Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flat hunting again

March is over, and it's about time to do flat-hunting again. I need to evacuate my current flat by mid-June. If you know someone who is planning to sublet their apartment from May or later (I wouldn't mind paying double rent for one and a half month), please let me know.

And I got contact via this blog from someone who is moving to Stockholm this August and worried about flat-hunting. Here's what I can tell.

It seems it is a political and social taboo to support for the abolition of rent control in Sweden. In other countries, this kind of policy is perceived as a bad one, but politically it's not feasible to scrap. But I've never ever ever heard any single Swede say that rent control should be scrapped. I still don't really know why.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why making friends in Stockholm is difficult for foreigners

Foreigners in Stockholm often say it is difficult for them to make friends with Swedes. Oft-mentioned reasons include the shyness of Swedish people and the closed nature of their community (e.g. they hang out with their high-school friends only).

My view is different. It's probably more about the difference in views of the world between the two sets of people. Whenever the survey on people's happiness is conducted across the world, Sweden is always one of the happiest countries. This seems particularly true in Stockholm: 96 percent of the city population like Stockholm. Grown up in such an environment, one would acquire an optimistic view of the world.

Foreigners coming to Stockholm are more or less those who aren't satisfied with their own country. Otherwise why do they live abroad? Grown up in such an environment, they would acquire a rather cynical view of the world.

People become friends because they enjoy being together. They enjoy each other's company because they feel relaxed in the presence of each other. They feel relaxed because they share their views of the world.

So foreigners moving to Stockholm and Swedes grown up in Stockholm won't feel comfortable with each other and thus don't become friends.

That is my scientifically-unproved conclusion.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Missing milk tea in breakfast

While I was living in Tokyo and London, I would almost everyday have a cup of milk tea for breakfast. This habit of mine discontinued some time during my first years of life in Stockholm. Instead I have a cup of espresso with a dash of milk (the original macchiato, I suppose) in breakfast.

The reason is that once I leave home, I cannot have a cup of coffee that fits my taste bud in Stockholm, as I ranted some time ago on this blog. By now I know there are a couple of places that do serve my kind of coffee such as Mellqvist at Rörstrandsgatan 4 and Drop Coffee at Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 10. But these places are out of my daily way. And my workplace has an espresso machine by Nespresso, whose coffee just doesn't please my taste bud no matter how many times I try.

You might say I could stop drinking coffee then. However, I will have a withdrawal symptom unless I have at least one cup of coffee per day. To avoid suffering from bad coffee, I decided to brew espresso in the morning (with coffee beans bought at Mellqvist).

If you live in a foreign country, you need to give up several things. A cup of milk tea in breakfast is one of such things.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Visit Stockholm blog

Although it's meant for those planning to visit Stockholm, the Visit Stockholm blog is one of the very few sources of information in English on what's on in Stockholm. It's worth checking at least once a week.

Below are some of the newly-opened places in Stockholm mentioned in this blog:

Snickarabacken 7 / Bianchi Cafe and Cycles / Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum

And the blog also lists award-winning restaurants, cafes, and bars in Stockholm:

Best bars selected by Bartenders' Choice Awards 2010 / Best bars, restaurants, and cafes selected by Gulddraken awards / Best cafes selected by New York Times / Best nightlife spots selected by Washington Post

Now it's officially the summer time; the daytime length just gets longer and longer; the sunlight is warm even though the temperature is still around zero degree; persistent snow (with gravels sprinkled for the purpose of making the surface less slippery) has disappeared from the ground to make urban pavements easily walkable without getting your shoes dirty (because of the slip-stopping gravels). It's time to explore Stockholm again after six months of hibernation.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

H&M Spring 2011 ad campaign

Just when a "spring" arrived in Stockholm earlier this week (NB: temperature above 5 degrees Celsius feels like a spring in Sweden), H&M launched its new ad campaign. The ads like those two shown above are everywhere in Stockholm.

And I liked these two pictures without knowing that the model is a super famous fashion model named Gisele Bundchen. Was it because of her celebrity aura or because of H&M's clothes? You might think it was the former, but I actually think it was the latter. As evidence I didn't like her other ad photos.

A loose silhouette accentuated with a couple of tightened parts (the top and bottom edges of the jumpsuit or the waist part of the dress) is certainly IN this season. Those girls who manage to incorporate this rule in their fashion clearly stand out in the crowd in Stockholm.

It's interesting to see if girls in Stockholm will flock to this trend or keep their 4-year-old (at least) trend of wearing a cropped black jacket with a long white t-shirt covering the whole hip (with black shiny leggings attached since two years ago), when the real spring finally arrives in late April.