20151207_172328
Ashtanga Yoga, bbg1.0, BikiniBodyGuide, kaylaitsines, Scandinavia, Sweden, Tiffany Lee, Yoga

2016: New Beginnings

I have not written in a long time. A lot has happened during the last half of 2015 and I don’t even know where to begin. So, I’ll make it short and sweet.

  • As of now, I’ve been living in Malmö, Sweden for 2 years.
  • I am working for an eCommerce company, Boozt Fashion AB. Love my job.
  • While I’m not teaching regularly, I’m still maintaining a daily ashtanga self-practice. Who doesn’t love a 4.40 am wake up call?
  • I restarted Kayla Itsines BBG this past summer and have been doing it properly this time around. It has made my back stiffer, but it has also made me stronger and I have more sustained energy throughout the day. Back progress pic:

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    5 months of BBG

  • I have just signed up for a copywriting course with the Copywriting Apprentice  and am thrilled to put my creative work to the test.
  • Others for 2016 include becoming the best version of me. Without giving out too much detailed information, I will be exploring the single life again and will turn 33 years later this year! Life will include finding a “new” home, securing a future for my career ventures, and developing a regular sitting meditation practice. I still hate the weather here, but I am curious to see how my life will evolve with a new start.

 

“Be resolutely and faithfully what you are; be humbly what you aspire to be” Henry David Thoreau

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5 First Impressions Scandinavia
Culture, Norway, Scandinavia, Scandinavian Culture, Sweden

5 First Impressions about Scandinavia

While climates in the Scandic countries (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark) can be harsh, it’s proven to have some of the happiest people in the world. As an American, there have been a few notable things that have struck me about Scandinavia upon my first few visits. It’s hard to recall now, as four years have passed since I first came to Sweden. Many things are becoming a more regular part of my life, but looking back, these were five first impressions about Scandinavia that struck me the most.

5 First Impressions Scandinavia

Frogner Park, Oslo, Norway

Keep the Sabbath holy. Sundays in Norway mean everything is closed. Traditionally, Sunday has been a day recognized in the Christian tradition as the Sabbath, or a day of rest, meant as a day for “God.” Yet, a majority of Norwegians and arguably most of the its Nordic counterparts, are agnostic, if not atheist. Therefore, in Norway, this day is really meant for outdoor activities. Since most of these countries spend the majority of the year wearing thick jackets, it is important to take advantage of nice weather when it happens. Norway hardly lacks in beautiful landscapes or clean air and Norwegians are quite active with their year-round sports.

If you want to attempt some shopping on Sunday in Norway, try petrol stations, flower shops or grocery stores that are smaller than 100m2.  Keep in mind, hours are limited, selection is poor, and prices tend to be higher.

This is actually quite common in many other places in Europe still today. A girl from Germany told me she grew up accustomed to everything being closed on Sundays as well.

5 First Impressions Scandinavia

December in Malmö, Sweden. Gustav Adolphs Torg.

Red Days, Christianity, and Scandinavia. Sweden and the Nordic countries as a whole, take many Christian red days (public holidays). However, it is a safe bet that Christian holidays here are not ever about Christ. Easter isn’t about mourning Jesus’ death, rather it’s about painting eggs and eating candy. Christmas isn’t about celebrating the birth of Jesus, it’s about drinking schnapps and watching Kalle Anka (Donald Duck) on TV. Sweden also celebrates the evening or day before the actual holiday, like Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day. Thus, I was a bit disappointed when I found that nothing happening on December 25th.

There are other Christian holidays like, trettondedag jul (Epiphany), which is the thirteen days after Christmas where people get a day to take down the decorations. Though I don’t understand the significance, I’m always grateful for another day off. Coming up soon is Ascension Day, which originally was to acknowledge the day Christ went back to Heaven…and still has yet to return.

5 First Impressions Scandinavia

17th of May, Oslo Norway in 2011

Cohabitation and Sex Before Marriage.  I was raised in what I would consider a conservative, Christian, American home. My parents have always valued purity before marriage and having children after being wed. Despite my departure from their religious beliefs, I grew up amongst many whom avoided mixing their dating and relationship escapades with their personal/family lives. I felt a really awkward upon my first visit to Sweden when I was allowed to knowingly share a room with my then boyfriend.

While people do move-in (cohabitate) in the states, many will wait to have children until after marriage. This article shares, “Young unmarried parents are statistically more likely to be poor, have emotional or behavioral problems and are less likely to do well in school.”  This type of media casts a dark shadow to those who are unwed with children in the states.

When religious reasons failed, my parents started to mention the marriage failure rate for couples that move-in together before marriage. I grew up honestly believing a woman would get a successful career and good husband only if, she waited. My parents were as surprised as I’d been when they found out that my friend’s parents had waited two kids and 15 years before finally tying the knot.

This is rather unheard of where I’m from and I am not from some small town in the Midwest either. 

When I visited in 2011, I remember wondering how all the young mothers managed to support their children and still maintain a job? 

Now enters, the social system.

5 First Impressions Scandinavia

Midsommar bord 2014. Midsummer in Skåne, Sweden.

Everyone is included. The Swedish social system. In American culture, mothers are allowed to take time off during the months before and after childbirth, but they will not normally receive any paid compensation. My sister worked up until the days before she was due and returned promptly 90 days after birth. This is normal in the states, but in Sweden, it’s an entirely different ballgame.

Everyone is taken care of with the social system. Prenatal care and giving birth is basically free. This sort of makes me feel reluctant to have a child anywhere else, even if I am not in love with Scandinavia. Sweden also provides maternity and paternity leave, with a total of 480 paid leave days per child. It is rather discouraging to read this about the high costs in America.

In early April, I sliced off the tip of my ring finger cutting a sweet potato. I had to go to ER and have gone back twice a week to have my bandages changed. 4 hours, a few shots, and some antibiotics later, the bill I received a month later was in the sum of 450 SEK (54 USD).

5 First Impressions Scandinavia

Courtesy of Domestic Geek Girl

There will never be a potato famine in Scandinavia.  A stark feature to every holiday bord (table) is the potato.  While I have seen the potato mashed, boiled, smashed, baked and fried, in Sweden it is most popularly featured: boiled with the skin.

With at least 11 varieties of potato at the market, one can easily get lost.

On a visit to Norway, I found a bag of potatoes buried in the back of the vegetable bin.  Upon opening the bag, I saw that they’d started sprouting.  It immediately became clear.  With the cold, dry, long winters and days with lengthy or short amounts of daylight, it is not easy cultivating a variety of produce in this country.  But, potatoes will probably never be scarce because it seems they can grow for themselves in the harshest of conditions and the weather here is not warm. I’ll just wait until conditions get bad before I resort to eating them.

All in all, every country I have visited (and keep in mind, I still feel there have been too few) have always been an anthropological experience. Despite the horrible weather, that I just cannot get used to, people do seem be able to achieve a real work-life balance. With higher salaries and high taxes to match, I feel too much goes to the social system, but no one is left out of healthcare. I do question if Scandinavians are really that happy (many people spend their long holidays in warmer, southern parts of the world or just generally dreaming of warmer days), but it seems Scandinavian countries still rank among the happiest countries in the world.

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Marriage, Cohabitation and Sweden
cohabitation, commitment, Love, marriage, Relationships, Scandinavia, Scandinavian Culture

Marriage, Cohabitation and Sweden

An engaging topic always involves controversial ones. One in particular for me has been in regards to marriage, cohabitation and Sweden. This post is a bit of a repost/revision from another I had written when I was interning for Pine Tribe, including some new info.

My fiancé and I had been cohabitating for the past year and a half and had maintained a long distance relationship for 2 1/2 years prior to that. The subject of relationships varies largely from culture to culture, but I have found that Europe, western Europe, has a rather liberal viewpoint on it.

Official applications in Sweden give individuals the option to list their status as unmarried, married, and sambo. Sambo refers to cohabitation, or an unmarried couple living together. Sambo partnerships are basically being given the same rights as a married couple, which caused me to wonder what would motivate a sambo couple to marry?

I come from a more traditional Christian American upbringing. Marriage was to come before sex and cohabitation was a no-no. Some believe living together before marriage is a wise decision. I remember being surprised when the mother of one of my closest friends advised, “‘You’d test drive your future car, why wouldn’t you your future husband?’”

Upon announcing my engagement to my American friends and family last year, two questions followed, ‘How did he propose?’ and ‘When is the date?’ The proposal was casual. Since we had a long distance relationship, we had openly discussed all options. As far as a calendar date, after having been engaged for over a year, we hadn’t set a “date.” I had after just moved to a new country and we had been focusing our efforts on getting an apartment and job. I’d argue that it is quite typical in America, that after one gets engaged, the next year or so is spent on stressful and whimsical wedding planning.

But does commitment mean any less if you cohabitated prior to marriage?

Marriage, Cohabitation and Sweden

In Denmark, Sweden and Norway cohabitation is a normal part of life. Gay marriage and visas for partnership are common and a good number of children are born into families of unmarried couples. Many married couples I have met in Sweden have done it the “Swedish way”. This means they were sambo couples who lived together for many years before deciding to marry. My boyfriend’s parents lived together for 15 years and had two kids before they decided to wed. His mom told me they decided to finally marry because they wanted a celebration, as well as to secure a future for their kids. For them, nothing changed in love or commitment before or after marriage. Another couple I know did the same and got married because it would be easier for her to come live in the states on her husbands temporary working visa.

Another concern I grew up hearing was staying married for the children. Regardless of marriage or not, I would argue that children are happier when the parent’s relationship is stable. The stability of a union is not defined by paperwork and a document will not define the love, compromise, and hard work for a successful relationship.

Marriage, Cohabitation and Sweden

After I had written an article on cohabitation in Scandinavia, it got me thinking about what exactly it meant to be married. Living in a culture where cohabitation is normal and accepted, I didn’t feel the need to rush nor did I want my decision to marry to be about religion or guilt.

Happy New Year! God Fortsättning!

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Why Kayla Itsines BBG Did Not Work
BikiniBodyGuide, hiit, kaylaitsines, training, yoga challenge

Why Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide 1.0 Did Not Work

I am going out on a huge limb posting this. So, I was interested in Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide for two reasons: results and as a yoga experiment to see the affects hiit (high intensity interval training) would have on my physical yoga practice and mind. Having spent more than the last decade being dissatisfied in my skin, I was sick of feeling sorry for myself. Yoga no longer seemed enough, nor did I want it to be my go-to for exercise. After seeing some of the amazing 4, 6, 12 week transformations on Kayla’s Instagram account, I found myself pulling out my credit card and saying, ‘why not?’ Summer was nearly in full swing and I was not anywhere ready to wear a bikini.

Not that there is not much of a bikini season in Sweden, rather I just wanted to feel good about myself. This does not mean to say that even if I did have an amazing body, I would feel good about myself either. The mind plays a large role in ones happiness and peace in life, but sometimes we need an extra bit of help along the way.

So what are my results? As a yoga practitioner, has Kayla Itsines BBG 1.0 affected my yoga practice and flexibility?

What has worked:

Something about pushing myself, increasing my heart rate and jumping around doing hiit interval training makes me feel amazing! I feel energized after and my body aches in places I had forgotten about (quadriceps, gluttes, biceps). My jeans fit better, I feel stronger, and I have more energy throughout the day. The best news: it takes 30 min.

What hasn’t worked:

I don’t have a 6 or even a 4 pack. My progress pictures hardly look as if anything has changed. I still have stomach rolls. Despite feeling so great, in a way, I feel frustrated that I look quite similar to when I started.

Why Kayla Itsines BBG Did Not Work

Before & After BBG 1.0

Why it hasn’t worked:

I did not follow Kayla’s nutrition plan. I don’t eat gluten or meat and consider myself to be quite a whole food foodie, thus, I didn’t think I needed to purchase it. However, it probably would’ve provided some structure. My biggest weakness: portion control, rice, and dark chocolate. In our home, we love food and making great food. So, while I stay away from junk, wheat, most dairy and sugar, we eat lots of what we do make.

I also do not have any weights. It seems stupid that someone would buy a program and not do it 100%. I don’t blame the BBG at all, it’s amazing actually. We moved apartments during the summer, so I did not want to accumulate extra stuff. Instead, I’ve been using empty ceramic pots, stairs, tables, boxes and other things in the meantime. I have been using a jump rope a lot though. I also haven’t been following the “conventional” LISS recommendation, where you’re supposed to walk for 45 min on off-hiit days. I have a 90 min-almost 2 hour yoga practice that I value, which is plenty of stretching and hard work. And yes, I have still been doing my yoga practice the days I have HIIT training.

Why Kayla Itsines BBG Did Not Work

Lack of accessibility to weights, forced me to get creative and squat a watermelon

Yoga and HIIT training?

I was so sore when I first started doing Kayla’s BBG 1.0, so it made my regular yoga practice hard. I slacked off because my arms or legs were so painfully sore. Surprisingly, putting my legs behind my head was not really affected, but my lower back and IT band have been. My shoulders are probably a bit tighter as I was noticing difficulty binding in the posture below, but it seems to be okay again.

Why Kayla Itsines BBG Did Not Work

While I said that Kayla’s BBG did not work, it was not because of a faulty plan, more of a faulty participant (me). I also should note that it took me longer than 12 weeks to complete the BBG. I repeated the first two weeks two times through, because it was so hard, and then I got the flu midway through. 

All in all, I have thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I feel stronger and more toned, despite feeling as if I look the same. It has been a fun journey and I will definitely continue integrating hiit workouts in my life to keep things fun and fresh.

Am I better person because I train? No, but I am probably more tolerable of the world after I have pushed myself.

I also don’t want to take away from the value of the yoga practice. Yoga could very well be enough and I love that yoga helps address a lot of the mental and emotional wellness factors, but sometimes a little loud music and some high intensity helps shut the mind off.

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Why Yoga Daily
asana, Ashtanga Yoga, Tiffany Lee, Yoga

Why Yoga Is A Daily Practice

Since I have started doing reception at a yoga studio, I have met all sorts of interesting people. There’s a guy who was disappointed that the 10-class card only lasted 3 months. I asked him why. He told me he felt “pressured” to come once a week. I looked at him and said, “the point is to come daily.”

Then, came an influx of reasons as to why he could not do this or why his other activities were also “yoga.”

I get it. People like to do a bunch of different things, have variety, and take days off, but there is a reason behind having a daily yoga practice. I advise exploring some of that discomfort and discovering the meaning behind why one might not want to do yoga every day.

Here are some reasons why yoga should be a daily practice:

When the going gets tough…

My first teacher used to often say many silly catchy lines during class. I always thought of it as his loving way to direct someone’s attention toward something or lighten up the sometimes intense mood. Despite having lost contact because I’ve been gone so long, there is one phrase he would say that still keeps me going: “avoidance is not the answer.”
Ashtanga is an especially challenging yoga practice. It demands a lot of discipline and even more since I practice alone. I do not have a teacher standing over me or a community challenging or supporting me. In fact, it is quite the opposite as it is usually just my partner and I. Yet, I find that getting on my mat and practicing is necessary. As most people have probably learned once in their life, when the going gets tough, that is the perfect time to persist! Tough times and challenges teach us something about ourselves, our abilities and our minds.
Why Yoga Daily

Doing something daily allows you to hone, refine and shift what was once challenging into something that is comforting.

Practice compassion

When one does the same practice regularly, you obviously start to encounter your ego in a variety of ways. When your ego doesn’t work to your benefit or liking, it presents the perfect opportunity for compassion. Personally, I have gotten so frustrated and agitated at my physical inability to do something. Maybe I am giving the asana practice more credit than it is worth, but I would like to think the whole point of all of this is acceptance. Acceptance of you, of where you are, and of the perhaps incredibly flexible or smelly person next to you.

Not judging yourself also could mean being comfortable with where you are, no matter the circumstances.

Why Yoga Daily

Learning compassion towards yourself and others is an aspect of the yoga practice.

Yoga is not only a physical exercise.

By a “daily” practice, I do not mean to say that you need to be doing physical yoga 7 days a week. I do not recommend this. I understand that life happens, people are too tired, work is too much, you are hungry, you are lazy, whatever…but if you start to make a habit out of your excuses for not practicing, you’re only harming yourself.
Yoga comes a variety of forms and most people are only really familiar with the asana (physical) form. Be it karma (service), bhakti (devotional), or meditation, it doesn’t and shouldn’t be dependent on going to a class with other people, bending and twisting your body. It is supposed to be about bending and twisting your mind! It is learning the ability to step away from your present mindset that has probably left you in cycles of suffering at one point. In fact, the whole goal behind yoga, as I understand it, is that all these insanely contorted postures will take you less outside, and more inside. You’ll hopefully feel less attached to the outer form and your ability or inability to do something will transform into acceptance and being still.
Obviously, if you don’t have a set yoga sequence you are accustomed, it is not easy to start from nothing. It is important to have a teacher and keeping in line with this concept, a good teacher is a great way to learn respect and humility.
Why Yoga Daily

Yoga is so much more than a physical practice. Photo courtesy of Epic Photojournalism.

Practice makes perfect.

Ever wonder why you still can’t do a headstand? Try doing it every day for a month and you’ll probably be doing it. Of course, I don’t mean only doing headstand alone. There is a whole process that accompanies the success of an asana. Your pose might never be perfect, but whoever said good things come easy? In order to improve at something, we must face it fearlessly and persistently daily, in possibly every moment, on and off the mat.

I should add that it is fun to switch up yoga classes and do different routines or activities, but the reason behind repetition is that it forces you to confront yourself in a new light. Your body is changing everyday! As you develop your yoga practice or whatever other training, you will come up against the same things, be them mentally or physically. Facing and overcoming these confrontations are essential for growth.

So, the next time you are talking yourself out of practicing (and this does take a person who is willing to be honest with themselves), investigate this aversion. Instead of avoiding it, face it.

See you on the mat.
Why Yoga Daily

No matter what, make time for your yoga practice, every day!

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Tips for Immigrants in Sweden
Expat, Pine Tribe, Scandinavia, Scandinavian Culture, Sweden, Tiffany Lee

Tips for Immigrants in Sweden

Yes, once again I have changed the format of my blog. Shortly, I will be moving my blog soon over to our new site, but I’ll let you know when that happens (if anyone is even still reading).

I can’t believe it is August already. I love summer. Many Swedes think summer here is so beautiful, but it many ways, it only makes me long for summer in San Diego. The weather in southern Sweden, although mild in temperature, is irregular. One day of bright sunshine and blue skies could be followed by torrential rainfall and wind. People often ask me if I like living in Sweden, and other then because of love and we thought it would be easier to get a visa, it has proven to be a difficult transition.

Tips for Immigrants in Sweden

However, I am now in a balancing act with everything that is happening. My days are filled. School, my internship and job are equally absorbing my time and energy, leaving little time for my yoga practice and/or fun with my boyfriend. However, we manage to do the best we can with the time we have each day. (If you are interested in what I’m doing for my internship, go to this link and scroll for the articles with my name, I have been writing there on a weekly basis since April).

One of the greatest things this summer is that I finally got a job. Being an ashtanga practitioner, we often don’t often intermingle with other yoga forms. However, in a moment of desperation, I contacted yoga studios within the city to see if there was any need for a receptionist. Low and behold, I am doing reception work at a hot yoga studio. I have taken a few classes so far and I have actually really enjoyed it. Reception work is not my dream job, but it is something for now.

One thing I have to say is that the life of an immigrant is not easy in Sweden. If you didn’t move to Sweden to be a student, moving here for love or asylum makes life challenging. Most SAMBO’s (cohabitation with partner) who are foreigners struggle to find their niche.

Here are some tips I have learned as an immigrant in Sweden:

1. Learn the Language

Unfortunately, there is a waiting time for SFI, Swedish for Immigrants, but once you are able to start taking classes, the pace of life will become more interesting. Since most people find it difficult to secure a job immediately (or within the first year) after arriving, attending language classes is a great way to meet other people in similar situations and begin integration. While I haven’t studied for so long, just learning a little has helped tremendously for simple things when I’m out and about. Additionally, the language is NOT easy. The grammar is all a big mess to me, but I am hoping that things will start to smoothen out soon enough.

If you can’t take classes or master the language, just learning a little of the local language, will make your transition into Swedish culture much easier!

Tips for Immigrants in Sweden

2. Speak English

When all else fails, if you can, speak in English! Unfortunately, English is a big reason why I probably have it loads easier than a lot of immigrants from non-English speaking countries. My internship is in English and my job does not require Swedish. Depending on the country, going around speaking in English might be a disservice. However, in most of the major European cities, English is helpful though. Keep in mind, some of the older Swedes are afraid to speak in English. This is not always the case though, but do not be surprised if some seem unwilling to help or respond to you in Swedish. Just look for someone else to ask if necessary.

3. Put yourself out there

This is something I would recommend anywhere. I know it is so scary, but you have to be friendly. Similarly, be sensitive. Swedes are not typically outwardly, friendly people. If you see a Swede on the street, do not be surprised or disappointed by the lack of warmth you may receive. However, if you can manage to break the ice, I have found a great majority of them to be really kind. A good way to break the ice is to host a get together with people you have met that you’re interested in cultivating a friendship. Swedes stick together with friends they have known since childhood, so you will find that once you’re apart of a group, some of them have known each other for a long time.

Tips for Immigrants in Sweden

4. Apply, Apply, Apply

Other students I have met from all over (albeit, a mass majority from the Middle East) often ask me how I got a job here, especially so quickly. While, I do not think it was that quick, I realize that I secured an internship 1 1/2 months after getting my residency and a paying job within 4 1/2 months. I did this by relentlessly applying. I have no tricks up my sleeve and quite frankly, very little experience with what I was applying for, but I persevered. Send out your resume and CV to everyone! Look to LinkedIn for companies within the area that might be of interest to you and just send them a mail. You might not get a response, most likely not, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

5. The system

There is a tricky thing about moving to a new country and that is that you have to abide by the laws. In Sweden they have something called the personal number *personnumer* which is similar to the U.S. social security number. You must get this number if you ever expect to get a job, a bank account, go to school, or just be apart of life.

6. The bank account

You cannot open a bank account without a personal number. You cannot get online banking, which basically means, you won’t have access to an ATM card or online banking, until you have a salary. Handelsbanken apparently does not have this requirement though and I have heard they have remarkable customer service. I made the mistake of opening an account with Swedbank. Swedbank, perhaps all the others as well, will charge you for using their online banking and getting a bank card. I have been frustrated by their lack of customer support and general timeliness. Farewell, free easy banking and amazing customer service, I have been spoiled in the states.

7. Be patient, but not stagnant!

Don’t sit at home waiting for something to happen. Well, if you sit at home, do something! If you’re lonely, accept this is the way things are for now. Find something to occupy your time, create ways to not sink into despair. It is not easy moving to a new place. Even if you have a Swedish partner, they probably will have to go to work at a certain point. Friends will come, but it takes time! Join a gym, pick up a new hobby, or just start reading!

8. Intermingle

If at all costs, do not only stick within your own. You’re no longer in your home country, stop trying to recreate everything that you once had there. Perhaps, it will make you feel less homesick, but to a new home, you have to immerse yourself in the culture. Sometimes this might only mean going for a walk in the neighborhood or visiting a new restaurant every so often, you will eventually have to meet some of the locals.

Tips for Immigrants in Sweden

Hopefully these tips for new immigrants to Sweden, or anywhere else will come in handy. I find that the mass majority of them could have been applied when I lived in South Korea.

Images from herehere, herehere

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Noma Copenhagen
Food, Gastronomy, Michelin Restaurant, Pine Tribe, Scandinavia, Scandinavian Culture, Tiffany Lee

Return of the World’s Best Restaurant: Noma

One of my favorite travel foodies, Anthony Bourdain, visited the best restaurant in the world, Noma. Noma is actually nearby where I work at Pine Tribe in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, I haven’t been fortunate enough to eat here.

I don’t know how to plug my full post here, so I’ll share an excerpt:

Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown: Copenhagen episode features Noma’s, René Redzepi, and the man behind the world-class restaurant. If you are unfamiliar, Bourdain is an American chef, author, and television personality. He’s gained a culinary bad boy image by openly expressing his opinion and visiting places that most culinary celebrities wouldn’t dare. Bourdain constantly goes against the grain as he supports many chefs around the world who are taking a non-traditional approach. Bourdain gave a cultural glimpse into the world of Scandinavia when Redzepi, who seemed quite normal and humble in nature, highlighted the preliminary lack of support he felt from the Danish community.


To see the complete article, learn about the restaurant, and learn about jantelagen (an age-old Scandinavian mindset), go here.

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Malmö Turning Torso
Pine Tribe, Scandinavia, Scandinavian Culture, Tiffany Lee, Yoga N' Spice

When Cultural Immersion Begins

As I said in my last posts, the past 6 months have been rough. We’ve been unemployed, moving from place to place, and money has been tight. However, we’ve had a lot of support from within the community. Friends have let us stay with them and there have been others that have not really understood the depth of our situation, yet still just provided a nice time. I’m so grateful for Swedish people!

Truthfully, the stress of moving to a new place (country) and trying to get settled has put our relationship in a tough place. I regretfully admit the number of distressing conversations have been a good majority because of me and my fears. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the difficulties of immersing into a new culture, despite it still being a western country.

A Swedish woman had shared an old Swedish adage with me, “gott ska till goda komma,” or  that good things come to good people. With all of our fights, I was beginning to think this quote wasn’t applicable to me or my situation. I don’t know if it’s the laws of physics or karma, but I think tough stuff can only happen for so long before things start to take a turn for the better.

I know it’s no excuse, but in case you haven’t heard from me or us, this is why:

Morning Mysore Classes (Undervisning)

When I got notification that I finally was able to start Swedish languages classes, we promptly decided to stop our morning mysore program. This was for many reasons, but two were that I wouldn’t have the time  because of school and with our present financial circumstances, we both just needed to get some steady income from regular work. I’m sorry to our one dedicated student, Maria, I hope we’re able to teach you again in the future.

All in all, I just want to be a student right now and I am…

SFI – Svenska för Invandrare

After 8 or 9 weeks on the waiting list, I started at SFI or Svenska för Invandrare (Swedish for Immigrants). Long story short, Sweden offers free language classes for new immigrants. My course is 4 hours every morning, 4 days a week. Tuesdays I’m free, which is typically my day to go to Copenhagen for my internship. When I’m not studying or writing, I’ve been teaching a Spanish woman English. Language immersion is accelerating my life, but it’s also connecting me to cultures I never would’ve ever come into contact elsewhere. People from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, etc…we have a lot of fun in class too, despite language barriers.

Work (Arbete)

A friend within the law community connected B with a full-time job, called hemtjänst or assisted living. He visits elderly, makes sure they are fed, washed, administers medicine, etc. He has expressed his conflict with giving drugs as we try to be as natural as possible in our daily lives. The irony is that most of his coworkers smoke and eat junk food. I wonder why they don’t see the correlation, the “nurses” now will become those they are caring for if they keep up their present lifestyle. Do people just give up or is it really that people are so unaware?

I was expressing to B that this job has it’s value and importance in the community. He’s not just maintaing people and keeping them alive with drugs, there’s an opportunity to share and give something that isn’t discussed in his training. However, I understand his frustrations and angst about feeding unhealthy food or pharmaceuticals to sick people. I’ve started reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and it addresses our views of aging and dying. It talks about the value of hospice work because it gives practical and emotional care. Where B can make a difference is finding a way to give something more profound though, something in the form of spiritual comfort.

Pine Tribe

My internship is going well and I’m still really happy to be working with Pine Tribe. I’m not sure if this will actually result in a potential work opportunity or if I am just that, an intern. Either way, learning Swedish and the experience I have and will further gain with Pine Tribe will hopefully land me a job in the autumn.

On top of language classes, my internship, I also will hopefully be starting a part time job as a receptionist at a yoga studio. I’m just ready to be contributing to things financially as I feel it’s an unfair burden for B to carry on his own.

Yoga N’ Spice

Malmö Redhawks

I’ve lost steam with this project, we had been tirelessly contacting companies without having much result. But, after nearly 7 weeks of correspondence, we’ve finally landed a teaching gig with the Malmö Redhawks, the professional hockey team in the city.

This excites me in so many ways because for a long time I’ve wanted to teach yoga to athletes and businesses. We’re hoping other opportunities will develop in this area, but again, it’s summer and in Scandinavia (or perhaps Europe), everything sort of stops.

And no, our website is still not how I want it to be, but I don’t really care so much at the moment.

Apartment (Lägenhet)

We finally have our own place. The bed isn’t the nicest. Did I mention Swedes have really small beds? Despite being the land of Ikea, people still seem to stick with 120 cm size bed in a lot of apartments we viewed. If you’re American, this is something between a twin or single size bed and a double. It’s a nice temporary solution for the summer, but we’re a bit tight in the sleeping situation. C’mon, albeit I’ve had some big bed sizes in the past, but this is a bit small. We’re in a great location though, not too close or too far from the center of the city. We’re aiming to move to our official place come September.

Torrey Pines State Beach San Diego

Despite the weather in Sweden being nicer in June, I still am nostalgic for summer in San Diego.

All in all, the structure and routine of school, my internship, getting a part time job, B’s full time job and random yoga gigs here and there are enough to keep us busy for while. I’m thankful to have stuff happening. The momentum is picking up and I’m starting to feel like immersion is becoming a reality. Although, I’m feeling like the pendulum is swinging the opposite direction. I’ve gone from having not so much to do to having far too much. As B always says, ‘you have to swing out of balance to find balance.’

Truthfully though, I feel so spread thin with my friends. I’m sorry to all my friends in other countries. It’s so hard to stay connected with everyone with all the time zones, in addition to try to develop a life and friendships here. It’s hard to not lose touch with a lot of you. You’re still in my heart though!

Ahead this month are many fun all Swedish things. Midsommar is right around the corner, something I must post about as we’ll be doing it really Swedish this year. Happy June! I’m so ready for you summer!

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Hanging upside down
Life, Scandinavia

Survival tips of the smallest

I just want to express my sincerest gratitude for all the sweet emails and kind words I’ve received since my other post.  I have used my blog as a vehicle to express what’s really going on, which means, I have made myself completely vulnerable to the moment that things are happening when I share.  With this, I’d like to say that things are fine, we’re doing okay.  I’m not in a puddle of despair and I’m positive that things are bound to make a shift for the better.  Seriously, I really feel this.

With that, this situation is all too familiar to me (emotionally) because I’ve been moving around so much the past 5 years.  It takes time to get settled and re-settled in every country.  I think this might be the biggest challenge that I’ve been up against though because I came here without an income or apartment.  Alas, I’m feeling honestly okay and though we’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us, we’ll manage someway.

Open Arms

Now is really the perfect time for me to just be open to things as they come, but of course, there’s a few things I’m also doing to not fall apart.

So a few tips for my basic survival:

  • Find something everyday to be grateful.  At the moment, it’s the beautiful tulips on the street, the knowledge that I have my boyfriend by my side and the amazing coffee bar I’m writing from. I love you Djänke! My fellow American readers, try pronouncing Djänke!
  • Exercise. Walking on the streets and my yoga practice has been a lifesaver.  Getting a bit of energy and blood flowing does wonders for a weak or tired mind/heart.  Be sure to go outside.  It’s easy to get small in yourself and think you’re the only thing that matters, go outside and you’ll see, you’re not alone.
  • Sit in silence.  Let yourself just sit for 10 minutes and breath.  Yes, you breathe all the time, but how often are you aware of your breathing, the sound, the length.  How about your posture, your shoulders?  Give yourself a few moments to sink into being present with yourself.
  • Care for yourself.  Typically, for me this is a time when I’d find myself indulging in sugar.  However, because I’m doing a project for Pine Tribe, so I’m avoiding refined sugar at all costs right now.  This also includes avoiding the consumption of alcohol and I’m reducing my intake of caffeine.  Eat fresh food and your brain and body will function better under stress.
  • Meet Friends. Not so you can wallow in self pity and complain, but so you can share what’s happening.  Additionally, familiar faces offers a lot of support, even if you don’t feel like airing all your garbage.
  • Making New Friends

    Meeting friends within the is a great way to handle the waves in life

  • Do something familiar that is completely enjoyable and can be done from home.  For me, I love watching films.  I’m a huge film fanatic.  So, I like to unwind with a good movie or TV show.  Perhaps a better choice would be to pick up a book and read, but there’s just so many great TV shows out there right now, I can’t bring myself to do it!  Remember, home should be a safe place, not a place to avoid, even if alone.

 

Hanging upside down

Also, the woman we live with has a soft heart.  She has been trying to approach us since the “blow-out.”  After sort of avoiding being in the apartment since Monday, I decided that this was really immature.  We both are very sensitive, my boyfriend and I, and we forgive quickly.  So, I offered to give her a hug yesterday and with that the situation here melted.

We’re still going to move out though :-).  Time for yoga and then a road trip!

 

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