s been lovely.
I have less time for drawing than I would like to have but I know that when my studies are over for this semester, I will have all the time I want. So instead of painting or sketching much, I have worked on my pullovers and jackets a little. It doesn’t take any setting up like painting (which is, by the way, the only thing I don’t like about painting). I just grab whatever project I’m working on currently (there is a huge variety of them to choose from) and start. One row or sometimes I work until the yarn ball is finished. It’s really calming and I don’t even have to be creative in any way for the moment. Just knit. And why am I doing this? I need to prepare myself for the Swedish winter. 😀
And it was also Midsummer last weekend! I haven’t experienced Midsommar in Sweden yet but I would love to. Maybe I will make this possible next year and join some of the craziness that is going on on that day. Instead of jumping around a midsummer pole or making a flower crown for myself, I have painted some flowers. These cards are really small which makes them easy to finish in two hours. And I learn a lot about botany along the way, which is always great.
Then there was the highlight of this week: The choir concert. In Sweden last year, I have been in an absolutely amazing choir. It had a great leader who taught me a lot about singing and about holding a choir together so that everyone has lots of fun. Which she definitely achieved. I got really sad when I had to leave this choir to go back to Germany but in my head, an idea developed. We didn’t have a choir in our university in Cottbus back then so I thought: Why not make one? So I did.
I wrote lots of emails and one day, the leader of the student theatre called me and asked if I would like to set it up there. Which I did. We are 12 people all together now and we sing mostly modern pop songs that are really quite fun. I learned loads about conducting, about harmonies, about sounds and especially about group leading through this experience. And after 13 weeks of rehearsals, it was time for our first concert:
We had an amazing time and a big audience in the small theatre as well. Probably around 50 people were there. The voices in the choir were a little shaky in the beginning but during the concert I developed such a calmness that the others said that I calmed them down as well. We had loads of fun and I couldn’t stop smiling. The best moment was when we taught our audience a canon we had sang before. We split them into three parts and they sang beautifully. I stood there, surrounded by the choir, looking at the audience, conducting. I thought: “This has been a dream. And now it has come true”.