Friday, March 22, 2013

Reporting from Lund, Sweden

As my eyes opened this morning, a startling thought flashed through my mind..."Heyyyy this isn't my bed, where am I?!"  

I have been traveling so much this past year-China, USA, Spain, France, Ireland, France, Honduras, Sweden, Denmark-that being confused when I wake up has become more the norm than an unusual occurance. Even now after being in Stockholm for almost three months, there are mornings where I still mistakenly think I'm back in my bedroom in Chicago. Wow, the unpredictable life of a nomad right?

But to answer my own question this morning...I'm in Lund, Sweden! I'm here to visit a fellow Chinese-American who like me, first came to Scandinavia by circumstance but without fail fell in love with this beautiful land. Lund is a quintessential university town complete with bars, coffee shops and second hand shops all catering to the 50,000 some odd students who attend Lund University each year. With Malmö just a short train ride away, we were able to attend last night's Foo Cafe event-Startup Dojo featuring a guest presentation by pioneering entrepreneur -Mikael Kretz(in a dojo outfit and all!) After the presentation, three aspiring entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to the audience and with free beer and sandwiches, I must say this event was a great success! Meeting so many ambitious entrepreneurs with different perspectives and varying backgrounds has further solidified my conviction that one day, I too, will join their ranks as a fellow entrepreneur.

As I look out the bedroom window now, the snow has stopped and dare I say I see sunshine? We're off to Copenhagen after lunch, with a visit at Copenhagen Business School out of the way, we are planning to tour the Carlsberg Brewery, Assistens Cemetery(Noels Bohr is buried there!...Im a science geek), and of course no trip to Copenhagen would be complete with the requisite stop to Freetown Christiania! With the promise of plentiful Danish hotdogs and cheap alcohol(compared to Sweden) abound-this weekend is shaping up to be a truly epic one!

-Xoxo-Ran- An Aspiring Nomadic Entrepreneur

I have still have yet to obtain an accurate diagnosis for my mystery rash(see doctor post), but with the purchase of another tube of Midison Lipid 1%kräm(the good stuff), the itching has become an annoying but manageable condition...lets see how long it takes me to make it through this new tube, huh? 

My life in a suitcase

Beautiful train views...

Furry in Lund!

Pate, Cheese, Bread and TEA, what else could you need in life?

Real Scrotch.

Downtown Lund, Sweden. Styling!

The first(or second) oldest building in Lund :P

Malmö, Sweden

Considering the plunge..!

Mikael Kretz presenting at Startup Dojo in Malmö-fantastic dojo outfit!

I am listening to:
Parachute Youth-"Can't Get Better Than This"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

And the Swedish doctor(Urologist?) says...

Soooo sometime last week I started developing a rash(ew) on my body. I assumed it was a bug bite or allergies and would resolve itself in time, but no, how I was mistaken. Ill spare you the details but this initially insignificant "rash" has now slowly but surely spread itself over a significant portion of my body, and the worst part is the itchiness-O GOD THE ITCHiness! (deceptively mild during the day, but horrifically unbearable at night)

Even though I was a pre-med student, I still have a general aversion to medication. But after being severely sleep deprived due to a week long scratch-a-thon, I finally had enough. I went to the pharmacy and was told to purchase "Mildison Lipid 1% kräm"(steroid creme). I could barely wait to get home! I greedily and generously slathered that creme on, and while it did bring me some temporary relief from the itching, it didn't lessen the rash at all. Now a mere 3 days later, I have managed to use up the ENTIRE tube of creme, and like some drug-addicted maniac I have found myself desperately trying to squeeze out the last precious drops..

Nooo..must obtain MORE of this good stuff!

I am departing for Lund on Wednesday, and I cannot in good conscience spread whatever flesh-eating-disease illness that I have to innocent bystanders so under the recommendation of my coworker, I called City Hälsocentral(City Health Center), got a nurse on the phone and promptly found myself scheduled for an afternoon appointment that day.

Now this is where the story really gets interesting-I arrive at my doctor's appointment, and was told immediately to strip down to my panties(wtf) by a male doctor(wtf). This particular doctor turned out to be a Urologist..uh why was a doctor specializing in male genital examining me?! But desperate times call for desperate measures, so I begrudgingly complied but I kept my bra on for some semblance of modesty…

Twenty minutes and an all too very through(ew) visual check later, the doctor informs me that he cannot confirm what I have but he was willing to write me prescriptions for an assortment of conditions. WHAT? No skin scrapings? no microscope? no tests? The doctor explains that they do not have the facilities to run any kind of diagnostic tests. To add insult to injury the doctor demanded an all cash payment of 770SEK even though the nurse had quoted me 350SEK on the phone(I had repeatedly emphasized to her I was American and she had reassured me it was the same price was for everyone-LIES). As I was storming out of the room the doctor piqued a last cursory remark, "I am also going to add in a prescription for antihistamines, because you appear very stressed. This will lower the adrenaline in your system and maybe stop your rash." Really?! I paid 120 USD to be told Im stressed out?!

By the time everything was done(and paid for), I was too tired and angry to fill the prescriptions. So now as I huddle alone in my Stockholm apartment, I am 770 SEK poorer, unmedicated, out of my sanity-saving steroid creme, still itchy, still rash-covered and…more stressed than ever..

Sigh, my friends, I could easily get lost in a sea of self-pity and berate myself for coming to Sweden in the first place…but I think I'm going to instead knock back a couple cold ones and just laugh at the absurdity of my situation, because come on, what is life without ridiculous days like today?

Just stress?

-Ran-Your resident "Ebola Monkey" Nomad

PS. After I obtain another and hopefully more potent anti-itch creme, I will do a followup post exploring the Swedish Healthcare system. Is a doctor experience like mine-short, perfunctory, expensive-the norm? Or was I just an unlucky expat who picked the wrong doctor at the wrong clinic?

City Hälsocentral  (go at your own risk!)

So what is the lesson here?
Do not go to City Hälsocentral! But if you must go, make sure you 100% confirm the price beforehand and also ask what type of doctor you will be seeing! Last but not least, understand that your hard earned money will only be buying 20 minutes worth of the doctors time-Good luck!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Terrifying Beauty of Not Knowing

As I near the end of my three month stay in Stockholm, Sweden, I feel myself filled with a jumble of emotions. I am so thankful for the time I have spent in this beautiful land but now as the days grow longer and spring approaches, I am forced by life (and certain deadlines) to look towards the future and make some big decisions.

Right now, the only concrete fact I am certain of is that I must return at the end of March to finish my masters in Chicago and by mid June, I will graduate. But then, what is my next step?

My whole life, as hard as I tried to blend in, it was all in vain, because as you all know by now I just never quite manage to adhere by the rules. Now at 26, I have finally come to embrace the fact that I am just a bit different, a tad eccentric even, an artistic soul with an academic's brain, but most importantly I am completely and utterly unable walk the straight path through life.

So I guess as cliche as it sounds, the whole world and all the possibilities within it are open to me. Dare I leave America, my friends, my comfort zone, my home for the past 21 years? Not just for three months this time, but possibly forever? And if I leave, what city do I choose-Stockholm where after three months and a long Nordic winter, I am finally starting to feel at home or somewhere else-to begin a whole new adventure? Never in my life have I had so many choices, or at least dared to allow myself to consider such options…

Who knows where I am going to end up this fall?
The thought of not knowing what is going to happen is both wholly terrifying yet…oh-so-beautiful!

-Ran-A Nomad Fond of...Scenic Detours

Memories from last spring- Evanston Art Fair with my puppies :)

I'm listening to:
"Rail de musique" - Stromae

UppLev Mer Roof Walking Tour and Stockholm City Hall

Having learned my lesson from last week's disastrous hungover archipelago boat tour, I got a good nights rest and scrambled across the roofs the Stockholm on Saturday morning....eeps!

Afterwards, I had planned to check out the St Paddys Day parade in downtown Stockholm but due to Princess Lillian's Memorial, the parade was pushed back to next weekend(when I will be in Copenhagen).
Soooo.. I randomly followed some Hongkong-ians(sp?) that I had befriended whilst roof walking, onto the Stockholm City Hall Tour. The City Hall turned out to be beautiful and the guided tour-45 minutes of pure unadulterated Stockholm history- was available for the low low price of only 70SEK!

Another perfect Saturday in Stockholm....damn I'm going to miss this place. -Ran

PS. Did you know:

Copenhagen City Hall Tower is 105 meters
Stockholm City Hall Tower is 106 meters

Guess size matters after all, huh ? :p

Im listening to:
"OAR003-B"- Oni Ayhun

UppLev Mer Roof Walking Tour

Price: 595SEK
Make sure you book ahead online! Tickets WILL sell out!

Stockholm City Hall

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