Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Farewell to Sweden

It is hard  to believe, but my four month adventure in Sweden is now drawing to a close. It has really been an amazing time. While there is so much I still want to share about Sweden, I'm going to conclude this blog with a few reflections on Sweden, the United States, and public history (and also a "Top Five" lists):

A thought-provoking sign at Sweden's National History Museum, Stockholm

Observation #1: On Doing Public History Well: 

Over the last four months, I have visited an incredible number of museums, castles, house museums, historic churches, and historic sites here in Gothenburg, as well as throughout Sweden and Scandinavia.  The worst museums were merely collection of objects and facts, the best showed history as a process of discovery and change.  Great museums posed interesting questions, and showed the ways that historians might help the public to consider possible answers.  Whether it was learning about the challenge of raising and preserving the warship Vasa from Stockholm harbor, the process of creating public art at Lund's Skissernas museum, the unanswered questions raised by prehistoric artifacts found in the lands that would become Gothenburg, or archaeologists' competing interpretation of Ales Stenar--history was portrayed as a messy, interesting, ongoing project. Size did not really matter--I visited huge, tedious museums, and small fascinating ones that held few artifacts. What mattered most was that the museums engaged visitors in a meaningful conversation about the past, and connected visitors to the process of historical research and inquiry. And in an age of touch-screens and cell-phone tours, I still found myself most enthralled with tours given by living human beings. There is something powerful about walking through a site that sparks your imagination accompanied by a skilled, live guide who can answer questions and engage you in thoughtful discussions about the past.

Swedish Democrat sticker: "Keep Sweden Swedish" featuring a Swedish Viking (from Wikipedia)

Observation #2. Nationalism, Fascism, Intolerance, and Public History:  

A few days ago, a group of residents of the Stockholm suburb of Kärrtorp organized a public demonstration opposing the rise of Nazi activity, growing anti-immigrant sentiments, and painted swastikas in their neighborhood. The vigil was disrupted by a group of about fifty members of the neo-Nazi Swedish Resistance Movement (many of whom were young men under the age of 20) who threw firecrackers, sticks, and bottles at the families in attendance and the police who tried to protect them (for more on the events in Kärrtorp, click here). This event is clearly troubling, but you may be wondering it has to do with public history.  Well, quite a bit.

In Sweden and other parts of Europe, there is some anxiety right now regarding questions of national identity. Factors such as the rise of the European Union, the growth of the Eurozone, unemployment and economic austerity, and rising immigration from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East that are causing concerns for some people over the future of national identity and culture in a globalizing world. Across Europe, governments are promoting their nations' histories and cultures as an important way to safeguard their unique national identity.  For nationalist, anti-immigrant, and neo-Nazi groups, traditional history and culture become a weapon to undermine the place of "outsiders" who threaten national unity.  In Sweden, the far-right nationalist political party, the Sweden Democrats (who embraced the slogan: "Keep Sweden Swedish" accompanied by a Swedish Viking), have made increased funding for traditional Swedish culture and heritage an element of their political platform (along with defunding multicultural programs). In 2010, the Sweden Democrats won 5.7% of the national vote and 20 seats in parliament.

For academic and public historians, cultural heritage is clearly a battlefield in the struggle against hatred and intolerance. This becomes a real challenge for historians who strive to preserve and share a nation's past according to professional standards, but who find themselves in the midst of a fierce battle over the political meaning of history. We certainly face similar issues about the use and abuse of history in American politics, but my time in Europe has heightened my awareness to these issues. History at a very basic level tells us who we are. As the Swedish case illustrates, historians need to be sensitive and critical in understanding how the history they produce may be used (or misused), and be ready to challenge those who may manipulate the past to bolster their agenda of hatred, violence, or intolerance.    

Sweden's Engelsberg Ironworks UNESCO World Heritage Site

Observation #3: Public History as Global Resources:  

During my four months in Sweden, I've heard a great deal about Sweden's fifteen (15) United Nations Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) designated World Heritage Sites. These range from the Royal Palace of Drottningholm, to decorated farmhouses of Hälsingland, to the bronze-age rock carvings at Tanum, to the Engelsberg Ironworks. Although the United States has twenty-one (21) UNESCO designated World Heritage Sites, these are seldom discussed by Americans (For my American friends: How many American UNESCO sites can you name off the top of your head?  For a list of UNESCO sites, click here). While these are certainly a source of Swedish pride, they also reflect a larger tendency by Swedes to see themselves as part of world history. At many American historic sites, we are less likely to think that way. Few Civil War battlefields ask about the significance of the war in a global context, and even fewer local historical societies ask how they fit into global trends and events (other than at moments such as during the world wars). Yet if you think about it, every history site is a world history site; every event part of global history.  As Americans rethink our place in a global society, it is important for us to expand the boundaries of our history, and consider more fully how our nation's history and historic sites fit into the large human story.

A NOBEL MOMENT: About to enter the Stockholm Concert Hall for the Nobel Prize Ceremony 2013 (with Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Alternative Energy, Dr. Chuck Coronella). Note the paparazzi are not trying to photograph us.

And Now...A Few Words of Gratitude

Somewhere along the way, I was told that a sense of gratitude is a Swedish sensibility. Now that my time in Sweden is ending, I have an enormous feeling of gratitude for all the people and organizations that made my visit to Sweden possible. I would not have been able to live in Sweden for four months without the generous support of a Fulbright Scholar's grant.  I am deeply grateful to the Swedish Fulbright Commission and the taxpayers of the United States and the Kingdom of Sweden who so generously fund this program for the international exchange of scholars.

I am also grateful to Shippensburg University for allowing me the opportunity for a sabbatical leave. Over the last four months, I have been fully immersed in building new relationships, studying new practices, and learning new skills that will have a profound impact on my future research and classroom teaching. I also hope that my time in Sweden may be the beginning of an ongoing relationship between Shippensburg University and Gothenburg University. Perhaps someday soon, Shippensburg students will have the opportunity to live and study in Gothenburg, and Swedish students will be a part of the Shippensburg University community.

I was very fortunate to be able to have Gothenburg University's Department of Historical Studies as my home away from home.  The generous and inspiring faculty, students and staff welcomed me warmly and assisted me in countless ways. I am grateful for the ways they expanded my thinking about, as well as the many new friendships I developed.

Last but not least, I would like to thank the people of Sweden who shared their wonderful country with me and my family this fall.  To all who made this experience possible--let me just say most sincerely: "Tusen Tack!" (a thousand thanks).


POSTSCRIPT: Five Things I will miss most about Sweden:

1. Talking history with Swedish history professionals and Gothenburg University's kind and thoughtful students and faculty.
2. Old Gothenburg's charming architecture, canals, public art and cobblestone streets
3. "Fika"--periodic coffee breaks of strong Swedish coffee and interesting conversation with colleagues.
4. Discovering the remarkable museum, historic sites, and archives of Sweden and Scandinavia.
5. Living and traveling in a different country where every day is filled with new questions, new ideas, and new discoveries.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Exploring Lund and the Ales Stenar

After a busy week of teaching and research (there is no Thanksgiving Break in Sweden), this weekend I got behind the wheel for the very first time in Sweden.  In a very-unSwedish Volkswagen Gulf I headed with my family to the city of Lund in Skane, the southern region of Sweden heavily influenced by its long history as part of Denmark.  The Danish connection is so strong that some parts of Skane fly their own flag--a yellow Swedish cross on a red Danish background.  Skane is Sweden's bread-basket, a region covered with picturesque farms (that look an awful lot like the farms of the American Midwest). It is also a favorite destination of artists looking for picturesque landscapes and the region's wide-open skies.

Our first destination was the city of Lund--Sweden's second oldest city founded in 1020 by Canute the Great who at the time was ruler of the United Kingdom of England and Denmark. Lund is perhaps best known for Lund University, founded in 1666, and the city is sometimes called Sweden's Cambridge. It certainly feels like an ancient college town.

It is also the site of Lund Cathedral consecrated in 1145. It is an absolutely amazing historic building constructed in the Romanesque style, and filled with intricate wood carvings and artwork.

To add to its charm, it has a huge medieval calendar clock that plays music and puts on a parade of the magi twice a day:

In addition to the parade of the magi, the clock has clashing knights whose swords strike once for each hour, a orb that shows the phases of the moon, and aged Chronos pointing with his cane to the current day and month.  It certainly illustrated how the medieval Church used magnificent architecture, art, and technological razzle-dazzle to awe and inspire.

Chronos pointing to the date on the perpetual calendar: November 30.
It also has a fascinating underground crypt containing Lund's oldest Christian alter, as well as the graves of early Lund's nobility and Catholic bishops:

After watching the clock strike noon, we walked from the cathedral to Kulturen, Lund's cultural history museum. Outside the gate stood an impressive collection of rune stones--stones bearing the Viking's runic writings singing the praises of their deceased heroes and chiefs.

Inside its gates, the museum has a collection of historic buildings assembled from all over Skane interpreted by living historians. The day we visited was the Julmarket (a Christmas market), so we enjoyed tasting food and seeing crafts from across Southern Sweden.

My favorite historic building was a 15th century wooden church (complete with a historic tombstones) moved to Lund from a small village. It was a really interesting contrast with the Cathedral, highlighting even further how truly magnificent the experience must have been for rural Swedes visiting the Cathedral at Lund.

After Kulturen, we walked over to the Skissernas Museum--a museum and archive founded in 1941 that collects the sketches and models used to produce public art. The museum had an amazing collection that allows visitors to see how artists developed their ideas and shaped their works before they went on display in public. It is one of the best museums I have ever visited for seeing the artistic process in action.

After exploring Lund, we set off on Sunday morning for the southern coast of Sweden to see Ales Stenar, or Ale's Stones. Ales Stenar is a 1,200 year old stone ship megalith--a little cousin of Stonehenge--constructed of 59 stones weighing as much as 1.8 metric tons each. The bow and stern of the ship are constructed of massive quartzite boulders each of which been hauled over 30 kilometers from their original quarry. Together, the stones form the shape of a huge ship, but they also serve as a natural calendar. The bow and stern are aligned with the summer and winter solstice, and the ship also aligns with the summer and fall equinoxes. Archaeological explorations also revealed a 5,500 year old dolmen, or burial crypt, located underground near the ship's center.  The whole structure is perched on a flat, open field high above the Baltic Coast.

Apparently Sunday mornings in December are a great time to visit Ales Stenar if you want to beat the crowds. Of course, just so long as you don't mind frigid temperatures and biting winds off the Baltic Sea. It was cold, but no so cold as to discourage surfers from riding the waves off the coast while we mounted the hill to the Ales Stenar site.  As we wandered among the ancient stones, and contemplated the history around us, we appreciated the fact that our family was alone with one of the great wonders of the ancient world. At last, the cold and wind finally got to be too much to bear, so we made our way down the steep shoreline and back to our car--a bit giddy with a mixture of joy and hypothermia.

It was a remarkable couple of days discovering centuries of history and art in beautiful southern Sweden.  I'll leave you with a wonderful piece of public art we saw at the Skissernas Museum--which seemed so appropriate on this incredible journey:

Farewell until next time!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November in Sweden

November is an interesting month to be an American in Sweden. It is the time of year when residing at a high northern latitude (Gothenburg is roughly at the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska) begins to lead to short days. Very short days. The sun is now rising in the sky after 8:00 am, and the sun begins to set around 3:45 pm. Even on a sunny day, the sun never rises very high on the horizon. On an overcast day, it seems to be dusk all day. Last week when I was out doing field research, I lost track of the time and thought it must be getting near dinner time. It was 2:30 pm in the afternoon.

The North Sea moderates the weather, so it has been cold, but not as bitterly cold as one might expect at these latitudes. Instead of snow, there has been drizzle. A bit of drizzle, an overcast sky, and Gothenburg can be quite dark and gloomy.  Fortunately, the Swedes compensate for the short days with a profusion of candles, torches, and twinkling lights. The streets in Gothenburg's older neighborhoods are truly charming at this time of year. 

Late afternoon in the Haga neighborhood.
Because Sweden does not celebrate Thanksgiving, November marks the beginning of preparation for Jul (Christmas).  In early November, Jul products began arriving on the stores of Swedish grocery stores, especially glogg, julmust, and pepparkakor (gingersnaps). Glogg is red or white spiced wine, served warm with raisins and slivers of almonds. It is sweet and strong--great for drinking outside on a cold winter day. Walking through Stockholm and the Haga neighborhood in Gothenburg, you will find small stands along the street selling warm glogg and pastries.

The other winter drink that appeared on the shelves of our local grocery store is Julmust. It is a special soft drink with an elf on the bottle that can only be bought in wintertime.  Julmust tastes a bit RC Cola mixed with a hint of ginger and spices. The elf on the label is actually a picture of Jultomten, the Swedish Santa Claus, who looks like a cross between the American Santa Claus and a garden gnome.

The other winter treat that seems to be everywhere are pepparkakor.  They are large, flat, unfrosted gingerbread cookies with a sharp bite.  They seem much stronger and less sweet than gingerbread cookies in the United States.

Glogg, Julmust and pepparkakor
In addition to Jul, the Swedes are very focused on preparations for celebrating Lucia day.  Lucia Day is December 13, a time when young girls and boys hold processions dressed up in white gowns, carry candles, and sing holiday songs. Young people tend to hold raucus parties, and college students traditionally hold formal dinner parties to mark the end of the winter term. And of course, there is a special pastry for the occassion, the saffron and raisin Lucia bun. 

With Thanksgiving only a week away, we are hoping we can find a butcher at the city's market hall  (Saluhallen) who might be able to find us a turkey. Turkey is not a particularly popular meat in Sweden, so if we can't find a turkey, then what's the best alternative?  Cod (which is plentiful here) certainly would be keeping in the spirit of Massachusetts Bay. Also, the Smithsonian says that the Pilgrims almost certainly ate venison, so perhaps we could substitute moose or reindeer. We've already decided that lingonberries are a good substitute for cranberries (which were not at the first Thanksgiving). I'm not sure if we'll be able to round up the ingredients for pumpkin pie. It will certainly be a memorable Thanksgiving.    

Aside from selecting the main course for our Thanksgiving dinner, the last month has been really busy for me. I've had the opportunity to teach some classes on public history to Swedish students, and to present a seminar to faculty and graduate students on my ongoing research on Gothenburg's Old Jewish Cemetery.  I also had two Skype sessions with Shippensburg University History students: one session with Julia Sandy-Bailey's Introduction to Public History student on "International Perspectives on Public History," and one session with Dr. Bloom's Introduction to Applied History graduate students on "Gothenburg, Public History and Urban Transformation." This Thursday, I'm teaching a class for Swedish students in the University of Gothenburg's Cultural Heritage Studies program called, "Introduction to Public History in the United States: Approaches and Challenges." That is going to be really interesting.

Skyping with Dr. John Bloom's Intro to Applied History Class at Shippensburg University
I'm also deep into my research on two research different projects, one looking at Sweden's efforts to connect historic preservation practices to issues of sustainability, and the other looking at the history of Gothenburg's Old Jewish Cemetery.  For the cemetery project, I've been spending time in various Gothenburg archives and libraries (and translating documents from Swedish to English), slowly uncovering the ways that Gothenburg's Old Jewish Cemetery reflects the experience of the city's Jewish immigrant over more than 200 years.  For the sustainability project, last week I met with staff members from the National Heritage Board to talk about Swedish historic preservation policy.  It is really impressive how committed Sweden is to connecting its preservation policy to issues of sustainability.  Even so, rethinking the rationale and methods behind historic preservation, and trying to find ways to address society's needs in a responsible way while also protecting cultural resources is no simple task.

It is hard to believe I only have one month left in Gothenburg. So much history, so little time!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

World History through Swedish Eyes

This last week marked my one month anniversary in Gothenburg, Sweden. Every day continues to brings new surprises, but at last I am settling into life here in Sweden. It is fun now being able to speak a little Swedish, understand some of the signs that I see, and comfortably travel around the city.  It has also been very rewarding interacting with so many Swedes, particularly the faculty and students at the University of Gothenburg's Department of Historical Studies. They have been most kind and generous in helping me learn about Swedish history.

It is funny how some things that were once so difficult are now quite manageable. For example, grocery shopping proved to be a real challenge early on, particularly trying to find different foods in the store and making sense of the labels.  It is also like one endless math test where you divide the price in Swedish kronors by six to figure out if the price is somewhat reasonable (15 kronors for a bottle of water!).  I'm also getting good at converting kilograms into pounds. I was particularly proud of myself recently for being able to track down all the ingredients to make American pancakes. By the way, they were delicious!

One of my goals for coming to Gothenburg is to explore Swedish approaches to public history. I really wanted to consider how the process of interpreting history in public is shaped by Sweden's culture, location, and sensibilities. As part of that effort, I'm studying the history museums of the Gothenburg region.  In the process, I am rediscovering world history from a uniquely Swedish perspective. As a historian, it has been an amazing opportunity to reconsider my viewpoint and my assumptions about both American history and world history.

For example, last week I was invited by the Chamber of Commerce to visit the city's Emigranternas Hus museum, an institution dedicated to studying Swedish migration. The museum is housed in the original Customs House building along Gothenburg's harbor that served as the embarkation point for Swedish immigrants leaving for North America. Between 1850 and 1930, approximately 1 million Swedes, or almost one-third of the Swedish population, left the country for the United States. As Sweden's major international port, most Swedes leaving for America passed through Gothenburg and through the doors of the Customs House.

In both my United States history and World History courses, I have lessons on the history of immigration.  However, it was eye opening to hear the story of immigration told from the European perspective. It was fun hearing the guide discuss a visit he took to Chicago's Andersonville to look for traces of Swedish culture.  Our guide recounted finding many Swedish flags, a statue of a Darlana horse, and even a restaurant that sold Swedish meatballs. Additionally, a familiar story became new when our guide told the story of the sinking of the Titanic from the perspective of the ship's 123 Swedish passengers (89 of whom perished at sea).

Rather than just a museum, the Emigranternas Hus has a mission of encouraging conversation and research on the topic of immigration. Much like the United States, immigration is a sensitive political subject due to the large number of new immigrants entering the country.  Many come from Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.  The museum encouraged visitors to consider the history of Swedes as immigrants as a lens through which to better understand the experience of these men and women arriving in Sweden today.

I also gained a new appreciation of Cold War history by visiting the Aeroseum, a museum developed in a secret underground bunker used by the Royal Swedish Air Force starting in 1942, and that continued in use until the 1980s.

Originally designed to protect Swedish planes in case of an attack during World War II, the Swedish military expanded the site in the 1940s and 1950s to safeguard its aircraft in case of a nuclear confrontation between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.  The bunker of the Aeroseum offered a unique location to think about the repercussion of the Cold War even on a small, neutral nation like Sweden.

Perhaps most striking was a small exhibit discussing Sweden's efforts to develop its own atomic bomb:

I'm still not sure what the Swedes would have done with an atom bomb, but it certainly made me rethink the meaning of Swedish Cold War neutrality, and the lengths Swedes were willing to go to maintain their independence in a divided world. It is worth considering how even those nations that chose not to be part of NATO or the Soviet bloc still had their society's altered by the confrontation of the Cold War.

Last but not least, I visited the Nostalgicum, a museum dedicated to Swedish life in the 1950s and 1960s. My favorite room was one dedicated to Swedish hippies and the anti-war movement of the 1960s. The museum's labels told the story of growing Swedish protests against the American war in Vietnam, and the challenges those protests caused for the Swedish government.  It is a story I have often told from an American perspective, but one that deserves to be told as a truly global story.

As a native of Woodstock, New York, I could not help smiling when I saw that the exhibit's section on hippies featured the classic red Woodstock Concert poster with the dove perched on a guitar. It made me proud as a Woodstocker, but it also made me wonder precisely what Woodstock meant to the Swedes--both then and today. When I teach United States history or World History next, I will certainly be asking my students to think about the events of the 1960s in a far more global perspective.

That's all for now. Next time I post, I will be sharing some of my research on Gothenburg's Old Jewish Cemetery.  Until then, goodbye, or as they say in Sweden--hej då!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

On Friday, September 27, I awoke at 3:45 am in order to catch the 5:05 train from Gothenburg to Stockholm.  I was making the trip to Sweden's capital city for the Swedish Fulbright Commission's orientation for this year's grantees.  The day began with coffee and pastries, and an opportunity to meet the amazing group of scholars and graduate students undertaking projects across the country.

The morning session took place at the Swedish Film Institute with an overview of the Fulbright program and its history, and with two classic Swedish tourist films--one from the 1930s, and the other from the 1960s. If you want to see how Swedes tried to draw American tourists to the country at the height of the Great Depression, check out the film Queen of the Baltic (that has been lovingly restored and preserved by the Swedish Film Institute). 

The day also included a visit to the Nordiska Museum, a museum of Swedish cultural history founded by Artur Hazelius. Hazelius worried that industrialization would destroy Sweden's unique culture heritage, and so he created the Nordiska Museum as a way to preserve the nation's folkways before they disappeared. He also created Skansen in 1891, the world's first outdoor living history museum where he sought to bring together wild and domesticated animals, traditional buildings, and people practicing traditional handicrafts in a single place. The result is sometimes called a miniature Sweden.
Riding the giant Dalahäst at Skansen

At the Nordiska Museum, curator Maria Perers gave a very interesting history of the transformation of Swedish domestic life. Focusing on furniture and urban spaces, she showed the progression from crowded single-room apartments to the more modern ideal of modern, multi-room apartments decorated with Swedish modern furniture. She noted how the Swedish government responded to the housing shortages of the 1960s with the Miljonprogrammet that sought to create one million new dwellings between 1965 and 1974. The sudden appearance of so much new housing created an opportunity for a Swedish furniture company that could mass produce affordable, ready-to-assemble home furnishing--and thus the rise of IKEA--currently the world's largest furniture manufacturer.

As a historian, the high point of the day was a guided tour of the Vasa Museum by the museum's Director of Research, Dr. Fred Hocker. The Vasa was a Swedish warship commissioned by King Gustav II Adolph who wanted his navy to have the world's most powerful warship. For three years, shipbuilders and artisans crafted the massive, ornate ship and its massive 64 bronze guns. However, design flaws left the ship badly unstable, and on its maiden voyage a gust of wind caught the ship when it was only 1300 meters from the dock. The ship lurched to the side, water flooded in its open gunports, and it quickly sank to the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

Almost perfectly preserved by the cold water and mud of Stockholm harbor, the ship was raised in 1961 and presented in an amazing six-story museum that allows visitors to view the outside of the craft from top to bottom. The museum and its presentation of the warship is simply breathtaking, a museum perfectly suited to helping visitors to appreciate and admire this remarkable piece of material culture. The museum at once celebrates the height of Swedish military glory in the seventeenth century, the hubris of King Gustav Adolph, and the ingenuity of the Swedes to transform one of the most embarrassing disasters in Swedish history into Scandinavia's most popular museum.

The day ended with a very warm reception by the Counselor for Public Diplomacy of the United States Embassy in Sweden.  Not only did I get to meet several members of the Embassy and some former Fulbrighters, but I also met some of the Swedes who will be going to the United States next year as Fulbright grantees. It was really interesting talking to them about their thoughts on the United States.  I particularly enjoyed talking with one young man who loves downloading NPR shows--including Backstory with the American History guys! 

A great, very long day. In retrospect, it seemed quite fitting that my orientation to the Swedish Fulbright program should be so deeply devoted to highlighting Sweden's unique contributions to public history.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Greetings from Sweden! Two weeks ago I stepped off of the airplane at Gothenburg, Sweden's Landvetter airport and began my immersion into Swedish culture and history. It has been a wonderful whirlwind getting my bearings in this most interesting city.

Gothenburg is relatively young for a European city. In 1621, when Sweden was rising as a world power, King Karl IX Gustav of the royal house of Vasa ordered the city of Gothenburg constructed on the banks of the Göta River to assert his control over west Sweden and to thwart Danish advances. He brought in Dutch engineers to build a series of defensive canals, and so the old city grew up on a heavily fortified artifical island. Today, the era of the Vasa kings is everywhere. Just a block away from my apartment is Vasagatan (Vasa Street), I catch the tram at Vasaplatsen (Vasa Place), and King Karl sits proudly on horseback at the city's focal point--Kungstorget--King's Square.

Today, the nearly 400-year old city is a fascinating study in historic preservation and city planning, a place that tries to balance the needs of a modern city of 500,000 residents with the care of its extraordinary historical resources. It is also a wonderfully hip and vibrant place that blends its industrial roots (shipbuilding and the home of Volvo cars)with a new focus on arts, culture, and scientific research.

The university and city have made a special effort to welcome foreign scholars and researchers to the city. Last night, I even was invited to attend a welcome reception for foreign scholars at the Gothenburg City Hall hosted by the Lord Mayor of Gothenburg.

My neighborhood, Vasastan, is energized by the 25,000 students who attend the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers Technical University. The number of cafes and coffee shops is hard to believe--cozy places where the city's resident take "fika" (coffee break)to enjoy strong coffee and delicious cinammon buns. My caffeine tolerance is now at an all time high!

There is so much interesting history here in Gothenburg. I cannot wait to dive into its museums, and to investigate its many historic sites and cemeteries.

I hope you will join me as I continue this Swedish adventure!