Only a little over a week left in Sweden! So sad! But now that we are in this almost-gone phase, I am eager to get back to St. Petersburg and get the next phase of real life started.

Yesterday was Sweden’s National Day, which you’d think might be a big deal like the 4th of July or something, but apparently isn’t, not in comparatively non-nationalistic Sweden. Kostia heard on the radio that it only became a non-working holiday a couple of years ago. The events listed in the local paper were just a children’s orchestra and then, later, a choir at the copper mine. No fireworks or anything. There wasn’t even much of a line at Systembolaget on Tuesday afternoon, the true measure of a holiday’s importance.

I may have found evidence of more activity had I left the house yesterday, but I was in a rare productive mood and decided to take advantage of that to work on my thesis. I even turned down an invitation to a picnic at a lake, which is a shame because the weather is so beautiful. But I got an awful lot of reading and note-taking done.

However, to prove that I’m not completely boring, last weekend there was a festival/carnival thing here in Falun and Kostia and I checked it out on Friday night. The main square in Falun, which is deserted most of the time and sprinkled with drunk teenagers on major holidays, looked like this:

(click to enlarge)

Performing on stage in this photo is Marie Lindberg, who competed in this year’s Melodifestivalen, which is the process by which Sweden chooses its Eurovision Song Contest entry. I’d seen pictures of her on magazines and stuff and thought she looked really cute and down-to-earth (and she is, apparently, being, until recently, an amateur musician and humble Swedish teacher), but didn’t know anything about her music, having seen only one installment of Melodifestivalen which wasn’t one of the ones she performed in. At this festival I connected the dots. Her song is a boring ballad with absolutely cringeworthy English lyrics that Kostia and I make fun of every time it comes on the radio. The most interesting thing about it is that it in the line “when love becomes sacrificing”, she pronounces it as “sacrifiZing”, over-correcting for the “Z” sound often missing from Swedes’ otherwise excellent English pronunciation. I can think of a few Swedish artists she could donate that unnecessary Z to. In any case, even though her hit song sucks, she’s still cute and down-to-earth and I wish her the best in her musical career, which seems to be taking off nicely.

Sweden is a very family-friendly country and at these kind of events I always see a lot more small kids than I expect, which is nice. Sweden is also a health- and safety-obsessed country, and so most small kids at concerts wear these headsets to protect their hearing:

We saw a lot of these that evening, and also at the hard rock festival that we briefly checked out a week ago. I didn’t write about the hard rock festival, but I really wish I had taken some pictures there. The goth/punk look is very popular with teenagers in Falun. It actually seems to be the standard of dress for them. Here’s a not-very-good picture of some Falun teenagers:


Since, unfortunately, most people have to stop dressing like that when they get a job, I fully support teenagers dressing that way while they can. I wish I had had more piercings in my youth, because it’s too late now. In any case the funny thing about Swedish punk/goths is that under their brand-new badass H&M gear they look so clean and healthy. Here punk is not a lifestyle, just a clothing style. This isn’t a criticism, just an observation.