Internship in Beirut & Life in Lebanon

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Last week we visited the three schools again which the organization I am currently interning at has built in the Bekaa region east of Beirut. While I was sitting in one of the school yards waiting for my ride back to Beirut a girl came to me and asked what my name was (my Arabic is by now just good enough to have a very basic conversation). I told her my name and asked for hers. Then she asked what my Mother’s name is and she told me the name of her Mother. Then she said something I didn’t understand, so I got someone to translate for me. She had said “my parents are both dead now.”  Later she told us that she is living with her uncle in the camp now but he always comes home very late.  In moments like this I wish I would be fluent in Arabic and could actually talk to those children and especially to this girl. Now I could only give her a sad smile and say that I am sorry and rub her shoulder. She kept sitting next to me for a while and then left to join some other kids.

11990162_10206707917329881_1969238486_oMy task that day in the field was a rather simply one; to take new pictures of the schools and children and think about ideas for new posts on social media and our newsletter. It was the first time I really came in close contact with so many kids and they were all more than interested in me and the big camera I had with me. Generally my internship here in Beirut has been good so far, I sometimes wish I would have more responsibilities than I currently do. Many of my tasks are rather basic and I often don’t feel very challenged. I however don’t really want to complain, the work here gives me a lot of time to be able to work on my Master thesis idea which I greatly appreciate and some tasks are truly jhguguzgbuhbjinteresting and fun. Moreover I really like my colleagues and the work environment and that’s worth a lot. I enjoy the field trips since it usually gives me the chance to talk to and listen to people and their stories. Generally I learn a lot here simply through talking to the people I work with and through meetings or conferences I can attend.  I, for example, attended a conference at the ministry of education and a meeting at the UN which was very interesting. Most importantly the cause my organization works for is more than important; making education and humanitarian aid accessible for children living in refugee camps and thus targeting a whole generation at risk. (If you want to read a short summary about the organization I work for, you can click the picture above to make it bigger, and that by the way works with every picture on this blog).

I have talked with quite a few people now who currently do an internship at a NGO and it seems to be a very common phenomena 12171043_10206707918649914_1835074399_othat people feel that they are not particularly challenged. However, I think often it is what you make out of it. You can propose own ideas for potential tasks or research from which you and your host organization can benefit. Taking own imitative takes some energy but is quite often very rewarding. Hence I decided for my final internship paper I will write a think-piece (basically an article which includes own experience and opinions) on the concept of education as a cultural and social tool. I plan to explore the connected challenges and issues when it comes to educating Syrian refugee children living in camps in Lebanon. More specifically I want to talk about the challenges between the theoretical ideas and their actual practical implementations. Everyone has ideas and wants to be involved and wants to help this good cause but many don’t think about the challenges which come with implementing ideas in such an environment and thus unfortunately some ideas or planned activities help little or have little valuable effect. So hopefully if I succeed on creating a good piece of work and publish it, not only I will benefit from it but my organization as well.

Talking about challenges, learning Arabic is for sure a big one! Since my last blog post I have been taking classes for 4 weeks and have done quite some progress. The classes are twice a week and each lasts for 3h. They are split in to two blocks. In the first one we learn to read and spell the Arabic alphabet and in the second one we learn how to talk and have a conversation. In the beginning I was quite frustrated as I felt I am not fast enough, however, slowly but surely I got the hang of it. Now the course ends next week and I have learned the whole alphabet and can do basic reading. For some letters I still need my alphabet table but for most of them I actually don’t need it anymore. I am able to have a basic/simple conversation and I know quite a few words in general by now. Now I just need someone I can practice talking with and keep on doing exercises in the two school books I have. Apart from that it is a very useful language to know, I have a lot of fun with learning it so I truly hope I can keep up practicing and using it!

12171303_10206707716164852_1605762369_oNext to working and learning Arabic life here in Lebanon is good. We still have summer weather here whilst my friends in Sweden start wearing winter jackets. I do miss the Swedish autumn coziness, however, if I honestly think about it, I would get annoyed by the grayness and rain pretty quickly. Well the grass is always greener on the other side isn’t it…?  We use the weekends for travelling around the country which has been really great so far. The two bigger trips we did in the last weeks where to Byblos/Jbeil and to Tripoli. It is pretty easy to get around Lebanon with buses/vans and taxis and it’s really cheap as well. The trip to Byblos/Jbeil was really, really nice. It felt like a mini vacation from sometimes rather hectic Beirut. The old part of town is really pretty and calm. You can find many shops and souvenir stores however when we were there 12170943_10206707711404733_627956191_owhat you couldn’t find was tourists! Everything was fairly empty and strolling around was just relaxing. We had very good food at the old harbor and visited a big castle which had a great view over the whole town once you managed to get all the stairs up.  Our trip to Tripoli was quite different in comparison.

IMG_2630_adjustedI saw an event on Facebook about an organized tour to Tripoli and some friends recommended it as well to me. What you have to know, I am really really not a fan of guided tours. I much rather explore places on my own or with someone but not in a large tourist group. I think one reason for that is that I am still traumatized by a class trip to Italy in 12th grade where we had to attend a guided tour in almost every city we visited and well, let me put it this way, it felt like we visited every single city and town there is in whole Tuscany…. But I thought oh well why not giving it a try again, maybe it will be nice. The whole trip in total was nice, the tour, well, the guide had a megaphone… Now imagine Tripoli not being the most touristic town in the world and a group of around 30 stereotype looking tourists following a lady with a very loud megaphone. Yes. Awkward.

Well, we made the best out of it. We tried to walk last and after a while, oh the joy, the megaphone was broken. The good thing IMG_2484about taking the tour was we for sure got to see some corners of the city which we wouldn’t have found by ourselves and we got to know some very nice people in the group. Tripoli is a interesting city, the old part of town is quite beautiful and the food we had was just great. So overall we had a good time. In the evening back in Beirut we went to a wine festival in a big park close by to where we live. We went with one of the girls we got to know that day and a classmate of mine and her friends. You pay a bit less than 25 dollars entrance, you get a glass and then you walk around many, many tents put up by different winery and you can try as much wine as you want. A pretty neat concept I have to say and we had a really great time.

IMG_2383Other things which happened since my last blog post where for example our adventures with the Lebanese customs…. Let me just say that was probably the most ridiculous thing I have experienced here. Rickard wrote a whole blog post of its own on that one, you can read it here .  Apart from that we joined a gym here after all. We first thought we wouldn’t since it is really expensive here but then we found a small gym in our neighborhood. All the machines look like they come from the early 80s or late 70s but they work, everything is fairly fresh, the people there are nice and they have a women’s only room which I mostly have to myself when I am there. We also figured out why it is so popular for expats here to go to the cinema. Especially the cinema in the Souks here in Beirut is really fresh and nice, all movies are shown in original title and Arabic and French subtitles. When you sit in there and watch a movie it just feels like being back in Sweden. So if you want to feel like you are home again, just go watch a movie and catch  a break.

Lastly our flights to Egypt are finally booked, so we will have a 9 day vacation in November! The plan is to fly to Cairo and then travel around the country, we are currently planning the details and I will for sure tell you about it here on my blog once I am back! Thank you for reading, stay tuned and have a look at the picture series below.

– Children of Bekaa- 

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Hey there Lebanon!

I am sitting in a big fancy looking hall when suddenly the speakers start shrieking and with full blast comes out the Lebanese national IMG_1467anthem. It was almost comical, everyone rose up (the hall was full of expats and NGO workers and only a few people I would identify as local), no one sang, apart from the speaker in front of the hall together with the sound system which was judging by the sound quality at least 30 years old. This was my first official conference at my new internship here in Beirut, Lebanon.

Yes, I am running around the world again and enjoy it to the fullest. After two years absence I am finally back in the Middle East with all it’s beauty, quirks and annoyances. We arrived in Beirut the 26th of August after taking a stop in Athens to visit the Acropolis, and the last three, almost four weeks have been more than interesting. The city is vibrant, very much alive, full of contrasts, beautiful and ugly, kind and harsh at the same time. It’s the kind of city you want to explore and feel. We live in a residential area a bit outside the city center which usually surprises other expats when they hear about it but I IMG_1330really like it. It feels more real than for example Hamra, the central district. Walking through Hamra street (where I also work) feels almost like walking through any common Western city. I like the flat in which we live in it has a lot of charm and I already feel home here. Like I said, this city is full of contrasts you find rather fancy districts, there are many new houses and at the same time you can find houses where the remains of the civil war and the war in 2006 are still very visible, you can find hip areas, really normal residential areas and rather industrial like areas. There are lots of nice bars, clubs  and cafes here, the bar I spent my 25th birthday at (The Junkyard in Mar Mikhael) was just awesome and the altcity cafe in Hamra has been a lifesaver for Rickard as they have a lot of work space, fast internet and good food. Every day I hear Mosque singing which I have missed since I have been to the Middle East last 🙂

Another thing which I truly like here is the people. Most of them are really kind and welcoming. The only times I sometimes feel IMG_1472someone tries to take advantage of me not being from here is when I try to catch a taxi (or ‘service’,  a shared taxi) but slowly I know how much which distances should cost. So they usually quickly come to understand that they can’t fool me, or they still do and then it’s their bad they won’t make money of me as I have no problem with walking.  Apart from the lovely Lebanese people here I have met a nice Norwegian Girl, the people at work are really great too and another Italian friend currently lives in Beirut as well. On Monday I will start a Language course in Arabic (birthday money well invested!) which I very much look forward too and where I hopefully will also meet many interesting people!

Now to answer the question almost everyone has asked me; no I don’t feel unsafe. I have not ever felt unsafe in Beirut, I have walked through many areas, I have walked alone and I have been out night times. Also during the the travels we have done so far to other places in Lebanon I have always felt safe and welcome.

IMG_0378My internship at Kayany Foundation here is interesting and I think I can learn a lot here. The organisation works and does projects with Syrian refugees and focuses on education and building schools for children and youth in camps in the nearby Bekaa Valley. When I have worked here for a while I will dedicate a whole blog post to my work, for now this is more aboutIMG_0491 my first impressions of living in Lebanon 🙂

If you have been pampered by Swedish efficiency the past few years there are a few things to get accustomed to when living here. Let’s put it that way, almost all the ‘annoyances’ here have their bad and good sides, however,  it’s easy to romanticize things here as an European expat who knows that she can leave any time fancied and get back to her privileged country of origin. It is interesting to talk to people about the conditions here at first I have gotten the impression that many have somewhat accepted their state of being here and don’t care overly much, however, if you actually talk a bit more with them and basically ‘dig’ a bit most people are quite frustrated with many things here (this weekend I was sharing the back of a taxi with two twins, Lebanese women in their 40s who had a lot to say about that topic…). The political situation here has been and  is difficult and I am sure everyone has heard about the trash crisis here, which is only really the tip of the iceberg. I decided I will write my Master thesis about the political situation here and/or the general geopolitical situation of Lebanon and the connected issues and risks. I am currently doing a lot of research on it. Once I am really into the topic and feel comfortable in expressing my opinion I will dedicate a whole blog post to this topic as well.

Okay let’s get back to how I experience life here;
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Power cuts. Before coming here I expected 3h power cuts per day which usually should be easily dealt with by switching to a generator or an alternative power line. Reality looks a bit different, at least where we live and considering the last two weeks. Most days we experience three cuts and many of them can’t be countered by the alternative power line, leaving you without electricity and internet. Good things are ; I read more books, I spend less wasted time on the internet, if the cut happens at night candles make everything very cozy and I made tea on a gas stove for the first time in my life :P.
Bad things are; if you rely on the internet for work like Rickard does – you feel yourself pretty screwed sometimes running around Beirut finding a cafe with WiFi and power, or like the other night when the power cut while I stood under the shower and did not bring my phone or a candle with me into the bathroom… Since a couple of days the power has been a bit more reliable, let’s see if it stays that way.

Let’s get to the traffic and streets here –  I think Beirut is the least pedestrian friendly city I have ever visited. Cars drive where and how IMG_1095ever they want, red lights don’t necessarily mean they stop, they park everywhere which makes walking longer distances sometimes slightly challenging. Also, in Beirut you don’t stop a cab, the cab stops you – or honks at you. The more Western you look, the more honking. On the plus side – once I have lived here for a while my reflexes will be trained like they never have been trained before 😉 Also, interesting enough, there seem to be some unspoken rules for how to get your way as a pedestrian. Once you actually don’t stand like a scared tourist girl at the sidewalk waiting for ever to get over a street but simply demand your right to walk with some decisiveness and make eye contact you usually get your way without seeming to really upset anyone.  There are shared taxis which you can catch pretty much all over town and pay around 2 dollars to get around within the city,  there are also buses and mini vans which you can stop almost anywhere and hop on and hop off again when you want. I have come to really appreciate that concept when going to work. I still walk a lot since it is a nice way to get to know the city, by now I can almost find my way around without maps. However I really have to highlight I have never in my life felt so much appreciation for an app as I do for “Here Maps” this wonderful app has better maps than google maps (at least in Lebanon), it is for free and if you download the map for the country you are in (again for free) the app works beautifully offline and can navigate you. Especially in the first two weeks I would have felt pretty lost without it.

IMG_1462The weather. The weather has been tough on me especially in the first week. It 20150910_205701has been very hot and really, really humid. Now slowly slowly it gets a bit cooler here but I yet haven’t managed to arrive at work not sweaty. We have an AC at home which works when the main power lines functions so that’s at least something. I start to appreciate the evenings here, now you can actually sit outside and enjoy it. Especially on the wonderful balcony we have at home which has come to be my favorite place to hang out if the heat allows it. A week or two ago we had a sandstorm here for a few days. I was breathing dust for about three days and that in combination with the heat and humidity was hard to bear sometimes (the pictures below which look really dusty are from those days) but ever since the storm passed the weather has become nicer and nicer. October is supposed to be a really nice month, around 25 degrees and a lot less humid. Looking forward.

Apart from my field trips into the Bekaa valley with work we have visited two other places in Lebanon so far; two cities in the South, Saida and Tyr also called Sour. Taking a mini van to Saida was more than easy and we spend a nice day there walking along the water side, visiting an old crusader castle and had amazing Lebanese food. At Tyr/Sour we spend a day and night this weekend and it was a really great mini vacation. The city is known for its nice beach so we went swimming for the first time since we came to Lebanon. IMG_1375The water was crystal clear! Swimming in Beirut is not really a great idea as the water is rather dirty. We spend the night at a nice apartment which we rented over Air BnB and went out for dinner at the harbor in the evening. Now we just came back home and we actually had electricity and internet so I thought I finally get to my blog again. If the internet allows it I will attach some pictures to this post from Beirut, Saida and Tyr/Sour. Now that I got started to write about my time here I will update my blog every 3-4 weeks again or if something interesting happens earlier as well so you can follow me around. Stay tuned and thank you for reading!

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The view from our Room during the Sandstorm

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Travelling in the minivans

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The view from our balcony in Tyr/Sour

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Probably one of the worst advertisements for a seafood restaurant I have seen

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One of the many cats in Beirut

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Fancy Architecture

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Beautiful Stairs on Gemmayze Street

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Sandstorm Remains

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Having an emergency case at work when having no power at home is not fun, thankfully many Cafes have WiFi

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Our lovely Balcony at home, Rickard trying to make Semi-Lebanese Food 😛

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Contrasts

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I spend my 25th Birthday at this great Bar, after telling them its my birthday we got lots of free stuff and a birthday desert with fireworks  😀

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Balcony Evenings

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Power Cuts

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Power Cuts 2

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Street in Beirut

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Dusty City and tenting Activits

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Downtown

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Mohamed Al-Amin Mosque aka the Blue Mosque at the Martyr Square

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Old Buildings

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Tyr/Sour

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Between the Flags

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Swimming and Lebanese Beer

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After enjoying the sea and sun

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UN Visit

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Evening in Tyr/Sour

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Sunset

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Sunny Flag

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Lebanon!

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‘ There’s something in your face’

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Dinner at the Harbor

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Who would have thought ruins close on Sundays…

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Mediterranean at it’s best

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One of the Schools built by Kayany in the Bekaa

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Bekaa

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Camp Life

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Taking the Bus to Saida

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Mosque

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Saida

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Enjoying Lebanese Food

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Saida

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Crusader Castle in Saida

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Enjoying the View

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Saida

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People of Saida

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In our Neighborhood

It is April 2015 already?! Studying & Internship Hunt – Some Reflections

Since the new year started I have neglected my blog, I had several ideas what to write about in between but I never felt I have the inner calmness nor the time to really get at it. It feels like a lot and not much at the same time has happened in the last four months. I studied a lot, I got a mean flu virus which made me be bound to my bed for a few weeks, I went to Budapest to visit my dearest Marie, I made plans –well I tried to make plans – for my upcoming internship in September and I had my beloved mother visit me here in Sweden over Easter. I meant to go to Germany as well but didn’t find  the time and will now go in May for a family reunion event instead.

My studies go well, however, I don’t like my current course very much (Theories of Social Sciences) so I catch myself frequently dreaming away about the future. In one year and two month I will be finished with my Master Studies (if everything goes according to plan) and I will enter the “grown-up-working-world.” When browsing some current job vacancies which sound interesting to me (that currently is conflict and security analysis, project management in different areas of conflict resolution etc.) I painfully have to admit that without much working experience in those fields you don’t get very far. The highlight in my browsing was a job vacancy by the UN for a position as a chief of branch in political affairs, and it stated; “required work experience a minimum of fifteen years in international relations, political affairs, conflict resolution, preventive diplomacy or peacebuilding.”

So far I can “proudly” say I have (next to little jobs and continuous volunteering) 5 months of work experience in the field, acquired during my internship in Jerusalem at the NGO CDCD in winter 2013/2014.  So when sitting in another lecture, in which yet another teacher blabbers something about which kind of epistemic approach can be found in that and that theory I tend to feel restless about my future. Yet I shouldn’t forget that a master’s degree in the field I am interested in is kind of vital. All the jobs I have looked at so far (e.g. at the UN) require a masters degree. So I am pretty certain I am doing the right thing which I have to remind myself from time to time, and especially, in the rather uninspiring course I am currently involved in.

At the moment I am searching for an internship placement for the coming September for 5 months as a part of my studies, which turns out to be a bigger challenge than it was during my Bachelor Studies. Well, admittedly back then I was incredibly lucky. I sent one application to an organization which sounded interesting, which then only a few weeks later accepted me. And not only that, it was an amazing place to work and I learned a lot. Working in East Jerusalem also strengthened my interested towards the Middle Eastern region. Already before I did most of my research about conflict in this region and since quite while I have focused most of my papers on conflicts in the region as well. So you can guess where I would like to do my next internship, yes indeed, in the Middle East.

I applied to several organizations in Beirut, Lebanon but have not heard back from them yet. I had also applied to a great organization in Bahrain however it turned out that the placement would be in their office in Copenhagen. I still consider doing that, but to be perfectly honest I would like to go somewhere further away.

I feel fairly stressed about finding an internship at the moment, however, I think I am more stressed than I actually have to be simply due to the group pressure which unavoidably is created when all the students in one class almost every day talk about it. “Have you heard anything back yet?” “I have sent x amount of applications“(many more than I did…), “I have gotten an internship” and so on. I think this is a very normal phenomenon but I can’t help it to get more stressed even though time wise I am apparently still doing pretty okay. Many internship calls for coming autumn are not even published yet and several other deadlines are not till the end of April/beginning on May. Still, being spoiled by my smooth experience with applying to my last internship, I feel a little uneasy for now.  But I am also sure that I will find something suitable in time. Gotta get started to accumulate those 15 years work experience don’t I? 😉

Sometimes I think about some trips I have done , road trip through Morocco, road trip through Jordan and the road trip through the Westbank and Israel/Palestine and then I just want to escape little Malmö and get out into the world. Admittedly though Malmö gets a lot nicer now that spring slowly hits. The sun comes out more often, the ever-lasting Swedish winter darkness has disappeared and the temperature got up a little. I look forward to the summer, to being outside, to hopefully travelling and to have this semester done in the beginning of June. Then it’s one year down, one to go!

Everyone who reads this who is currently searching for an internship or a job or simply tries to figure out their future; You will manage it, the best things in life take some time, so don’t get discouraged 🙂


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Autumn Reflections

It has been a while since the last post. I didn’t write anything for almost two months. It feels like much has happened since we got back from our hiking trip and since my master program has started, and at the same time it feels like nothing has happened at all. One thing is sure though, it got darker. Autumn and winter in Sweden can be quite the challenge for keeping up the motivation and mood. A day light lamp helps. Get one and you will see.

I have been studying a lot. The first course of the program was really good and I enjoyed meeting new people and extending my knowledge on things I had previously studied. The

20141029_14440310420035_737073519675291_3082026501881859473_nsecond course (methodology) turns out to be more of an annoyance. It seems to be a common phenomenon that courses in methodology are poorly structured, badly organized and often feel pointless.

Being the student representative of the program, others and I have had a meeting with the union about the problems in the course. The result was that we will have a meeting with the responsible teachers and the union together next week. Let’s see how able the teacher are to take criticism. The course lasts 10 weeks and I will dance in joy when it’s over. The course which will follow after is on the topic of globalization, conflict, security and the state, and I have high hopes that it will be far more enjoyable.

For a few days in October I have been to Germany which, as always, was too short and really nice.I had some fun time with new friends, especially on Halloween with fellow students at a

10700395_10204217668195209_3414285736167084061_o‘sitning’, a Swedish student tradition. When you study at Lund University you become a member of a Nation which organizes events. You can work with them as well which is usually quite a lot of fun. You can book a sitning at the nations which means big amounts of students get together for a three course dinner which usually has a theme. While having dinner it is quite common that people sing selected sitning songs and then  go clubbing afterwards. All together for a very student friendly price.

Apart from that I have spent some fun times with old friends and Miles visited us in Malmö ! I worked together with him in Jerusalem and he has become a dear friend. The time with him here was a little bit like being back in Jerusalem 🙂  Also I just spent a lovely time in Denmark with Rickards family in a beautiful Hotel about an hour away from Copenhagen. But mostly it has been studying, studying, studying. All work no play makes jack a dull boy. Didn’t that saying go something like that ?

It has been 10 months ago since I got back from Jerusalem, and the more time passes the more I start missing  it , the work , the people and the city. Following closely the events which have been occurring during and after the last Gaza incident makes me want to go there even more and get into work again, even if the changes we create are small, one has to start somewhere.

IMG_8146A bit more than one year ago we did the Road Trip through Jordan, one of my best trips in my life ! I miss travelling and experiencing new things. Being in an unknown environment.IMAG1282_1 I do love Malmö and I like my life in Sweden but the amount or kind of travelling this year somehow did not satisfy my wanderlust. Maybe that is one reason why this blog has gotten not so much of my attention lately. With all the studying and not much travelling or no extreme experiences I often felt uninspired to write.

Next year in September I will be able to go abroad again for a 5 month internship. I look much forward to that. So far I am quite certain it will be the middle Eastern region again but nothing is set yet. Over all the studying  I had not much time to do research about it. I could mostly consider Beirut, Lebanon or Bahrain.  If I am perfectly honest I would love to go back to Palestine but future wise it would be smart to gather experiences in different environments.

Until then I am not sure how much time there is for travelling. Over Christmas I will go to Germany which I look forward to.  Maybe I will manage to do something over Easter so I don’t have to wait for the summer. “The Wanderlust has got me… by the belly-aching fire” ( Robert W. Service, Rhymes of a Rolling Stone).  

20141101_165108Soon Malmö will shine with many lights and Christmas Decorations, it will get even darker and colder but at the same time cozier and I have a reason to procrastinate with baking. I 2014-10-23 16.45.22remember in 2011 we went to Cran Canaria for a week in early December, that made me appreciate Malmö and its winter beauty a lot more. I wish I would have the chance to get out for a few days to somewhere , where it’s warm, where I don’t have to study and then come back with new energy and much more appreciation for Malmö’s dark but glittering winter. Well, overall I should not complain. A strong case of wanderlust is not a severe problem 😉 I have no regrets that I decided to do study a master program as I think in the future when I start being part of the grown up working world it will come in handy especially in my field.

So, I wish you all a lovely winter , a beautiful Christmas time and to my friends in Palestine and Israel I hope you stay safe. I will see you soon again !

Writing a Bachelor Thesis

10310982_10203028551588037_1199709443790981195_nThursday night, I spontaneously went out for a beer with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. This guy comes over to our table and starts talking to us. After a while we arrived at a typical topic, age. After hesitating he guessed me to be 27.
Really ?! 27 ?!! I knew I looked everything but fresh and youthful this night after sitting the whole day in the library working on my thesis but 27 crushed my ego that moment. Later when I went home, standing in the elevator, I took a closer look in the dirty mirror. Are these wrinkles around my eyes ?! Are these shadows under my eyes rests of mascara of my skin telling me that I need more sleep ? I decided that self-pity does not help. Moreover, earlier that day I got ask for my ID when I wanted to buy Snus. Hah in your face stranger!!!
Tomorrow first thing I will find my eye-creme again and this time I will not be too lazy to use it longer than a few days.

Writing a bachelor thesis is stressful -as I thought before it would be- but it is stressful in a different way than I thought. The other day I caught myself staring at the clock. Everything was prepared, energy drink, coffee and snacks, paper, pens neatly put up next to my laptop. It procrastinationis 12.55 pm . I had promised myself to start working on my thesis at 13.00 pm.

12.56 I stare at the clock.
12.57 I start contemplating about cleaning the flat while staring at the clock.
12.58 really? Three minutes are gone already, noo.
12.59 staring.
13.00 staring.
13.01 I am still staring at the clock, not moving.
13.02 F*** Laura gooo, get on it, come one!
13.03 why is my coffee cold??
13.04 maybe I start 13.30 instead….or I just take a nap. Naps are nice. So nice.

Procrastination and I have become best friends since I started writing my thesis 😉

Writing a thesis is stressful, yes, but what is really stressful about it that you have to be involved with one topic over a long time period , you Naptime-then-and-nowhave it in the back of your head all day, no matter if you are studying or trying to relax. Every time you get asked to do something fun you 10256493_10203013427609947_5118602304146115799_nevaluate if you can allow it yourself time wise. Another glass of wine ? Better not. If I have the slightest hangover tomorrow I can’t study properly…. It takes so much energy to have something in your mind all the time. It is sometimes truly frustrating. I got mad at my thesis several times. I got mad, sad, annoyed and angry but so has almost everyone I met who is writing their thesis. It’s part of the process and you just gotta accept it. Sometimes you have good days, bad days, productive days, lazy-days or just shit days where you decide to screw it for now and watch series and take a nap. That is okay. Just try to keep the balance between them so you get done in the end.

I have worked on my thesis all over Malmö. In both libraries, at home, and at various cafes. In my favourite cafe the bartender asked me once when I arrived yawning : “still working on your thesis ?” me yawning and nodding. “here you go , coffee will help!” When I talk to friends one of the first question is always, how is your thesis going ? Same when I write with friends on Facebook. You start comparing yourself with others who are writing their thesis at the moment as well. “Oh he/she has already xx amount of words and I only have xx words….” Then you notice how grumpy you get but actually you should be happy for them. You will always find people who you think work better or Ah-Finalsworse than you but actually comparing does not help. Everyone works differently, some take much time , some not. Some start last minute and still pass. Some started months ago and brag how far they are and then get a bad grade. Or the other way around. It should not matter. However, it is in human nature to compare yourself with others so I decided  instead of only getting grumpy at myself when someone does better progress than me, I get a little grumpy (can’t lose it fully) but mainly I decided to be happy for the other person. 😉

Thesis writing brings fun as well. First of all when you actually did some progress and then scroll up and down in your document and realize hey I made this !!! I know its a normal thing nowadays that people get their BA degree but still, you produce a 40 to 50 pages thesis in the end that is actually pretty cool ! Moreover you get to complain together with your fellow thesis writers over how annoying this work is and spontaneously decide actually you could go now and have beer instead of working more and you end up having real quality time. Even when the deadline is approaching one should not forget to have little fun from time to time 10254010_10203001994484126_4875933436752753888_nand tell the little mean guy in the back of your head to shut up and stop telling you that you should rather figure out how to do your analysis section. I had a great 1545157_10202996496706685_8893028120118811614_ntime with Marie dying our hair and drinking wine instead of studying.  I get really happy when studying and actually progressing and then taking a well deserved break. After finishing my thesis I will probably never forget again how NGOs can influence peace processes, which is quite handy to know in my field of studies. I had hung up my research question all over the flat to keep it in mind and reflect on it. After a few days I noticed Rickard had re-printed it and did slight editing.  I couldn’t stop laughing for a long time (see image above) 😉

My deadline is in 10 days, I have written 80% of my thesis and have my green-light supervision tomorrow morning, then I will get to know if my supervisor thinks that I am ready for the final 10169456_10202965961583326_112176163853929825_ndeadline — and what I am doing right now ? I am sitting in the library writing this blog post and contemplate about buying a bottle of wine on the way home because I think I truly deserve it. So, will I fail because I wasted some hours now ? No. I will perhaps fail if I get to know tomorrow that the way I do my analysis is shit and I need to re-do it 😛 😛 😛 Right now writing this blog makes me feel good. Trying to delve deeper in all the data I have left to analyze makes me not feel good today, so I pick the one which makes me feel good for now. Sometimes procrastinating is actually really healthy for your mind, if 10172756_10202946180488811_5685909570448075240_nyou do something else instead of studying what actually makes you feel happy or good. Even though I have been stressed and under pressure I backed colorful muffins, found my inner child again on an awesome slide in front of a friends house 10310620_10202952978338753_1823516007174089634_nand I went to Valborg in Lund with my friends and we had a great time. And soon everything is done and over and after hopefully passing we can all enjoy the summer ! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Growing up, Master Studies & ER encounters

“Jaså…. du ska studera i Lund för din Master ? Du är en jätte duktig lilla flicka ! ”  [Oh so you gonna study your Masters in Lund? You are a very competent little girl ]  My old neighbour tells me in the elevator a few days ago. She is the only one who can always force me to speak Swedish as she speaks no English but really likes to chitchat. Everytime I meet her I realize my Swedish is so good when I have to talk and well…. I still hardly do it.  So…. yes I am accepted for my two years Master programme in Global Studies at Lund University ! Hoooraay 🙂
It was my first choice when I applied to different programmes, so it made me really happy that I got in! Here is the link to the programme if you want to read more about it : http://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/o.o.i.s?id=24725&lukas_id=SAGLSSO

So now I just have to pass my Bachelor thesis this June. Just… well I have to admit right now I am struggling a little bit. I feel overwhelmed by all the literature I have to read and how to structure all my thoughts. The topic I am writing about is Palestinian NGOs in Israel and how they can, through Multi-Track Diplomacy, influence the peace process moving forward. I am planning on conducting a case study related to my work at the NGO I did my internship at last term (You can read about my internship in former posts).

So I spend most of my time nowadays sitting in the city library trying to concentrate on my research and not on Facebook, Buzzfeed, 9gag or 20140407_130616Newspaper websites… I really like this library though. Most of the times I am sitting with a friend together studying, talking, taking breaks and what not . Actually I am sitting here right now and of course writing a blogpost seemed much more appealing than doing further research on social movement theory…. 😉 Also I decided to start 20140407_130130reading more for fun again. I used to always have at least one book to read which is not connected to my studies to keep the balance a bit. However, lately I have not done that so its time to change that again. So I took a little walk through the shelves and picked out three books and hopefully they will take my mind of the stress a little bit. I have been drawing a little more lately as well which is 1613981_10202770433735252_1093659941_ngreat for stress relief. Last Friday a friend was hanging out with me at my place and we spontaneously got out the finger-colors and painted like little kids , lots of fun 🙂

I am planning on doing a blog post soon just about my drawing and painting, so keep visiting my blog if you don’t want to miss it (: Sport is great for a more balanced mind as well, so if I manage to talk myself out of the bed in the morning, I often take a trip down to the gym, which is conveniently in my house on the ground floor.

Studying so much and knowing that the next two years of my life are planned for now feels kinda…. good but scary too. Not badly scary but it feels very grown up. I also have the chance to do an internship or exchange studies for one semester, I am thinking maybe somewhere in Africa or deeper in the Middle East…. Lets see what life brings….. Sometimes I think time is running a tiny bit too fast. But oh well that is life and growing up brings good things with it as well. We learn the more we experience and we learn to reflect on things we do, decide and think. And it is still fully legit that we sometimes prefer a glass of red wine over some decisions or studying 😉 Moreover remember when you were with your parents at the supermarket, and you really wanted some candy or similar and you wouldn’t get it ? Now (if your student budget allows is ) you can buy as much candy as you want 😀 (keeping the small good things in mind…. 😉 )

Last week I felt quite grown up as well for a moment (where being fairly grown up came in very handy..) when my friend called me feeling really bad , fainting and so on after she had been hitting her head really badly . So I run to her place , put her in a taxi and we drove to the ER.20140402_23474720140402_234630 This was also one of the first time I developed something like motherly-protective-feelings (or at least that must be how it feels…) when the nurse took my friend away from me to do some tests and I was not allowed to follow in that area. I got really really upset because I wanted to know what was going on… so I might have been letting out my upsetness onto a silly barbie like looking Swedish nurse…. 😛
Later I was allowed to be with her again to wait for a doctor in our own room. Then when I had the feeling again I can protect my friend from evil nurses 😛 I was able to let my inner child out again and tried to entertain her to make the almost 6 (!!) hours we had to wait till the doctor arrived around 03.00 am, a little more bearable. The highlight probably was when I figured out that you can adjust the doctors seat super high up and so I started to “fly ” around the little room 😀  When the doctor did all her test the result was that my friend has a concussion and can’t do much more than take some meds for the pain and rest , rest , rest . Well better than something worse !

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Some days ago I also was at my first Swedish funeral. Rickard’s Grandmother unfortunately had died…. I sadly never got the chance to meet her but I went with to the funeral anyway. It was a beautiful funeral, with many flowers, nice people, nice words spoken and beautiful music. I am glad I came with. It was really sad as well and it made me think a lot about the people I have lost. But if we want or not, this is part of life and we have to learn to deal with it … We had lunch at a really nice restaurant afterwards with the whole family. They are all really really nice people. (:

Another day which made me feel sliiiightly old was when me and my friend went to a party of old friends which I hadn’t seen in over a year or even more. I used to hang out with those guys when I just wanted to take my mind of things and have a good time with wine, playstation, funny conversations and so on til late into the nights…. Now when I saw them again one of them got married last year, the other one has a girlfriend since two years, the other one didn’t come because he was home with his girlfriend he now lives with, and another really nice couple I met at that party was married as well !!! It was still a nice party with lots of drinks and fun conversation but still, married ?! I am 23 years old and my friends start getting married, planning on having kids and so on… Feels odd. Very odd. Especially since those friends always were the most chaotic party people I knew. Later we went to a student party where no one was married and the conversations where more towards cigarettes brands,school, old friends, drinks, music and so on . Felt a lot more normal….. 😛

IMG-20140403-WA0001Over easter my mother will visit me in Malmö, I look a lot forward to see her again !!! Then I can be the kid 10167991_650683624980948_1270861432_nand she the mother  again 😉 My Mum sent me lots of very old and sweet baby pictures from me, most from 1991 . (:

Spring takes it sweet time , like every year in Sweden , and right now I am looking outside seeing a foggy , grey sky. BUT the flowers start to bloom and the trees slowly get their green color back , so there is hope !!! I am sure studying and anyways everything gonna be a little easier when spring and warmer weather hopefully soon arrives 🙂

 

Lastly, a really sweet comparison : My Mum as a kid and I as a kid ! You really cannot deny the similarity ❤ (:

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Malmö – Lose your greyness !

I just noticed that I am back in Malmö, Sweden since almost three weeks…. Can hardly believe that. It’s probably because since we arrived I was either stressed out with university stuff, stressed out because I had a liiiittle hard time to adapt to Sweden again or I was sick. Only since a few days I finally start to feel that I really arrived and feel home again. Me and Malmö is probably some kind of a hate-lover relationship 😛

When we came back from Israel we first stayed a little less than a week in Vellinge until we got the flat back. The people who had lived here while we were gone moved the Norway and stayed here until around the 1st of Feb. Then it took us for ever to make the flat feel home again because first thing arriving here was that I got really really really sick and as soon as I was fine again I had to prepare for presentations in university. Now all presentations are finally done and I should catch up on the other reading. Weeeelll…. anyways not gonna happen today 😛

The weather gave me especially in the first two weeks a very hard time as it’s simply always always grey here. It’s either dark grey or light grey or it’s night. Well today the sun came out what is really nice but in Israel we had nearly every single day sun. I regret that I stopped appreciating the good weather there after a while because now I know what I lost. Almost every day when I wake up here and look out of the window the only thing what comes into my mind is : meh.

So Malmö lose your greyness and get spring over here !!!!!! Or simply keep up that sun from today!!!! 

What gave me a hard time in the beginning as well was that in Israel I had a very structured life. Work everyday and then you actually enjoy the weekend because its something special. Now I have university 2-3 times a week that’s it. Yes, I do meet up with friends or do sports or paint or what ever but it is almost every day simply up to me what I do and if I can get myself to study and read or not.  But I get used to it and by now I manage to structure my days fairly well 🙂 Sometimes I wonder if I am the only person who has such a hard time to adjust again when switching country of residents, I just get emotionally way to attached to places and people. I think I will try to work on that, it would make my life so much easier 😉

We had an amazing welcome home party where I got to see all my friends and even had Emilie from France here and Andrey from Amsterdam. So much fun !!! Soon I will be a week in Germany to visit my family and friends. Also , good news concerning my cat Jimmy !!! His tumor in his spleen got smaller and the blood data is better as well, so no need for surgery any time soon and he only has to go the doctor again in about three months. This made me so so so happy !!!! 😀

After Germany I soon have to start fight with writing my Bachelor thesis. Scares the hell out of me but I am sure I will somehow manage it. Obviously I will chose a topic what is connected to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict so I can use all my knowledge I have gained in the past half a year 😀

So that was a quick update about how things are and I will attach a few pictures I took since I arrived in Sweden. Soon I will pick up writing my blog regularly again and share more of my thoughts and ideas for my future !!! Thank you all for reading and keep following!!!

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 The old gang reunited !!!!!

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Thank you all for an amazing welcome home party !!!!!

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Three of my most favourite people !!!! ❤

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In Vellinge, Rickard is trying to get Kepp out into the snow

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 Bromance !!!!

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Yes I have a serious side too !!!

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Angry at grey weather and having bad mood?! Get the kids finger colos out and have some fun !!

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Our study group for the presentations turned out to be awesome , thank you to all of you for the great work !!!

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Reunited with Schnuppi !!! ❤

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Reunited with my favorite Malmö-Girls ❤

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Adventure Time Cloth is best !!!!

My today’s comment to the world – I don’t want to be like Dave.

That’s the big question the one world throws at you every morning. “Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?” (Mary Oliver)

However when I woke up this morning, I did not really feel much alive nor like making any comment to the world. So many things to take care of and the only thing I feel like doing is laying in the sun. So instead of taking care of the chaotic flat or getting showered and dressed, I started on the project Laura Learns Arabic. I started reading Arabic for Dummies (sounded kinda fitting for me 😛 ) There I found Dave and his friends (to see them, click picture below!) and I thought , I don’t want to be like Dave , even though he is definitely cool for trying!

Next to Hebrew  , Arabic is the second official language in Israel and since I would like to visit some other Arabic speaking countries as well, I decided it would be smart to go with the latter. When I am living there I want to be able to find my way around, order a coffee or have some small talk without looking like the last Western idiot and maybe if I get into the language developing some higher skills as well.

Reading the first chapter of Arabic for Dummies about the different rules about vowels, the alphabet and especially listening to some vocal examples made me realize again that this gonna be a challenge for me….. Yet, the moment I spit some of my Müsli over my laptop because three words in a row the rough sounding Arabic man from the audiobook said, sounded just like some very very similar very very funny noises to me, I realized I should have maybe listened better to my Arabic speaking friends or to the people I met in Marocco since they never sounded that funny to me.  I don’t mean to make fun of the language, I guess it just surprised me in the morning while sitting in my chaos eating Müsli and being still very tired. The only language I make fun of all the time is German 😛

So now I just asked a friend of mine from Lebanon who stays parts of the summer in lovely Mamö as well , to give me some lessons in Arabic and will teach  him some German in return. Sounds like a great thing to me to do at the beach with a couple of beers !!

To quote Deborah Meier: “It’s the curiosity that drives me. It’s making a difference in the world that prevents me from ever giving up.”
Curiosity gets me to to be interested in countries, people, languages, cultures and different or unique points of view. So I hope that asset will stay with me for as long as possible and help  me to learn this complex language.

Now, let’s see if I have some more comments for this world today, after all I am still alive.

I don't want to be like Dave.

Learning Arabic- I don’t want to be like Dave.