The season kicked off on October 4th, with a nice home win to start the season off. That was a promising sign, however since then our results haven't been to good on paper, although we are improving. Unfortunately we lost some close games to some good teams, had some bad games in the mix as well, and our record stands at 1-7 (or maybe it's 1-8 (I'm not 100% sure).The results suck. But we're on the way up. My season in The Netherlands started off in a similar fashion, and a really valuable lesson I learnt there was just how important it can be to keep things process based, and even if you're losing how it's still valuable to improve technically, which is easy to lose sight of if you're just worried about losing. The last 4-5 matches we've increased our level of play each time, with our latest loss only being a 17-15 5th set loss. The results aren't flowing but spirits are still high and we all know that our break through win is coming. And when it does it will be oh so sweet, sweeter than a visit to the largest IKEA in Sweden to go along with the delicious Swedish meatballs served up, which was a great cultural and culinary experience I had the privilege of undertaking.
Although things can be results based, one thing that is an even bigger part of living abroad is the cultural experience. I'm happy to report I can now count to 20 in Svenska (although I'm a bit iffy on 20). Swedish does just sound like a mono tone gibberish with very few vowels but that's probably just my opinion. They have 3 different 'o' sounds that I know of plus a few different 'a' sounds as well, none of which I can say correctly but it's fun trying to learn.
Living in Sweden has it's advantage and disadvantages. An unfortunate disadvantage is the dark and depressing weather that occurs about 94% of the time. As most people, when I see the sun it usually brightens my day. This is not possible in Sweden. The sun rises around 8am (it's rising later and later everyday), and setting today at 3pm (and yes it's setting earlier everyday too). Mix that in with the fact that the days are usually really cloudy, rainy and cold you don't get much sun. So for that I excuse the Swedish people for constantly complaining about the weather. My people tell me it's only getting darker and darker and colder. So all I can do is take my vitamin D tablets and hope for the best.
Here are some cool other things I'm learning about Sweden and Swedish people:
- for a country that has a dark winter I'm seeing way to many people wearing sandals indoors. Yes they wear different shoes outside, then switch over to sandals once inside but I don't like it. Also because socks and sandals look ridiculous. I assume these are the same people who travel on aeroplane in sandals or things, both as bad as each other
- timing. Perhaps of German influence, the Swedo's love precise timing. I haven't heard any Swedish person say 'yeah, let's meet at around 15:00'. Instead it's 'let's meet at 15:00' and you damn well better be sure you're on time. If someone asks you how long it takes to get to work, you will always get a really specific answer. 'It takes about 35 minutes on the bus and train, but door to door with walking precisely 42.7 minutes with moderate traffic flow' is a common Swedish type answer. Also coupled with the fact a 40 minute commute is seen as a long commute. It's hard to explain in Melbourne if I can get anywhere in 40 minutes it's probably been a low traffic day.
- thou swede must recycle: recycling is a complicated institution here. One bin for recyclables and one bin for rubbish? I thought I was good at recycling but apparently not. Basically every household in Sweden is a religious recycler. You put your food and organic waste in a special green bag, which gets put in the same wheelie bin as your normal waste (which you put in a normal bag). You then collect your glass recyclables to be placed in some special glass bin, but putting all your papers together ? No way dude. You have to keep your soft plastics (like milk cartons) and hard plastics (still not sure what a hard plastic is) away from each other, while your normal paper is in a different bag. I've attached a photo of a serious of different kinds of rubbish/recycle bins to prove I'm not making this up. On a related note if you ever get invited into a Swedish persons home and want a laugh, try throwing something that's recyclable into their normal rubbish bin. They'll probably have a small heart attack
- quite number of public buses have seat belts
- if you want to use a bathroom outside of your own home , chances are you'll have to pay $1. Yes, a country that has around 480 days of paid m/paternity leave, free healthcare and free university education for all it's people, makes you pay to use public toilets.
- I tried to promise myself I wouldn't write to much about coffee. If you know me you know I could write about 10 pages on why it's so bad here but I'll keep it very very simple. The number one type of coffee consumed here is black filtered coffee. Anyone who enjoys drinking black filtered coffee are the exact same as the kind of people who enjoy drinking instant coffee. It makes no sense to me and you're wrong.
Hopefully I've given some good insight into Swedish volleyball and culture. My team has 4 matches left until our Christmas break, so hopefully some wins come our way as an early Christmas present.
Post edit update: last night we won 3 - 0 at home. Marking our first win in 2 months and second of the season. Damn that feels good.